Park Falls, WI – Fly fishing can be a complex game in its highest forms. One can fly fish for a lifetime and never learn half of what there is to know about things like entomology, knots, line and leader setup, fly selection, casting mechanics and presentation. But that’s all a part of the fun. Truth is, fly fishing success starts with an admission that no one knows it all; that every fishery is different; and most importantly, perhaps, that all the romance and intrigue surrounding the sport isn’t really all that helpful when it comes down to actually catching fish. The best anglers don’t fly fish because it’s popular or therapeutic; they do it for the right reason… because it’s a great way – sometimes even the best way – to catch fish.
St. Croix Rod has been handcrafting high-quality fishing rods – start to finish – in the Northwoods of Wisconsin for over 70 years. And when it comes to fly rods, they “roll their own” with great care – designing and manufacturing their own rod blanks – just as they do with every St. Croix spinning and casting rod. The result is a full complement of fly rods that perform with reliably consistent power, smoothness, strength and accuracy – because that performance doesn’t rely on anyone else’s design, materials or manufacturing. But don’t take our word for it. Read what the pros have to say about St. Croix’s fast-action made-in-the-USA Imperial USA and Imperial Salt fly rods.
Imperial USA Fly Rods
Fly-tying expert, Gunnar Brammer, lives in Duluth, Minnesota and frequents the upper reaches and tributaries of the St. Louis River. During a typical day on the water, the St. Croix pro and former commercial fly-tier doesn’t discriminate which species he targets. Rather, for the self-proclaimed streamer fanatic, it’s all about how they are targeted.
“Over the past five years or so I have dedicated myself to streamer fishing,” says Brammer, who typically throws baitfish imitations ranging between 3.5″ to 10″, with 5″ or so being the sweet spot for targeting nearly all the predators in the system. “I don’t usually have a target species in mind when fishing. I simply walk the river and fish what structure I’m presented with,” says Brammer, who’s results most commonly include walleye, smallmouth, Northern pike and musky of various dimensions.
Brammer’s indiscriminate approach calls for a versatile setup, and he most often carries a St. Croix Imperial USA 9’ 8-wt. (IU908.2) rigged with a 300-330-grain sinking-tip line tied to a leader made from a 3’ of straight 20-lb mono butt section and a 1.5’ 20-lb knotable wire bite tippet. “For covering your bases and sticking warm-water predator fish with streamers, I’ve yet to find a better, tried-and-true all-purpose set up,” he says.
“No matter how powerful or accurate a rod is, I want to be able to feel it load and unload when I cast. I think that’s something Imperial USA does better than most – especially in a fast-action rod. When a rod is crafted with power yet retains its feel, casting is not only more effortless, it becomes much more enjoyable, too,” says Brammer, who attributes much of Imperial’s dynamic performance to the rod’s domestic origins.
“A while back, I attended a webinar focused on the St. Croix factory and the rod-building process in Park Falls. The experience became one of the most compelling factors in my decision to support St. Croix rods as actively as I do,” he says. “To know that St. Croix controls the rod-building process from start to finish – with mandrels and blanks designed and rolled in house – and actually seeing and hearing stories from the employees who are handcrafting these rods filled me with a lot of pride. ‘Handcrafted in the USA’ is something to not only be proud of, but something – I believe – that should be talked about or at least appreciated a lot more in our industry. Some other companies claim to be ‘Made in the USA’ but are only assembled or have the components put on here. St. Croix controls every aspect of design, construction, quality and, ultimately, performance!”
Rated for 2-weight through 10-weight lines and available in 24 two- and four-piece models ranging from 6’ to 10’ in length, Imperial USA fly rods cover any freshwater fly fishing situation.
