It is to sportfishing what the Stanley Cup final is to hockey—the single biggest event of the year. Ask anyone who’s ever attended the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades event, or ICAST to those in the know, and they’ll surely agree. With some 700 new sportfishing products unveiled each year, ICAST is the place to showcase everything big, bold, beautiful and brand spanking new. If you think that makes it tough to choose the best items for Canadian anglers, you’re right. But as always, Outdoor Canada was up to the task. Here are our top 20 picks from the most recent ICAST.

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Best walleye lure: Snap Rap

Best walleye lure: Snap Rap

Several years back, Outdoor Canada revealed the pro secret of using ice fishing’s Jigging Rap to catch monster summer walleye. The new Snap Rap borrows elements of the Jigging Rap, but it’s specifically designed for open water with a wing-like canopy that makes it dart and walk sideways when snap-trolled. Because the Snap Rap is heavy for its size—the three-inch model weighs almost one ounce—you can easily fish it 40 feet deep. It’s available in eight fish-catching colours. More info: Rapala

Best minnow-bait: Balsa Xtreme

Best minnow-bait: Balsa Xtreme

This is the first minnowbait to combine the characteristics of both solid wood and plastic lures. The solid balsa body is covered with a rugged co-polymer, allowing for patterns and finishes, such as 3-D scales, eyes and gill plates, not possible on balsa baits. The tough coating stands up to walleye and pike teeth, so for the first time ever you don’t have to choose between the superior action of a balsa bait and the durability and finish of a hard-plastic lure. More info: Rapala

Best topwater lure: Livetarget Frog Topper

Best topwater lure: Livetarget Frog Topper

No one designs lifelike baits better than Ontario-based Koppers Fishing and Tackle Corp., the makers of Livetarget lures. Following wins in 2010 and 2011 for ICAST’s Best Soft Lure, Koppers won Best Hard Lure honour in 2012 for this innovative bait. The Frog Popper’s small, transparent, cupped lip lets you fish it as a popper, walker or hybrid topwater. And the 3-D detail and ultra-realistic finish make the lure look as if it’s about to jump out of your hand. More info: Livetarget Lures

Best specialty rod: Crucial Umbrella

Best specialty rod: Crucial Umbrella

The multi-armed umbrella, or Alabama, rig is the hottest bass presentation around, but until now anglers have been fishing it with rods intended for other purposes. Shimano’s heavy-action, 7' 9" Crucial Umbrella is just the right length for lobbing these bulky baits, and the featherlight IM-10 graphite blank is a godsend when it comes to a long day of casting. The extended rear grip, with a through-the-handle blank, is also perfect for two-handed casting. More info: Shimano

Best jigs: Live-action Hybrid Jigs

Best jigs: Live-action Hybrid Jigs

Created by Canadian Michael Tamburro, these may be the finest hybrid jigs I’ve ever seen. Because the head and hook are separate, you can attach any hook to the epoxy-hardened jig head, which also features a brass echo chamber and holographic eyes. The design allows the soft-plastic dressing to move independently yet prevents hooked fish from getting the leverage to throw the bait. Standout models include the Stealth, with a weedless line tie for heavy cover, and the Hydra, designed for swimbaits in open water. More info: Freedom Tackle

Best boat control system: Power-pole Drift Paddle

Best boat control system: Power-pole Drift Paddle

This accessory turns a Power-Pole—the popular shallow-water spike-style anchor—into a drift-control system, slowing boat speed by up to 50 per cent. The Drift Paddle’s tapered design and seven quick-change positions let you precisely control your drift speed without having to drag bulky drift socks. Constructed of a flexible UV polymer, the Drift Paddle comes with all the hardware needed to install the unit on an eight- or 10-foot Power-Pole. More info: Power-Pole

Best sonar accessory: Humminbird 360 Imaging

Best sonar accessory: Humminbird 360 Imaging

This game-changing transducer reveals what lies ahead of the boat, as well as underneath and off to the sides, even when you’re not moving. Think of it as 360-degree radar coverage, displayed as side-scan and down-scan screen images. You can choose from four beam-speed settings, as well as switch to split-screen mode and view the 360 image alongside the traditional below-the-boat sonar view or GPS map. Compatible with Humminbird 798, 898, 998 and 1198 Side Imaging units. More info: Humminbird

Best app: Precision Trolling App

Best app: Precision Trolling App

Mark Romanack’s guide Precision Trolling, which shows how deep most popular crankbaits run at various line lengths, has been an angler’s bible since 1991. But with so many new lures coming on the market each year, anglers just can’t wait for updated editions. Enter the Precision Trolling iPhone App. Now you can purchase individual crankbait dive curves ($1.99), annual updates ($14.99) or the entire crankbait collection ($39.99). There’s even a lifetime update option for $99.99. More Info: Precision Trolling

Best hybrid lure:

Best hybrid lure:

The original Heddon Zara Spook is arguably the best walk-the-dog topwater cigar bait of all time. Similarly, the Rebel Pop-R, with its cupped lip that spits and burps water to tease bass to attack, may be the finest popper ever designed. Now Heddon has added the Pop-R’s cupped lip to the Zara Spook, resulting in the Chug’n Spook. Talk about a deadly hybrid. At four inches long, the lure weighs one ounce and comes in 14 fish-catching colours. More info: Heddon Lures

