Big Rock Sports Shows – Raleigh – Vegas

The Big Rock Sports Dealer Shows are sort of mini ICAST events, plus they have shooting, hunting and other outdoor sports.  Big Rock Sports, which began as Henry’s Tackle Company several decades ago in Morehead City, has grown to be one of the largest U.S. sporting gear distributors.  They are now headquartered in Graham and supply more than 15,000 retailers with products from more than 1,200 manufacturers.

For 2017, Big Rock Sports held dealer-only shows in Las Vegas for their western dealers and Raleigh for their eastern dealers.  The Big Rock Sports Eastern Dealer Show was held January 5 to 7 at the Raleigh, N.C. Convention Center.  This is a closed show, for dealers to see new products and place advance orders for the 2018 spring and summer fishing seasons.  There are enough new products that just about everyone is walking around with a broad smile.

Old friends meet on the show floor and after exchanging greetings and a brief catching up, the conversation always turns to something like, “Did you see the big, bright, shiny new thingamajig in the fish foolers booth?  There are always a few new items that manufacturers decide not to wait until July for ICAST to debut.

I am fortunate to be invited to peruse this show and every year new things catch my attention.  I’m sure that in the crowded aisles I miss a few things, but here are some that caught my eye as I checked it out this year.  These aren’t in any particular order, but as I found them in the aisles and took pictures.

One of the first things I noticed was a new retractable gear holder from T-Reign Outdoors.  This is a holder for larger diameter or grip size equipment like fishing rods, landing nets, kayak or canoe paddles and such.  We’ve seen these retractable holders for small items for years, but this is the first for larger items.  T-Reign is part of the same company that brought us Boomerang Snips and I’ve never met anyone who was disappointed with them, so I’m confident this will work well too.  When you want to use a retractable tether for something with a larger diameter handle, this is it.

Betts Tackle of Fuquay-Varina, N.C. had several of the most recent prototypes of their new  Morada Cast Net Series in the booth and they were getting a lot of attention.  The Morada nets are six panel nets that use a premium grade mono netting that is both soft and durable.  They are weighted at 1.6 pounds per foot for a quick sink rate and use marble weights on the smaller mesh nets, with longer weights on the larger mesh nets to avoid tangles.  Double selvage at the horn and lead line mean durability and the tightly woven lead line helps the net spread and stay open as it sinks.

Betts Morada Cast Net
Betts Morada Cast Net

Morada nets will be available in 1 inch mesh (28 Series), 5/8 inch mesh (29 Series), 1/2 inch mesh (30 Series), 3/8 inch mesh (31 Series) and 1/4 inch mesh (34 Series).  All but the 34 Series will be available in 8, 10 and 12 foot sizes, with the 34 Series available in 8 and 10 foot sizes.  I visited Betts after the show and had the opportunity to make a few throws on the grass behind their office.  I liked them and expect most folks will also.  The Morada nets should be available in late March or April.

Clarkspoon had some new color options in their tried and true shapes and sizes.  Clarkspoon now has gold and silver plated spoons, spoons in gold or silver with flash strips and colored spoons.  The new colored spoons on display included a textured silver, pink, chartreuse, red and white and two versions of blue and white.  A Clarkspoon spokesman said they were open to doing custom colors also, but there would be a minimum order to make it time and cost effective.

Halco is an Australian company that specializes in lures and fishing tools.  They make

Halco Lures

several sizes of nice looking diving lures in their Giant Trembler, Laser Pro and Max Series, plus Roosta poppers from very small to large.  I’ve caught wahoo on their Giant Tremblers and am looking forward to casting a Roosta into a school of breaking tuna.

Halco Split-ring Pliers
Halco Split-ring Pliers

Halco also had a very unique split ring pliers on display.  Instead of using the bird’s beak design like so many split ring pliers, the Halco pliers look and function more likea regular pliers and spread the split ring without torquing it to allow quickly changing lures or hooks.  You owe it to yourself to give the Halco split ring pliers a good look.  They work and are high quality tools.

 

Lowrance and Simrad had their full display set up, but the new Hook2 fishfinders and fishfinder/GPS combo units from Lowrance were the center of attention for most.  These new fishfinders are available in Bullet (Broadband sonar), Splitshot (Chirp and Downscan sonar) and Tripleshot (Chirp, Downscan and Sidescan sonar) to fill the needs of just about any fisherman.  In addition, the wide angle screen units feature Autotuning, which allows them to run well simply by turning them on and selecting the screen arrangement.  The screen can be split so one, two or all of the sonar pictures, plus the included GPS mapping can be viewed at the same time.  Screen options include 4, 5, 7, 9 and 12 inch diagonal screens.  The Hook2 Series should be very popular.

