ST. CROIX - Spin & Casting Rods
Over the past year STS Guiding has been field-testing St Croix spinning, casting and fly rods. In this review we will cover rod choices, performance, durability and overall suitability for water we fish in British Columbia.
Choosing which rods were suitable for our waters can be a bit challenging due to the wide range of rods that St Croix offer. We took some time to narrow down our selection to what we would consider all round versatile rods for rivers and lakes in BC. Although we did test a few specialty fly rods such as an 8 weight 4 piece travel rod and ultra light-spinning rod for small trout. By no means are these the only rods suitable for BC fishing, just the ones we chose.
Spin and Casting rods come in a wide selection of quality ranging from high-end high modular graphite Legend Elite Series to the more modest entry level Triump series. Not all models are available in every series but for the most part the standard lengths and weights are covered.
There are 6 series of casting and spinning rods, starting at the high end with Legend Elite, Legend Tournament, Avid Series, Premier, Wild River and Triump. St Croix has made their model numbers fairly easy to figure out, Elite Casting rods start with a EC, Elite Spinning start with ES follow by the length in feet, followed by the action. For example an EC70MH2 would be an Elite Casting 7 ft, Medium Heavy, 2 piece. All models are labelled this was which makes it very easy to identify which rod is suitable.
Spin Casting Rods
For the purpose of rod testing we choose two models, which we felt, would suit the average angler as well as our customers who often use less than desirable handling practices. For guiding you need quality but more importantly durability.
Starting from light to heavy our first selection was the Avid AVS70ULM2 which stands for Avid, Spinning, 7 ft,Ultra Light, Medium Action, 2 piece. This rod is most suitable for Interior lake fishing and small stream trout fishing like the Skagit River but we had a tone of fun with it on the Fraser River last year for Pink Salmon. This is truly an ultra light rod with excellent action and fun to fish with. 1/32 to 3/16 oz rating allows for small lure casting with 2-6lb line rating. I would recommend this rod for those who like using ultra light rods and fishing for small trout on lakes and rivers.
Shite and Abuse
Like all the rods we get our hands on we tend to give them some serious abuse, intentional or not. For the purpose of not repeating myself on every rod review, over the full season of salmon and trout fishing we did not have 1 rod break, nor did we have any issues with reel seats, rod guides, thread unravelling or epoxy cracks. Honestly, that is amazing considering most of these rods have over 200 rods days and 1000 hours of use on them.
Wild River - WS76MLF2 which stands for Wild River Spinning, 7 ft 6", Medium Light, Fast Action, 2 piece. This rod is more suitable for small, med or large trout like we have on the Pitt River, Allouette, Lillooet, Chilliwack Lake or Interior Lakes. It casts well with a lure rating of 1/8 to 1/2 oz with a 6 to 12 lb line rating.
We used this rod mostly for Pink Salmon and Sea-run Bull Trout on the Upper Pitt but we also did some saltwater beech fishing casting 1/2 oz Gibbs Ultra Lures. We found both the AVS7OULM2 and the WS76MLF2 worked well with the St Croix AS1500 Spinning reels using 6 lb test on both set ups. On some occasions we really loaded up the WS76MLF2 rods and pushed the limits using larger lures like Gibbs Iron heads and 45 Kit-A-Mats. I would recommend this rod for a great all round trout and light salmon spinning rod for those who don't want to empty the pocket book.
Our next choice was to move to a longer spinning rod that would easily cast Gibbs Ironheads, large Ultra Lures and Kit-A-Mats without stressing the rod or tiring the angler. This selection was also made in consideration for those anglers who like to troll lures at the mouth of the Vedder or make long casts for larger salmon like Chinook, Chum or Coho.
The ST Croix Wild River WS96MHF2 is a Spinning rod, 9ft 6 inch, Medium Heavy, Fast Action, 2-piece rod. This rod will handle pretty much any casting or trolling lure situation in the Fraser Valley/Lower Mainland or West Coast. We mainly used this rod for float fishing for Chum on the Fraser, Vedder and Harrison but we also hooked up on a few Harrison Chinook and Vedder Steelhead this past winter. If we ever see another sockeye opening this rod would also work well for that fishery. I highly recommend this rod for those who prefer spin fishing over float fishing for salmon. If you want to match this rod with a reel, the St Croix 3500 Spin reel is the perfect match.
Last but not least we chose a casting rod for all of you who float fish our local waters for salmon and steelhead. The ST Croix Wild River WC106MMF2 is a Bait casting rod that is 10ft 6" Medium Power, Moderate Fast Action, 2 piece suitable for 1/4 to 3/4 oz with a line rating of 8-20 lb test.
The reason we chose this rod was for its versatility for fishable use of our local rivers. One rod does it all for salmon and steelhead, casting, float fishing or trolling lures. This rod can also be used for Chinook fishing on the Vedder, Harrison and easily handle those Chum Salmon.
If you prefer to have two drift rods like many of use do, you can use the WC106MMF2 for your Spring/Chum rod and drop down to the WC106MLMF2 for your Steelhead/Coho rod. The difference between the two is the later is a Medium Light/ Fast Action. If you're like me and like a slightly higher quality steelhead rod, the ST Croix Avid Series has aAVC106MF2 which is Avid Casting, 10 ft 6" Medium Power, Fast Action, 2 piece drift rod rated for 8-12 lb test, 1/4 to 3/4 oz.
Overall I am very impressed with St Croix, not much of a surprise for me because we have some old guide rods from 8 or 9 years ago that are still holding up. I personally think St Croix has some of the best rod selections of any manufacture currently hear in British Columbia. The rods selected for this Field Test are the 4 rods we currently use for guiding here in the Fraser Valley. All you really need if you're a local angler or guide.
Our next Field test report will be ST Croix Fly rods. Some of our fly rod choices are on the higher end models but we also tested the Reign series along with Avid, Legend Ultra and Legend Elite in both 6 weight and 8 weight.
Tight Lines and Enjoy using St Croix Rods, we did.
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