Imperial USA fly rods employ a dynamic blend of high-modulus/high-strain SCIV graphite and SCII graphite to create lightweight and powerful, fast-action rods which are both smooth-casting and accurate. The series features Slim-profile ferrules, Kigan Master Hand stripper guides with aluminum-oxide rings and black frames, plus Sea Guide® black PVD-coated snake guides for smooth casting and line shooting. An uplocking machined-aluminum reel seat with wood insert (2-6-wt. models) and premium-grade cork handle and fighting butt (7-10-wt. models) assure comfortable ergonomics.
Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A., St. Croix Imperial USA fly rods set the standard for performance and value. Each rod comes with a rugged rod case with handle and divided polypropylene liner. Whether casting size-22 dry flies on tiny creeks, indicator nymphing or swinging streamers for steelhead, or casting giant deer hair streamers on sink-tip lines for pike and musky, there’s an Imperial USA fly rod made for the way you fish. All models carry a 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service. Retail prices range from $250-$320.
Imperial Salt Fly Rods
“I’m a big fan of St. Croix’s new Imperial Salt fly rods,” says Florida Keys guide, Capt. Tom Rowland, a St. Croix pro staffer and host of the popular Saltwater Experience television show. “These rods cast like a cannon and have plenty of power to break the will of the tarpon and other large, saltwater gamefish we target.”
The Imperial Salt 12-weight model (IS9012.4) is Rowland’s go-to for big tarpon. “This fast-action rod has the guts to boom long casts into the wind, while retaining the accuracy required for medium-range and shorter shots to laid up fish,” he says. “And once they’re hooked, Imperial Salt’s butt section has the necessary fighting and lifting power to play even the biggest tarpon fast for a safe release.”
Rowland’s co-host, Captain Rich Tudor enjoys sight fishing to bonefish with the 8-weight Imperial Salt model (IS908.4). “This rod is a joy to cast, driving line head-on through a stiff breeze and turning over my fly perfectly every time,” he says. “I was happily surprised at how precisely and effortlessly it casts for a fast-action rod.”
Both Rowland and Tudor are fans Imperial Salt’s four-piece construction. “I love four-piece rods for travel, but usually throw one-piece or two-piece fly rods because of the consistent way they load and deliver power,” admits Tudor. “I haven’t been able to find a four-piece that could measure up – until now.” Rowland agrees. “They are incredibly smooth and powerful and are exceptionally versatile as well,” he says. “They travel really well and with the slim profile ferrules and IPC construction, they cast like a one-piece rod.”
Available in six versatile 9’ 7- through 12-wt. models, all-new Imperial Salt four-piece fly rods combine SCIII carbon with IPC® mandrel technology to create lightweight, fast-action rods with the strength, durability and corrosion resistance to conquer the toughest marine fishing environments and combatants. Seaworthy components and a clean, stealthy look punctuate the series, which feature Slim-profile ferrules, Sea Guide® PVD coated stripper guides with zirconia rings and deep drawn frames, plus Sea Guide® PVD coated snake guides for guaranteed smooth casting and optimal line shooting. An uplocking machined-aluminum reel seat, premium-grade cork handle and fighting butt (10 to 12-wt. models only) assure angler comfort throughout the battle, while a Sea Guide® PVD coated hook-keeper easily secures the fly at day’s end.
St. Croix Imperial Salt fly rods are designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A. Each rod comes with a rugged rod case with handle and divided polypropylene liner. From bonefish, redfish, snook, permit and tarpon in southern waters, to stripers, bluefish, weakfish and false albacore in the north, new Imperial Salt fly rods will improve the game of any fly angler. All models carry a 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service. Retail prices range from $340-$380.
Fly fishing is supposed to be fun, not confusing. St. Croix’s fast-action Imperial USA and Imperial Salt fly rods afford anglers the advantage in both fresh and saltwater, giving expert fly casters the power to fish to their potential, while delivering a sweet combination of feel and accuracy that improves anyone’s game. That’s how we design them and that’s how we build them… one at a time in Park Falls, Wisconsin, for pride-inspiring performance however and wherever you fish.