Best bait casting reels: Gen 3 Revo

Best bait casting reels: Gen 3 Revo

Abu Garcia has redesigned this line of low-profile baitcasting reels to be smaller and lighter than previous Revos, yet unbelievably stronger. The Premier, for example, weighs less than six ounces, but its new braking system accommodates a huge range of lure weights. The STX, meanwhile, lost one-third of its weight, yet now offers three gear ratios, from a fast 6.4:1 to a blistering 8:1. You’ll find similar upgrades to the SX, S, Winch and Inshore models. More info: Pure Fishing Canada

Best soft-plastic bass bait: Havoc Sick Fish

Best soft-plastic bass bait: Havoc Sick Fish

This amazingly lifelike soft swimbait is designed by California Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese. With both a traditional paddletail and a straight-fin appendage that Reese calls a “goldfish tail,” the bait can be retrieved quickly or with a slow roll. Bass anglers fish it Texas-rigged, but I can’t wait to skewer a Sick Fish onto a heavy jig head and swim it along the bottom for giant walleye. I’ve seen hand-poured swimbaits that cost five to 10 times as much, but don’t look as “sick” as this one. More info: Berkley Fishing

Best jerkbait: FX-Oneten

Best jerkbait: FX-Oneten

This follow-up to the hugely popular Vision Oneten jerkbait features a remarkable bill system. When you cast it, the plastic lip folds up against the lure, reducing air resistance and dramatically increasing casting distance. When the lure lands in the water, the lip opens again, but instead of remaining rigid, the lip wobbles as you retrieve the lure. This creates a knuckleball effect and, quite possibly, the most erratic, three-dimensional movement ever seen in a jerkbait. This will be a killer for bass. Megabass

Best tackle system: Lure Hanger Kit

Best tackle system: Lure Hanger Kit

If you’ve ever stepped on a lure or ripped the carpet in your boat trying to free a hook, you’ll understand why the Lure Hangar Kit won the Tackle Management award at ICAST. This simple, effective system uses powerful magnets to lock the likes of lures, pliers, forceps and files safely in place—and at the ready. Just mount the galvanized metal plate and four pairs of hangars inside a storage compartment, or to the inside of your boat. More info: Magnetic Marine

Best umbrella rig: Terminator Titanium Rig

Best umbrella rig: Terminator Titanium Rig

Multi-bait umbrella rigs catch fish, but sometimes the stainless steel wire arms flex, bend and eventually break at the worst possible time—when you’re fighting a big one. That won’t happen with this rig’s super-strong, flexible titanium arms. Better still, speeding up then pausing your retrieve causes the arms to compress and billow, making the bait look even more natural. Available in three arm lengths, from five to 10 inches. More info: Rapala

Best fishing journal: My Fish Pattern App

Best fishing journal: My Fish Pattern App

Spotting fishing trends and lake-specific angling patterns has never been easier thanks to this smartphone app, which meshes your fishing data with your GPS information. Simply log detailed information about your day on the water, and over time the app will identify trends and suggest fishing patterns. You can also share your information with other anglers, and buy or sell uploaded patterns. And get this: the app itself is free. More info: My Fish Pattern

Best sonar/GPS unit: HDS Gen2 Touch

Best sonar/GPS unit: HDS Gen2 Touch

A few years ago, Lowrance defined multifunction sonar/GPS standards with its revolutionary HDS High Definition units. Now the wide-format HDS Gen2 Touch delivers even better capabilities with extra-wide touch screens in seven-, nine- and 12-inch sizes. Imagine: no more fumbling with dials and buttons thanks to the faster and more intuitive touch-screen controls. The Gen2 Touch features the same chart-plotting capabilities as the HDS non-touch models, plus Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD. More info: Lowrance

Best muskie and pike lure: Shadzilla X

Best muskie and pike lure: Shadzilla X

Another big, high-performance soft-plastic offering from Canadian lure makers Mike and Mary Nabulsi, the Shadzilla X is buoyant and super flexible. The jerkbait also features an internal “casting rig” weight that keeps it swimming in a realistic horizontal motion, rather than plummeting nose down. This makes it easy to glide the Shadzilla X in a fish-attracting walk-the-dog manner. 
It comes in 10- and 13-inch models. More info: Water Wolf Lures

Best boat accessory: Quick-Slip

Best boat accessory: Quick-Slip

Are you tired of skinning your knuckles while adjusting the height of your trolling motor or twisting your RAM-mounted electronics back into place every time they slip? This cantilever locking system replaces the existing knob, spacer and washer from the shaft of your trolling motor (or the collar of your RAM mount) with a stainless steel, cam-action lock. Installation takes about a minute, and no tools are needed. There’s a Quick-Slip for just about every model of Motor Guide and MinnKota electric trolling motor, as well as for all three sizes of RAM mounts. More info: Quick-Slip

Best spoon: Sonic Baitfish

Best spoon: Sonic Baitfish

Trolled or vertically jigged, this vibrating spoon is deadly for salmon when the fish are feeding on needlefish and herring, or when it’s cast along the edges of kelp beds. Smallmouth bass anglers will also love the Sonic BaitFish’s action, especially during fall when bass congregate on deep-water structures and smack vibrating lures. Ditto for crappie anglers. It’s available in six sizes, ranging from 1/10 to ¾ ounce, and five colours. More info: Mack's Lure

Best mapping tool: Insight Genesis

Best mapping tool: Insight Genesis

Lowrance users can now make customized maps of their favourite fishing spots, showing every detail down to one-foot contour intervals. Simply download the free Insight Genesis application to your home computer and input sonar logs from your Lowrance Chartplotter. The software then provides a link to where you can view the resulting customized map online, for free. You can also purchase a download of the map to use on the Chartplotter, or sign up for a subscription that allows for unlimited maps. More info: Lowrance