Skip to Content

St Croix Imperial Fly Rod Review

A fast-action fly fishing rod isn’t an ideal choice for a novice angler, but it can be an excellent option for someone who already has an advanced set of casting skills. In this St Croix Imperial fly rod review, we’ll go through the most important features of the fly rods from this series and help you determine if they meet your needs.

The St Croix’s Imperial series includes more than thirty models designed for saltwater and freshwater conditions as well as spey casting. With so many options at your disposal, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a fly rod that is flexible and durable enough for the type of fish you’d like to catch.

It’s also worth noting that the Imperial series only features tip-flex models, and you should consider other medium action options if you’re searching for a fly rod that offers a high degree of flexibility.

You should go through our guide to choosing a fishing rod if you need assistance deciding which type of rod is a good fit for you.

St Croix Imperial Fly Rod overview

Fly rods from the St Croix’s Imperial series are divided into three categories, and each category features multiple models. You can choose from four Imperial® USA Fly Switch rods or six Imperial® Salt models if you’re interested in spey or saltwater fly fishing.

The features of the Imperial Switch and Salt models are slightly different from those you can find on Imperial® USA Fly Rods. In this article, we’re going to focus on the features and performance capabilities of Imperial USA Fly Rods.

Although there are more than twenty different versions of St Croix Imperial fly rods, all models from this series share the following features:

Features

  • All rods are made of the blend of SCII and high-modulus SCIV carbon
  • Kigan Master Hand 3D stripping guides feature black frames and aluminum-oxide rings
  • PVD coating over Sea Guide® snake guides
  • A cork handle
  • Ferrules have a slim profile
  • Aluminum reel seat
  • Flex-Coat slow cure finish

St Croix has been one of the leading brands on the U.S fly rod market for more than forty years. The brand continues to improve its fly fishing rods year after year by adding new features and implementing new technologies.

According to the brand’s website, the models from the St Croix Imperial series were released in 2018, and currently, there is no indication when the next generation of these fly rods is going to hit the market.

Read our St Croix Legend Tournament review if you want to learn more about this fast-action rod.

The bottom line 

  • Suitable for a variety of fly fishing destinations
  • Multiple fly rod length options
  • Excellent price-performance ratio
  • A high degree of accuracy at distances up to 60 feet

You can use the fly rods from the Imperial series to fish for small trout or large tuna. The characteristics of the saltwater and freshwater Imperials fly rods are somewhat different, especially in the terms of technologies and materials used to produce specific models.

Despite these differences, all St Croix Imperial fly rods provide plenty of power for long casts and sufficient accuracy for casts within 25 feet. Also, these rods are compatible with lines that weigh from 2 to 12 grains, which enables you to choose the option that best fits the type of fish you want to catch.

Check out our St Croix Mojo Yak Spinning and Casting rod review to find out more about this rod for kayak anglers.

Key features of the St Croix Imperial Fly Rods

SCII and SCIV carbon blend:

The combination of these two materials ensures that all models from the St Croix Imperial series are both durable and flexible. In addition, all Imperial fly rods are lightweight since even the models that are 10-feet long weigh less than 5oz.

The high modulus SCIV carbon contributes to the rod’s flexibility, while the mid-modulus SCII carbon makes these rods sturdy and durable.

Sea Guide® snake guides with black PVD coating:

Physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating applied over the snake guides protects them from damage and ensures smooth distribution of force along the rod’s blank.

The coating prevents corrosion and ensures that your St Croix Imperial fly rod is going to remain in good condition for a long time.

Kigan Master 3D stripping guides:

Besides the models from the Imperial series, St Croix’s fly rods from the Mojo series also have the Kigan Master 3D stripping guides. They feature black frames and aluminum-oxide rings that prevent the fly line from getting tangled up.

Cork handles:

Designed to provide maximum comfort to the angler, the cork handles on the fly rods from the Imperial series are available in single-handed and two-handed versions. Depending on your preference, you can choose from four different handle lengths.

Which grip length you’re going to choose comes down to your fly fishing style, although most anglers prefer 4-inch handles on rods shorter than 6 feet or 6-inch handles on models with lengths between 7 and 8 feet.

