ICAST 2014 - Orlando, FL, Jul 16 - 18, 2014

Filling voids in fishing tackle

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

Next week is a huge week bass anglers.  

That’s when the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) kicks off in Orlando and where all the 2015 tackle will be unveiled.

Of course, you’ve probably seen some of the sneak peeks that have been running on Bassmaster.com the past couple of weeks.

The ICAST show is overwhelming given the magnitude of introductions rolled out by companies for all types of fishing.

I’m just as fascinated as you with lures and always looking for that secret bait that can perform on-the-water magic.

However, the reality is that lures are just tools and you have to select them based upon the job you want them to perform.

When working for Strike King to develop new lures for ICAST, we tried to fill voids in our lineup. Pro staffers met with company personnel weeks ago and discussed exactly what tools we’re missing.

Prototypes were built, tested and tweaked until everything was just right.

So, this year we have two new crankbaits that give us different tools – the KVD 1.5 Shallow and the 8.0 Square Bill. The standard 1.5 has been hugely successful with a running depth of 3 to 6 feet, depending upon line size. The 1.5 Shallow will run 2 feet or less, providing a lure that fishes around shallow wood and over submerged grass. Most companies have super shallow crankbaits that wake the surface. Our 1.5 Shallow will do that if you hold the rod high, but also gives us an erratic running crankbait for sub-surface action.

The 8.0, which dives about 8 feet, is a bigger bodied square bill that runs deeper than our existing models. This need was recognized on the Elite Series Tournament Trail where bigger profile baits tend to catch bigger bass. In addition, it has that wild wobble and search mode that triggers reactionary strikes.

When you start seeing all of the new lures that will be announced by several companies next week, remember that they may look appealing in a picture or lying in your hand, but you won’t know how they fish until you put them in the water. I’ve seen a lot of baits over the years that looked good, but when you tested them in the water the action was sub-par.

I’ve seen that in lipless crankbaits – many of which look fantastic – but their performance at the end the line doesn’t measure up to our Red Eye Shad that stays erect and wobbles on the fall. Swimbaits are another good example; two may look identical but only one has great tail action.

Good reels are easier to characterize. You can turn the handle and feel smoothness and weight and know if it’s for you.

The latest trend is super high speed reels that allow you to take up line faster. Components and technology have improved in recent years so these higher speed reels deliver better power than their forerunners.

You’ll also see a lot of new rods coming in a variety of prices. Rods are tough to judge in pictures but you really need to test them in a store to see if one fits your needs. Every angler’s preference is different; for example the rod I like for spinnerbaits may not be the same that Greg Hackney or Shaw Grigsby likes.

The best way to check out a rod is take your favorite reel to the store, run the line through the guides and pull on the line to check the taper, power, and speed of a rod. You can drag the tip over carpet and feel the sensitivity, but the key is to insure the rod action matches your personal preference.

A lot of neat tackle will be coming your way on Bassmaster.com in the coming days. No matter how good it looks to you, the fish will have the final say. You can put the odds in your favorite by putting it through your own performance tests.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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