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Outgearing the fish

Aug. 23, 2012 - 07:50PM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 23, 2012 - 07:50PM  |  
The Cush-it is a padded, slip-on rod butt made for all types of fishing.
The Cush-it is a padded, slip-on rod butt made for all types of fishing. ()
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Leading makers of fishing gear like to launch new product lines in midsummer. The buzzwords are always "lighter, faster, stronger" — sometimes even "cheaper." Of course, enhancing your ability to catch fish is the end game. Here's a look at new products to consider over the next year. Those marked with an asterisk were selected "Best in Show" at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in July.

Rods & reels

Penn Battle Combo•

This combo features the Battle spinning reel, designed for inshore saltwater fishing. The reel is paired with a one-piece graphite composite Battle rod that sports stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. The handle is created from a graphite reel seat and sculpted EVA foam and cork grips. The reel has a full metal body and sideplates, a machined and anodized aluminum spool, six-plus-one stainless steel bearing system, oversized EVA soft-touch knob on the handle and 6.2:1 or 5.6:1 gear ratios, denoting how much line is retrieved with each handle turn. Combo rods are 6-foot, 6-inch light action or 7-foot medium action. $119-$129

Penn Spinfisher V•

The Spinfisher SSV represents a fifth-generation product line extension and an update of this popular saltwater reel. Body, sideplate and rotor are metal. Six separate seals protect inner workings and keep the reel watertight. It has a stainless-steel mainshaft and a five-plus-one stainless steel bearing system. Other features include instant anti-reverse and oversized aluminum bail. Comes in various sizes. Gear ratios range from relatively fast 6.2:1 on the smallest models to 4.2:1 on the largest, the 1050, which can also hold 415 yards of 30-pound monofilament or 750 yards of 50-pound braided line. $139-$199

Abu Garcia Revo•

The Revo product line is redesigned with new features, including carbon components that make these low-profile baitcasters even more compact, light and easy to cradle in an angler's hand. Weights were reduced by 25 percent to 29 percent. The lightest weighs just 5.87 ounces. Gear ratios in the STX model range from 6.4:1 to a superfast 8.0:1. $129-$299

Daiwa's Lexa and T-Wing

Daiwa's newly designed Lexa baitcasting reels compete with Shimano's popular Curado line. The 100 series includes five reels for fish ranging from bass to walleye. The larger 300 series has six reels and is geared toward big salmon, muskies and stripers. Left-handed versions available. Both series feature oversized handles, aluminum frames and side plates, a carbon drag (11-pound max on 100 series, 22 pounds on 300s), seven bearings and aluminum spool. $139 for 100 series; $199 for 300 series. New to Daiwa's low-profile T-Wing line is the Model T3BLS100XS. The 8.1:1 gear ratio retrieves 33.9 inches of line with each handle turn. The uniquely T-Wing levelwind system reduces friction when casting to achieve greater distances. $269

Shimano Calcutta D

Old reel, new features and feel. Tried and true for more than 20 years, the Calcutta round reel line gets updated. Designed for saltwater and freshwater fishing, the cold-forged aluminum frame now feels about one size smaller in your hand. The reel handle is positioned closer to the body to increase torque and leverage, and the star drag is now outside the handle for easier access. All models have Shimano's Variable Brake System. Sized to handle anything from bass to tarpon. $339-$379

St. Croix Legend Xtreme• and Inshore

These redesigned, competition-caliber spinning and casting rods use a new Fortified Resin System, which combines a proprietary fortified super resin with new, computer-operated curing ovens. St. Croix says the resulting rod blanks are 33 percent stronger than those built with standard resins and curing methods. The rods are built to be stronger and have more sensitivity and tighter production tolerances. The series includes 17 spinning and 12 casting models. $340-$420. Made in Wisconsin with a limited lifetime warranty — don't shut the truck door on them. The Legend Inshore is St. Croix's new inshore saltwater rod, built with the same technology. $270-$350

Phenix Recon

This light, fast-action bass rod is made of composite, carbon fiber-woven material mixed with a "secret sauce resin." Features silicon carbide guides, Fuji split reel seat and EVA grips. Available mid-September. $159-$179

Terminal tackle, lures & line

Berkley Gulp Heads•

A full lineup of attractive jig heads designed to hold Berkley's deadly Gulp baits, these new jig heads are lead-free, made from something Berkley calls Tundra Composite. They have a bait-keeper feature, 3-D eyes and premium black nickel finish on the hooks. Three models are available: Darter JiggHead, for inshore flats fishing; Minnow JiggHead, for freshwater jigging or light cast and retrieve; and BDS (Bait Delivery System), for a controlled sink rate and horizontal bait presentation. Variety of sizes and colors. $5 per package

Logic Tackle Wiggly Jiggly

This tungsten jig head is innovative in that the hook is attached on a metal ring below the jig head. The theory is that a hooked fish can't use the jig head for leverage. Plus, the lure has more freedom of movement as it's pulled through the water. Three sizes. $5.90 for a 2-pack

Rockport Rattler

A rattle chamber is built into this jig head, adding sight and sound to the presentation. Hooks are black nickel. Six colors and reflecting eye combinations in five weight offerings. About $4.50 for a 3-pack

