Kevin VanDam views ICAST much like he views an Elite Series tournament or a Bassmaster Classic appearance. He's there to figure things out and to win. Showing up or finishing second has little or no meaning to this man.
And so it is this year. He's worked with several of his sponsors to develop a collection of new products that will almost certainly change the way we bass fish.Here's a look at some of them and why he says they'll make a difference.MustadWe designed the KVD Elite Series Treble Hook as a black nickel replacement hook for anglers looking to get a better, more secure hookset and less tangle when they change or upsize hooks on their favorite bait.
The really short shank gives the fish less leverage as he fights, and it keeps the hooks away from each other as they swing around during the retrieve. We put an Ultra Point on them so you know it's as sharp as can be, and with an X rating they'll hold up over many strikes and fights."The KVD Elite Series Treble Hook (TG76BLN) is something we've needed for a longtime."Strike King"This has been a really exciting year at Strike King. We have several new products, and a ton of new colors, that'll be introduced at ICAST this year. It's one of the most exciting lineups I've seen in my career.First on his list is the new Strike King Pro-model Series 6 XD (extra deep) crankbait. Although still in it's final tweaking stage, and not scheduled for release until fall, you can bet it'll be one of the hottest items at the show.
This thing is amazing. When it gets down to its running depth it moves back and forth as it travels along. It looks like it's hunting or rooting or searching for something. It may be the most realistic action I've ever seen in a crankbait. They bite it like crazy."I fished the final prototype at Kentucky Lake this year and finished second in a slugfest. It's definitely the real deal. I think it'll go down as one of the greats. It's in the class with the Pro-model Series 5 when it comes to performance."VanDam is also impressed with Strike King's new 3-inch King Shad. The Baby King Shad will fill the small swimbait niche that has become so popular with anglers across the country, especially those who live in areas where 8-inch forage doesn't exist and 8-pound bass are mostly a pipe dream."This thing is as good as the original King Shad, only it's smaller. Nothing was lost when it was downsized. It'll catch bass when they want a swimbait, but not a real big one. It'll be offered in all the standard colors plus a host of new ones."We all know that no collection of new VanDam fishing tackle would be complete without a spinnerbait. This year it's a heavier version of the Bottom Dweller. The newest addition to this popular line of spinnerbaits weighs 1 3/8 ounces."It's heavy enough to get down deep without a lot of wasted time. Of course, we kept the same Raz-R-Blade configuration on it so that the blades spin faster and generate more flash, while at the same time minimizing blade lift during a relatively fast retrieve. It's available in a ton of colors. You won't have any trouble finding one to suit your needs."VanDam has had a hand in the development of Strike King's new 10-inch Thumper worm, too."I think this one will be really good when you need a bigger worm. It's a fine product, but what makes it extra special is that it's a part of our Rage line, one of the most popular and effective plastic lines in the industry. We'll produce it in a bunch of new colors — stuff that the bass haven't seen before."
QuantumQuantum will unveil a new line of baitcasting reels this year — KVD Tour Reels.
"These reels are high-quality baitcasters with a different design. We've developed a large diameter spool for them without increasing the size or weight of the reel much at all."A large spool is more important than many anglers think. You can pick up more line per handle turn with a large spool than you ever will with a small one. That affects reel speed more than the gear ratio. The true measure of speed is how much line is retrieved per handle turn. We call it IPT — inches per turn."Our Burner 7.3:1 gear ratio model will collect 34 inches of line per turn. That makes it the fastest reel on the market, at least as far as I know. Speed like that matters over the course of several hours of fishing. A few extra casts can make a big difference when it's time to return to the dock."
That's all well and good, but what about a large spool's propensity to backlash (a problem that's more serious for some of us than for others)?No problem, says VanDam."Quantum's ACS 3 centrifugal breaking system solves that challenge. With one setting you can make a 50-yard cast, and then with your next presentation pitch your bait 10 yards without changing anything and without any fear of a backlash. This reel is a model of ease of use and fishing efficiency."
The Quantum KVD Tour Reels come in three gear ratios — Power 5.4:1; Speed 6.6:1; and Burner 7.3:1. The reels weigh 8.5 ounces. All feature large diameter spools and the ACS 3 centrifugal breaking system.