The St. Croix Panfish Series spinning rod models offer superior performance based explicitly on panfish angler feedback.
With the use of advanced technology like St. Croix’s fortified resin system and others, the Panfish spinning series affords a high-quality rod with a combination of sensitivity and improved strength at a relatively affordable price.
However, a dedicated crappie rod needs more than solid guide quality and blank with top-notch performance.
It needs to handle the delicate panfish techniques and multiple bait options necessary to catch fish after fish.
That’s why this review examines whether the St. Croix is a good choice or if you should just get something at an awesome price.
- Numerous spec configs
- Excellent blank construction
- Incredibly durable build
- Not a bargain price
- Not for heavier fish
- Merely adequate sensitivity
Construction (craftsmanship, make quality)
The St. Croix panfish uses a carbon fiber blank design that takes one kind of graphite and blends it with additional carbon fiber reinforcements.
This approach boosts the maximum power of the pole by increasing its flexural strength, providing enough backbone to go after the biggest crappies and active fish.
When you take that design process and pair it with the Panfish lineup’s fortified resin system, you get a blank that won’t buckle under the pressure, fish after fish.
Even better, this series of rods then apply two coats of Flex Coat slow-cure finish to further increase the blank’s strength and durability without reducing its flexibility.
This series of pan fishing poles come with handle designs that include both split grip models as well as those with a continuous cork handle.
While the split grip profiles give you access to the raw rod blank, the premium-grade full cork handle provides plenty of grip to hold on when fighting larger panfish with the lineup’s longer options.
Moving onto the guide system, this St. Croix lineup comes with a Sea Guide NPS spinning reel seat that isn’t terribly advanced in terms of its materials but offers some modest convenience.
Specifically, this reel seat comes with an integrated rear nut that makes changing out your spinning reel much quicker than with some other models.
Finally, the St. Croix Panfish models come with a Sea Guide Atlas Performance stainless steel guide system with Zirconia inserts.
The Atlas Performance guide system uses a deep-pressed profile to help protect the insert from accidental bumps and other impacts.
This guide system also employs rings with a single foot to reduce the impact on the blank’s taper.
The St. Croix Panfish models increase the basic carbon fiber blank quality with a dynamic blend of SCII and SCIV carbon-graphite fibers.
This material combo creates a harmonious balance between power and blank weight for amazing performance and optimal weight distribution for improved balance.
To further boost this hybrid blend’s capabilities, St. Croix also applies its proprietary technology with the fortified resin system that uses a super resin and computer-controlled curing processes to reduce micro buckling in the carbon fiber blank.
This ultimately increases the rod blank’s overall and long-term durability without increasing the weight– though it still doesn’t provide fantastic sensitivity.
These pan fishing poles bookend their high-quality blanks with a premium-grade cork handle that is exceptionally comfortable and helps reduce hand fatigue.
It also doesn’t hurt that the premium-grade cork butt provides an exceptional leverage point when you’re fighting a panfish and need to be careful when guiding it through brush or over rocks.
For some, the Sea Guide Atlas Performance stainless steel guide system might feel a bit underwhelming, but the overall build quality is nothing to dismiss offhand.
For starters, this lineup’s stainless steel rings are extremely durable and able to handle the grittiest braided fishing line.
On top of that, the Zirconia ceramic inserts provide additional casting distance and casting accuracy.
While the action heavily impacts the casting quality of any rod, this arguably applies more to pan fishing than some other styles of fishing given the target species’ timid nature.
That said, you can still find models in this lineup with reasonably crisp action options including fast and extra-fast action that also increase the rod’s sensitivity.
However, this series of spinning rods also includes options with moderate-fast actions as well as a moderate action model.
While neither of these options will provide the same kind of sensitivity or casting accuracy that the quicker action models do, they allow you a more nuanced presentation for colder water temperatures or deeper water columns.
This Panfish series of spinning poles are perfect for active crappies with rod power options that start at the ultra-light power rating and extend only to the medium-light power rating.
While that might seem like a somewhat narrow range, medium-light power is generally the heaviest power needed for catching awesome crappies with ultra-light power offering the right touch for boat harbor fishing.
Keep in mind that almost half of the models in this series are an ultralight spinning rod which often tends to be the best choice for crappie fishing.
That said, this ultralight spinning rod might feel a bit under-powered if you take it with you on a bass boat and try to use it to fight with and reel in monster fish.
The Panfish series spin casting pole employs a stainless steel guide system that notably increases the strength of the rings, making them suitable for braided fishing lines.
While some may question the guide quality with the use of stainless steel Sea Guide Atlas Performance rings, the Zirconia ceramic inserts should help alleviate some of those concerns.
This comes down to balancing the strength and durability of the guide rings with the smoothness and heat dissipation of the Zirconia inserts.
Normally, stainless steel would allow the line to slap the bank during the cast, reducing both casting distance and casting accuracy.
However, the Zirconia inserts provide an extremely smooth surface without suffering any of the durability concerns some guides with rings made of steel with aluminum oxide inserts.
Handle (material, shape, etc)
These spin casting poles follow a tried and true design by using premium-grade cork for the handles, ensuring that you don’t have to worry about comfort or hand fatigue after an all-day fishing trip.
Even better, most of these cork grip rods come in a split grip design that gives the mostly mid-modulus blank a welcome boost to sensitivity.
The St. Croix Panfish lineup comes with five different types of handles with the 8’0″ and 9’0″ model handle designs large enough to fit even the biggest hands.
That said, the longer pole lengths use a full grip design instead of the split grips used for the shorter models which will further reduce the sensitivity of those specific configurations.
Uses (Who is this good for)
This pole is even suitable for a wide range of different panfish techniques like the cane-poling technique and the countdown technique.
Granted, it’s important to understand how the water temperature impacts the fish’s energy levels and to properly target the right water column.
Though, because of their curious and timid nature, fantastic sensitivity would be a big help.
Avid pan fishing anglers targeting an active crappie school know that a dedicated crappie rod needs to be fine-tuned for this particular style of fishing– one that bucks the trends set for fishing larger species like largemouth bass.
Still, with solid crappie jigs, this rod should afford an excellent performance when fishing for panfish.
Of course, passionate anglers also understand that a budget-friendly crappie rod may not offer the right balance for fish that tend to inspect their prey before biting.
As such, the mid-tier price of the St. Croix Panfish models means it may not be a great option for beginner fishermen or those who haven’t yet caught the bug.
Reel and Real Seat Compatibility
The Sea Guide NPS are stain-resistant reel seats that combine graphite with nylon to provide a solid combination of durability with a bit of added sensitivity.
Granted, these reel seats won’t be quite as sensitive as those made entirely from carbon graphite fibers, but they can handle an accidental impact without cracking much better.
While not the most impressive on the market, this St. Croix series of spin casting rods come with a solid 5-year warranty.
However, when you add in the shipping and handling fees as well as the repair or replacement fees, that solid 5-year warranty loses some of its luster given that the cost is at least half of what you would pay for a brand new pole.
Conclusion (Wrap Up)
Passionate anglers will easily recognize the St. Croix Panfish as an excellent choice for crappie fishing and an amazing piece of pan fishing gear.
With advanced manufacturing processes like St. Croix’s exclusive technologies like their Fortified Resin System, these are premium quality fishing rods for multiple smaller species.
Even better, this pole comes with the perfect configuration of action tapers and power rating specs to provide the control necessary for enticing presentations without overdoing it, all at a fairly reasonable price range.
As a rod for crappie, the St. Croix raises the bar on performance even without fantastic sensitivity– though it’s no slouch in that department either.