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ICAST Top Tackle

Known as the world’s largest sport-fishing trade show, the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades showcased great new tackle options for the offshore angler this year. Here are three of our editors’ top picks.

September 23, 2016
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Penn Slammer III

Penn Slammer III ICAST gear
Penn Slammer III Bill Doster

Penn has designed and manufactured some of the world’s best fishing gear for over 80 years, so it’s no surprise they continue to improve their products to meet growing demands from anglers around the world. That’s the case with the Penn Slammer III spinning reel, which won Best of Show in the Saltwater Reel category at ICAST. With a beefy full-metal body, side plate and rotor, the new Slammer III is also updated with Penn’s new IPX6 sealed system to keep water out of the gear box and drag system.

“We designed the Slammer III to be our toughest spinning reel yet,” says Mike Rice, brand director for Penn. “The fully machined CNC brass gear train is smooth but also extremely durable.” And it’s updated with the company’s proprietary Dura-Drag material, which means no matter how hot the battle, the drag will remain smooth and consistent throughout the fight.

“When people ask me where the Slammer III fits in the Penn lineup, I tell them it’s basically a Spinfisher V on steroids,” Rice reports. “With the all-brass CNC gearing, Dura-Drag and our new IPX6 sealing, it’s a beast!” Available in eight sizes, the new Slammer III reels should be a big hit with East Coast sailfish teams as well as anyone who needs a high-quality spinning reel designed for heavy-duty offshore work. pennfishing.com

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Grander Custom Tackle Dredge Heads

Grander Custom Tackle Dredge Heads ICAST gear
Grander Custom Tackle Dredge Heads Bill Doster
Grander Custom Tackle Dredge Heads ICAST gear
Grander Custom Tackle Dredge Heads Bill Doster

Grander Custom Tackle’s new Dredge Heads are designed to significantly reduce rigging time for dredge baits, while also helping prevent the baits from washing out during the day. “We designed the Grander Dredge Head to reduce the time and effort for the professional mate, while making dredge-rigging much simpler for the weekend guy,” says Steve Shockley, Grander’s general manager.

The Dredge Heads incorporate an artificial skirt with a plastic hood called the Bait Socket. Rather than pin-rigging and flossing a pile of dredge baits, just remove the eyes and pop them into the Bait Socket using a pin that slides right through the eye socket. The Bait Socket then adjoins the Dredge Head for a sleek, low-drag fit, with baits ready to deploy within a matter of seconds.

The Dredge Head has three different sizes of Bait Sockets to fit popular baits like ballyhoo, mullet and mackerel. Shockley adds, “It works just as well with rubber baits too.” The Dredge Heads from Grander Custom Tackle are available with two head colors and 11 different skirt color combinations. grandercustomtackle.com

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AFTCO Rod Guides and Tip Tops

AFTCO Rod Guides and Tip Tops
AFTCO Rod Guides and Tip Tops Bill Doster

The updated Super Extra Heavy Duty guides and tops from AFTCO are rated for 80-pound to unlimited-class tackle and are designed for chasing the world’s toughest game fish. The new SXHD96 set features the largest knot clearance ever seen in a roller guide (.410 inches / 10 mm), which makes them well-suited for a wide variety of applications.

“These guides will easily handle large wind-on connections, green-stick rigging and the bulkiest wind-on leaders,” says AFTCO’s Greg Stotesbury. “The billet-machined guide frames are cut from solid blocks of the finest 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, and the tops are also billet-machined from super-hard and heat-treated 7075-T7 aluminum, which is nearly as hard as stainless steel. This gives them extreme resistance to scratching or grooving when swivels are wound through the tips. The roller assemblies used in all of the new guides and tops are our proven 316 stainless-steel assemblies, which have been used in our Big Foot guides for nearly 50 years.” All of the SXHD guides and tops are available with conventional hardened stainless-sleeve bearings with Aflon lube or optional ceramic ball-bearing assemblies.

The SXHD guide frames come in black, silver or gold anodized finishes, and the top guide is currently only available in black. A full set includes a double-roller stripper guide, four running guides and the new top guide. aftco.com

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