This series will be broken up into multiple parts, in sort of a ‘preview and review’ with some of my observations. Enjoy, and keep an eye out in the coming couple of weeks for all the scoop.
Slide-Off weed guard
I’d like to introduce the Slide-Off weed guard by slideoffweedguard.com. When previewing ICast exhibitors, this one really caught my eye. As a redfish angler who fishes the Mosquito Lagoon and has to deal with several species of sea grasses, any new weed guard warrants close review. This device was developed with the bass angler in mind, but its applications are obvious all over the map. The device is basically a plastic weed guard that snaps on virtually any hook, jig head and so many lures. This variety of applications should please anglers along with the wide variety of size offerings from a tiny #2 to a whopping 5/O.
The uniqueness of being able to make your favorite jig head style weedless is interesting enough, but add to that this weed guard only takes a fraction of the pressure to allow for hook purchase, as opposed to nearly every other style weed guard requiring more pressure and constant pressure. The device is ‘disposable’, in that it can slip off the hook and be lost on occasion, but at a suggested MSRP of $2.99 for a 10 pack, the cost is a very small factor, especially if your catch ratio goes up, and your lost jig head numbers go down. This product is currently in production and available now from large retailers or from their website. I’m anxious to put them to the test on some big redfish, and bumping some pads for big bass.
Metal Marine, makers of Bubble Box
Most everyone who has used minnows, shiners or even giant goggle eyes for bait is familiar with the Bubble Box. This is certainly the most recognizable brand of bucket aeration in the USA. The parent company, Metal Marine has popular offerings from the Cool Bubbles insulated minnow bucket, to the tried and true B-11 Bubble Box. In conversations with company president, Clark Lea Jr., concerning the precise needs of kayak anglers, Mr. Lea indicated he felt the line had a strong following in the kayak market with the current products and one of his personal favorites, the LB-11 Bubbles Top Combo that allows anglers to convert virtually any round bucket into a baitwell. This model comes with a bucket lid, the standard B-11 bubbler, a hinged opening and the entire lid has appurtenances for pliers, fillet knife and extra lures.
Discussing my selfish personal interest in a more saltwater rigid model, Mr. Lea indicated their current line included appropriate measures to keep the products running strong in the salt environment, and their return rate was ‘less than 2%’. Indeed, when most of us experience a failure, we just toss the unit instead of returning it (I said with a bit of a smirk).
The newest offering to round out the line is the ultra-tiny and certainly pocket-sized Baby Bubbles, model B-18. This unit works on either 1 or 2 AA batteries and is reported to last up to 40 hours in the two battery configuration. Estimated MSRP is under 10 bucks, and a dealer delivery date was not available at the time of writing.
Seeing Orion on the ICast exhibitors list, I had a special note to stop by and speak to the company about including kayakers to the fullest degree. So many of us are venturing offshore and are in need of a small but high-quality signal kit at an appropriate price. Well, call it ‘shame on me’ or shame on my local retailers for not introducing it to me, but when I asked the gents in the booth about that very thing, they showed me model 769 Kayak and Paddle Sport signal kit! As I forced away the blush from my face in not knowing they were ahead of my game by already having the perfect product for kayakers, I noted this kit actually goes well above the ‘bare minimum’, by providing a signal mirror (day signal), a whistle, three Skyblazer II aerial flares and a neat little floating zipper pouch to contain everything. When asked why they chose aerial flares rather than handheld, the team had obviously done their research and indicated that concerns over the scattering hot material in a handheld flare becoming a hazard in a plastic boat. Certainly, we would not want an emergency situation to become an extraordinary threat with fire being brought into the equation. MSRP for this model is around $29.
Please keep an eye out for following reports on many other products that emerged at ICast.