Another ICAST has come and gone, and fishing GearJunkies from across the world gathered in Orlando to celebrate the latest innovations in the sport, looking to take home one of the industry’s coveted ICAST Awards. With countless new products, gear, gadgets, and gizmos, the 2023 Best Of Awards was a nail-biter.
The weather tried to scare the masses off the water, who ran for shelter at points, but the show carried on. Below, you’ll find a quick-winded list of ICAST 2023 winners. (Full disclosure: I don’t love these pre-launch winners lists — most products aren’t available or even on the internet yet.)
The products below are brand new, hot, and mostly untested. The list that follows offers a brief summary of winners, links to the product where available, and some images to tickle your fish fancy.
Call it what it is: it’s a tease. Let’s dive in!
ICAST Best of Show 2023
G2 Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle | American Tackle Company
Taking home the big trophy and bragging rights of Best Of Show for 2023 is American Tackle Company’s G2 Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle. It’s impressive that something as simple as a rod component can make such waves that it takes home the top prize.
Best Rods of 2023
Best Freshwater Rod
St. Croix Mojo Bass TRIGON | St. Croix Rods
The St. Croix Mojo Bass TRIGON is going to bring more lengths, powers, and actions to the lineup. You’ll get the option of making your new bass rod selection from 25 casting rod and nine spinning rod models.
Best Saltwater Rod
NRX+ Inshore | G. Loomis
G. Loomis strikes again with the NRX+ Inshore. This rod promises to give you far more reach with increased distances thanks to the Spiral X technology in the blank.
Best Rod & Reel Combo
Abu Garcia ZATA Baitcast Combo | Pure Fishing, Inc.
The Abu Garcia Zata Baitcast Combo is not only slick looking, but it also has a great in-hand feel (from my minor experience in the showcase) and is comfortable on the wallet, with a predicted sub-$300 price tag.
Best Fly Fishing Rod
Hardy Marksman Z | Pure Fishing, Inc.
Hardy makes a clean fly rod, and the Marksman Z is no exception. Touted as a salt fly fisherman’s dream, this rod has a cool ocean theme and even on the showroom floor, had a balanced feel with some pep.
Best Reels of 2023
Best Freshwater Reel
Stradic FM | Shimano
Guess what? This happens to be one of the few products on the list that I was able to get my hands on. Let me tell you, the prestige was earned. The Stradic is smooth and it rips in line like few reels I’ve used.
I haven’t had the chance to really test its capability, but a day on big bass in central Florida has me impressed.
Best Saltwater Reel
Seapower 1200 | Daiwa Corporation
Big fish mean big reels, and the Seapower 1200 from Daiwa is certainly no slouch in the size department. The one-finger power lever allows fishermen to make necessary adjustments without even taking their hand off the rod.
Best Fly Fishing Reel
Cheeky Spray Fly Reel | Cheeky Fishing
The consensus in the room was that these were fun. Fly fishing tends to be steeped in muted colors. The vibrancy of these Cheeky reels made them stand out in what can otherwise be a pretty drab field of fishing.
Best Fishing Line
Mastiff Fluorocarbon | Shimano
Finally! Another product on the very short list of products I’ve used. This was the line used while testing the Shimano Stradic reel (mentioned above).
This line has nano-surface ridges allowing a tighter bond to itself, keeping knots tight. All that while feeling completely slick and smooth. It shoots out of the new reels and so far, I’m a fan.
Best Boats and Watercraft
Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL + 132 | Johnson Outdoors Watercraft, Inc.
It’s an e-bike for the water! The hype around the ePDL from Old Town is major — this thing scoots! With five levels of pedal assist, spot lock, and cruise control, this is the kayak of a trolling fisherman’s dreams.
For me, I’m stoked to have some edge when fighting current or wind. A first and only of its kind, the ePDL is a big jump in kayak fishing tech.
King Tide 8, Black 580G Blue Mirror| Costa Sunglasses
Costa introduced the King Tide as its 40-year anniversary shade, and it has all the look of a modern pair of everyday wear sunglasses with the performance additions needed by serious anglers.
