I swear that this is it – the final report from the big ICAST fishing tackle convention that Dave Kranz and I attended in Orlando, Fla., in June. I’ve been giving my opinions on many of the newest products I saw in drips and drabs because so much other outdoor stuff has been happening as of late.
Orlando in June is no great shakes. Many people would use the phrase, “No day at the beach.” I could use that because we didn’t see any beaches or even pools for that matter. We kept busy inspecting fishing gear. The beach or pool would have been great places to be because the weather there is hot, hot, hot and humid, humid, humid. It rains every single day for an hour or two and when it stops, the sun turns the fallen water into steam. I promise to complain less about our northern Illinois weather after suffering Florida’s June climate.
Let’s check out some products. The hot name in line seems to be Seguar. They make a number of different fluorocarbon lines, all with different qualities. Tatsu is their top-of-the-line product and promises great strength combined with improved flexibility. It is expensive, but I usually only use Fluoro as a leader that I tie onto the superline I spool my reel with, so that doesn’t hurt the pocketbook very much. I can’t wait to give it a try.
Gamakatsu makes the sharpest hooks on the market and their Swivel Shot is a new set up for dropshot fishing. The hook is mounted under a tiny swivel that keeps your line from twisting. Under the hook is a small clip that keeps your line straight. It is simple but unique. They are just getting into the stores right now.
I’m sure everyone has seen Frog Toggs. They make a lightweight rain suit that feels like it is made out of a paper towel. Of course they are not paper, the material is 100 percent waterproof. I have always loved Frog Toggs rainwear and can swear to its performance. Now they’ve added a line called ToadSkinz, which is made of a different material. The Frog Toggs line now has more colors and more weights so virtually every weather situation can be addressed. Check their new stuff out at frogtoggs.com.
There are a lot of sunscreen products on the market that are targeting outdoorsmen. I think that is smart marketing. Hunters and fishermen like to identify with products that are affiliated with our sports. If a product makes the effort to address us, we respond with our spending money. I’ve always said that an underwear company should market its products as “underwear for the outdoorsman.” Everybody wears it, and we’d all buy the one that advertised to us.
Speaking about sun protection, I think that the Sun Mullet is going to be a big winner (sunmullet.com). It’s a piece of stretchable lightweight cloth that blocks 98 percent of the sun’s harmful rays and can be worn as a hat attachment, neckerchief or mask. Remember when you’d see my pal, Dusty Baker, in the Cubs’ dugout wearing his hat with a piece of cloth he’d attached to cover the back of his neck? He wore that because he had a skin cancer episode that was cured. Dusty should have patented his invention. Now the Sun Mullet is going to score big sales and protect outdoorsmen.
I have wondered why there hasn’t been an energy drink marketed to outdoorsmen. There are about a zillion brands on the market, aren’t there? Now we’ve got “Reel Adrenaline.” It looks like a good boost for the angler who gets on the water at dawn or the hunter who sits in a tree stand all day. Big Game is the regular product and Light Tackle is the no-sugar, lo-cal formula. It’s not here yet, but should be by next summer.
ICAST is in Las Vegas next year. Book our rooms, Dave. And, Honey, I promise to stay away from the tables and slots.
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Archery season is under way in Illinois, and our friends at the IDNR are concerned for the safety and well-being of our state’s hunters. They would like to remind all hunters to make safety a top priority when in the field this year.
Hunting is much safer than many people outside the sport would ever imagine, thanks to the conscientiousness of Illinois’ thousands of legal hunters. Accidents do happen occasionally, though. Last year we had 26 hunting incidents and one of them was fatal. There have been six hunting incidents reported so far in 2012.
IDNR Director Marc Miller warned, “Whether in a blind or a tree stand, it is crucial that hunters are acutely aware of their surroundings including fellow hunters. Never take a shot without knowing what is beyond your target and always use the proper working equipment when ascending or descending from a tree stand.”
Thirteen of last year’s Illinois incidents were tree stand falls. The IDNR says that anyone hunting from a tree stand needs to use a full body safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system or FAS. You need to check your ladder stands before climbing to make sure they are secure. It is also important that you use a haul line to raise and lower your equipment and unloaded firearm or bow into a tree stand.
When the firearm deer season rolls around, shotgun hunters should always practice the basic rules of firearm safety. When hunting with a firearm, sportsmen should remember three primary rules of firearm safety: Know your target and what is beyond your target; point the muzzle in a safe direction; and always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
Also, please note that Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must successfully complete a hunter safety course before a regular Illinois hunting license is issued.
• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.