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Best of Show and category winners from ICAST 2023

See all the award winning products from ICAST 2023!

American Tackle Company Wins “Best of Show” at ICAST 2023 Groundbreaking carbon rod building component takes home top honors in Orlando

Orlando, Fla. — A decade of design work paid off on Thursday as American Tackle Company took home “Best of Show” honors at sportfishing’s largest trade show with a sleek, nearly weightless custom rod component: the Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle.

“Components are often overlooked,” said American Tackle Company’s Darrin Heim. “But at this point, it’s hard to overlook them because this is true innovation.”

The Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle is a masterwork from the Florida-based custom rod manufacturer, well-known for introducing the MicroWave Guide System about a decade ago. Heim said the company has been working for almost 10 years to refine the manufacturing process for its carbon rod handles, first working with reel seats and rod butts before finally borrowing a blown carbon building technology from the bicycle industry to create the new ICAST Best of Show champion.

According to Heim, carbon rod handles have been available in the fishing industry since the 1980s; however, his team believes the time has finally arrived for the material to be seen as a widespread replacement for traditional handles made of cork.

“In my opinion, this is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon and push carbon along,” said Heim. “There is a demand but there hasn’t yet been the same recognition for carbon in this industry that we see in others like cycling. People are used to using cork, which is essentially tree bark, and they’ve been using that forever. But we think carbon is going to be the preferred material of the future. It’s lightweight, it’s extremely durable and strong. It’s beautiful. It’s sensitive, and we feel that the time is right for carbon to be widely accepted.”

Previously, Heim said most carbon products in fishing were cylindrical products that were cut by hand, baked and then sanded to form. Now — using blow molding — more products with curves and ergonomic designs are making their way to the show floor.

This year’s ICAST New Product Showcase featured 1,087 new products from 292 companies. After 37 category winners were crowned yesterday, American Tackle Company came out on top as the sole owners of “Best of Show.” Heim said the business has won category awards before, but this is their first Best of Show win at ICAST.

“It’s great to be representing the rest of the custom rod builders and rod component companies in the industry,” Heim added.

ICAST 2023 New Product Showcase Best of Category Winners

Best of Fishing Lifestyle  

Novelties and Wellness
Product: The GoMist Drink and Misting Bottle | ExtremeMist Personal Cooling Systems 
Contact: Devin Holmgren marketing@extrememist.com

Motorized Boating Accessories
Product: PowerPole Move ZR | Power-Pole®
Contact: Curt Hill curt@power-pole.com

Non-Motorized Boating Accessory
Contact: Suzy Hunt suzy@boteboard.com

Boats and Watercraft
Product: Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL + 132 | Johnson Outdoors Watercraft, Inc.
Contact: Alex Sherbino alex.sherbino@johnsonoutdoors.com

Product: Ankle Deck Boots – Black | AFTCO
Contact: Denny Le denny@aftco.com

Ice Fishing
Product: LiveScope™ Plus Ice Fishing Bundle LI with ECHOMAP™ UHD2 93sv | Garmin USA
Contact: Carly Hysell carly.hysell@garmin.com

Product: King Tide 8, Black 580G Blue Mirror | Costa Sunglasses
Contact: Hannah Trotter hannah_ext@verdepr.com

Lifestyle Apparel for Women
Women’s Coverup Dress | Huk Performance Fishing
Contact: Bobby Lader blader@marolina.com

Lifestyle Apparel for Men
Ocean Bound Hooded Performance Shirt | AFTCO
Denny Le denny@aftco.com

Warm Weather Technical Apparel for Women
Product: Mojeaux 1/4 Zip Performance Shirt | AFTCO
Denny Le denny@aftco.com

Warm Weather Technical Apparel for Men
Product: Channel Hooded Performance Shirt | AFTCO
Denny Le denny@aftco.com

Cold Weather Technical Apparel for Women
Product: Women’s Barricade Rain Suit | AFTCO
Denny Le denny@aftco.com

Cold Weather Technical Apparel for Men
Product: Gale Pullover | Blackfish Gear
Contact: Addy Hansen ahansen@clamcorp.com