The removable shields offer protection when needed and easily pop off to reveal a stylish, comfortable pair of shades. With Costa’s relatively unmatched lenses, these were a no-brainer for the trophy this year.
Cutlery, Hand Plies, or Tools
BUBBA Pro Series Smart Fish Scale | BUBBA
While I’ve never used The Pro Series Smart Fish Scale, I could have used it to make sure my luggage wasn’t overweight on my way out of ICAST. With a 60-pound weight limit, it would have saved me a lot of time at the airport swapping things between bags to make weight.
I’m sure it’s great on the water, too. With a host of smart features like livewell management and bag weight calculations, you can store almost 100 fish in the database. If you’re competitive, this seems like a solid scale.
Ankle Deck Boots – Black | AFTCO
AFTCO made a pretty clean sweep of most categories that it entered. Look down below and you’ll see they earned just about every apparel nod. This one was a shocker to me, since I thought the new Simms wading shoe had it in the bag for the win.
That being said, the Deck boot from AFTCO is a hefty, low-profile boot that I’m sure will make many a boat angler happy.
Best Fly Fishing Waders of 2023
G4Z Stockingfoot Wader | Simms Fishing Products
What can I say? No surprise here. Simms once again produced an incredible set of waders. These things are hefty, with some real bulk to them — in what feels like a good way. I see the G4Z being a welcome addition to any late-season fisherman looking to stave off the cold.
Best Fly Fishing Packs, Bags, and Luggage
Flyweight Vest Pack | Simms Fishing Products
The Flyweight Vest Pack from Simms really comes across as a sleeker update to fly vests of the past. It has a ton of storage without being bulky like the hand-me-down vests of my childhood. I love a good lumbar pack, but this vest may actually make its way into my arsenal.
Best Lures of 2023
The best lures of the year are pretty straightforward, including just a hint of scandal. (We’re looking at you, Berkley.) Check out the winning selections below.
Freshwater Soft Lure: Berkley PowerBait Nessie | Pure Fishing, Inc.
Saltwater Soft Lure: Mulletron LT (Line Through) Swimbait | Z-Man Fishing Products
Freshwater Hard Lure: ChatterBait Elite EVO | Z-Man Fishing Products
Saltwater Hard Lure: MIrrOlure The Duke Dog | L&S Bait Company
Other ICAST Category Winners
I just can’t include big, pretty pictures of everything.
I gave you some highlights above, and here are the rest of the Best Of Category winners.
Best Fly Fishing Technical Apparel and Accessories: Master M6014 Edition | Renzetti, Inc.
Lifestyle Apparel for Women: Women’s Coverup Dress | Huk Performance Fishing
Lifestyle Apparel for Men: Ocean Bound Hooded Performance Shirt | AFTCO
Warm-Weather Technical Apparel for Women: Mojeaux 1/4 Zip Performance Shirt | AFTCO
Warm-Weather Technical Apparel for Men: Channel Hooded Performance Shirt | AFTCO
Cold-Weather Technical Apparel for Women: Women’s Barricade Rain Suit | AFTCO
Cold-Weather Technical Apparel for Men: Gale Pullover | Blackfish Gear
Novelties and Wellness: The GoMist Drink and Misting Bottle | ExtremeMist Personal Cooling Systems
Motorized Boating Accessories: PowerPole Move ZR | Power-Pole
Non-Motorized Boating Accessory: BOTE WATER HAMMOCK | BOTE
Kids’ Tackle: ProFISHiency Next Gen Crazy Combo | Anything Possible Brands
Tackle Management: Pontoon Boat Tackle Center | Boat Outfitters
Terminal Tackle: VMC Swingin’ Ned Rig Jig | Rapala
Ice Fishing: LiveScope Plus Ice Fishing Bundle LI with ECHOMAP UHD2 93sv | Garmin USA
Soft and Hard Coolers: Flop Box 10 | Flop Industries
Electronics: Westin EscapeCam | Westin Fishing
Fly Lines, Leaders, Tippet, and Line Accessories: BUZBE Colony 8T (THIN) | BUZBE