The St Croix Imperial 9 ft 7 wt 4 pc fly rod is one of twenty freshwater models not counting the four switch rods. I stopped by my friend Steve Johnson’s Royal Stevens fly shop at Girard and Hampton Ave in Englewood, CO for my test drive.
- The new redesigned imperial series is a combination of high modulus/high strain St Croix SCIV graphite combined with SCII graphite to reduce weight. The combination works well as the rod weighs in at only 3.9 ounces. This is just slightly more than a Sage Z-Axis 9 ft 7 wt at 3.88 ounces. Sage MSRP $700. St Croix MSRP $210
- Blanks are a deep rich burgandy color
- The snake guides are all hard chromed for durability with two aluminum oxide stripper guides with black frames
- The rods are listed as fast action and available in lines 2 through 10
- The cork is premium grade and has a good feel to it. While not the super grade found on high end rods the rod price is not high end either
- Handle is a single hand full wells with a 1 inch fighting butt extension
- Double uplocking machined aluminum reel seat on 7 weight models and up. Six weight and below use a rosewood reel insert with the aluminum reel seat.
- Each Imperial has alignment dots for fast setup of your rod. For a rod in this price range, the dots are very nice touch.
- Rods come in a rugged nylon covered case with handle and a divider liner to protect the rod.
- Rods are designed by St Croix expert rod designers and engineers in Park Falls, MN and hand crafted in their Fresnillo, Mexico plant.
- Covered by the St Croix Limited Lifetime Warranty St Croix has a unique warranty plan, The standard plan is $20 for repair or replacement due to workmanship defects. Damage due to accident is the Goldstar Plan at $50. Then there is the Upgrade plan where you pay $50 plus the cost difference between your damaged rod and a brand new rod of your choice.
- Best of all is the price $160 through $210 except for switch rods at $240.
- The rod felt a bit heavy at first but the fighting butt tends to balance that out.
- I would use a slightly larger reel than Steve put on the rod.
- The full wells grip was a nice size to fit my hand and allowed a good thumb on top extended forefinger grip for control.
- Rod flex under a 30 foot load was only into the top 25% of the rod with lots of reserver power.
- At 50 feet of line the rod was still turning over the line with ease and had a nice feel to assist in making crisp tight loops.
- Same was true at 70 feet of line. The rod still felt smooth under load and would shoot to 70 feet easily.
- The action is listed as fast. But the power taper loading curve on this rod feels more like a progressive curve which loads the rod evenly farther down the blank as the load on the rod increases. Theoretically, all rods should do this but some are designed to do it better than others. And not all of the high end rods do it well either.
For a rod in the $160 to just over $200 price range, the new redesigned St Croix Imperial is a winner.
This would be a good rod for most heavy trout, bass fishing, throwing heavy nymph rigs, bushy flies or into a wind.
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