Best of the rest

The booths at ICAST cover acres of the floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The BASS staff works tirelessly to cover the entire floor and give every one of the products their just due.

With that in mind, it is nearly impossible to effectively report on all of the products that could make an impact for dealers and anglers in the year to come. Bassmaster.com presented many of those products, but there were a few others that were unique and deserved reporting. These products have features that make them must haves.

Jackall Lures Soul Shad

Bassmaster Elite Series pros Jared Lintner and Cliff Pace will soon have a new weapon in their arsenal with the introduction of the Soul Shad. Built to compete with the industry stalwart Rapala Shad Rap, the Soul Shad features a long bill, and the tight action that has made thin, shad-shaped diving plugs so effective in cold-water temperatures.

Many anglers use these types of plugs to trick cold weather bass into striking. Many of those baits are made of balsa wood, and the result is a very light plug with no rattles. What this means to bass anglers is that they have to use spinning gear to throw them, usually on light line. The upside of the finesse presentation is that it makes bass strike in tough conditions. The downsides are light line that can break, line twist on a spinning rod and difficulty casting a light lure.

Jackall has added a wrinkle to the category by making the lure from plastic and adding a weight transfer system to the bait to allow for the use of baitcasting gear. Unlike other weight transfer systems, the Soul Shad features a magnet at the bottom of the chamber to hold the weight in place once the retrieve is started. This way, an angler can make longer casts, and still use the stealthy retrieve in cold water. Along with these features, the use of clear polycarbonate allows for natural translucent finishes.

Spike It! Lure Works

At first, the Spike It! Lure Works system seemed a little bit gimmicky, but when they explained the system to me, I caught on. Lure Works allows anglers to utilize one of several dozens of molds to pour their own soft plastic baits. However, unlike the melting of plastics in production pots and pouring into molds, Lure Works allows anglers to pour cold materials into molds, and then heat them in their oven.

The Lure Works system has molds that make baits that mimic many of the most popular lures on the market today, and with over 75 different colored plastics along with glitters and even specially mixed liquid tungsten component for weighting of lures. They even have clear and translucent colors for use in tough conditions.

Along with the fact that anglers can custom make their own soft plastics for the conditions they face on their home bodies of water, Lure Works will be an excellent way to get kids into the sport of fishing. As a dad who has three little girls who love arts and crafts, I can see them spending hours making lures in their own special/gaudy colors, and then going out on the boat with me to catch bass on the lures they made. The process is no more difficult than baking a batch of cookies.

River2Sea Clackin' Crayfish

River2Sea outdid themselves with this one. They collaborated with renowned big fish angler Larry Dahlberg of "The Hunt for Big Fish" television show to put out the most realistic crawdad lure I've ever seen.

Until two years ago, I used to do some press and marketing work for the company, so I saw the first, crude prototypes in the early stages. When the economy went south, River2Sea put new projects on hold, and the time certainly did them well. Dahlberg turned over the handmade samples to the company, and the pairing has turned out a lure that is unique, fitting into a category all its own. This one lure could catch fish in areas that spinnerbaits, shallow or lipless crankbaits and bladed jigs do currently.

The lure is hinged at the tail, creating the action of a fleeing crayfish on the retrieve, and when River2Sea hired a biologist to help come up with the color scheme, a truly lifelike, beautiful, functional and versatile crayfish lure was the result.