The annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show, aka ICAST, is the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. Manufacturers flock to the annual convention, the 2017 show having been held in mid-July in Orlando, Fla.
The American Sportfishing Association partners with the International Fly Tackle Dealers and the National Marine Manufacturers Association to produce the show. They may want to invite the Paddlesports Retailers Association as once again, a paddleboat — sort of — walked away with the Best of Show award.
After ballots were cast by buyers and media attending the show, BOTE, a Destin, Fla., company, bested 1,263 other new products in 26 categories submitted by 280 companies in both the overall and boat accessory categories with its new hybrid paddleboard, the Rover.
The one-of-a-kind paddleboard, which is rated for up a 6 HP outboard, specs out at 14 feet long with a 40-inch beam, weighing slightly more than 105 pounds. According to the company’s website, the Rover is a “stand-up paddleboard, micro skiff and everything in between.”
Rover’s modular “Rac Receiver System” allows you to configure the Rover in a multitude of ways by sliding the rack of your choosing into the receiver in a matter of seconds, no tools required. Accessories include a motor mount, a grab rail for standing while fishing, a tackle stowage rack, and a bucket tie-down. That latter will make you smile to learn that the Best of Show marine accessory was a $40 bucket made by Yeti.
Live Watersports finished second in the boats and watercraft category with the Realtree camo version of its Live L4Expedition. This fishing paddleboard has a catamaran-style hull that will support 700 pounds of gear and occupants and a 14-foot overall length that boosts the tracking and handling of the 34-inch wide boat. Weighing in at 62 pounds, it’s a flats fishing angler’s dream come true.
Yak Attack, a company that has been manufacturing gadgets for kayaks for year, showed up this year with a fleet of boats under the Bonafide label, new kayaks manufactured in Greenville, S.C.
Luther Cifers, Bonafide’s CEO, unveiled the company’s Sit/ Stand Series: the SS127 and the SS107. The design plan behind the boats is optimized for paddling performance and incredible stability, with careful attention to comfort, organization and ergonomics. The company markets the new products as kayaks designed to offer the ultimate in fishability.
Cifers was candid about why his company went from building accessories to the kayak market.
“A lot of kayak companies are out there doing a great job meeting the needs of the kayak angler, but we saw an opportunity to do something different with hull design that added a lot of stability to the kayak fishing platform, yet still have the tracking and paddling performance of a kayak with a sleeker profile,” he said.
Cifers said that designing the Bonafide brand gave his company the opportunity to design a kayak from the ground up, with attention to detail gathered over years of understanding the needs and demands of kayak anglers. He said there are new plans to merge the operations of the accessory and kayak businesses into one house. Boats will still be made in South Carolina, while accessories will continue to operate out of its Burkeville, Va., location.
ICAST proved that the race to offer foot and motor propulsion as either a replacement or accessory mode of transportation for paddlecraft has hit full stride. Confluence Watersports, also based in Greenville, S.C., showcased its Helix drive systems, which while not new combine the partnered technology from Torqueedo to offer a motor drive that can achieve speeds between 6 and 20 mph, powered by a single lithium battery that lasts up to eight hours. Confluence is also offering the Helix pedal drive, a spring-loaded, auto-raising mast complete with a 2-blade, fixed-pitch prop that features three deploy positions: deployed, no draft and stowed above.
Feel Free, based in Swannanoa, N.C., revealed its new Overdrive system, a pedal-driven and electric-motor propulsion system available in the same unit at last year’s ICAST. The Overdrive is essentially a 12-volt electric motor and a human-powered pedal drive system that also stows to allow the kayaker to pull out his trusty paddle and scull the boat when desired, all in one unit. These units fit both new and older boats with a retrofit and is being made available this year.