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St.Croix Imperial fly rod review

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Wild coho salmon before release caught with a st. croix imperial fly rod.

Wild coho salmon before release.

The St.Croix Imperial fly rod that I am reviewing, is a 9 foot 8 weight, and is my personal rod that I use mainly for salmon and steelhead fishing. Even though I use it mainly for salmon and steelhead, I’ve found this to be an extremely versatile rod, and have also used it with success for bass, and bull trout and have even taken it on trips to the Caribbean with me to catch bonefish, barracuda, and small tarpon.

With a fast action, the blank is stiff enough to send heavy sink-tips and weighted flies across the river while loading and shooting well. The standard single hand St. Croix Imperial comes in right around $200 dollars, and is in my opinion a great mid-level performer. For the price, the Imperial fits the bill as a modestly priced workhorse.

Finished in whatSt. Croix calls an attractive gloss burgundy, the blank is visually appealing and is a pleasure to cast on the river. The blank is a blend of high-modulus / high strain SCIV graphite and marries light weight with strength. The blank is finished off with aluminum oxide guides, complete with black frames.

Additionally, the larger weight models come with an anodized aluminum reel seat, so the rod can be fished in saltwater without worrying about corrosion. That being said, I always carefully wash my gear with fresh water after every saltwater session.  The uplocking machined aluminum reel seat comes on the 7 weight models and up. The 6 weight and lower models have a machined aluminum reel seat with a rosewood insert.

Summer steelhead caught and released with my St. Croix Imperial fly rod

Summer steelhead caught and released with my St. Croix Imperial fly rod

Included in the price is a premium divided rod case with a snap locking top. While I love this case, the only downside that I have encountered is that I lost one end of the clip, and for the life of me can’t find the same size anywhere to replace it with. I’m sure that if I contacted St. Croix directly, they would send me a replacement.  This is a small gripe, and would probably be easily enough remedied with an email to the St. Croix service department.

The St.Croix Imperial line of rods comes with the limited lifetime warranty that will cover just about every situation. Whether the rod fails due to a factory fault, or you take a dive getting out of the drift boat and smash it tip down into a rock (not talking from personal experience here), the warranty will cover it with a minimal charge.  I’ve been lucky enough not to have to test out St. Croix’s customer service in this department, but from what I hear they are very good.

The last thing I will say is to definitely get the 4 piece. Enough can’t be said for the ability to carry it on an airplane, or stick the rod in a large backpack or bag. The price is essentially the same, and it’s an extremely handy feature.

St. Croix also offers the Imperial in an 11’ switch model which I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to test. Judging by how much I love my 9’ 8 weight, it’s a safe bet to say that I’d love the 11’ Imperial switch model as well.

The St. Croix Imperial is available online from Cabela’s.

St. Croix Imperial

St. Croix Imperial from Cabela's


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