Joe Bucher knows the stuff of which fishing legends are made. The renown multi-species fishing expert from Eagle River, Wisconsin is a National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Legendary Angler who targets everything from panfish, bass, walleye and muskies in freshwater to redfish, snook and sea trout on the salty side. Host of the Fishing with Joe Bucher show, now in its 31st year, he’s been a St. Croix pro-staffer for over two decades.
“It takes years on the water and a willingness to build on experience to excel at this game,” says Bucher, “but you also need to constantly incorporate new information and suggestions from other experts in the field. It takes a lot of problem solving, too, and I’m not just talking about fishing personalities achieving legend status,” he says. “Tackle can be legendary, too.”
Case in point is St. Croix’s evolving Legend family of freshwater and saltwater rods. Any rod containing the Legend moniker is a pinnacle performer in the St. Croix lineup, handcrafted in the USA and incorporating the finest materials, components and technologies available in a St. Croix fishing rod.
“These are rods that really live up to their namesake,” says Bucher, referring to St. Croix’s Legend Tournament, Legend Elite, Legend X, Legend Xtreme, Legend Xtreme Inshore, Legend Surf, and Legend Glass series rods – the very Best of the Best Rods on Earth®. “From the second you first lay that grip in your palm and feel the weight spread evenly across your fingertips you just know they’ve been designed to help anglers catch more fish.”
Depending on which Legend you choose, these rods are handcrafted with St. Croix’s proprietary SCIV, SCV and SCVI carbon or St. Croix’s 100% Linear S-Glass to ensure you receive elite-level sensitivity, strength and lightweight performance. Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) tooling eliminates all transitional points in the rod blanks for smoother action and even more strength while further improving sensitivity. Advanced Reinforcing Technology™ (ART™) uses an exotic carbon fiber material that adds a further magnitude (10X) of strength with virtually no increase in blank diameter or weight. Use of a Fortified Resin System (FRS) combines a fortified super resin with computer operated curing ovens that provide improved temperature and time management through all stages of the curing cycle, while Taper Enhancement Technology (TET), a process perfected by St. Croix that begins with precision-cut curved-blank patterns made possible by a state-of-the-art computerized pattern cutting machine, also aids in pushing the limits of Legend blanks into the hyper-performance category.
“All that is well and fine,” says Bucher, “but I think the overriding point is that St. Croix uses all this cutting-edge technology while also incorporating suggestions and insights from a top-shelf pro staff that’s on the water daily when it comes to putting their rods together. From using the most sensitive composites and glass in their blanks, to superior guide trains, designing handles that increase the transmission of the bite through the rod blank, to the parabolic curve of each stick, the research, development and willingness to incorporate feedback from the trenches really sharpened the capabilities of each and every Legend series rod.”
The result, believes Bucher, is the most sensitive, powerful, responsive and durable set of top-end fishing rods on the market with seven distinct Legend families to cover a wide range of species and techniques.
“If you’re looking to budget your money for a rod or two that will let you feel the slightest strike, fish across the widest set of variables, and cover the greatest range of species and techniques, St. Croix’s Legend rods are where you begin and end your search,” says Bucher.
Although Bucher uses rods from every Legend series, he does have a few favorites. Due to the incredible sensitivity derived from its SCV/SCVI blank, carbon fiber guides and Gen-2 Xtreme-Skin handle, The Legend Xtreme 7’ medium/fast (#XFS70MF) spinning rod is his first choice for any type of finesse fishing, especially lightweight jigging.
“I’ve caught everything from panfish and bass to seatrout, snook and 30-pound redfish on this Legend Xtreme and companion saltwater Legend Xtreme Inshore model – and it’s never been overmatched,” he states. “The real wow factor with this rod is that you can actually feel fish pick up a jig on a slack line. That alone sets it apart from all others. Just today, I was fishing on a wide-open Florida bay. I was battling the wind and current, and trying to hit my spot lock, when I popped my jig off the bottom. Somehow, I sensed a slight bump in my slack line. A huge, speckled trout had inhaled my jig.”
