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Rod Review

What the Finesse : This Legend Has "It"


Date: 10/5/11
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: St. Croix
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.33 - EDITOR'S CHOICE!

In the landscape of established, tried and true rod manufacturers that both roll their own blanks and build their own rods almost entirely within the US, there are really only three that come to mind: G.Loomis, Lamiglas, and St. Croix. Of those three, one is clearly front and center in the majority of consumer’s minds while the other two fight for second place. But if you consider the science of rod technology, and the research and development efforts that go into making the blanks that form the basis of your fishing rods better and longer lasting, it’s difficult to argue anyone makes a more advanced fishing rod blank than St. Croix.


Introducing the retro-styled St. Croix LES76MLXF Legend Elite spinning rod.

It comes down to three technologies which we’ve highlighted before but each bears repeating:

ART: Stands for Advanced Reinforcing Technology and delivers a blank with better hoop strength per diameter of the blank. Hoop strength is the force within the blank that resists crushing or deformity pressures applied to the blank when under load of a hookset or while fighting a fish. Similar reinforcement can be achieved by increasing the diameter of the blank or adding material to the overall blank build, but each of these increase the blank’s overall weight. By employing ART, St. Croix is able to build thinner diameter blanks that are still relatively light and very strong.

It comes down to three technologies which weve highlighted before but each bears repeating.

IPC: Stands for Integrated Poly Curve Technology and is a tooling advancement that allows St. Croix to build virtually seamless blanks. In every blank, there are transitions in materials and amounts of material from tip to butt. This is how manufacturers control the actions and powers of the blank and how they custom tailor a blank’s characteristics to meet your fishing application needs. By smoothing out these transition points in the blank, St. Croix is able to build a smoother, more uniform blank which translates into a more consistent power curve and increased strength at those material transition joints.

The Elite series from St. Croix features SCV Graphite with NSi Resin.

NSi : No, it is not a new television show, but a resin developed by 3M that uses nano-sized spheres of silica as fillers between strands of carbon fiber to deliver a stronger, more consistent end product. St. Croix’s own tests reveal a thirty percent (30%) increase in material strength with no change in the weight, action, or power of the finished product.

Of course, the Elite blanks also feature St. Croix's IPC and ART technologies.

While the use of these technologies vary within each St. Croix product line, yours truly has rarely been one to mess around with ifs, ands, or buts as I usually just go straight to the top rather than waiting for features and advances to trickle down through product lines. For St. Croix, however, “top end” has been redefined with the introduction of the Legend Xtreme line of rods. But as JIP revealed last year in his review of the LEC70MHF and XC70MHF, the blanks used in both the Elite and Xtreme line of rods are the same, the difference between the lines being the components and handle assemblies.

Clean cork and clean lines prevail on this stick.

Having said all that, when it came time to find a candidate from St. Croix for our WTF campaign, I didn’t go too extreme but instead returned to tradition and remained an “elitist”. Introducing St. Croix’s entry to What the Finesse, the Legend Elite LES76MLXF

St. Croix Legend Elite LES76MLXF Specifications

Material SCV Graphite + NSi Resin
Length 7'-6"
Line Wt. 4-10 lb
Lure Wt. 1/8-3/8 oz.
Pieces one
Guides 9 + tip (Fuji Ti SiC)
Power Rating Medium Light
Taper Extra Fast
Rod Weight 3.8 oz.
Origin Made in USA
MSRP $340


Impressions: Given St. Croix went back to something closer to their original cosmetics, I suppose I’m one of the minority who really appreciated the former look of the Legend Elite series. The bronzed blanks with custom painted reel seats and sculpted cork handles came together to form simply beautiful fishing tools. The EC68MXF I fished and reviewed back in 2005 is on a short list of one of my all time favorite USDM sticks. It had since found a new home, but I figured I could always pick up another “sometime”. I should have known in the fishing industry that nothing lasts forever because before I knew it, St. Croix changed the cosmetics of the sticks returning them to a more traditional look and thus my opportunity to replace the EC68MXF had passed - my own fault.


A couple of years ago, St. Croix went back to something closer to the original color of the Legend Elite, but this new color still has some sparkle to it.


The new, old look for the Legend Elite series is a return to a hunter’s green colored blank, the same super clean cork handles, but with softened edges and less definitive lines. It is an entirely subjective attribute, but it’s clear I prefer the previous “look”. Just the same, the craftsmanship and care gone into each St. Croix build is commendable as my new LES76MLXF was flawless.

Getting a feel for the new combo out on Lake Sonoma, CA.

Field Tests: I dusted off my JDM Daiwa Exist Steez 2506, spooled it with some Sunline Super Natural mono in ten pound test and mounted it on my new LES76MLXF for some field tests. Destination for this trip? California’s beautiful Lake Sonoma.

Fuji's spinning reel seat isn't my favorite, but then again, there really isn't a spinning reel seat that is very elegant.

Casting: I’ve made it no secret that my foray into bass fishing was made with spinning gear - specifically, ultra-light spinning gear. As such, it was rare for me, and still is, to fish a spinning rod over 6’6” let alone one that is 7’6”! Interestingly enough, though the LES76MLXF is super long, it features an extra-fast taper which translates into tip that loads easily and precisely during each and every cast.

Legend Elites feature guides with not just SiC inserts, but titanium frames as well.

The overall length of this rod not withstanding, once you grow accustomed to the length, its fairly easy to pinpoint casts keeping in mind the need to feather the spool as you do so. Because I constantly switch combos, it was difficult for me to dial in the casting motion for the LES76MLXF at first, but once dialed in, I was really surprised how easy it was to deliver my drop shot rig where I wanted, and yes, I was casting a drop shot rig to visible structure.

Notice how cleanly this rod is finished.

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