Like the anglers who fish them, St. Croix Eyecon Series rods are walleye to their core. Conceived, handcrafted and delivered to give walleye anglers the upper hand in any situation, Eyecon Series rods deliver the walleye-centric details, performance, and comfort necessary to earn success in any walleye presentation or technique.
For 2022, St. Croix Rod introduces the totally reimagined Eyecon Series, featuring heightened performance, improved technique-specific comfort and ergonomics, and all-new aesthetics. The angler-favorite walleye series also grows by two with the addition of industry-first Jig-N-Rap and Rip-N-Rap models for a total of 18 distinct choices.
Doubling Down on Durability
Eyecon’s premium SCII carbon blanks get even stronger and more durable for 2022. The SCII material itself is a new formulation, featuring both increased flexural strength and reduced weight over St. Croix’s previous-generation SCII carbon. From there, new Eyecon rods are made even stronger with the addition of St. Croix’s Fortified Resin System (FRS) technology. “We know that walleye anglers often employ aggressive jigging tactics that not all rods can stand up to,” says St. Croix Product Manager, Ryan Teach. “Our all-new SCII carbon material combined with FRS takes the performance of these new-generation Eyecon rods to the next level. In addition to being stronger and more durable, they’re also noticeably lighter than previous Eyecons.”
Comfort is King
Aggressive techniques demand more than superior strength. They also require carefully considered ergonomics that minimize angler fatigue. “Eyecon rods are truly technique specific,” says Minnesota-based ‘eye chaser and St. Croix pro, Joel Nelson, a self-described handle snobwho’s well known for sounding off on the importance of proper fishing-rod ergonomics. “These new Eyecon rods bring versatility and comfort to any walleye angler’s arsenal without compromise. I’m talking performance and comfort, not one or the other,” says Nelson, who suggests most serious walleye anglers tend to match one rod to a specific lure. “They’ll take a favored length, power and action and dedicate it to a specific line/leader setup and lure. In some cases, they have to compromise on handle design in order to fish the length, power, and action they need for a preferred presentation. Not with these Eyecon rods; all of the handle designs and lengths are designed to optimize comfort with the intended technique, helping anglers fish longer without getting sloppy in their presentations.”
Teach expounds on the hybrid split-grip design. “The new modified split grips we’ve designed on these new Eyecon spinning rods take the best features of split grips and full-cork handles and marry them in a hybrid design that optimizes comfort and performance on each specific model. No matter which model you choose, you’ll notice great balance and comfort, as well as an overall handle length and foregrip that are right-sized for the job at hand… your hand.”
Nelson agrees. “Walleye anglers will experience the full force of engineering and design behind these new Eyecon rods once they start fishing them, but they’re going to immediately appreciate their exceptional, lightweight balance as soon as they pick one up… before they even put a reel on it.”
The Strong, Silent Type
All Eyecon Series (non-trolling) rods for 2022 get a new hybrid guide train that decreases weight, increases overall durability, and reduces the noise and disruption that often comes from fishing braided line. What’s a hybrid guide train? Teach explains: “We’ve gone with light and incredibly durable Sea Guide Atlas Performance stainless steel guides in the upper portions of these rods to eliminate the troubling possibility of knocking out inserts,” he says. “And since stainless steel guides at the lower end of a rod can be noisier with some braided lines, the bottom two guides are SeaGuide Aluminum Oxide models with black frames. Of course, spacing differs on each model to optimize performance per technique, and all specific guide-train designs will pass a large-diameter leader-line knot with limited disruption.
New St. Croix Eyecon Models
New Eyecon Jig-N-Rap and Rip-N-Rap Models
The reimagined Eyecon series expands to an unprecedented 18 distinct rods (not including separate trolling models) for 2022, with the introduction of the all-new 7’1” medium power, moderate-fast action Jig-N-Rap and 7’1” medium power, fast action Rip-N-Rap models.