Of course, Bucher also has a reputation for decking monster muskies, and for that application he says the Legend Tournament Musky Downsizer 7’10” medium/fast (#LMD710MF) entry, which he helped design, can’t be beat. This rod doubles as a lunker bass stick and musky downsizer in his arsenal, allowing him to fish large lures for bigmouths and smaller musky-class lures to absolutely dominate both species.
“Pick it up and it feels light like a bass rod,” say Bucher, “but put it to the test with an angry musky and it has surprising power and backbone. This rod offers the perfect combination of length, strength, and that all-important sensitivity. I’ve caught more big muskies on this one rod than most anglers catch in a lifetime.”
The Legend Xtreme series features six freshwater casting and five freshwater spinning models. Legend Xtreme Inshore includes three spinning and one casting model. These apex rods feature SCV & SCVI carbon, IPC, ART, FRS, TET, Daiwa AGS Carbon Fiber Guides, and 2nd Generation Xtreme-Skin Handles.
The broad Legend Tournament Series is an angler favorite. There are Legend Tournament models optimized for almost any bass, walleye, musky, and inshore-fishing application. These blanks are crafted from SCIV high-modulus high-strain carbon, feature IPC, ART and FRS technologies and feature both split-grips and full-cork handles, depending on the model and application.
Like Bucher, Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Arkansas, has a reputation for battling big fish and cashing checks come tourney time. “I don’t know about being a legend,” says the 21-year St. Croix pro staffer, “but I do know if you put me on a river with a St. Croix Legend rod, I’m probably going to take somebody’s money.”
The fisheries biologist-turned pro angler isn’t boasting; he has 42 Top 10s in his career, which has netted not only tons of bass, but winnings over $1.4 million.
“St. Croix has really worked hard to incorporate the input of its pro staff in designing each Legend Series rod to give every angler the upper hand. Pick up any model and you can instantly feel it’s designed to catch more fish,” he says.
Browning, too, cycles through the entire array of Legend rods each season, but has two clear favorites. One, he says, is the 7’11’ heavy power, moderate-fast Legend X casting rod (XLC711HMF), which he loves for flipping bass in grass. The other is the 6’10” medium power, moderate action Legend Glass (LGS610MM) casting rod, which he often uses for shallow cranking and running square bill plugs just above the grass.
“That Legend X 7’11” is so well balanced, it allows you to flip heavy baits with absolutely no splash,” he explains. “It’s also super-sensitive. With flippin’ and pitchin’, especially on pressured water, you don’t always feel the bite. You just lift your lure slightly and sense a little extra weight. With the Legend X, you can tell instantly if it’s a bass, weed or even a leaf hanging onto your jig. With the length of the rod, you can also move a lot of line, which I find to be a big help when fishing over hydrilla or other weeds in 15- to 20-foot depths – that’s my sweet spot. This rod also has plenty of power, so it’s the real deal when you need to wrestle a big one out of the slop.”
Browning is also proud of the input he had in designing the Legend Glass series. “We worked a year-and-a-half on making that rod,” he reveals. “With most square-bill and crankbait strikes, it’s the rod more than the angler that drives the hook home. You must let the rod load up on the strike before reacting, but you still need enough backbone to finish the job. Like all the Legend rods, it’s also extremely sensitive – amazingly so, considering it’s a glass blank. This 6’10” rod perfectly matches crankbaits with #4 treble hooks.”
It’s easy to miss some of the smaller aspects that go into making a rod so sensitive, notes Browning. On the Legend Glass 6’10”, for example, St. Croix’s 100% linear S-glass laid up with IPC mandrels has a lot to do with transmitting the bite, but so does the selection, number and placement of the Fuji® K-Series tangle-free guides. Most rods in the 6’ to 7’ class, he notes, have maybe seven guides. The Legend Glass has ten plus the rod-tip, spaced closer together.
