Saltwater fishing rods and basically all equipment in the industry, have a multitude of options to choose from. Over many years, I have tried just about every fishing rod by the various manufacturers with a variety of experiences, good and bad. As a guide, the decision on equipment is a critical one and one must feel very good about those decisions. The very final decision comes down to an equation that is weighted heavily on
The selection I made was a very good combination of all three. St Croix builds rods that are a perfect “all-in-one” tool for inshore fishing. High modulus graphite blanks, quality guides, handle and reel seat components- the Inshore Avid or Tidemaster spinning rods have extraordinary general uses. The Tidemaster is a less expensive rod but with great performance and an exceptional durability track record. The Inshore Avid has a higher price but often has a slightly different “feel” to it. Final judgment comes on “results” and these are rods that get the job done.
Performance: Both options have superior “feel” to them, allowing the angler to be better at the intricacies of making long casts, manipulating a wide variety of artificial lures and “feeling the strikes” from fish. The backbone strength of these rods is exceptional for fighting the most stubborn opponents. The selection of rod options allow the angler to select the right stiffness/action of a rod they like best or for various needs on the water (“Power”: Light, Medium Light, Medium Heavy, Heavy -and “Action” of Moderate or Fast). The St Croix company (in Park Falls, Wisconsin) uses all the principles in rod building including “first rate components and materials”, proper blank straightness, guide alignment and perfect handle/reel seat placement. The end result is a top-of-the-line balanced rod, ready for battle!
On a side note: The overall design, the guides and the “tip” used on these models minimizes the “looping” around the rod tip during casting. This is something more problematic for kayak anglers but applies to all anglers.
Length: 7-foot rods are ideal particularly in the kayak-fishing world. While a lot of people like to wield a shorter rod, this length allows anglers to “negotiate” things that can happen when a fish is being fought near their boat or kayak. Their 6’6″ length rods are great for anglers who may want to do some hiking through wooded areas to get to their quarry. Options in the seven-and-a-half and 8′ rods are also great for larger gamefish.
Comfort: Long days of holding a St Croix rod, particularly with the great balance of the reel seat location and the overall weight of the rod, anglers will enjoy the difference between these and other rods they have used.
“A smaller butt.” Kayak fishing is considerably easier when done with rods with a shorter lower grip. For kayak anglers (who fish from a seated position most of the time) this is a big advantage. For a lot of the rest of the fishing world, it has become a preference they have grown to have. “Jabbed in the ribs” with longer lower grips of other rods, the shorter grip of the Tidemaster or Inshore Avid create a great deal of “elbow room” regardless of your fishing venue. Gone is the annoyance of the long butt of a rod catching on clothing. For the kayak angler: The added benefit of being able to more easily set the rod down in front of you while bringing a fish up to the craft.
Durability: My personal track record with St Croix rods is amazing: The first two Tidemasters I bought I used heavily for 7 years. Those rods still in great shape being used by acquaintances of mine another six years later. That was without any repairs or other failures. With incredibly heavy use, often by people who are tough on equipment, I have still yet to have to repair one of these rods. The finish on St Croix rods is exceptional. Rods that have been pulled hard against the side of a kayak or otherwise experienced trauma don’t show it. The eyes, the guides, the upper/lower grips and reel seats have exhibited zero deficiencies
Price: As previously mentioned, with zero repairs ever needed on any St Croix rods I’ve had in thirteen years, the investment has been a very good one for me. The Tidemaster was my very first “high quality” rod I ever bought. In the $110 to $120 range, it is a great selection. The Inshore Avid rods have a higher price (around $190 to $200) but many people like the feel of this one over the Tidemaster. You cannot go wrong with either choice. Pick them both up and see how they feel. I can attest, from heavy field testing that there is great value in this choice of fishing rod: Performance, Durability and Price- put them to your own testing!
For more information on the Tidemaster and Inshore Avid, follow these links:
“Saltwater” rods: http://www.stcroixrods.com/pdfs/STC_2011_SW_Section.pdf
Service and Warranty information: http://www.stcroixrods.com/category/service_and_warranty