LiveTarget Popper Frog•

Koppers Fishing, maker of the LIVETARGET lures, continues to impress with realistic products. This hard-body lure looks like it should jump into the water as you approach. The frog is designed to look like it's fleeing a predator. Presented in the right habitat, it should yield fearsome strikes. Comes in two sizes and five color patterns. $15

Lunkerhunt Bento Baits• and Edu-Kit

The Bento soft baits are exceptionally realistic, with lively split tails, holographic core and accurate detailing. They come in 3- and 4½-inch lengths. $7.99 per pack. The compact Edu-Kit is designed to give novice anglers the tips and tools needed to catch fish. It has species-specific tackle and lure components and a pro knowledge handbook, which explains how to rig the line and how and where to find the targeted fish. Kits cover 24 species. $6.50

Road Runner Reality Shad Buffet Rig

This lightweight (¼-ounce) lure offers a tandem presentation of two minnow-profile lures with prism eyes, shadlike colors and a brass willow spinning blade. Good for bass to bluegill. A similar offering is the Mr. Crappie Slab Daddy Super Rig, which features tandem feathered jigs in eight color options. Cast or troll slowly with light line. Both less than $6

Shakespeare Hide-A-Hook Bobber•

This "Why didn't I think of this?" innovation helps youngsters fish safely, minimizing the chance of errant casts planting hooks where they don't belong. A recessed chamber secures a jig head into the bobber's body cavity. Once the line is cast into the water, the jig head sinks out. Desired depth can be set in slip bobber fashion. On retrieve, the jig head retracts back into the bobber, which can minimize underwater snags. The $12 package includes two bobbers, a jar of Berkley Gulp Waxies, extra jig heads, bobber stoppers and a kid's fishing guide. The kit accompanies the Barbie, Spiderman and Disney "Cars" kids' fishing kits.

Berkley Trilene XL/XT Line•

Another name that's been around forever, this monofilament line has materials upgrades said to deliver a 10 percent improvement in strength, 20 percent more flexibility in the XL line and 47 percent greater flexibility in the XT line, along with greater abrasion resistance, which is useful when fishing in rugged underwater habitats. $7.95

Electronics & accessories

Humminbird 360 Imaging•

The hype says this will be a game changer in terms of fish-finding technology. Anglers can now do a 360-degree sweep around the boat and receive high-resolution images of structure, bait and fish up to a couple of hundred feet away. The device delivers the best images when the boat is stationary or trolling at speeds less than 7 mph. The Transducer Deployment System lowers the transducer below the bottom of the boat and outboard to ensure unobstructed views. Opt to view the entire circle around the boat or break it down in segments, seeing what's in front, in back or on the sides. Split-screen mode is available to allow display of navigational charts and other visuals. Set waypoints, record screen captures and get audio alerts when waypoints are near. Available in September. $1,999

Gear Grabbar•

Powerful neodymium magnets mounted in multisized racks that easily attach to your boat keep hooks and favored lures and tools close and manageable, not tucked away in tackle boxes or rusting in cup holders. Pair two hangers to secure lures with two treble hooks. Hooks and tools stay in place when the boat is bouncing in choppy water but are easily removed from the magnets with a light tug. $14.95-$23.95

Wild River Tackle Tek Rogue

If you can't live without your tunes, this unique tackle bag features an integrated stereo speaker system you can use with iPods, MP3 players and smartphones. It'll hold several large tackle trays. Cool concept, but the challenge is keeping it dry. $199

Plano Alabama Rig Box

Bass umbrella rigs present storage challenges. This new clear plastic box is part of the StowAway lineup of 3700 series boxes, which tend to fit well in many tackle bags. The box measures 14 by 9.13 by 2 inches and holds up to four umbrella rigs of up to five arms. $11.99

Wiley X Gravity and Echo Sunglasses

Polarized glasses are indispensable for seeing into the water. Protection is important when that snagged lure you're pulling rockets back toward your face or your buddy's errant backcast zips a treble hook past your eye. Wiley X's new line of fishing glasses offers some of the best features. They're among the few sport sunglasses to meet U.S. military specifications for combat protective eyewear, including high-velocity impact. Part of the Climate Control Series, these comfortable glasses have a removable soft foam seal that blocks peripheral light, wind and airborne debris. The Gravity model has polarized lenses tinted with blue mirror over green, while the Echo's lenses are emerald mirror over amber. $140

Luna Sea Cush-it•

The flexible, soft, lightweight Cush-it is a padded, slip-on rod butt made for all types of fishing. It won best in show for fly fishing accessories but could be used on other rods, too. Minimize rod tip bruising when playing heavier fish, such as salmon and tarpon. Plus, nice fly rods are expensive. The Cush-it floats, helping you retrieve prized rods and reels if they end up overboard. The Master Guide fits larger fly rod butts, while the Inshore fits smaller rod butts. $12.95-$24.95

Ultimate Line Winding System

A neat gadget for filling a spool. Some people place the line spool on a pencil or something similar to begin filling a reel spool. Simple enough, but the line twists as it's cranked onto a reel. This product has a rod seat to hold your reel and a rotating carriage that takes confounding twists out of the line as it's transferred to the reel. Made of graphite, with tension adjustments to control line feed to the new spool. $40

Ken Perrotte is a Military Times outdoors writer.

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