St. Croix Sole Review
- Good casting accuracy
- Good performance with fish on
- Made in the USA
- Difficult to transport due to its length
- Modest casting distance
- Lacks versatility
- High swing-weight
The St Croix Sole is the most unique design in this class with its nearly 7-foot butt section and 27-inch tip section. By building the rod without ferrules in the first three-quarters of its length, St. Croix designs sought to improve accuracy and ‘feel’ in the rod, and in that they’ve succeeded. The Sole provides a delicate touch in fly presentation, and takes on dead-drift nymphs were instantly recognizable. But the Sole lacks power and versatility.
The St. Croix Sole presents a unique approach to rod design — to minimize performance impacts from having ferrules join multiple rod sections, St. Croix designed the two-piece Sole as a single rod section from butt upward to the tip section. That tip is a soft-flex tip that provides great fly control and accuracy (note that St. Croix includes a spare tip section with each rod). This does provide the angler with great feel and sensitivity both during the cast, and while playing fish, although overall the rod lacks power.
Weight, Balance, and General Feel
The Sole employees a plastic/nylon reel seat and locking ring. That eliminates the threat of corrosion, but does add weight. The rod tipped our scales at 4.1 ounces and though that’s the heaviest rod in the class, the weight is made worse by being somewhat unbalanced. Each of our testers experienced some arm fatigue after hours of casting the Sole, largely due to its heavier than expected swing-weight.
Casting Distance and Accuracy and Fishing Performance
When fishing within about 30 feet, the Sole showed me pinpoint accuracy, with the ability to drop a fly delicately on the river surface. But pushed beyond that range, the Sole struggled, especially with weighted nymphs fished under indicators. I did enjoy fishing the Sole with small to medium dry flies (everything from tiny #20 mosquitoes to #10 Stimulators) but my favorite use was dead-drifting light nymphs on the Yakima. The Sole let me feel every ‘bump’ and strike with ease.
The Sole’s close-in performance with dries and nymphs was exceptional, but trying to fish further out, or with bigger, weighted flies proved challenging.
Sizes Available: 9 models, in 4-wt through 12-wt all in 9-foot length
How We Tested It
Fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout on the Yakima and Methow Rivers in Washington, and the North Fork Clearwater in Northern Idaho. We fished from shore on those rivers, as well as rafts on the Yakima and Idaho’s Henry’s Fork. Testers included myself, as well as a range of fishing guides, outdoor photographers, and fish and wildlife professionals (fish biologists and game wardens). Both men and women participated in the test.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
About the Author
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