Every July, the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades descends on Orlando, Fla., for what is the world’s largest sportfishing trade show.
If it’s fishing related, you’ll see it at ICAST. Anything and everything that is fishing gear, accessories and apparel is on display at the show.
The show is not open to the public and is where manufacturers, distributors, buyers and members of the outdoor press come together to take in the latest and greatest of the fishing world.
If there was ever a thought that kayak fishing is just a fad or passing fancy, the presence of a multitude of kayak manufacturers and ancillary kayak products at ICAST quickly dispels those notions.
This year’s show featured booths from every major player in the kayak and SUP industry, as well as several companies that manufacture products specifically designed to enhance the kayak fishing experience.
This year’s ICAST saw the explosion of pedal-driven kayaks that will debut in the 2017 model year. With the pedal-yak market driven by Hobie and Native, several other major manufacturers have jumped into the foot propulsion game — with more likely to come.
Here is a quick look at the new pedal-yak offerings, along with a couple of other products that caught my eye:
Old Town Predator PDL — The Predator PDL took Best Boat honors at ICAST 2016, and was remodeled to be an efficient pedaling kayak.
The propeller-driven unit cruises a little over 3 mph and can instantly switch into reverse.
A new seat and rudder system was adapted to fit a wide range of body types, and makes handling quick and efficient.
The prop is designed to be weedless and efficient, and the unit has a 16-inch draft when deployed.
The Predator will be available at dealers early this fall.
Get more information at predatorkayak.com/pdl.
Hobie Mirage Drive 180 — Hobie’s Mirage Drive, which uses fins rather than a propeller, has been the industry leader in pedal kayaks since being introduced nearly two decades ago.
The Mirage Drive 180 now offers full-power reverse mode with the simple pull of a handy cable.
The new drive will be standard on all 2017 Hobies available in September and will be available next year as a retrofit drive for all previous model years.
Get more information at hobiecat.com.
Wilderness Systems Radar — Wildy’s introduction into the propulsion game is the Radar 115 and 135. Offering options for paddle, pedal or electric motor propulsion, the Radar allows a kayak angler the option to pedal, paddle or use the motor.
The Radar provides a stable fishing platform from the sitting or standing position. The prop-driven pedal system has reverse and pops up with the push of a lever to clear underwater obstacles or to easily switch to paddle mode.
The Helix Pedal Drive and the Helix Motor Drive are sold as separate systems.
Find more at wildernesssystems.com.
FeelFree Overdrive — Not to be left out of the pedal-yak game, FeelFree’s Overdrive is a unique system combining pedal-drive propulsion with an optional integrated motor to use electric power to drive the same system.
The pedals quickly disengage and the motor, which is the size of a 24-ounce beer can, takes over the propulsion. The prop-driven system has reverse and will be available on several new FeelFree models and can be retrofitted to some of their existing kayaks.
Learn more at feelfreeus.com.
Perception Pescador Pilot — Aiming to be an entry-level, less-expensive option, the Pilot comes in at one of the lowest starting price points. It is an affordable sit-on-top packed to the gills with fishing features and complete with the Pilot Drive pedal system.
The Pilot features a stadium-style, comfort-focused captain’s chair with on-the-fly adjustability to fit a range of angler heights, and the light-weight propeller drive system has reverse and offers a zero draft position for shallow-water paddling.
Get more information at perceptionkayaks.com.
Native Manta Ray — Native introduced the prototype Manta Ray 12 to expand its existing line of Propel Drive kayaks. The Manta Ray will be lighter, faster, and have a lower center of gravity than the current Slayer Propel.
More information can be found at nativewatercraft.com.
Jackson Kayak Flex Drive — Jackson’s hands-free, forward and reverse propulsion for kayaks is named the Flex Drive. The new tri-prop propeller combined with the unique articulating drive system helps keep it clear of obstacles and easy to clean.
The drive quickly adapts from deep to shallow water navigation without having to move the main pedal drive unit.
An interchangeable electric motor-driven head unit is in development for release at a later date. The first kayaks with this innovation will be the Coosa FD and the versatile Cruise FD available in early 2017.
Learn more at jacksonkayak.com.
Tackle Webs — Although not a new product, Tackle Web’s unique corrosion free, light-weight storage pouches offer many new designs that are perfect additions to a kayak.
The unique mesh pouches offer myriad storage options on the kayak itself or on accessories like seats, coolers or crates.
Tackle Webs keep your gear organized and readily at hand. With the option of bungee/grommet or Velcro mounting systems, they can be placed virtually anywhere, and a wide variety of shapes and sizes handle all your kayak storage needs.
Learn more at tacklewebs.com.
Bill Lewis Outdoors StutterStep — Louisiana’s own Rat-L-Trap folks introduced this new topwater lure that offers actions never before seen in a topwater lure. With a simple twitch of the rod tip, the bait can be spun 180 degrees to keep it in the strike zone but still impart fish-attracting movement and splash.
It’s called the StutterStep because it can be stopped next to fishy cover and walked in place. You can walk it, wag it, wobble-wake it, turn-around-twitch it and stutter step it.
Available this month in 12 colors, the original model weighs 1 ounce and is 5 inches long. Smaller versions are planned at a later date.
Find more at rat-l-trap.com.
Logic Lures CeramiX Scissors — Featuring rust-proof construction and safe, rounded ceramic blades the CeramiX scissors are perfect for kayak use. The blades cut through braid with only one hand and never need sharpening. They come with a lanyard and carabiner to lash to the kayak, and will be the last line cutter you ever need to buy.
Find more information at logiclures.com.
YakAttack CommandStand — This is a new universal stand-up bar from YakAttack that can be adapted to virtually any kayak or SUP. With infinite adjustments for height and width, the bar system makes standing a breeze, and has many incorporated features to hold a wide variety of gear and accessories. It folds flat or can be easily removed for compact storage.
Learn more at yakattack.us.