The annual show of the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades—better known as ICAST—is the highlight of the year for the fishing industry. Manufacturers, from huge household names to tiny mom-and-pop shops, spend tens of thousands of dollars to showcase their new wares. Among the most anticipated items each year are the lures. In the coming year, some baits will prove that they catch fish and will achieve staying power—and some will quickly be forgotten. It would be impossible to cover all the new lures on display, but I narrowed the field to 15 promising new models, based on their innovation, application, and strike potential. Start cleaning out your tackle box to make room.
Apex freshwater predators, such as pike and muskie, are known for being difficult, inactive, and tough to motivate. To get them to strike, an angler’s only weapon may be a fast bait that moves erratically. Enter the Headbanger Shad. Originally modeled to dupe giant European pike, the Swedish-born bait made its way across the Atlantic. The new Headbanger Shad is a variation of the original Headbanger. It has an interchangeable paddle tail and a panicked, erratic action. The Headbanger Shad is thru-wired for durability and comes in floating, suspending, and sinking models, weighing 2.2 ounces, 2.6 ounces, and 2.9 ounces, respectively. All models are 9 inches long, and are available in eight patterns.
It’s become an annual event at ICAST to see what’s new from Livetarget. The company’s “match the hatch” philosophy has spawned a number of exciting creations—and this year it’s the BaitBall Spinner Rig. Part Alabama rig, part spinnerbait, it’s unlike any other lure out there. The three top swimbait bodies are a strong visual target and pump out vibrations underwater. The single blade adds additional vibration and throws out flashing light. The larger swimbait—the only one with a hook—is set slightly behind the others, in order to draw the strike and increase hook-up ratios. The BaitBall Spinner Rig will be available in three sizes (small, medium, and large), each with two weight options.
The patterns on Biwaa’s Raffal were among the most lifelike of all lures at ICAST. The solid resin bait has an action similar to a wooden jerkbait that can be fished in a subsurface, walk-the-dog action. These types of “gliders” have made their mark in the muskie world, and are now catching every species of game fish in both fresh and saltwater. With a limited number of small gliders on the market, Biwaa’s Raffal makes for a solid choice, with its durable construction and reasonable price tag. It has wire-thru construction for added longevity, and adds to its ability to handle larger fish. The Raffal will be available in a 4-inch, 2-ounce model and a 6-inch, 2.8-ounce model.
Molix is another company that doesn’t shy away from experimentation. Their new Jointed Sandeel was one of the more interesting baits at the show this year, and it has wide applications in not only saltwater but also in freshwater. In brackish or tidal water, largemouth bass and pike feed heavily on juvenile eels, for which the Jointed Sandeel is the perfect imitation. It’s is a sinking bait and will dive anywhere from half a foot to 5 feet deep. It’s 5¼ inches long and weighs half an ounce.
5. Savage Gear 3D Bat
Once again, Savage Gear had the most talked-about bait at ICAST. Taking last year’s 3D Suicide Duck a step further, the 3D Bat is another truly unique topwater. The thinking behind this bait is that large predatory fish dine on birds and small mammals that end up on top of the water. Fortunately, the 3D Bat has a hard ABS plastic body and stainless steel wings so it can endure the punishment. Its action is a combination of a crawling topwater motion coupled with a high-pitched built-in rattle. The overall package is a frantic, noisy presentation that is sure to get the attention of big fish. The 3D Bat is available in three patterns: black, gray, and brown, and in two sizes: 4-inch, 1-ounce, and 5-inch long, 2-ounce.