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Rod Review

Swimbait Rod Wars Installment #13: St. Croix's Legend Tournament Swimbait Sticks

Date: 7/6/08
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: St. Croix
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.00


Introduction: Entering the home stretch here in our Swimbait Rod Wars, we focus back on the domestics and take a look at the representative from one of the longest standing rod companies in the U.S., St. Croix. Though St. Croix has been offering a swimbait stick in their Legend Tourney series for a number of years, our first introduction to these sticks came at ICAST 2007 where the new, cosmetically enhanced Legend Tourney series was revealed.

St. Croix LT Swimbait Stick Specifications

Material SCIV Graphite SCIV Graphite
Length 7'-9" 8'-0"
Length from Back of Reel Seat to Base 12" 13"
Line Wt. 14 - 30lbs Test 20 - 50lb Test
Lure Wt. 1 oz - 4 oz 3 oz - 8 oz
Pieces 1 1
Guides 9 + tip (Fuji Alconite) 9 + tip (Fuji Alconite)
Power Rating Heavy Extra Heavy
Taper Fast Fast
Rod Weight 5.6 ounces 6.5 ounces
Manufacturing Country USA USA
MSRP $260 $280

Impressions: There are two big bait sticks in the St. Croix's Legend Tourney line, the LTBC79HF and the LTBC80XHF, and make no mistake about it, these are serious big bait catapults. Both sticks feel similar in hand though the LTBC80XHF is noticeably more stout. The new rear grip treatment while welcomed, unfortunately produces two sticks that are quite tip heavy because of their length. The LTBC79HF, in particular, can handle baits beyond its max recommended rating of four ounces. But how do these sticks compare to one another and what really are their differences? Into the lab we go.


Introducing St. Croix's Legend Tournament Swimbait Sticks

Lab Tests: We strapped both rods up to our RoD WRACK to see what differences we could discern and also see how they compared to the other rods in our so called war.

Lab Results for SB Rod Wars Heavy-Hitters

Avg RoD (2-48 oz)
Measured Weight
Balance Point
Deps HGC-77XR
8.6 oz
St. Croix LTBC79HF
5.6 oz
St. Croix LTBC80XHF
6.5 oz
Okuma GS-C 7111XH
8.9 oz
Quantum QTC711F
6.2 oz
Dobyns Rods 807MAGH
9.9 oz

Rate of Deflection (RoD): Though respectively labeled as heavy and extra-heavy in power, very little seems to separate these two sticks in our deflection tests. In fact, their curves are VERY close to one another and both made it into our "Heavy Hitters" category of big bait sticks.

Fig. 1 : This RoD Deflection Chart shows the deflection characteristics of the LTBC80XHF (yellow curve) and the LTBC79HF (top green curve) against several similar sticks.

Spine, Weight, and Balance Point: As previously mentioned balance is not a strong suit for either of these sticks though weight, or lack thereof, certainly is. Both rods had a spine located at the top of the rod, and we observed a relatively fast taper in both while strapped to our RoD WRACK.

While the LTBC79HF is only rated up to 4 ounces in lure weight...

... both the LTBC79HF and LTBC80XHF can easily handle casting duties with a Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow

Real World Test: I fished both sticks at the outset, but really settled on the LTBC79HF after a couple of trips. On the LTBC80XHF, I had the Daiwa Luna 300L and on the LTBC79HF, I favored the Daiwa Luna 253L. This reel really suits my big bait fishing needs without being too big and bulky unlike the Luna 300L and Shimano Conquest 401TE.

Complete Field Test Set-Up for St. Croix LT Swimbait Sticks

Daiwa Luna 253L
Shimano Antares DC7
100 yards 25lb Toray Bawo Polyamide Plus
90 yards 25lb Sunline Machine Gun Cast
80 yards 65lb Suffix Performance Braid

Casting: The reason I settled on the LTBC79HF after a few trips? Both sticks handle very similarly. While the LTBC80XHF does handle larger baits more easily than the LTBC79HF, the LTBC79HF can hold its own with baits up to five ounces - even though its rated to only 4. The only downside with this stick is it's handle. At only twelve inches, the LTBC79HF's handle is not quite long enough for effective catapulting of big, heavy baits. The LTBC80XHF is better, with a thirteen inch handle, but even that rod could use another inch or two for better leverage.

JIP takes the LTBC79HF for a spin with a swimbait he's reviewing from River2Sea.

Having said all that, the first bait I tied on to both the LTBC79HF and LTBC80XHF were ROF 12 Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trouts. Since the LTBC79HF handled this bait almost as well as its slightly taller and beefier sibling AND it fit in my rod locker without issue, that's the stick that saw more use.

JIP likes the distance he's able to achieve with the LTBC79HF paired with a Daiwa Luna 253LA.

Sensitivity: If there's one downfall to the LTBC79HF, it's in its sensitivity. St. Croix coats their Legend Tournament Bass rods with a layer of paint and gloss that protects the blank and this could be taking away from some of the blank's inherent sensitivity. It's a cool look, and a differentiator on the store racks, but if the trade off is sensitivity, it may not be worth it.

St. Croix leaves little doubt as to what they have in mind with these two sticks.

Case in point, with our previously reviewed Dobyns 795ML, Kistler KBSBS80, and Megabass Super Destruction, you can very easily feel a 6" Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow as it bounces from rock to rock on the bottom and while you can still feel this with the LTBC79HF, it's not as easily felt as with the other three rods mentioned above.

Both rods come with 9 guides plus the tip top.

Next Section: How about power?









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