Sportfishing’s best kickstart comes at ICAST

The ICAST New Product Showcase has the power to propel new products to instant stardom.

Once a year, the migration happens like clockwork. On a Tuesday evening in the middle of summer, the sun begins to sink behind a glowing, herculean ferris wheel towering over Orlando’s International Drive.

At a convention centre nestled between an interconnected hive of hotel rooms, an escalator slowly springs to life, and a steady stream of retail store owners and outdoor media members descend onto the ICAST show floor for the first time.
They’re here to experience the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, one presented annually by the American Sportfishing Association.

Looking ahead

This is not the official opening of the show; rather, a sneak peek for voters at the ICAST New Product Showcase Preview Reception. The honoured guests are ferried around the outskirts of a still-hidden show floor obscured by draped curtains and led over a red carpet to an area set aside for the brightest stars of sportfishing's largest trade show – the hundreds of new products staged inside of the show’s New Product Showcase.

This floor is where stars are born. Before most of these products hit retail shelves or ever reach a consumer, they’re pitted against a gallery of their peers in a no-holds-barred showdown of kayak versus kayak, fishing rod versus fishing rod, sonar versus sonar and fishing line versus fishing line.

This year, manufacturers will compete in 41 categories on the show floor, an all-time record that opens the door for the massive spotlight garnered by winning Overall Best of Show.

That turn of phrase is no hyperbole, either. From the largest manufacturer to the smallest, every manufacturer at ICAST knows the impact of the New Product Showcase.

Sounding out

In 2024, few fishing products hog dock talk the way Garmin Panoptix LiveScope does. The product, which debuted at ICAST 2018, is now nearly synonymous with live imaging sonar in the way Nintendo was with video games in the 1990s or Kleenex is with tissues.

The real-time sonar is a hot button topic on fishing podcasts, in fishing magazines and in the aisles of outdoor stores and claims recent victories in bass fishing’s biggest events like the Bassmaster Classic and Redcrest Championship to boot.

But LiveScope’s notoriety began at ICAST. Before LiveScope etched its legacy alongside the glimmering gold and brass Bassmaster Classic trophy, it notched its very first win at ICAST, riding into the history books atop a clear, acrylic award that can carry as much weight among manufacturers as bass fishing’s grandest prize.

Turn back the clock to 2018 when Garmin won its very first ICAST Best of Show Award and the power of industry recognition shines through.

“LiveScope has become a signature product for us,” says Garmin senior director of marine and RV sales, Dave Dunn.

“Every angler seems to know what LiveScope is and every serious tournament angler seems to want it on their boat now. But, in 2018, we were just starting to catch that wave. That was our very first Best of Show win at ICAST, and it really signaled that LiveScope was going to be a huge disruptor in the world of sportfishing.”

For an international brand like Garmin, the ICAST New Product Showcase Awards helped legitimize a product that took an international team of engineers nearly a decade to create. However, start-up manufacturers just beginning to establish their brands have also benefited from the same kickstart provided by ICAST.

Pac-ing a punch

In 2022, first-time ICAST exhibitor PacBak purchased a 10 ft sq booth just weeks before the show. Its debut product—a self-contained portable cooler and vacuum sealer—outlasted more than 900 other entries in the New Product Showcase and claimed the title of Best of Show.

“We were in the prototype phase in 2022,” says PacBak founder Brian McKinnon. “Now, we are selling in places like Scheels and Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. They even had a launch party for us back home in Alaska. We got featured in Alaska Business Magazine and sold over $10,000 in the first day. ICAST changed everything for us.”

Get involved

The time to register products in the New Product Showcase is now; and there have never been more categories in which to compete.

At ICAST 2024, the New Product Showcase is expanding to include 41 categories ranging from marine electronics and watercraft to fishing rods, lures, apparel and terminal tackle in both conventional and fly product spaces. The winner of each will go on to compete for Best of Show.
“From an editorial perspective, ICAST is where we harvest a lot of content,” says Bassmaster Magazine managing editor James Hall.

“Winning there means something to a lot of people I think winning at ICAST legitimises the equipment or the product and also illustrates trends in the marketplace.”

According to American Sportfishing Association vice-president of trade show & membership, Blake Swango, manufacturers often spend years imagining, designing and creating hundreds of new products that make their way into the showcase every year.

And with winners ranging from internationally-recogiszed super brands to first-time exhibitors in their start-up phase, you never know who is going to come out on top.

Voting begins at the ICAST New Product Showcase Preview Reception on Super Tuesday, followed by the Best of Category Awards on Wednesday evening and voting for Overall Best of Show on Thursday.

Registration for ICAST – scheduled for July 16th to 19th in Orlando, Florida – is now open.

And spaces in the 2024 ICAST New Product Showcase are available now via

 “It’s an event manufacturers don’t want to miss,” adds Hall.