Live from ICAST

Well, I'd love to say that getting out to Las Vegas has been problem-free, but that's just not the case. It started with a delay at the airport. I like to fly, but I really don't like airports. I understand that the security measures are necessary but it's just a real pain. I got to spend a little extra time in one of my least favorite places. Oh well, at least I made it.

However, once I got to Vegas, I needed to get a cab to get to the hotel but the line to get one was an hour long. It was incredible. There were about 30 cabs a minute coming in, yet the line to get one was an hour long. I was amazed. You hear about how bad the economy and everything is, but I had to second guess that after seeing this and getting to the show floor.

When I got to the convention center, the first thing I noticed was a pick up on the business end of our industry. That's really refreshing. I'm here in the Ardent reels booth, and you can see in the picture what I've spent most of my time doing. That's Chester Moore, editor of Texas Fish & Game interviewing me. There is a media presence here like I've never seen. I don't remember it ever being this prevalent. I guess a lot of it can be attributed to a media revolution on the Web.

There are so many outlets from big Web sites to small ones, and major publications to ones you've never heard of. Yesterday I'd be doing an interview with someone about Ardent's new products and while I was doing that, there'd be two or three other groups waiting for the same thing. That's the biggest change I've noticed. It seems like there's more folks covering the show now than ever before.

It's a sign that ICAST is an important part of our industry. For a lot of companies, this is their biggest show of the year. The other big show is the Bassmaster Classic but that's a consumer show. At ICAST, there are representatives from the largest tackle buyers in the world to the little guy who sells a few things on his Web site. They're all here. It's been a lot of fun seeing the excitement in the air.

Now for the cool stuff. One of the neatest things was at the Ardent booth. It actually won a Best of ICAST award. It's a combo with a Fishouflage camo-wrapped C400 reel on a rod. Coloring products is a trend that we're seeing more and more, especially with rods. However, a lot of them are decorative and pretty, but when you see this one, you think of the outdoors. Check it out at www.ardentoutdoors.com. I'll tell you something else that I really liked, the new square-billed XCalibur crankbaits. They come in three sizes, and they're all going to be fish-catching machines.

Another thing is a new color that's coming out. I have been recommending this color for a while, and I didn't know it was coming out until yesterday. It's called smallmouth green. It's the color of a smallie. I have gone and gotten lures custom painted this color before, so I've always considered it my secret.

YUM has got some a new product that I'm pretty excited about, too. It's called the Salleemander, and it's a swimming lizard. The legs and the tail have mini swimming feet on them like a Money Craw. In the water, this thing has a cool swimming action. It's got a different action than any other soft plastic lizard.

I participated in the Kistler Rods press conference, and I got to meet Gary Loomis. He's arguably the biggest rod building legend in the history of the sport. I'd never met him in person; I only knew him from his reputation. Something cool that he announced was that all the Kistler blanks will be made right here in the United States. Kistler has re-tooled, and everything is made here in the U.S.

Their new Z-Bone rods are phenomenal as well. Hearing Gary explain the technology behind them blew my mind. They are the most advanced rod blanks on the planet, and I feel privileged to have fished with them for the past year. I consider myself pretty hard on equipment but I haven't broken one yet. They're also superlight and sensitive. Not to mention, they're completely customizable. All you have to do is go to Kistler's Web site, and you can choose your preferred handle, action, length and other options for a custom stick. It gives us — as fishermen — more control. It's really cool and should become the industry standard.

This ICAST has been a blast, but it's also pretty short because I have to hop on a plane this afternoon to head back to Texas. Maybe I'll finally get back on the water in the next week or so.

Oh, and I did end up getting an iPad. It's something else. It's a nice go-between a phone and a computer, and I'd recommend them to anyone who has even considered it. For just a few bucks you can make the iPad a useful tool for fishing. A few dollars gets Navionics' HotMaps for any part of the country. A few years ago I don't think we could've envisioned the kind of technology we now have on bass boats, and I think the same will be true in another 10 years. Each year, it's typically at ICAST that these things roll out. I'm excited for next year already.

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