“Thanks to IPC, Its forgiving taper is perfect, too,” adds Browning. “I was absolutely sold on this rod when a 4.5-pound bigmouth smashed my lure boat-side as I was about to lift it out of the water. A lot of fish are going to rip free of the hook with a strike like that, but with my Legend Glass, I can probably land nine out of ten on those surprise strikes. That’s impressive.”
St. Croix’s Legend X series features freshwater spinning and casting models incorporating hybrid SCV/SCVI carbon blanks, IPC, ART, FRS, and TET. All of these rods feature split-grip handles.
Legend Glass models are designed for spinning and casting with reaction baits and feature super premium 100% Linear S-glass, IPC construction and split-grip super-grade cork handles.
Bass and walleye expert, Tony Roach, from, Moose Lake, Minnesota, fishes Legend X, Legend Xtreme and Legend Glass rods on a regular basis, targeting anything that bites, from panfishand bass to walleye and pike. His favorite, however, is walleye, a passion the legendary fishing guide inherited from another legendary stick, his uncle Gary – Hall-of-Famer, Gary Roach – “Mr. Walleye” himself.
“I like pitching paddle tails and swimbaits for the ‘eyes,” he says, “and the Legend X 6’8” medium power, extra-fast action casting model (XLC68MXF) is ideal for that application. It’s lightweight and has great transfer from the line to the guides, down the blank and through the handle. It’s absolutely seamless in terms of transmitting the bite. With this rod, I sometimes feel shy walleye inhale my lures on a completely slack line. That rod’s sensitivity is second to none. With the exception of the new Legend Xtreme, nothing else I’ve ever fished can compare.”
Roach points to Legend X’s hybrid SCV/SCVI blanks and Fuji® Torzite® tangle-free guides as two primary reasons for the exceptional sensitivity, but notes these rods also possess amazing power. “When targeting bronzebacks and walleye, we occasionally hook big pike or even a musky from time to time. With the Legend X Series, you are never under-gunned. I make my living guiding anglers on big water. That means dealing with high winds, strong currents and big fish almost every day. When you choose a Legend series rod under those conditions, you’re giving yourself a big advantage. There’s nothing else out there that matches up.”
Rick Miller from Eastman, Wisconsin, is yet another well-known tournament angler on the St. Croix pro squad. With multiple wins on the Mississippi River, he’s a force to be reckoned with wherever he decides to launch.
“I’m so impressed with the sensitivity, light weight and strength of Legend rods that I use them exclusively,” says Miller. “I can use them to match any situation, target any species, and present with any technique.”
Miller’s favorite Legend rod is a 7’4” heavy power, fast action casting model, which he owns in Legend Xtreme (XFC74HF), Legend X (XLC74HF) and Legend Tournament Bass (LBC74HF) series. He uses them for everything from flipping and pitching to casting frogs and even punching the weeds with weights ranging from ¼- to 1-1/4 ounces.
“I absolutely love these rods,” explains Miller. “I like to keep the size, action and power the same between the different series so I don’t have to make too many adjustments every time I switch lures or methods. I know what this rod does and what it should feel like, and I think that gives me consistency that leads to a significant advantage.
“Quite simply, these are the most sensitive rods I’ve ever had in my hands, which makes a big difference when I ‘m bassin’ in heavy cover or tempting walleye in heavy current. In these situations, you’re looking for the slightest tick to indicate a bite. With these Legend rods, I’m confident I’ll feel every little tick –and fishing with confidence is what you need more than anything else to climb to the top of the mountain in the fishing game.”
When it comes to true angling legends, it takes one to know one. Whether they prefer the split-grip handle design of Legend X, full-cork handle of Legend Elite, the unique 2nd-Generation Xtreme-Skin handle and carbon fiber guide train offered by Legend Xtreme, or the vast selection of bass, walleye, musky and inshore models available in the Legend Tournament family, legendary anglers around the world choose and rely on St. Croix Legend series rods.
All St. Croix Legend rods are handcrafted in the USA and carry a 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service for legendary protection of your prized investment. See them all at your local St. Croix dealer.