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Rod Review

Drastically Different : The St. Croix RAGE RC71MHXF Rod (continued)

The blank is a blue-grey color, with contrasting wraps and red trim.  Quite a bit of flake is used in the finish; too much for my taste, but I prefer rods to be in the raw, matte state anyway.  With that said it doesn't look bad, and many anglers should agree.  The finish overall is decent, but a couple imperfections were visible upon very close inspection.  Not a major deal at this price point, but still something you'd rather not find.

There were a few small cosmetic issues, this one being the most noticeable.

Pac Bay Minima micro guides are used on the Rage.  These guides feature stainless steel rings that provide up to a 30% weight savings over traditional ceramic.  They are also more robust to resist cracking, grooving. or just all out breaking.  The guide feet are easily visible under the wraps which may bother some, but as long as they don't fail or wiggle I have no personal gripe here.

The guides sport a clean look and appeared to be of decent quality.

Though this is only a 7'1” rod, it utilizes 13 guides including the tip top.  While the guide spacing looks average for most of the rod, as you near the tip it gets pretty congested.  The guides are super light so it probably doesn't do much to the overall weight, but I have to wonder if it's really necessary to have them so close together.

In hand, the Rage feels pretty good.  Other than the exposed reel seat threads, the handle is comfy and well proportioned.  In hand you get a slight tip-heavy sensation, but it's not enough to be bothersome.  With a reel on board, it feels satisfying enough to easily fish all day without annoying you.

The guide spacing nearest the tip is very tight. 

I was surprised to see that the Rage produced very similar Wrack results compared to our baseline Loomis.  Though the tip is slightly softer on the chart, I was expecting it to be a bit wider of a gap here.

Real World Test:  The Rage RC71MHXF was tested on three southwest Florida lakes.  It was used the majority of the time with plastics, topwaters, and small soft swimbaits on 12lb mono and 20lb braided line.  Reels included the Shimano Scorpion 1000XT, and Daiwa Zillion Coastal.

The RC71MHXF clearly possesses an extra fast taper.

Casting:  One thing I really like about this rod is it's extra fast action.  Many manufacturers claim this action, but once on the water it often times proves to be false.  Not here.  This rod is absolutely extra fast, with quite a soft tip that transitions quickly into the power.  The action translates into great accuracy, with a tip that loads easily no slop in the blank.

Rated up to 3/4 ounce lures, I find that's about the maximum I prefer on this stick.  While many rods can be pushed a bit further in a pinch, I don't like the soft tip of the Rage for baits over it's maximum rating.  It's “ok” up to about an ounce, but again, not optimal for me.  If I was forced to pick just one bait to fish on this rod for both optimal casting and fishing, it would be a Senko-type bait.  St. Croix would have had no problems marketing this as a “Senko Special” rod.

The wire hook keeper is mounted on the underside of the blank.

As far as the micro guides go, well, I guess the debate continues.  Once again I notice no real increase or decrease in casting distance.  Despite what many claim, I just can't discern a difference in a rod with micros over one with standard guides under normal casting.  Line to leader albright knots pass through these guides without fail in leader sizes up to 17lb test.

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