St. Croix Swim Jig Finesse Rod – Product Review

St. Croix Swim Jig Finesse Rod – Product Review

St. Croix Swim Jig Finesse Rod – Product Review

by October 21, 2013

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Swimming a jig is one of my favorite tactics for Bass fishing. The first time I used this tactic, results were instant for me. I don’t know if conditions were just right, but it was a eureka moment in my fishing career. I instantly had a whole new favorite presentation to add to my arsenal.

When St. Croix introduced the Swim Jig Finesse rod I was skeptical at first. I had been fishing light  jigs (3/8-oz) with a 7-ft med- heavy fast rod and it seemed to be doing just fine. I asked myself, “What can this rod do better that the one I’m using doesn’t already do?” I mean, I have lost fish but that’s normal. Everyone loses fish, and a technique specific rod doesn’t guarantee against angler error anyway…st.croix-finesseswimjigrod-header

Recently I got chance to talk to Karl Kalonka, host of Extreme Angler. We chatted about rod selection and he gave me some insight on the Swim Jig Finesse rod from St. Croix and how he uses it to catch fish. As Host of Extreme Angler on WFN and a member of St. Croix’s pro staff, Karl is definitely a subject matter expert in this area.  I also tested out the rod myself to get some first hand experience.   Here’s what I found:

The Swim Jig Finesse Rod has all the technology and quality components you’d expect from the Legend Tournament rod series. Here is a list of features. You can look it up by following the link. Be assured, this is a premium rod that is packed with all the best St. Croix has to offer.

stcroixfinesseswimjiglineguide

Fuji K-Series Concept tangle-free guides with Alconite rings

Initially, I thought that this rod may be too light and weak for a jig. I’m accustomed to hard, bone jarring  jig hooksets. For this reason, I wasn’t sure it would be able to handle how I normally set a jig hook. Swim jig hooksets are kind of like spinnerbait hooksets. You simply lean into them; you don’t need to really give it the “heave-ho”.

StCroixFujiSkeletonReelSeat

New design split-reel seat gives you intimate contact with the blank.

Karl gave me some insight into how he uses this rod by telling me that this rod is the perfect setup for fall smallmouth. He uses this rod for football head jigs in the fall.   Karl advised,

“You’ve gotta have more than just the sensitivity in the rod, but also the backbone. You need to lean back, especially with smallmouth. You need to penetrate the fish’s mouth to set the hook and you only get one chance, its a fine line…”

While using this rod on a recent fall trip I experienced first hand what Karl was talking about. This rod loaded up smoothly; really smoothly. Because it was a medium-power rod it was not under-powered at all. I found that hooksets were not effective when done as a massive heave (I broke several knots this way), but more like an upward sweep and lean back as Karl suggested during our discussion.

FallBass-withStCroixSwimjigfinesserod

This rod has plenty of power to muscle largemouth out of vegetation.

I’ve been using this rod with a Perfect Jig 3/8-oz swim jig paired with a Gambler Lures EZ Swimmer trailer. The extra fast tip of the rod seemed to help when I was bouncing my jig and swimming it along. I usually give swim jigs a slight shake as it goes through cover and the ultra responsive tip made hang ups on weeds uncommon. I saw some improvement over the fast action rod I had been using and noted that feeling and sensitivity were better with the St. Croix Swim Jig Finesse Rod.

Karl uses this rod differently than I do.

“At this time of year (fall), I use it for a football finesse jig so I can fish on lakes that have both  smallmouth and largemouth in the same area.”  

Karl went on to explain,

“The key for me for these rods is having power to make sure that I can get those hooksets. A lot of time the hooksets are not traditional; where you get a tick, and you go. The way I’m fishing it, it’s not a constant retrieve. These fish, because of the time of year, can be anywhere in the water column because of the water temperatures.”

The need for an extra fast tip when fishing for skittish smallmouth bass is common; just look at most drop shot rods. But having this on a finesse jig rod is an added bonus.   When I buy a rod, I like to explore its other capabilities as well. Most of us can’t afford to spend a lot of money on a rod for just one technique. Karl mentioned that this rod could double as a spinnerbait, buzzbait or soft shad rod as well.   st.croix-finesseswimjigrod-520

At $260.00, the Swim Jig Finesse rod is not an opening price point. Karl put it well when he explained the value behind this rod.

“It’s not just about price all the time. It’s about quality, craftsmanship, warranty and reputation.”  

This rod is versatile and can fill several slots in an anglers repertoire. However its capabilities must be respected. It is not a heavy cover pitching rod and is specifically designed for finesse presentations where sensitivity and power are equal. If you’re looking for something with more meat, then mavbe the heftier 7’4″  Slop N’ Frog/Swim Jig Rod is more your style.  For an intermediate angler who has their core rods selected and is looking to expand on their presentations, this rod is a great choice. This is particularly true for anglers who fish for smallmouth as well as largemouth, and want to target both species at the same time. In my opinion the Swim Jig Finesse rod is a capable addition to an angler’s arsenal and well worth the investment.

Tight Lines

For more information on St. Croix, check out their website and Karl Kalonka’s Extreme Angler Facebook page.

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