Portarod solves many of the issues with transporting single piece rods.  There are two versions of Portarod to carry light inshore rods or heavier offshore outfits.  They adjust from 53 to 84 inches and snug into place at any angle using a ratcheting adjuster.  One size fits almost anything and can be easily removed or locked in.  No bolts or screws are needed and a Portarod system moves quickly and easily between vehicles.  They come with 5 rod holders, but more are easily added.

Much like at ICAST, the Big Rock Sports shows include New Products Showcases.  Retailers from across the US attend either the Big Rock East Show in Raleigh or the Big Rock West Show in Las Vegas and vote on their favorite new products.  In addition to fishing, the New Product Showcase includes shooting spots, camping and marine products categories.

Across 15 categories, 119 products were selected by Big Rock Sports as being the “Best of the Best” for the East Show and 104 were selected for the West Show.  Dealers chose between these.  Shimano’s Sedona Spinning Combo was picked as the best fishing/camping/marine product in Raleigh, while voters at the West Show went with Mach Orange Crush Low Profile Baitcast Reel by Lew’s.  For the second year in a row, retailers at both shows picked the same shooting sports product, the G19X from Glock.

Best New Products – Big Rock East Show – Raleigh, North Carolina

Overall Best New Fishing/Camping/Marine Product: Shimano Sedona Spinning Combo;
Best Rod: 13 Fishing Fate Black Gen 2 Rod;
Best Reel: Shimano NEX1000FE Nexave Spinning Reel;
Best Combo: Shimano Sedona Spinning Combo;
Best Freshwater Lure: Lucky Craft Teckel Sprinker Frog;
Best Saltwater Lure:  Live Target Mullet – Topwater Hollow Body;
Best Line: Berkley Fireline Ultra. 8 Braid Superline;
Best Terminal Tackle/Accessory: Ego Kryptek S2 Slider Medium Clear Rubber Net;
Best Electronics/Marine: Daiwa Soft Sided Cooler;
Overall Best New Shooting Sports Product: Glock G19X Semi Auto Pistol 9MM;
Best Rifle/Shotgun: Marlin 1895 Trapper Lever Action;
Best Handgun: Glock G19X Semi Auto Pistol 9MM;
Best Ammunition: Federal Valkyrie Ammunition;
Best Shooting Accessory: Radians Electronic Behind the Ear Hearing Protector;
Best Scope/Optic: Leupold VX-Freedom Riflescope 3-9×40 Duplex;
Best Knife/Tool: Buck 0110BKSLT Folding Hunter LT;
Best Hunting Accessory: Ravin R10 Crossbow Predator Camo.

Best New Products – Big Rock West Show – Las Vegas, Nevada 

Overall Best New Fishing/Camping/Marine Product: Lew’s Mach Orange Crush Low Profile Baitcast Reel; Best Rod: Daiwa Proteus Saltwater Rod with Winn Grips;
Best Reel: Lew’s Mach Orange Crush Low Profile Baitcast Reel;
Best Combo: Okuma Aveon Steelhead Spinning Combo;
Best Freshwater Lure: Live Target BaitBall Spinner Rig;
Best Saltwater Lure: Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe 130mm;
Best Line:  Berkley Fireline Ultra. 8 Braid Superline;
Best Terminal Tackle/Accessory: Rapala 6″ Mag Spring Pliers;
Best Electronics/Marine: Onyx Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket;
Overall Best New Shooting Sports Product: Glock G19X Semi Auto Pistol 9MM;
Best Rifle/Shotgun: Marlin 1895 Trapper Lever Action;
Best Handgun: Glock G19X Semi Auto Pistol 9MM;
Best Ammunition:  Inceptor 223 35gr Short Range Rifle;
Best Shooting Accessory: MTM Ammo Crate Dark Earth;
Best Scope/Optic:  Holosun Micro Open Reflex Sight;
Best Knife/Tool: Smith’s 50902 Cordless Knife & Tool Sharpener;
Best Hunting Accessory: Bullseye Sight In Camera.

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Capt. Jerry Dilsaver has been fishing since he was a child and writing about fishing, hunting and the outdoors since 1986. He is from Southport-Oak Island, N.C. and continues to live there in semi-retirement. His writing features this area prominently, but he has fished and written about the East Coast from Virginia to Florida, the Gulf Coast, California, Alaska and several of the Great Lakes in the U.S., plus several countries in Central America and several Caribbean Islands. He has been on staff at Carolina Adventure, North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman Magazines and his byline has appeared in several other magazines and newspapers.