Best of General Tackle 

Soft and Hard Coolers
Product: Flop Box 10 | Flop Industries
Contact: Kyle Dougherty Kyle@divebombindustries.com

Product: Westin EscapeCam | Westin Fishing
Contact: Michael Trost mtr@fairpoint.dk

Cutlery, Hand Plies or Tools
Product: BUBBA Pro Series Smart Fish Scale | BUBBA
Contact Matt Kinamore mkinamore@aob.com

Fishing Accessory
Product:  ENGEL USB Rechargeable Lithium-Ion XL Live Bait Aerator Pump | ENGEL Coolers
Contact: Chris Holloway chris@engelcoolers.com

Kids’ Tackle
Product: ProFISHiency Next Gen Crazy Combo | Anything Possible Brands
Contact: Amanda Rispoli arispoli@anythingpossible.com

Tackle Management
Product: Pontoon Boat Tackle Center | Boat Outfitters
Contact: Jared Walton jwalton@teakisle.com

Terminal Tackle
Product: VMC Swingin’ Ned Rig Jig | Rapala
Contact: Matt Jensen matt.jensen@rapalavmc.com

Custom Tackle and Components
American Tackle Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle | American Tackle Company
Contact: Kevin Landers Kevin@americantackle.us

Fishing Line
Product: Mastiff Fluorocarbon | Shimano
Contact: Cory Van Auken cory@darbycommunications.com

Best of Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing Waders & Wading Boots
Product: G4Z Stockingfoot Wader | Simms Fishing Products
Contact: John Frazier John.frazier@simmsfishing.com

Fly Lines, Leaders, Tippet and Line Accessories
Product: BUZBE Colony 8T (THIN) | BUZBE
Contact: Caleb Sutton Caleb@buzbe.com

Fly Fishing Packs, Bags & Luggage
Product: Flyweight Vest Pack | Simms Fishing Products
John Frazier John.frazier@simmsfishing.com

Fly Fishing Technical Apparel and Accessories
Product: Master M6014 Edition | Renzetti, Inc.
Contact: Lilly Renzentti Lilly@renzetti.com

Fly Fishing Reel
Product: Cheeky Spray Fly Reel | Cheeky Fishing
Contact: Peter Vandergrift pvandergrift@northpointbrands.com

Fly Fishing Rod
Product: Hardy Marksman Z | Pure Fishing, Inc.
Contact: Kimberly Hoffman Kimberly.hoffman@purefishing.com

Best of Lures

Freshwater Soft Lure
Product: Berkley PowerBait Nessie | Pure Fishing, Inc.
Contact: Kimberly Hoffman Kimberly.hoffman@purefishing.com

Saltwater Soft Lure
Product: Mulletron LT (Line Through) Swimbait | Z-Man Fishing Products
Contact: Cory Schmidt cschmidt@zmanfishing.com

Freshwater Hard Lure
Product: ChatterBait Elite EVO | Z-Man Fishing Products
Contact: Cory Schmidt cschmidt@zmanfishing.com

Saltwater Hard Lure
Product: MIrrOlure The Duke Dog | L&S Bait Company
Contact: Michael Tennian mtennian1@tampabay.rr.com 

Best of Rods 

Freshwater Rod
Product: St. Croix Mojo Bass TRIGON | St. Croix Rods
Contact: Josh Lantz joshl@stcroixrods.comSaltwater Rod
Product: NRX+ Inshore | Shimano
Contact: Cory Van Auken cory@darbycommunications.com

Rod & Reel Combo
Product: Abu Garcia ZATA Baitcast Combo | Pure Fishing, Inc.
Contact: Kimberly Hoffman Kimberly.hoffman@purefishing.com

Best of Reels

Freshwater Reel
Product: Stradic FM | Shimano
Contact: Cory Van Auken cory@darbycommunications.com

Saltwater Reel
Product: Seapower 1200 | Daiwa Corporation
Contact: Chip Cone chipc@daiwa.com