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Tops on the Gift List: St. Croix Imperial Fly Rod

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November 28, 2011

Tops on the Gift List: St. Croix Imperial Fly Rod

By Kirk Deeter

Why not put a fly rod on your holiday wish list? Or, better yet, give the gift of a fly rod, and you inevitably give the gift of fly fishing. Joe Cermele and I put together a big list of our favorite gift ideas, from big ticket items to fishy stocking stuffers, which you can check out here. But I decided that a rod had to top my list. And for the best all-around fly rod value, I think it's mighty difficult to beat a St. Croix Imperial. Classic brand. Costs $200. Smooth casting, fast action rod. Tough as nails. Backed by a lifetime warranty. And best of all it is--and will continue to be--made in the U.S.A.

And that, for me, is the real kicker. I've seen enough cheap imports with flashy endorsements. I also know that most anglers (like 99 percent) cannot tell the difference between a $200 rod and a $700 rod, at least when it comes to casting. So how about a rod that's a proven performer, that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and is made in Park Falls, Wisconsin? St. Croix recently reaffirmed its commitment to making Imperials in the U.S.A., and I say bully for them. The Imperial might be the best "feel good" product in fly fishing now.

One other thing: While everyone is beating a path to the outlet mall, or surfing the web for cyber deals, you might think about going to a fly shop and supporting a small business. Your fly shop needs your business more than ever.

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from ejunk wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

those rods are, unequivocally, the best deals in fly fishing. I had no idea they were made in the US, but I'm gonna buy another one asap know that I do know!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Purchased an Imperial sometime in the mid 90's and fished the heck out of it all over the US. Caught everything from steel, pike, bass, redfish, trout and assorted array of salt species. It was, without a doubt, my workhorse rod. 9 1/2 foot 7/8 weight.

Would be fishing that rod today was it not for my 16 year old breaking a foot and a half off the top end while steelhead fishing last year.

It was long out of warranty but the fine folks at St. Croix gave me a deal on another Imperial. 10 foot 7 weight. Dang good rods.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I'd be giving the action top priority as well as the maker. Have to match a fast action rod with the fishing I would do with it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I like St.Croix rods. That will probably be the rod that I buy when I start to go steelheading!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goin2themountains wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Picked up a 2wt. Imperial a couple years ago for mountain streams. I do love this little rod.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I really enjoy my 7'6" 4 wt. Imperial. It brings a whole new level of fight to a 14" stocked bow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

ckRich...so it is a 7'6" rod in a fast action? What is the action as the company describes it to be?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Sayfu- yes it's a fast action, and that is how St. Croix describes it. It's a great little rod!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from backcast wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I'm a fan. I own the 9' 5 wgt. Legend Elite-it's my main fly rod. It's a fast action rod, which is what I was after, as I prefer to fish dries, but it is more than accommodating when fishing other techniques. Own some Legend Ultras and an Avid spinning rod too. Love 'em all. Pretty quick turn around on warranty claims as well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Not my choice then in a short rod especially. I would use a short rod to fish small flies, light tippets, and not long casts. A fast rod recovers way to fast to protect light tippets. I'd want a medium action rod, and no faster for that kind of work. I bought a 7 ft. graphite rod, still have it in a 3 wt., and it is way to fast for the short line fishing I wanted to use it for. I put a 4 wt. on the reel to soften it up, but really don't want to fish a 4wt. I wanted a 3 wt. Hard for graphite rod makers to make a rod that short, and have it flex like a medium action. That is why I said a fiberglass rod in that length is the ideal rod for the task. But, I'd have to cast it, and see how it loads up at shorter distances, and how it flexes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from backcast wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I've thought about(coveted)one of the Diamondback Diamondglass rods, say a 7' 3 wgt for a few years now. Exclusively for small stream fishing. Double taper line. Pflueger Medalist reel. A handful of flies. And about 1000 hungry, wild brook trout. Never comin' home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgalliso wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I heard that the demand was so high they were unable to transition the rod to Mexico initially. I guess they gave up on that idea which is good for us. That is a darn good price on a US made rod.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Am surprised to hear all you guys fishing short rods. I prefer 9 foot rods even on small water.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

