The 2017 version of ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) was held July 11-14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fl. and companies from the Carolinas represented more than 10 percent of those displaying their wares. There were 582 companies displaying a variety of fishing tackle and associated products and more than 60 were from North and South Carolina. Of those companies, approximately half manufacture accessories or other fishing related products. More than 15 companies were showing accessories (some of these make tackle too), almost a dozen displayed technical or lifestyle clothing, and four companies showed five brands of kayaks. 

Huk, based in Charleston, S.C. won a Best of Show award for their Attack fishing Shoe. The Attack features a GripX wet traction non marking outsole, Huk Fuzetek upper support cage, performance lacing, and is available in solid colors or Kryptek Camo. Huk said they are nearly bulletproof and designed for fishermen as serious as they are.

The clothing category also included shoes by Astral of Asheville, N.C. and watches by Hook and Gear Watch Company in West Columbia, S.C. The clothing manufacturers displayed many varieties of technical and leisure wear, including both shirts and pants. These included: Calcutta - Morehead City, N.C.; Fish Hippie - Mt. Airy, N.C.; Flood Tide - Charleston, S.C.; Heybo - Chester, S.C.; Hooked Soul Fishing Company - Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Local Boy Outfitters - Columbia, S.C.; Marsh Wear - Charleston, S.C. and Southern Lure - Belmont, N.C. All had good looking, top quality clothing that would be right at home on deck reeling in the big one or relaxing at the marina or club after fishing.

The accessories category is a sort of catch-all, and one interesting thing in this category is the internet services of Open Angler of Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Open Angler manages booking for marinas, outfitters, guides, lodging, and allows anglers to book online. In addition to making booking easier for fishermen, Open Angler manages internet presence for guides, outfitters and marinas, and assists in booking dates and managing their calendars.

Several interesting innovations in the accessories category include Betts Tackle of Fuquay with a new spin on fish grips. Betts added a pair of raised "teeth" in the jaw for more fish security and incorporated a trigger grip for more control. Betts also has a new line of 1/4 inch mesh cast nets with lighter weights for fishermen chasing small baits in shallow water. 

Dry Case of Wilmington, N.C. introduced the Basin Moonwater Bag that is completely waterproof. This is a small/medium backpack bag that also has suction cups to attach it to a boat, kayak or SUP. Fish-D-Funk of Spartanburg, who makes some of the best odor removal products available, introduced their Reel Performance formula that cleans, lubricates and protects reels and conditions line. Reel Performance is environmentally safe and made from renewable resources.

NOCQUA Adventure Gear of Denver, N.C. featured their very compact, lightweight, 10 amp hour power source. This can be used to power many things, including a fish finder on a kayak where space and weight are at a premium or simply for tablets and phones. There is also a solar recharger available for those wanting to spend days away from electrical outlets. Electric motors are becoming popular to increase the range of kayaks, and Powerup Kayaking of Charlotte, N.C. displayed their new motor, mount and power pod arrangement that adapts to the rudder system of most kayaks.  

Propel IP Inc. doesn't sound like a tackle or accessory company, but their new Catch Commander Scale should be a hot item for tournament fishermen and will work well for any angler that wants to keep accurate weights and a tally of his catch. In addition to weighing fish, the Catch Commander also records weights and will tell tournament fishermen which fish to cull to keep their bag the heaviest. It's heavy duty and should last for a while. Spindrivers of Rocky Mount, N.C. had one of the simplest items displayed at ICAST, but it serves a purpose every fisherman, especially offshore fishermen, need. The colorful plastic Spindrivers spin around rigs and leaders to keep them organized. It's much easier than the rubber bands and bread bag ties most fishermen currently use.

Other accessory companies from the Palmetto and Tar Heel states included; Astral - Asheville, N.C.; C.E. Smith Company - Greensboro, N.C.; Calcutta - Morehead City, N.C.; Sea Striker, Morehead City, N.C.; Flymen Fishing Company - Brevard, N.C.; Windco LLC - Indian Trail, N.C. and Wolff Industries - Spartanburg, S.C.

Boats have become a big category at ICAST with the growing popularity of fishing from canoes, kayaks and SUPs. This year the boating category of the New Products Showcase had 18 boats. Three were inflatables and the others were various forms of canoes, kayaks and SUPs. There were more than a dozen canoe, kayak and SUP brands displaying at ICAST and five were from the Carolinas. Foot propulsion has become a big feature on fishing kayaks and many of the kayaks in the New Product Showcase were equipped with them.

Bonafide Kayaks of Greenville, S.C. is the newest kayak manufacturer in the Carolinas and all their display boats were labeled as prototypes. They should be in shops within a few months. Bonafide is comprised of a handful of individuals with years of experience in the kayak and accessory business and their goal is to introduce fishing kayaks that find a niche with new and experienced kayak anglers alike. Bonafide is entering the market as a premium brand and many top accessories are included in the standard package.  

Confluence Outdoors of Greenville, S.C. produces several brands of kayaks and were displaying their fishing kayak lines of Wilderness and Perception. Radar is the new fishing kayak from Wilderness and it features a choice of pedal or power Helix Drives which can also be paddled. In the Perception line, Confluence offers two Sound models for kayak fishermen that prefer sit-inside kayaks, plus several models in the Pescador line and the Striker for those who prefer sit-on-top kayaks.   

North Carolina was also represented with Feel Free Kayaks of Swannanoa and Native Watercraft of Fletcher. While it wasn't in the New Product Showcase, Feel Free was busy showing their Overdrive system that combines a pedal and motor propulsion system in the same unit. This was first shown at ICAST 2016 and is projected to be available sometime this summer. Native Watercraft has employed their Propel pedal system for several years now and were showing it on their new Titan. Native also has  a variety of other sit-in and sit-on-top models of pedal and paddle propelled kayaks.  

Rods, reels, line and tackle will follow in part 3 of this ICAST 2017report.