When Capt. Frank Kittrick started out some 25 years ago, he was like a lot of young guys. He went rip-roaring around. Another captain told him he needed to slow down with a drift sock and give him a cheap one. Kittrick ripped through that and another.

With that, he went to visit Jonas Miller, an Amish tarp maker outside of Cleveland. Miller’s then 12-year-old son John came up with a drift sock sturdy enough for Kittrick’s antics.

(I love that Miller’s Custom Canvas has a web site.)

And Amish Outfitters was born when other people began asking for such socks. Amish Outfitters made its debut at the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo at booth 514 at the the Schaumburg Convention Center. The Chicago area’s biggest fishing show runs through Sunday, Jan 29.

“It’s not just trolling bags any more,’’ said Kittrick, who runs Y-Knot Charters on Lake Erie and Ontario. “They are very skilled.’’

Their latest hot item is a hitch bag, among their 100-plus offerings.

Here are some other things new or of note I came across on opening afternoon at the Schaumburg Show.

SnowDog machine at the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Show. Credit: Dale Bowman

SnowDog machine at the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Show.
Credit: Dale Bowman

The SnowDog machine, designed for ice or snow but usable in just about any off-road situation in the outdoors, is also making its debut at the show (233). The model at the show (CompactB10ZE) weighs 265 pounds and is manageable by two people.

Josh Jenkins at the booth said it came to the United States last year and is distributed from DeKalb. It is built in Russia and has been popular in northern Europe for a decade. The SnowDog runs on regular gasoline in a 4-stroke engine and the various models are priced from $2,500 to $3,500.

At the other end, there’s $5 show deals.

The GunkStick at the Mischief Fishing Technologies, LLC booth (327) caught my eye as a way to deal with a problem many of us have with cottonwood fluff gunking up our lives and fishing lines in summer. Jared Larson came up with the relatively simple gadget to keep gunk, especially cottonwood fluff, off your fishing line. The GunkStick is a show special at $5.

Another $5 deal comes from Capt. John Mannerino, who has stripped down umbrella rigs, among other baits, at his Rocky’s Angling Pursuits booth (307). He said those umbrella rigs worked wonders on crappie and white bass on Heidecke Lake and the Illinois River.

Shabbona Lakeside Bait, Tackle & Boat Rental (306) has its just released “Shabbona Lake Fishing Map’’ out in time for the show and at a show price of $5. A good deal for the most intensely fished public lake in Illinois.

Not surprisingly, the coolest crowd was hanging or packed around the Cast Crew (422).

My favorite booth, as most years, remains Lee’s Global Tackle (220). I can’t get my fill of that booth with its Japanese Domestic Market innovations.

Certain traditions I can’t stop. I dropped by the Blue Bank Resort booth (405), as always, to see if they had monster crappie from Reelfoot Lake on ice again. They did.

The neatest gimmick was the wooden muskie above the Mammoth Custom Lures rack at the FishTech booth (525). That’s the photo at the top.

Stray Casts crew chatting with Seth Feider (left). Credit: Dale Bowman

Stray Casts crew chatting with Seth Feider (left).
Credit: Dale Bowman

Nice to see the Stray Casts crew chatting with Seth Feider.

Shout out to the bass fishing team from Sandburg High School, which rolled up from the south suburbs in time to see Mike Iaconelli’s second presentation at 5:30.

For all ages, the live birds prey at Wings and Talons (720) drew the most interest. For kids, my money is on the fish simulator at Maple Bassmasters (04) and the general hubbub at Chauncey’s Great Outdoors (24-27).

Click here for info on the Schaumburg Show.