Minnesota fishing guide and St. Croix pro, Tony Roach, was heavily involved in the development of the new Eyecon Jig-N-Rap and Rip-N-Rap rods.
Until now, anglers have been required to compromise with respect to handle design, length, power, or action when choosing rods for fishing Jigging Rap® and Rippin’ Rap® style lures. Northern Minnesota fishing guide and St. Croix and Rapala pro, Tony Roach, explains.
“Every walleye angler knows the effectiveness of a Jigging Rap. They also know how uncomfortable it can be to fish one all day long with the wrong rod. The first thing anglers will notice is how light and balanced it is,” Roach says of the new Eyecon 7’1” medium power, moderate-fast action Jig-N-Rap rod. “The second, is how it fits well in your hand. The ergonomics on this rod and the entire reimagined Eyecon series help anglers fish longer without getting sloppy. They’re that comfortable.”
Roach most often fishes Jigging Raps with six-to-ten-pound braid and a ten-pound fluorocarbon leader. “The stiffer leader can help you from foul hooking the lure and it is also very abrasion resistant,” he says. “Like a lot of walleye anglers, I like using braid because I can feel everything, even on a slack line. The problem with braid though is you tend to lose fish if you don’t have the right rod, especially with Jigging Raps when the fish gets one of those single hooks.” Roach says walleyes often pin Jigging Raps to the bottom, making hook-ups a challenge at times. “The heavy nature of the lure also makes it vulnerable to head shakes as you are reeling in a fish. This rod solves that problem, the MMF – medium power, moderate-fast action – functions very similar to a crankbait rod, it ensures proper hook setting power while absorbing those big head shakes on braid. The 7’1” length also casts far and picks up line in a hurry. My hook-up-to-landing percentage sky-rocketed with the new Eyecon Jig-N-Rap rod, and I feel little or no fatigue after day of fishing it.”
Rippin’ Rap-style baits are also a growing staple among walleye anglers. “It’s a lipless crankbait that collided with a jig; that’s how I describe it. It’s a technique that’s effective all season, but really shines in cold water,” says Roach, who recognizes some similarities in the ways Jigging Raps and Rippin Raps are commonly fished. “But there are some subtle differences which set the techniques apart,” he says. “For example, I tend to fish Jigging Raps on a slack line, ripping the rod tip 90 degrees straight up and then dropping my rod tip forward allowing the bait to free fall and glide. That isn’t always the case with Rippin’ Raps. Especially when the water is colder, I’ll rip the bait up and then walk it back to the bottom. The new 7’1” medium power, fast action Rip-N-Rap rod is designed and built to allow the angler to work these baits like a puppeteer… casting them out and then working them back to the boat on tighter, more controlled falls. The faster tip works with the medium power to ensure positive hook setting, especially after longer casts, as well as the perfect balance to keep fish hooked up. And, again, St. Croix nailed the ergonomics. Due to the aggressive nature of this presentation, a slightly longer handle length makes it easier to position the handle inside the forearm. That takes a lot of the stress of an angler’s wrist, which is working overtime in this presentation.”
New St. Croix Eyecon Series Features
“Walleye anglers are going to fall in love with the reimaged Eyecon series, just as they did with the original Eyecons,” Roach surmises. “St. Croix’s drive to make something that’s already widely viewed to be the best even better is really remarkable, and they’ve done just that in these technique-specific high-performance rods while keeping them an incredible value. They’re lighter, more durable, and more finely balanced than previous Eyecons, the new hybrid handles and reel seats make them even more comfortable to fish with for extended periods, and I just love the new hybrid guide trains. It has been an exciting project to work on,” Roach adds. “We have spent countless hours hammering out every detail ensuring we get it right for anglers. That’s what we do at St. Croix, and the reimagined and expanded Eyecon series is the latest proof of that.”
New Eyecon Series rods are being introduced at ICAST 2021 and are expected to be available for purchase at St. Croix dealers worldwide this fall.