The Most Exciting New Gear from St. Croix for 2022

Published on 05/17/2023 · 6 min readFishing Expert Matthew Watts breaks down the award-winning gear from St. Croix as featured at the 2022 ICAST Convention. Check out his highlights here.
Matthew W., Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Matthew W.

Known as “America’s Dairyland,” Wisconsin is most well-known as the cheese capital of the world. The state is also known for beer, brats, and well, fishing rods? That’s correct! The cheese capital of the world may also be the fishing rod capital of the world if St. Croix keeps compiling wins at the yearly ICAST convention in Orlando, Florida. Makers of the “Best Rods on Earth,” St. Croix Rods hail from Park Falls, Wisconsin, and boy, do they know how to make some serious rods!

Photo by Matthew Watts

For ICAST 2022 St. Croix reimagined and reengineered almost their entire lineup of rods, but also introduced several new series as entries in this year’s New Product Showcase. This year, St. Croix entered the rod and reel combo category for the first time with the launch of the all-new X-Trek Fishing Systems, a lineup of four spinning rod and reel combos, which, along with the Sole Saltwater Fishing Systems, is the first time St. Croix has ventured into fishing reels. In the ice fishing category, St. Croix introduced their all-new Skandic Ice Series of rods, with 12 models from 24” to 36” covering the gamut between ultralight and heavy power.

Despite turning heads with the aforementioned X-Trek and Skandic Ice Series of rods, St. Croix’s showstoppers this year came in the form of the all-new Rift Salt and Rift Jig series in the saltwater rod category, and the new Tournament Bass Series with GRASP in the freshwater rod category.

The Tournament Bass GRASP: St. Croix Wins with a Bang!

Coming straight out of…Park Falls? Yes. That’s right. The new St. Croix Tournament Bass GRASP really turned some heads with its innovative pistol grip-style reel seat. The new GRASP reel seat design may take some getting used to (especially how it looks), but it is certainly more ergonomic and comfortable for those big, heavy swimbait rods. Also found in the Legend Tournament Musky Series, the GRASP reel seat headlines three of the 19 technique-specific casting models, with eight spinning models in the Tournament Bass lineup.

The Tournament Bass Series features St. Croix’s all-new SCIV+ carbon blanks and iACT Glass blanks on select models. Rather than creating a composite, St. Croix specifically engineered the iACT Glass for hard baits like crankbaits and chatterbaits. Essentially, the SCIV is the foundation, with SCVI in between, and then S-Linear Glass on top. Then, they are rolled together. This creates a rod with a slower action and increased sensitivity while being much smaller in diameter and lighter than other glass cranking rods.

Photo by Matthew Watts

The revolutionary GRASP reel seat was inspired by anglers’ desire to have a more ergonomic and comfortable grip that reduces fatigue while casting and retrieving heavy swimbaits and Alabama rigs and for fighting powerful fish. The intent is to keep the wrist straight while optimizing the palming position of the hand. Even better, St. Croix engineered a SoftTouch coating on the GRASP to ensure increased comfort.

The Tournament Bass Series covers the gamut for bass anglers everywhere. This lineup also comes with the added protection of St. Croix’s 15-year transferable warranty.

The new St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass features:

  • Next-generation hybrid CARBON FIBER SCIV+ blanks
  • Technique-specific iACT SCIV+ and linear S-Glass hybrid blanks on specific models
  • Fortified Resin System (FRS) technology
  • Advanced Reinforcing Technology
  • Integrated Poly Curve mandrel technology
  • Taper Enhancement Technology blank design
  • Fuji K-Series tangle-free guides with Alconite rings
  • Fuji SK2 reel seat on casting models with ergonomic complimenting componentry
  • Fuji VSS reel seat on spinning models with extended foregrip
  • Precision machined aluminum reel seat nuts and wind checks on spinning and casting models
  • Split-grip, super-grade cork handles customized per model
  • Swimbait models (3) feature GRASP reel seat technology
  • Full-grip super grade cork handles on select models
  • Model-specific hook keepers selectively placed per technique
  • Single coat sealer on blank with slow cure finish
  • Two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish on guides
  • 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service

St. Croix’s Rift Salt and Rift Jig: A Rift with the Competition

St. Croix Rift Jig (top) and the St. Croix Rift Salt (bottom).

In recent years, saltwater anglers have been trending towards lighter and thinner rods with increased power and durability, and St. Croix has come to capitalize on this trend. St. Croix entered two all-new series of saltwater rods into the mix this year at ICAST 2022. The Rift Salt and Rift Jig series encompasses 28 total models in both spinning and conventional configurations.

The Rift Salt boat rod lineup offers both conventional and spinning options from 6’6” to 7’10” with moderate-fast and fast parabolic actions, and power ratings from medium-light to heavy. With line ratings from 15 to 120 pounds, there is a rod in this lineup for every angler, whether presenting live or artificial baits.

The Rift Jig rod lineup offers both conventional and spinning options from 5’6” to 6’6” with moderate parabolic actions, and power ratings from medium to extra-extra heavy. These super-powerful rods have reinforced butt sections, and are meant to bend where you need them to and not where they shouldn’t. Each model is optimized to fight a different weight class of fish efficiently, so the rod works harder than the angler.

Photo by Matthew Watts

Each Rift model is built with premium SCIII carbon fiber for strength and durability, matched with St. Croix’s Fortified Resin System (FRS) technology, which also increases strength without adding weight. Rift rod blanks are handcrafted on St. Croix’s Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) mandrels, producing one continuous taper without transition points that compromise strength and action. St. Croix also uses Taper Enhancement Technology (TET), producing optimally curved patterns that result in better actions and heightened sensitivity. The result is a rod with incredible power and increased durability, made thinner and lighter.

The new St. Croix Rift Series feature:

  • SCIII carbon fiber for unparalleled flexural strength and durability, matched with Fortified Resin System technology reducing weight
  • Advanced Reinforcing Technology
  • Integrated Poly Curve mandrel technology
  • Taper Enhancement Technology blank design provides curved patterns for improved action with increased sensitivity
  • K-style stainless-steel guides with Alconite rings
  • Nylon reel seats with double locking nuts
  • Rift Salt models feature contoured premium-grade full EVA handles
  • Rift Jig models feature contoured premium-grade modified split-grip EVA handles
  • Non-marring rubber gimbals
  • 5-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service

My Take

Photo by Matthew Watts

St. Croix Rods has been an industry leader in rod building for nearly 75 years. They continue to engineer some of the finest rods in the industry and push the envelope with new and exciting technology and designs.

Two things. One, the GRASP may look weird, but it is here to stay, and for good reason. I’m all for physical comfort, because—in the long run—it increases our fishing longevity. Two, the Rift Series will easily be St. Croix’s best-selling saltwater series to date. The Rift’s comprehensive lineup and competitive pricing, combined with the name recognition, sells itself. I’m sold. Sign me up, St. Croix. Let’s jig up some monsters, and chase down some pelagics!

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