Gear Review


St. Croix Rods
Legend Xtreme LXS76MF
There are certain brand names that, when heard, conjure images in my brain of old timers sitting on the front porch of the fishing cabin telling lies about the big one that got away.  Lindy, Rapala, Fenwick, Filson, Pflueger... St. Croix.  I'm a sucker for brands that have stood the test of time.  Make it a family owned business like St. Croix that has not sold out to a fishing product mega conglomerate and I'm all in.
I had been using St. Croix muskie rods for 5 years with great success enjoying reliable and fair customer service so when I was looking for a staple smallmouth rod to use for the guide business, St. Croix was naturally the first place I looked.  I had been using Fenwick rods for my personal fishing for years and they were always dependable,  decent rods, but I was looking to up my game. While reviewing the various spinning series St. Croix had to offer, the Legend Xtreme caught my eye. Touting their new Xtreme skin handles and extreme sensitivity, I just had to give it a try. I've been fishing this rod almost exclusively since early October 2014. It is now the first rod I reach for every time we coast into a fishing hole. Long being a lover of cork handles, then split grips, I was unsure if I would like the new synthetic handle. It is neither , nor a true split grip. The high tech claims they make are true though. The material has a great feel and grips very well when wet. What I was really focusing on was the sensitivity of the rod.  Being an avid finesse fisherman, I have to feel the bite... even the most subtle bite. This rod does not disappoint. There are more advantages than just picking up bites though.  You'll pick up the bite sooner lessening the chance of the fish swallowing your bait.  Another advantage is that when fishing very rocky rivers (like I do), you'll be able to feel your leader / jig bump into rocks and often be able to pop it up and over the rock before snagging.  Spool it up with 15# braid with 8# Fluoro leader and you will be able to feel everything your jig crawls across. The Legend Xtreme series casting rods are St. Croix's top of the line spinning rods. They retail in the $370 - $440 range.  St. Croix carries several other lines of rods that share some of the same technologies at a more affordable price as well.  All series of St. Croix Rods are backed by one of the best service & warranty programs in the industry. This particular series is not a cheap rod by any means, but if you are the type of person that likes to occasionally treat yourself to high quality gear, this may be the rod for you.     

by Mike Schiffbauer

PROS                                                                                        CONS
Extreme sensitivity                                                                     High Cost
Effortless casting                                                                        Non-traditional appearance of handle
Cutting edge handle material                                                       Light blue color clashes with my favorite
                                                                                                  reel (I'm reaching here)


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     The popularity of UTV's are undeniable.  They're family friendly, go almost anywhere an ATV can go and are just more comfortable to ride in.  Undoubtedly, if you own a UTV and you're an angler, you're going to use it to facilitate your habit.  I know I do.  I have owned a Yamaha Rhino since 2007 and have used it to carry fishing rods over the hills and through the woods ever since.  Anybody that is reading this and does the same probably has at least one story of a broken rod or an empty spool when they got to the lake... Been there.  A recent long trip up the river made me think that there has got to be a better way to transport our rods than throwing them in the back or trying to keep them in place with bungee cords.  I did a little research and found these rod holders from Ebay hoping they would fit the bill.  "Catch and Release" is a reference to the holders' ability to "catch" your rod when it's locked in completely and "release" your rod with a firm pull.

      These holders can be purchased from most major online retailers like Amazon and Ebay.  I ordered mine from Ebay and paid $42 for both sets including shipping.

      I was skeptical when ordering because the details on the product were scarce.  Once the package arrived, I was relieved to find a well packaged product with stout hardware and a good "Fit and Feel".  I had decided to install a double rod holder on each side of the Rhino since I usually have somebody riding shotgun.  The first holder installed very easily and had a fair amount of rotational adjustment.  While installing the second holder, I over-torqued the U-bolts and cracked the master block.  I emailed the company explaining what happened and asking how to order a new part.  Travis quickly responded to my email and mailed out a new block free of charge (even though I offered to at least pay the shipping).  Customer Service... Check!

     Once both holders were in place, I threw a few spare rods I had laying around the garage into the Rhino and headed out for the bumpiest ride I could find.  I'm pleased to say the rods were held in place perfectly.  These holders definitely solve the security issue of losing a rod.  However, you can obviously still break a rod or lose all your line if you don't watch where you're going.  My favorite thing about these holders is that they free up the entire bed of the UTV for gear... and more gear is GOOD.

by Mike Schiffbauer

PROS                                                                                               CONS
Low Cost                                                                                        Lack of product details on website
Excellent customer service                                                              1 1/4" inside tube diameter limits rod size
High quality materials
Infinitely adjustable rotation without tools
Locks rods in place so they don't  bounce out


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L.L. Bean Rapid River Vest

I bought this vest in early 2007 looking for a vest that can support an all day fishing trip on streams and rivers. This vest has more than enough room to hold all the gear that you would need in a 8 to 10 hour trip. The vest is very durable everything is working perfectly on this vest two and a half years later the color is faded a bit. The pounding I’ve put this vest through it is remarkable that it still has not ripped or the zippers are broken. I’ve been in all kind of weather rain, sleet, snow, and sunshine many many times. The back support that it gives really helps out when you have a full pack there is not much stress on your back with the waist support belt. Along with padding on the entire back of the pack the shoulder support is ok I’d prefer a little more padding but that is nit picking. On to the storage the back pack is medium size and can hold a good bit of stuff I can carry a rain coat, food, water bladder, first aid kit, headlamp, maps and a knife and still have some room. You have 2 pockets on your hip pack that are big enough to carry extra reel or spools but the only thing is they get wet if u get waist deep so waterproof them is a good idea with a water proof case. On your chest are six pockets for tackle and u can hold a lot six tackle boxes you should be able to get all you need in them. There are clips on the front to hang you hemos or clippers and a rod strap. Multiple inside pockets can hold a note book, tippets or anything else small you may want to carry. I would not trade this vest for any that I have seen at this time it is pretty much perfect.

by Pete Cartwright



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