October 30, 2020
By Fly Fisherman Staff
The Park Falls, Wisconsin St. Croix rod factory is about as far away from salt water as you can get in the U.S.A., but the new Imperial Salt rod series shows that the designers, developers, and especially the advisors involved in this project know more about salt than they do snow.
Available in 7- through 12-weight models, the six 9' rods have the backbone and components to deal with nearly any saltwater situation, from bluefish and striped bass in Massachusetts, to Florida tarpon and Louisiana redfish.
Before you even cast the rods, you see that St. Croix has done something special here, with a stealthy aquamarine rod that looks and feels different even before you make your first cast. It has slim-profile ferrules, Seaguide PVD-coated stripper guides with zirconia inserts, as well as Seaguide PVD-coated snake guides to make the line shoot through the guides with the least amount of friction possible.
The uplocking, no-glare machined aluminum reel seat, premium-grade cork handle, and the Seaguide dual-trapezoid-shape hook keeper are all thoughtful extras you’d expect to see only on rods that are much more expensive. Smartly, St. Croix has put fighting butts only on the 10-, 11-, and 12-weight models. The 7-, 8-, and 9-weight rods give you a few more inches of casting space to make the rods load more deeply for better casting. There’s no need for a fighting butt on a bonefish rod. All it does is help to catch a loop while you are shooting line.
“The 8-weight had the power to propel my casts head-on through a stiff breeze and turn over my fly perfectly every time,” says longtime Florida Keys guide, Capt. Rich Tudor, host of the Saltwater Experience television show. “I was happily surprised at how precise and effortlessly it casted. These rods are going to impress and make a lot of saltwater fly anglers very happy.”
$340-$380 | stcroixrods.com