Uplocking reel seat:

All fly rods from the Imperial series have machined-aluminum uplocking reel seats regardless of their length. However, models that are compatible with 2wt to 6wt fly lines also have a wood insert, while models compatible with 7 to 10wt fly lines don’t have this feature.

None of the St Croix Imperial fly rods features a built-in reel and you must purchase this component separately.

Kigan hook keeper:

Carefully positioned to allow an angler to store a lure, fly or hook effortlessly while ensuring that the fly line can’t get tied up. Kigan’s hook keepers are highly regarded among seasoned anglers because of their functionality and durability.

Sturdy rod case:

All St Croix Imperial models come with a rod case that features a carrying handle. Fly rods from this series can have 2, 3, or 4 pieces, and assembling and disassembling them is a simple and quick process regardless of how many pieces they have.

15-year warranty:

Each model from the Imperial series comes with a 15-year warranty that covers all defects of the product. The brand offers multiple warranty programs and you must check if your Imperial fly rod is eligible for them.

You must register your fly rod to activate its warranty period, and the brand won’t repair or replace your rod if you failed to register it.

Features at a glance

  • SCII and high-modulus SCIV carbon blend
  • Sea Guide® snake guides have PVD coating
  • Ferrules with slim profiles
  • Kigan hook keeper
  • Kigan Master 3D stripping guides
  • Cork handle
  • Easily accessible uplocking reel seat
  • 15-year warranty

St Croix Imperial fly rods come in a variety of lengths, and you can use them to catch both small and large fish. Hence, it is important to know where you’ll be angling and which type of fish you’ll be fishing for before you decide to opt for one model or the other.

These fast-action fly rods offer plenty of power, and you won’t have too much trouble casting flies at 60-foot distances.

Casting lure or flies with a high degree of precision at 40-feet or 25-feet distances requires a polished set of angling skills, so fly rods from this series aren’t an ideal choice for you if you don’t have a lot of fly fishing experience.

The length of Imperial® USA Fly Rods spans from 6 to 10 feet, while Salt and Switch rods are 9 or 11 feet long. The maximum line weight you can use with Imperial Salt rods is 12wt or 10wt on Imperial® USA fly rods.

Getting an 8-feet or 9-feet long fly rod compatible with 5 or 6 line weights will enable you to fish at most locations. A 6-feet fly rod is only a good choice if you’re planning on angling at rills where you cannot catch a fish that is larger than a trout.

You should also pay attention to the number of pieces a specific model has, especially if you’re planning to travel with your St Croix Imperial fly rod. These fly rods are affordable since most models cost less than $300.

Take a look at the chart below to learn more about different models from the Imperial® USA Fly Rod series. You can also browse through our Penn Rampage review if you’re searching for a jigging rod.

Model Length Line weight  Rod weight
IU602.2 6-feet 2 2.2oz
IU663.2 6’6’’ 3 2.4oz
IU703.4 7-feet 3 2.4oz
IU764.4 7’6’’ 4 2.7oz
IU804.4 8-feet 4 3oz
IU864.4 8’6’’ 4 3.1oz
IU904.4 9-feet 4 3.3oz
IU865.2 8’6’’ 5 3.4oz
IU865.4 8’6’’ 5 3.2oz
IU905.2 9-feet 5 3.6oz
IU905.4 9-feet 5 3.4oz
IU906.2 9-feet 6 3.7oz
IU906.4 9-feet 6 3.6oz
IU1006.4 10-feet 6 3.9oz
IU907.4 9-feet 7 3.9oz
IU1007.4 10-feet 7 4.3oz
IU908.2 9-feet 8 4.2oz
IU908.4 9-feet 8 4.1oz
IU968.4 9’6’’ 8 4.4oz
IU1008.4 10-feet 8 4.4oz
IU909.2 9-feet 9 4.4oz
IU909.4 9-feet 9 4.3oz
IU9010.2 9-feet 10 4.3oz
IU9010.4 9-feet 10 4.5oz

The pros and cons of St Croix Imperial fly rods

Pros

  • All models are sturdy and flexible
  • Offers a high amount of power and precision
  • Reasonably priced
  • Wide length range

Cons

  • Short warranty period when compared to competing brands
  • Can be challenging for novice anglers

The best alternatives to St Croix Imperial fly rods

It is relatively difficult to find a do-it-all fly rod since most models are designed for a specific purpose. St Croix Imperial fly rods offer a lot of power and enable you to make casts at distances that exceed 60 feet, but that makes them less than ideal for short-distance casts on small streams.

