St.Croix uses proprietary graphite materials in the manufacture of their rods, but have made the biggest waves with their development of a technology they call “IPC” or “Integrated Poly Curve Technology.” In essence, they’ve redesigned the mandrels upon which the graphite is rolled to achieve an important goal~eliminating weak points in the blank. On a typical mandrel, the change in diameter from one end to the other occurs through what’s called a “compound taper.” In essence, its a series of steps. When the graphite material gets rolled onto the changing slopes of the mandrel, the wall thickness increase/decrease slightly at these junctions. Where thick material meets thin material, the likelihood of breakage increases.
IPC eliminates this by creating one smooth transition along the entire length of the mandrel. The graphite is “rolled and compacted onto the rod making mandrel in one continuous taper.” According to St.Croix, this process results in superior graphite fiber alignment and distributes stress evenly along the entire length of the blank. But….the impressive design and technology doesn’t end there….
The Legend Elite fly rods employ yet another proprietary St.Croix manufacturing process they refer to as “ART” or “Advanced Reinforcing Technology.” The name is given to a process in which “special graphite fibers” are wrapped perpendicular to the main graphite in critical locations. ART increases the strength of the blank by not allowing it to deform under extreme conditions, without adding weight or increasing it in diameter. Technical sounding~yes. But take comfort~all of this effort is centered around St.Croix’s goal of building rods that are a pleasure to fish with. To this end, the Legend Elite scores HIGH on the fun scale!
My first look at a St. Croix Legend Elite fly rod was at a fly fishing show a little over a year ago. St.Croix’s booth was busy (lots of “air” casting, rod wiggling) but I was anxious to throw my hat in the ring and finally get a good look at their newest offering. Thinking a good 5 wt. was in my future, I soon realized I’d have to wait a few minutes to see it. I picked up what I guessed was an 8 or 9 wt. (judging by the fighting butt and aluminum reel seat) and was amazed at how light a rod of this length in the 8wt. class felt in hand. It turned out to be a 9’6” 8wt.~beautifully appointed, light…and gave the impression it would live up to it’s “Fast+” billing.
While I confess to being somewhat charmed by St.Croix’s magazine ads (romantic images of normal-looking anglers with beat-up classic 4x4s…gearing up or taking a break with their dog in a gorgeous looking spot) a fly rod has to do it’s job well. Fishing time is precious after all….
My first day with this Legend Elite fly rod proved to me that a day spent casting an 8wt. need NOT leave you requiring an ice pack. The action was crisp, very fast and defied everything I thought I knew about heavier rods. (“heavier” referring to the fact I use 3wt.-5wts. most of the time) Casting big flies to distant water~a piece of cake. The first time I took it out for salmon/steelhead I was trying a new spot that was supposed to be fishing well at the time. I was discouraged to see that the prime holding water was on the far side of this good-sized river, and being deftly worked over by a couple of hospitable center-pinners.
Legend Elite In Action
They moved up a little and offered me a crack at the spot, looking over their shoulders to see what my next move was~yikes!
With very little room to back cast, I figured my best option was to shoot some line from an otherwise standard cast. (heavy fly+long cast+new rod+guys watching=not a good time to roll cast) I stripped enough line from the Islander to make the distance, set up the cast and fired it out. When the fly hit a tree on the far bank, 6′ above the water line, I laughed out loud~could it be that easy? This was the start of something good!
St.Croix With Gar Pike
Flash ahead several months~time to try the Legend Elite in a totally different setting. This time, wading the freshwater flats in search of longnose and spotted gar. A sight-fishing game in truly the hottest temperatures Southern Ontario can dish up. What first appeared to be too “much” rod for the quarry turned out to be precisely the right tool for the job. A light, fast action fly rod that loads/casts well at any distance that delivers every thrashing, shaking and pulling sensation directly to your arms! What a riot! Fly fishing for gar is a blast on its own. Fly fishing for gar with a Legend Elite puts the odds in your favor. (…..along with sharp hooks, and quick hook sets that are timed right!)
The final word: For fly rodders ready to make the step up to truly world-class fly rod, you’ll be happy to know that St.Croix’s commitment to value has not been ignored. The St.Croix Legend Elite is a fly rod that does its job exceedingly well. Aesthetics and workmanship are first rate, a commitment to quality made even more obvious by their choice of components. Give the Legend Elite a try next time you’re in the market for a fly rod, or just go and test cast one at your local dealer.
Available in single handed models ranging from an 8’6” 4wt-9′ 10wt., there is a Legend Elite model that is a perfect match for the fishing you do~whatever, wherever that may be! Get the MOST from your time on the water~pick up a Legend Elite from St.Croix!