As AFTCO continues their push into the freshwater market, the legendary tackle company has combined saltwater-grade performance with inspiration from bass culture. The result is the Hydronaut Waterproof System. Our prediction? This product is going to be hot.
Hydronaut is already in the hands of Bassmaster Elite Series pros, who are readily making use of its built-in action camera mount and vented hood from their 70mph vantage points across the country. Next week, Hydronaut will be in the hands of retailers in the ICAST New Product Showcase Technical Apparel section. AFTCO has the Midas touch right now, as one of the few fishing brands to maintain mainstream crossover, thanks largely to their stellar apparel.
Before making your way around the show floor at the Orange County Convention Center, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Hydronuat at the New Product Showcase. If you’re an ICAST attendee and a retailer, the beer there is on us. However, for those eager to take a look before they land in Orlando, or for those not attending the show, we’ve reached out to AFTCO for some real-world feedback on Hydronaut.
AFTCO’s head of apparel design Dino Sakelliou and sourcing and development manager Abe Burciaga helped lead the charge in Hydronaut’s development, and say the high-performance suit came from northern, freshwater anglers who were in love with the company’s Anyhydrous waterproof fishing jacket, but wanted a heavier-weight product for colder temperatures.
“Our waterproof jacket was working great for guys that are out in warmer areas,” says Sakelliou. “But once the more brutal winters up north got involved, we started seeing requests for something more heavy-duty, more bomb-proof in a sense. That’s when we started to build a bulletproof hood and bib, then put the features on it that the bass guys really wanted.”
Those features—a built-in action camera mount compatible with GoPro and Garmin cameras, a vented hood built to fly down rivers and lakes as fast as a 250hp motor strapped to a glorified skiff will run, and an ultra water-resistant seal around the cuffs—separate Hydronaut from a field of competitors at ICAST. The camera mount, in particular, will be an eye grabber, likely making the product an instant contender in Technical Apparel.
But what is Hydronaut like in action? We followed up with the only anglers to battle test it so far.
Jason Christie: “The three things I look for in a suit are fit around the wrist, fit around the neck, and a hood that lets me travel fast and not get wet. For me, this is a winter suit, but it’s not bulky so I know I can wear it and not get tired of wearing it. I’ve learned this in the short amount of time I’ve been there: if it’s got AFTCO’s name on it, it’s going to be good.”
Todd Faircloth: “To me it’s going to be really really good cold weather rain gear. One of the main features I like about it is the weather sealing around the hood. A lot of times, when it’s raining in real bad weather, that’s normally the first place stuff starts to leak in, around your head. That’s not going to happen with this gear.”
Cutting the rave reviews, let’s talk turkey. An angler can pickup a Hydronaut setup for under $500.
See it for yourself next week at ICAST Booth 4826.