Despite solid design and excellent features, the St Croix Imperial fly rods are far from being the best on the market, since brands like Douglas, Scott, or Winston offer a versatile selection of fast action fly rods capable of remarkable performances.

We’ve shortlisted some of the best alternatives to the models from the St Croix’s Imperial series, so let’s take a closer look at their properties.

Orvis Helios 3D

You can choose between 9-foot and 10-foot versions of the Orvis Helios 3D fly rod that support line weights in the range from 4wt to 12wt. These fly rods feature an aluminum rod tube and titanium stripping guides that keep the fly line firmly in its place.

All models are made of graphite, which means that they’re both durable and flexible. This fast action rod is highly accurate, even though is best suited for long-distance casts.

All models from the Helios 3D series come with a 25-year warranty that ensures you can repair your fly rod for free even if you accidentally step on it.

Thomas & Thomas Zone

Even though it is more expensive than a St Croix Imperial fly rod, the Thomas & Thomas Zone is still a great investment for all fly fishing enthusiasts. You can choose between freshwater and saltwater versions of these fly rods as well as medium-fast and fast options.

All Thomas & Thomas Zone Fly rods are handmade with StratTherm raisin that dampens vibrations and gives them remarkable strength. Also, all models feature an aluminum rod tube, titanium frame stripping guides, and cork grips.

The brand offers a lifetime warranty that includes the repair or replacement of the fly rod you purchased.

Douglas Sky G

You can use the Douglas Sky G fly rods to fish for trout, redfish, pike, salmon, and various other species. The Sky G series features only saltwater and single-handed models, so you’ll have to consider other options if you need a spey fly rod.

These fly rods are either 8’6’’ or 9-feet long, and they can be used with fly lines that weigh between 4 and 11wt. All models contain four pieces, which makes them easy to store or transport, while the carbon fiber construction ensures they’re both sturdy and lightweight.

Fly rods from the Sky G series are considerably more expensive than the models from the St Croix’s Imperial series.

Frequently asked questions about St Croix Imperial fly rods

Question: Does St Croix add new models to the Imperial series?

Answer: Yes, the brand refreshes this series by adding new models to it every year.

Question: Are St Croix Imperial fly rods discontinued?

Answer: This fly rod series isn’t discontinued, but Imperial fly rod models that hit the market more than ten years ago are no longer available.

Question: Can I get the St Croix Imperial combo?

Answer: Yes, some online retailers offer St Croix Imperial combos, but you cannot get these combos directly from the manufacturer.

Question: Are St Croix Imperial fly rods handcrafted?

Answer: Yes, all St Croix Imperial fly rods are handcrafted at the brand’s factory in Park Falls, Wisconsin. That’s why delivery can take a few weeks if the model you want to purchase is out of stock.

Our verdict: Who should get a St Croix Imperial fly rod?

An angler should have at least two fly rods, while most fly fishing enthusiasts often have more than a dozen fly rods designed for different purposes. Even though the St Croix Imperial shouldn’t be the only fly rod you have, it is certainly worth adding to your collection.

The majority of fly rods from the Imperial series are between 8-feet and 10-feet long, as only four models are shorter than 8-feet. Hence, these fast-action fly rods are best suited for anglers who can benefit from accurate long casts.

In case none of the St Croix Imperial models meets your expectations, you should consider getting a fly rod from the Orvis Helios 3D or Douglas Sky G series. Was this St Croix Imperial review useful?

Let us know in the comments or continue reading our Shimano Stella SW reel review to learn more about what this spinning reel has to offer.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe For Deal Alerts & Reviews

Subscribe to our mailing list and receive updates about new gear and special deal alerts.

You have Successfully Subscribed!