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Rod Review


 

An Understated Victory for St. Croix Rods

 

Date: 3/2/22
Tackle Type: Rod
Manufacturer: St. Croix Rods
Reviewer: Cal






Total Score: 8.0 - GREAT

Introduction:
Thanks to overseas manufacturing options, it seems with each passing year we see a proliferation of rod companies. Despite the many advantages this approach presents (namely costs), there remains a handful of manufacturers who craft their rods within the United States. Companies who roll their own blanks within the borders are even more rare. A mainstay in the industry since the middle of the twentieth (20th) century, St. Croix Rods is one of these rarities. Not only that, they've remained family owned and managed during this entire time. It seems quite fitting then, that one of their latest introductions is a series of rods to celebrate this achievement. Victory was introduced at ICAST 2021, and here's our detailed look at their 7'-3" medium powered spinning rod within this new lineup, introducing the VTS73MXF.

 

St. Croix Victory VTS73MXF Specifications

Material SCIII+ - A Combination of SCVI + SCIII fibers
Length 7'-3"
Line Wt. 6 - 20lb
Lure Wt. 3/16 - 1/2oz
Pieces One
Guides 8+Tip Fuji Concept O (Aluminum Oxide Inserts)
Rear Handle Length 9.5"
Power Rating Medium
Taper Extra-Fast
Rod Weight 3.6oz
Origin Made in USA
MSRP $180


Introducing St. Croix's VTS73MXF from their Victory lineup

Impressions: The introduction of Victory and Bass X during ICAST 2021, brings St. Croix's total number of series for bass anglers to eleven. With models within these series ranging from one hundred (100) to six hundred fifty (650) dollars in price, Victory lands right in between Avid ($165) and Legend Tournament ($260) in price point - smack dab in the middle of the eleven series hierarchy.

 


Among the many things you can depend upon with St. Croix is their choice in cork - always super clean

 

Our test subject, the VTS73MXF, as with all the Victory rods is made from a blank rolled with a specific blend of SCVI and SCIII the company is referring to as SCIII+. The exact formula is purportedly custom tailored for each specific model within the Victory lineup to optimize performance. The VTS73MXF is built with a split rear grip configuration (cork) and outfitted with Fuji Concept O guides featuring stainless steel frames with deep pressed Aluminum Oxide inserts.

 

As with each St. Croix stick that has passed through our lab over the last two decades, the VTS73MXF is beautifully crafted with precise wraps and epoxy application. The attention to detail in this build is exactly what you would expect from a rod that is proudly built here in America.


Ready for action!

Real World Tests: Late in 2020, I was able to acquire a spinning reel I had coveted since seeing it at ICAST a couple years prior - Shimano's Exsence. It took me a few years to grab one because I already had the Stella FJ in my arsenal, but when the stars finally aligned, I nabbed the reel and was all excited to fish and review that following year only to learn a few weeks later that Shimano was planning to refresh the reel for 2021. My Exsence C3000MHG was instantly obsolete. Serves me right for waiting so long, but when it came time to pair up the VTS73MXF, I knew exactly which reel I wanted to use. I gleefully spooled the reel with 40lb YGK G-Soul Upgrade PE X8 and installed a leader of 6lb Seaguar Gold Label (using a Uni to Uni knot) and went to work.


Victory rods feature Fuji's Concept O guides with aluminum oxide inserts

Casting: It's interesting that while the majority of the time I'm testing casting rods, I find myself concerned with the maximum weight I can throw, with spinning gear it is quite the opposite. Perhaps because most of the time I'm fishing spinning gear, it's with finesse applications. Though the VTS73MXF is a "medium" powered rod, it's ratings are borderline finesse. Three sixteenths of an ounce (3/16oz) is its low end lure rating and six pound (6lb) test is for line tells me this stick is suitable for presenting smaller baits.


Hook keepers for this series vary depending upon the model and intended application. The VTS73MXF came with a closed loop hangar

That's exactly what I did using the VTS73MXF as my dedicated Ned Rig rod for a few trips using a 1/10 oz Z-Man Shroomz head tipped with a variety of baits including the Z-Man TRD, Roboworm Ned Worm, Molix Stick Flex, and Missile Baits Ned Bomb. As one might expect, the VTS73MXF handled casting duties of these light bait setups very easily.


That extra-fast taper is very evident

Sensitivity: There's something about rods with extra-fast tapers when fishing finesse applications. I find these lighter powered rods with extra-fast tips perfectly suited for bottom contact applications like mini-jigs and Ned Rigging. Tips on sticks like this feel extra responsive and that impression is exactly what I got from the VTS73MXF. It's very adept at communicating what's going on down below from hard bottom contact to that mushy feeling of weeds, to that mysterious, something's not right - swing! impression you often get fishing the Ned. My impression of this stick is above average sensitivity.

Next: The Victory's Power Curve...

 

   

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