He knew it on the first cast; no slick salesmanship required. This rod was clearly different than any glass he’d ever known. It palmed better. The balance was there. But it was the sensitivity that made this fiberglass casting rod so remarkable.
The “he” is Bassmaster Elite Series pro Stephen Browning. The object of his affinity is the fresh new St. Croix Legend Glass.
Browning is cranky. Not in that unbearable old man sort of way, but rather a gifted artisan of hardbaits – crankbaits. He understands the aptitudes of how an anatomically accurate and conditions-specific crankbait can turn the head of even a comatose bass. And to mastermind crankbait fishing at this elite level demands a finely tuned tool.
“Crankbait fishing requires visualization,” Browning said of his ability to see through the sense of touch. “Your crankbait needs to tell you what it’s doing; if it’s on rocks, stumps, sand or mud. And because of the rod’s incredible sensitivity, Legend Glass can absolutely dial-in what type of structure you’re fishing.”
Now conventional thinking would say that if you bought – or better yet, received as a Christmas gift – a new Legend Glass, that it’d mope in the garage till spring. Not under Browning’s cranky watch ... He considers crankbaiting a principle wintertime technique. “I fish crankbaits right through the 40-degree temperature range. Bass still react to crankbaits.”
Lately, Browning’s been getting intimately familiar with the 6-foot, 10-inch, medium-power, moderate-action Legend Glass. “This rod has it all. Ample backbone to drive hooks home. Enough forgiveness if the fish doesn’t inhale the bait. And the right amount of flex in the rod for fighting fish at short distances.
The overall balance is excellent, too. Perfect positioning of the handle and reel seat. And balance equals sensitivity when it comes to crankbait fishing.”
Browning marries his Legend Glass to a larger baitcast reel spooled with 12- to 14-pound Gamma fluorocarbon line. He ties direct, too, trusting his invincible palomar knot over a manufactured snap.
This brings us to the fishing tips portion of the program. Can’t go talking about an awesome fishing rod without suggesting how to use it.
So, with the cold weather months of December and January upon us, Browning offers up timely and proven crankbait patterns that you’ll enjoy even more so with a St. Croix Legend Glass in hand.
Despite being typecast as a fast-flying lure that caters to hyperactive bass, Browning busts out lipless cranks in water temps even down into the 40’s. He keys on wind battered points and flats in 3 to 5 feet, knowing that consistent howls will bottle-up baitfish. Browning varies his retrieve, too, until the bass demonstrate a clear consensus. His top lipless contenders are the LiveTarget Gold Shiner Rattlebait and Yearling Rattlebait 65 from the BaitBall Series.
Casting the same points and flats, particularly watchful of rock to gravel transitions, Browning unleashes squarebills as an alternative to lipless crankbaits. He’s able to fish them more slowly; that, and squarebills are less prone to becoming ornaments in flooded brush. Squarebills, says Browning, are especially effective in stained water. The LiveTarget Threadfin Shad Squarebill is his chosen one.
If bass are operating in deeper water, say 6 to 10 feet, the 10-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier relies on roundbill crankbaits, namely the LiveTarget Threadfin Shad Crankbait and HFC (Hunts for Center) Crankbait. Generally, he finds roundbills to be more productive in clearer water.
Regardless of the style of crankbait in motion, Browning is chucking them with a St. Croix Legend Glass. New for 2017, the four-rod series is born from 68 years of American rod-building know-how and the very best materials and components available. Each rod delivers the full benefits of glass in its intended applications, plus the elevated feedback, increased strength, reduced weight and heightened manufacturing quality that are absent in the marketplace.
Legend Glass Casting Rods feature premium, linear S-Glass blanks built on St. Croix-exclusive Integrated Poly Curve (IPC)-engineered mandrels. Designed to eliminate all transitional points in the rod blank, IPC rods feature smoother actions, increased strength and greater sensitivity, while 100 percent linear S-glass is also stronger, lighter, higher in modulus and more dynamic than traditional, woven E-glass. The end result is the finest, high-performance fiberglass rod blanks ever created.
Proof that St. Croix’s new Legend Glass Casting Rods are worthy of their name; each model is expertly outfitted with top-shelf, task-minded components.
Fuji K Series Concept Tangle Free guides with Alconite rings and polished frames are ideal for super braid, mono and fluorocarbon lines. The sloped frames and rings on these premium guides work to effectively shed line tangles before they can cause problems. A Kigan hook-keeper keeps things tidy, while two coats of Flex Coat slow-cure finish protect all meticulously-administered thread wraps.
Cranking is tough business. Legend Glass Casting Rods are designed to minimize wrist and hand fatigue over extended fishing sessions, courtesy of split-grip, super-grade cork handles and angler-favorite Fuji ECS reel seats with frosted silver hoods.