Winn reaps award attention, debuts new colors, new concepts at ICAST 2016

ICAST 2016: At the show

Winn rod grips have captured angler attention at international tackle trade events over the past three exhibition seasons. But the bold appearance of Winn grips on three award-winning new products at ICAST 2016 in Orlando, Florida, made it clear that the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based manufacturer of grips for sports equipment has become a force to be reckoned with in the angling arena.

Lew’s, the rod and reel maker from Springfield, Mo., took home three “Best of Show” awards for products featuring eye-catching Winn components at the ICAST 2016 New Product Showcase.

Lew’s Mach II SLP Baitcast Combo, featuring bold chartreuse split grips made from Winn’s patented WinnDry polymer and a new Super Low Profile (SLP) reel design with matching chartreuse reel knobs also from Winn, took home the Best Rod & Reel Combo award.

The Team Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Spool featuring the same SLP profile and elegant black Winn reel knobs won the Best Freshwater Reel award.

Lew’s Mach Speed Stick Inshore with its electric chartreuse Winn split grips and matching anodized aluminum trim earned Best Saltwater Rod honors.

The high-profile awards created a buzz at the Winn booth, which was already alive with new products and concepts.

Winn Grips has delivered a steady stream of innovation with its colorful, all-weather rod grips made from its patented WinnDry polymer at the last two ICAST events, and the promise of further proliferation of grip styles within Winn's interchangeable rod grip system was assured.

This year, however, Winn brought a new business concept to ICAST along with its anticipated array of new products.

Recruitment commenced for the Winn Authorized Service Center network, a web of tackle retailers trained and equipped to retrofit existing rods in angler arsenals with stylish, angler-friendly Winn rod grips. "Golfers, bicyclists and tennis players change the grips on their equipment routinely," said Elmer Alfafara, business development manager for Winn. "And a rod grip upgrade from old cork or EVA foam to Winn polymers is even more offers great advantage...We hope that fishermen will become as comfortable changing out rod grips as they are changing fishing line."

As part of the Winn Authorized Service Center rollout, the company demonstrated the performance of the Winn Rod Grip & Reel Seat Removal Machine. More than two years in development, the machine arrived at ICAST newly designed and complete with advanced safety features. It will remove rod grips and graphite reel seats while safely protecting rod blank integrity.

Winn plans to train and prepare dealers for safe and effective service center operation in select tackle retail stores across the country.

Winn also unveiled a number of new products including:

Winn Superior Rod Wrap-- Last year, Winn introduced previewed its rod wrap in three basic colors with the promise of an explosion of new colors and designs of this tape-like grip overwrap. Winn brought 11 new colors to ICAST along with three new designs for its Saltwater series to fill out a lineup that now includes seven bold solids and eight hot and trending “Camo” colors. The Saltwater series features three solid embossed “Tuna” wraps and an elegant camo-style “Dorado.”

Made from the same patented Winn polymers as Winn rod grips, it allows anglers to add a "Winn skin" to the rods with cork or foam grips in their existing arsenal and get the same secure tacky feel and all-weather comfort and performance as rods made with Winn grips.

"Anglers are finding other uses for the overwrap as well," explained Mike Coelho, national sales manager while showing Winn's new Superior Rod Wrap point-of-purchase display with demo rod handle. "They are using it on landing nets, boat handles, gaffs, and other surfaces where the non-slip properties of Winn polymers shine."

Swell Grip -- The new Swell style grip Winn introduced at ICAST 2016 may be the most significant addition to the line since the development of Winn’s innovative interchangeable grip system. Configured to the shape of popular mid grips on split grip bass rods, Swell grips include the 2.75-inch spinning (0.99-inch O.D.) grip, a 4-inch baitcasting (1.08” O.D.) grip along with companion fore grips. The Swell series debuted in Charcoal with Black Camo and Black with Chartreuse Camo color patterns.

Saltwater Straight Cylinder -- Winn also extended its Saltwater Straight Cylinder series of grips, earlier introduced in 9- and 12-inch lengths, with a 15-inch model (1.25-inch O.D., Natural cork color). Coupled with a fighting butt or butt grips, the grips can anchor rear handles of 16 to 18.5 inches or longer in custom rod designs. All lengths can perform rear- or fore-grip duty.

Winn Rod Handle System --The Orange County Convention Center floor was testing ground for another new Winn concept -- upgrading an entire rod handle at once, reel seat and all! Prototypes of the new Winn Rod Handle System included spinning and baitcasting split grip handles featuring the new Swell series grips and a full-grip spinning handle.