By Capt. Cefus McRae
Nuts & Bolts of Fishing Series

Every July there’s a huge migration of tackle store owners, industry pros, outdoor press and fishing industry manufacturers to the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades Show – aka, ICAST. Unfortunately, ICAST isn’t open to the public. I’m not sure there’s a building on the planet that could hold everyone if it was. But not to worry, because you’ll soon be seeing all this new gear on the shelves of your favorite outdoor stores.

This is my 14th or 15th ICAST show, and when you walk through the doors, you’re immediately immersed in everything ‘fishing’.  Rods, reels, hooks, lures, apparel, accessories and lots of ‘gadgets’.

This year, I was really impressed by all the ‘gadgets’ being shown. Amidst all the hoopla over the rods, reels, and lures, it occurred to me there are some noteworthy products that might get overlooked because they often wind up at the bottom of a rack or beneath the checkout counter.

Here’s a few cool gadgets I saw at ICAST, and you might want to give them a glance the next time you’re re-filling your tackle box.

If you fish with live bait, you know how important it is to keep baits frisky over the entire day on the water. Oxygen systems are ideal, but not everyone has the budget or room for an O2 system on their boat, and they can be cumbersome if you’re fishing from a pier or shoreline. The Low Pressure Ceramic Diffuser from Keep Alive connects to standard ‘bubbler’ pumps that you’d use on a bait bucket or in a small livewell. It produces gazillions of micro-bubbles to keep minnows and shrimp lively for hours.

We’ve all got our “go-to” lure, a plug that consistently produces fish. Perhaps it’s the way it’s tuned, the way it runs or some other characteristic that makes it your favorite. After catching lots of fish, or too many trips in the bed of your pickup, the finish gets worn, cracks or peels. JigSkinz offers an alternative to retiring your lure, with great looking customizable sleeves that slip over your plug. Remove the hooks, cut the sleeve to length, slide it over the lure and dip in hot water for a couple seconds. Viola! Your old friend just got revitalized. Wish I would have invented that one!

All too often, I lay my line snips or scissors down someplace on the boat, and when I need them to cut line, they’re impossible to find. Line Cutterz makes a neat line cutting tool that fits on your finger, or the handle of your fishing rod, or the upright on your T-top. The adjustable Velcro ring is a one-size-fits all, and has a double-sided blade that is tucked away under the ring top, so it’s safe to wear all day. And it cuts braid. It’s another cool gadget that serves a great purpose.

Lure lights have been around for a while. Night fishing and deep dropping are just two situations where you can really benefit from them. Until now, the best ones only worked in saltwater. Project-X Tackle introduced their X-Light lure light at ICAST. It does all you’d expect from a lure light, AND it works in freshwater. It’s self-contained, automatically turns on and off and is easy to rig. Now striper, catfish, crappie and bass anglers can benefit from these cool attractors. I’ve used one for a variety of fish, day and night, and yes, they do seem to catch more fish than the rigs without them.

These are just a few of the neat fishing gadgets I had the chance to get up close and personal with at ICAST this year. So be on the lookout for these and more cool accessories that will make your fishing adventures more fun and more productive.

Take a couple extra minutes to explore the world of fishy gadgets, and you’ll probably find something that could help you put a few more fish in the boat.