buckhunter..different strokes I guess. But I like to use different rods, and different actions for different types of fishing, and it makes it interesting everytime I pick up a different rod and use it. One thing that is very noticeable on the short rod is their incredible lightness. If I were to buy another short one, it would be glass, and I'd have just the rings for the reel attachment. Small size reel, and it becomes special.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

buck, I originally purchased my short Imperial after a hard lesson learned chasing skittish McClouds in the tight quarters of Crane. I almost shortened my 9' rod a couple times in the brush, and showed my amature ways in not watching my rod shadow. I haven't had the chance to make it back for redemption, but the time is drawing near...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from ejunk wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

those rods are, unequivocally, the best deals in fly fishing. I had no idea they were made in the US, but I'm gonna buy another one asap know that I do know!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Purchased an Imperial sometime in the mid 90's and fished the heck out of it all over the US. Caught everything from steel, pike, bass, redfish, trout and assorted array of salt species. It was, without a doubt, my workhorse rod. 9 1/2 foot 7/8 weight.

Would be fishing that rod today was it not for my 16 year old breaking a foot and a half off the top end while steelhead fishing last year.

It was long out of warranty but the fine folks at St. Croix gave me a deal on another Imperial. 10 foot 7 weight. Dang good rods.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I'd be giving the action top priority as well as the maker. Have to match a fast action rod with the fishing I would do with it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I like St.Croix rods. That will probably be the rod that I buy when I start to go steelheading!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goin2themountains wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Picked up a 2wt. Imperial a couple years ago for mountain streams. I do love this little rod.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I really enjoy my 7'6" 4 wt. Imperial. It brings a whole new level of fight to a 14" stocked bow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

ckRich...so it is a 7'6" rod in a fast action? What is the action as the company describes it to be?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Sayfu- yes it's a fast action, and that is how St. Croix describes it. It's a great little rod!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from backcast wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I'm a fan. I own the 9' 5 wgt. Legend Elite-it's my main fly rod. It's a fast action rod, which is what I was after, as I prefer to fish dries, but it is more than accommodating when fishing other techniques. Own some Legend Ultras and an Avid spinning rod too. Love 'em all. Pretty quick turn around on warranty claims as well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Not my choice then in a short rod especially. I would use a short rod to fish small flies, light tippets, and not long casts. A fast rod recovers way to fast to protect light tippets. I'd want a medium action rod, and no faster for that kind of work. I bought a 7 ft. graphite rod, still have it in a 3 wt., and it is way to fast for the short line fishing I wanted to use it for. I put a 4 wt. on the reel to soften it up, but really don't want to fish a 4wt. I wanted a 3 wt. Hard for graphite rod makers to make a rod that short, and have it flex like a medium action. That is why I said a fiberglass rod in that length is the ideal rod for the task. But, I'd have to cast it, and see how it loads up at shorter distances, and how it flexes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from backcast wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I've thought about(coveted)one of the Diamondback Diamondglass rods, say a 7' 3 wgt for a few years now. Exclusively for small stream fishing. Double taper line. Pflueger Medalist reel. A handful of flies. And about 1000 hungry, wild brook trout. Never comin' home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgalliso wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

I heard that the demand was so high they were unable to transition the rod to Mexico initially. I guess they gave up on that idea which is good for us. That is a darn good price on a US made rod.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Am surprised to hear all you guys fishing short rods. I prefer 9 foot rods even on small water.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

buckhunter..different strokes I guess. But I like to use different rods, and different actions for different types of fishing, and it makes it interesting everytime I pick up a different rod and use it. One thing that is very noticeable on the short rod is their incredible lightness. If I were to buy another short one, it would be glass, and I'd have just the rings for the reel attachment. Small size reel, and it becomes special.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

buck, I originally purchased my short Imperial after a hard lesson learned chasing skittish McClouds in the tight quarters of Crane. I almost shortened my 9' rod a couple times in the brush, and showed my amature ways in not watching my rod shadow. I haven't had the chance to make it back for redemption, but the time is drawing near...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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