#11 St. Croix Legend Elite SW 9 foot #8 $ 490.00
The saltwater version of the Legend Elite is a real bargain for the performance it provides. I felt it was just a shade behind the Orvis Recon for the title of best mid-priced 8-weight.
This is another fast action rod that has just the right amount of tip flex, with lots of power in the butt and mid sections. It put in a very good all around performance, and the only downside is its weight. It was heavier than all the best rods in both overall and swing weight. But this weight translates to good usable power, especially at the longer ranges. These have proven to be very tough rods too, with their own FRS nano-resin system.
The craftsmanship is some of the best we’ve seen. This is a great looking rod, the blank finished in a deep midnight blue with matching blue wraps. The handle is a full wells design with excellent quality cork. They use a gold anodized double uplocking seat with a nylon spacer at the top of each ring to help give a positive lock up. A short fighting butt with a rubber cap is used. Guides are two SiC stripping guides, with the rest large diameter hard chrome snake guides and an oversize tip top. This is another great rod made here in the US at Park Falls, Wisconsin.
Performance at 35 feet: 19 points out of 20
Nice feel and good accuracy but I could definitely feel the heavier swing weight.
Performance at 60 feet: 19.2 points out of 20
Tracks well and I’m throwing nicely controlled loops. The Meridian and NRX were noticeably better.
Performance at 80 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
A little more effort needed, but I was getting impressive tight loops and good accuracy. Better than the Recon and BVK at long range.
Performance at 100 feet: 19 points out of 20
This rod has lots of power on tap but I’m working a lot harder than with the NRX or Asquith.
16. (tie) St. Croix Legend Elite Saltwater 9’#8 4pc $490
The St. Croix Legend Elite Saltwater rod has always been a solid performer. In our last 8-weight Shootout I had the St. Croix Legend Elite ESW tied for third place. It is still the same fantastic rod, however in the past few years other manufacturers have been pushing the limits in terms of lighter rods that are equally powerful and durable. It may finally be time for St. Croix to change things up a bit and come out with a new, lighter saltwater rod.
Aside from having a heavier swing weight, the Legend Elite is a very smooth casting rod. It is also a very accurate rod with impeccable line tracking. For a USA made rod under $490 there is not much to complain about here.
1st impressions: One of my favorite actions. Great all-around rod for the money. Could be lighter. Grip is on the thicker side.
Performance at 35 feet: 19 points out of 20
Very nice, smooth feel, also very accurate. Not as light or as much feel as the Asquith, Meridian, 3F, or Zephrus, however. The St. Croix Legend Elite ESW is a great choice if your budget is $500 or less and you want a rod made in the USA.
Performance at 60 feet: 19 points out of 20
This rod tracks exceptionally well! It feels very smooth, but heavier in hand than the top rods. Lots of usable power once you get it going…
Performance at 80 feet: 18 points out of 20
I notice the heavier weight now, and it lacks the pep of the Asquith, NRX, Exocett, X, and Loop Cross SW.
Performance at 100 feet: 18 points out of 20
It was difficult to cast the full 100 feet. Other rods like the Asquith and Exocett had more explosive power at extreme long range.
#12. St. Croix Legend Elite Saltwater $490.00
The St. Croix Legend Elite is a tried and true winner. It is still a great rod after all these years on the market. The action seemed about perfect, and it possessed a lot of qualities I look for in a rod. It’s not the lightest rod in hand, but it did have a nice soft tip making it a great rod for closer distances. I really liked the overall look of the Legend Elite.
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20
The Legend Elite was a great rod in close and had the perfect amount of feel, combined with excellent accuracy. I really enjoyed casting this rod at 35 feet.
Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20
At 60 feet the Legend Elite was still a great casting rod. When my timing was good, I was able to accurately hit the plate nearly every time.
Performance at 80 feet: 18 out of 20
Longer shots over 60 feet were tougher for the Legend Elite. I could feel many of my casts dying at longer range. About 50% of my casts were on the money.
19. (tie) St. Croix Legend Elite SW 55.5/60 $490.00
When The Legend Elite Saltwater came out it was a great rod. It still is, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth and I feel like it’s ready for an update. With all the advancements manufacturers have made with higher modulus graphite, resin systems, and components, this rod risks being left behind.
Performance at 35 feet: 18.5
The LE SW is a good caster at close range. It’s a little stiff for my taste and it felt really heavy to me, which is why I gave it a lower score here. Despite being aggressive and clunky, it was fairly accurate at the short-range target.
Performance at 60 feet: 19
I liked the LE SW the most at this range. It gave me good feedback and was very accurate. I still don’t like the way it feels in hand with all that swing weight, and this made it hard for me to enjoy my experience with the rod.
Performance at 80 feet: 18
Performance at our 80 ft. target was not too bad. I was able to deliver my fly consistently with a good level of accuracy. But to do this, I had to work harder than with other rods. The comfort and enjoyment of using this rod just doesn’t compare with the better rods in our Shootout.
Performance at 100 feet:
I was able to hit 100 ft. with the LE SW but that’s about it.