Tackle shop owners are treated to several shows each year that are just for them. The largest is ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades), held in July in either Orlando, Fla., or Las Vegas, NV. The next-largest is held by the Big Rock Sports Group. Big Rock Sports, which began by acquiring Henry's Tackle Company and several other regional distributors, is based in Morehead City and has its eastern regional warehouse in Hamlet.
Big Rock Sports holds its show at the Raleigh Convention Center in January; it is attended by dealers from across the eastern and southern United States who come to see the new products and make stocking orders for their stores.
The tackle year runs from August to July, and many new products are introduced at ICAST each year. However, some new products and revisions to current products can't wait for the next ICAST and are introduced in mid-year at the Big Rock show.
Balloon Fisher King is a new entry into the tackle world. Creator Jon Bos developed a clip that secures an inflated balloon on one end and has a pinch mechanism on the other. The balloon is inflated to desired size and attached to the fishing line with the pinch mechanism, which grips the line firmly without damaging it. The depth of the bait can be adjusted in seconds simply by pressing a button and moving the line.
A variety of boat, bank, kayak and pier fishermen tested the Balloon Fisher King and all gave it a "thumbs up." It is simple, durable and works. For more information visit www.balloonfisherking.com.
Most fishermen are familiar with the Fishbites company for its Bag O' Worms synthetic bloodworms and Fish'n Chunks and Fish'n Strips synthetic bottom baits. Fishbites are the product of 30 years of research by Dr. William Carr at the Whitley Marine Laboratory in Marineland, Fla. They have scent to attract fish and flavor to make them bite and not let go.
In addition to the synthetic bottom baits, Fishbites also makes a line of Xtreme saltwater shrimp, paddletail and jerkbaits, putting the scent and flavor in three of the most popular shapes for catching flounder, redfish and trout. On the freshwater side, Fishbites has added Xtreme Finesse worms, Fatty Jr. Worms and Jerk Baits for bass fishermen, plus several varieties of Yeh Monn Catfish Baits. For more information visit www.fishbites.com.
Sea Striker and its Star Rods division has something new for the Big Rock Sports Show almost every year, and 2013 was no exception. New snaps and swivel combinations appeared using the Fast Snaps that debuted last year, and several new pliers were added to the Sea Striker and Krok lines. Several versions of the pliers are aluminum, featuring replaceable cutters and jaws, plus a stretching tether cord. For more information visit www.seastriker.com.
Star Rods introduced the Seagis Series last year at the Big Rock Show, and the super lightweight rods became an immediate hit with fishermen. The original Seagis Rods combined super-lightweight, fast-taper blanks with Fuji SK2 split reel seats and split grips, plus Fuji K-Series tangle free guides with Alconite rings. The rods are very sensitive, cast well and are extremely light, with several models weighing less than four ounces - the normal range for fly rods.
The split-grip rods incorporate a slightly longer butt section for proper balance, and several groups of fishermen, especially kayak fishermen, asked for similar actions but with a shorter butt. Star Rods had some prototypes of the shorter-butt rods at ICAST and brought the first of the production models to the Big Rock Sports Show. They have all the excellent lightweight components of the original Seagis Rods, but with a cork butt that is two inches shorter that no longer hits your PFD while seated in a kayak. Ten models include 6-foot-6 to 7-foot-6 lengths. For more information visit www.seastriker.com/starrods.
Last year, Betts Tackle of Fuquay-Varina introduced the Flounder Fanatic Jigs at the Big Rock show. Andy Couch of Clayton designed them especially for flounder; they're jigs with hooks set to the side instead of vertical.
One series of Flounder Fanatic Jigs are made on bases weighing either 3/4- or 1 1/2-ounce and have hooks that rise up and then bend to the left of the eye of the jig. The other Flounder Fanatic Jig is a 1/8-ounce jighead that looks much like a regular jig head except the hook is offset at 90 degrees to the left of the eye. The hooks are turned to the left to position the point at the flounder's lower jaw. Both use a hook guard of heavy monofilament to be weedless and can be used with live baits, soft plastic lures and strip baits.
While both Flounder Fanatic Jigs were popular, many fishermen also reported excellent success catching red drum on the 1/8-ounce sideways jig, and they asked for different weights for other uses. Betts listened and has added several additional weights of the sideways jig, plus several bucktails with sideways hooks. For more information visit www.bettstackle.net.
These new and improved baits and tackle goodies should be on the shelf at your favorite tackle dealer by now. Several are expansions of existing product lines and several are new ideas. These are some of the mid-year tackle introductions that should help with convincing fish to bite. The manufacturers thought they were unique enough to release now, rather than waiting for ICAST in July, so it might be wise to give them a good once over before July yourself.