A Fly Angler Journey Through ICAST

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Photos by Dan Frasier

By Dan Frasier

“If IFTD is a charming antique shop, well maintained with some really neat stuff in it, ICAST is Mardi Gras, complete with floats and fire eaters.”

This year, for the first time, I decided to make the long trek from Sioux Falls, SD, to Orlando in the heat of summer to attend the International Fly Tackle Dealers Convention. For those of you that aren’t familiar, this is the largest Fly Trade Show in the United States. Every year companies gather to introduce the world to the new and wonderful products that will be gracing the fly shop shelves in the coming year; all vying for a pocket in your chest pack. The show is really a pretty good time, getting to see people you haven’t seen in years and getting a sneak preview of some really cool and innovative stuff. That said, two and a half days is a long time and the fly industry is rather small. So I found myself bored. Enter ICAST.

ICAST is the trade show to which IFTD is attached. It’s the show for the fishing industry in its entirety. Bikini-clad ladies staff booths and entire RV’s and lineups of boats grace the floor. It’s a real spectacle to behold. If IFTD is a charming antique shop, well maintained with some really neat stuff in it, ICAST is Mardi Gras, complete with floats and fire eaters. So naturally, I wandered over there. You know, just to check things out. Not because of the girls or anything.

Anyway, I saw some pretty astonishing things that the gear world is bringing out and I wanted to share a few of those with you.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the cool and innovative new products on the fly side. Tacky’s breathable fly box stands out in particular. Now step with me onto Bourbon Street for a look at what the other side is up to.

While having lunch one day one and talking with a friend, a tall and very loud man pulled up a seat next to us. He asked who we were and what we were at the show for. As my buddy and I explained who we are, he loudly cut us off and started talking about what he does. Immediately he reminded me of a carnival barker. I hung with the conversation for a few minutes and the man slid a package across the table to me like some kind of surreptitious spy dossier. I looked down and realized he’d given me a Bill Blade.

A Bill Blade is a knife “system” which allows you to cut off the corner of your hat and install what amounts to a metal sheath that a knife blade slides into. That way you have quick access to your blade at all times by just grabbing the corner of your hat and whipping it out. You know, like if you’re with your buddies the Sharks and suddenly the Jets are snapping and prancing their way down the alley. You’ll be able to stick a fool in the time it takes to tip your cap. Just don’t try and REPLACE the blade into the sheath/bill of the cap without taking the cap off. That’s surely a recipe for an eye patch.

As I wandered the floor of the convention center a particularly large wall caught my eye so I went to take a look. Displayed here was the Eco-Popper. This bass popper has a built-in HD camera in the tail that connects remotely to your phone. Why that’s “Eco” I don’t know, but after watching their YouTube video I did learn that for the low price of $500 you can watch mediocre bass refuse your popper live and in real time!

Squid Nation… need I say more?

The SeaQualizer was tucked in a small booth manned by one person who was obviously the inventor/owner/operator/marketer. Just trying to get his company off the ground. And frankly, this idea is a little brilliant, though I doubt it will catch on. As you may or may not know, when fish are hooked in very deep water and yanked to the surface, the pressure change wreaks havoc on their insides. Eyes can bulge and the swim bladder can become massive. So fish caught this way must be “vented” to be released in order to give them a fighting chance of swimming back to the depths and living. Enter the SeaQualizer.

This nifty device is basically the business end of a Boga set to function on a pressure sensitive switch. So the angler simply clips the Boga end on the fishes lip, sets the preferred depth and lowers the fish and contraption into the water. When the device hits the desired water depths the press flips the switch and the grip opens, releasing the fish. God only knows if the fish actually survive the ordeal, but hell it sounds better than venting.

The owner also gave me a two-foot strand of braided colored heavy mono and said, “I make these too. If you can think of any way to use them for anything let me know.”

Sorry dude, I couldn’t think of anything you probably haven’t already thought of.

Wanglers is a really strange name. Is it blue jeans? Is it a dirty joke? Is it a play on the word Anglers? None of the above. It’s a worm that never dies! That’s right, Wanglers is a company that has “made” live worms that last “for months” without dying with no refrigeration. What is this witchcraft you ask? I have no idea, but let’s hope not too many of these suckers end up in one of our many fragile ecosystems. Zombie night-crawlers just feels like a horror film. Oh, and they come in both red and green.

And in the “Hold my beer” category we have the Rover Aerobote inflatable Stand-up Paddleboard. Look, I’ve tried to surf on enough inflatable pool rafts to know that standing up on anything that you blew up yourself is just not a good idea. Add to that the fact that SUPs can be hard enough to manage in any wind or wakes and the idea of an inflatable SUP seems like a recipe for disaster. But wait, there’s more! This inflatable SUP is not only the equivalent to you betting your life that your waders won’t leak, but it also can be outfitted with a 6HP outboard gas motor! What could possibly go wrong? With that output, the website promises speeds of up to 16 mph on this baby. My god, why don’t we just tie together a raft of pool noodles, put an old V8 out of grandma’s chevy on the back and see if we can pull skiers!

While the fly world sees innovation in the constant improvements to gear that’s been around for a long time; tweaks and adjustments to fine tune their durability and functioning. The gear world seems to see innovation as equal parts genetic engineering, trying to be Apple, bigger/faster and bring your knife to a knife fight. It’s certainly a different mentality from one side of the convention to the other.

Dan Frasier
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “A Fly Angler Journey Through ICAST

  1. Thanks for the update on these innovative, must-have products. I cannot fathom how I fished the last half century without having them. Oh well, I’ll continue to tie on a partridge and yellow soft hackle and cast it with my 45 year old fiberglass rod and dependable click and pawl reel. But, perhaps next season I’ll be using this traditional gear while perched on the deck of a 6 hp SUP.I

    Bill Love
    Sandpoint, Idaho

    • I hear you Bill. But you should still come to downtown Sandpoint to see some new twists on fly fishing apparel (220 1st). No freakish worms, just really cool fishing clothes.

      We were in the IFTD section and had a great show based on great product but I guess I’ll have break out my speedo for next year’s Denver show. Sizzle sells after all.

      Doug Faude
      Also in Sandpoint, Idaho

  2. Re your comment on “SeaQualizer”… I fish the north BC, Canada Coast and The SeaQuilizer (or similar) has become standard equipment on charters. When a Red Snapper or other slow growing, slow to reproduce fish is brought to the top, it’s a cool thing to hopefully give the fish a chance at a longer life after released. Kudos to the brains behind this invention

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