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First published January 1st 2002 - More than 13 years ago
Reviewing The St. Croix Legend Ultra Series
I first got my chance to cast this rod series from a friend I met while fishing the West Fork of the Kickapoo River in Wisconsin, USA. Admittidly, the looks of the rod first garnered my attention foremost. The forest green no-gloss blank sheathed in a Wisconsin-grown birds-eye maple reel seat would make most rod flingers look twice at this new rising star.
As I first casted a 9' 4wt. rod on the lawn. I noticed it loaded rapidly and took line from the pile on the ground with authority. I was impressed. I have previously owned two St. Croix Rods (a steelheader rod and a small 5 wt.) and have not been overly impressed with the castability of either. In fact I sold them both. But this rod, however, deserved a second chance.
I admired the rod so much that I stopped by a local outfitter store and bought one.
Since then, I have fished that rod 25+ hours and have landed well over 100 bass and bluegill. It casts heavy, wind-resistant cork poppers...on a 9-foot leader...0X tippet...into the wind...with no trouble. Likewise, it casts small dry flies nearly as delicately as my 7' 3 wt. It is without question, my favorite warmwater rod. And that being said after only 25+ hours of use.
The rod comes with a matching green Cordura-covered rod tube/case. A few nice touches...the end of the rod tube zips open, no cap to loose and St. Croix outdid themselves by embroidering their logo on the case, not just heat-stamping or silk-screeining it on. A nice touch. The rod tube also has another nice feature: an integrated sleeve/rod sock. No more rod sock to pull out and shove back in. The rod tube has one built-in. Those folks at St. Croix are thinking.
The rod is made with St. Croix's high-modulus SC IV graphite. The fast action of this rod series is attributable to the advanced compound taper designs that deliver crisp actions while still affording a soft tip. The reelseat is of anodized uplocking aluminum. It boasts a non-glare titanium finish and Wisconsin-grown, bird's-eye maple inserts. I can be the first to attest to the benefit of a titanium coated reelseat as I tightened my reel on the rod too tight, making it impossible to take off by hand. I grabbed a pair of pliers and wrapped the reelseat with a leather strap for protection. As I unloosened the reelseat, I slipped and scratched the aluminum with my tool...or so I thought. No a nick was found thanks to a very durable finish.
The line guides are titanium-plated single-foot fly guides by Pacific BayŽ. I am a personal fan of single foot line guides mostly because of the aethstetic nature. Add a fixed-loop hook-keeper to complete the hardware.
The finish on the reelseat leaves abit to be desired, but if you prefer a satin finish over gorgeous wood, you're in luck. Given that the reelseat is of birds-eye maple, a glossy mirror-like finish would have been more desirable to showcase the wood grain itself. I have since then refinished the reelseat on my to a glossy oil-based finish to my liking.
Finally, after scrutenizing the rod craftsmanship, I found only a slight imperfection in one of the wraps where a bubble had settled in the epoxy. It is too immaterial to worry about further.
If you enjoy a fast-action rod like I do, you'll be sure to find this series a hidden gem in the sea of production flyrods. Throw in an unconditional life-time warranty and a sticker from $250 USD and you've got a showcase rod at layman's prices.
This rod series gets a 5 out of 6 on the GFF scale.