Some people have no idea that large, powerful fish can be caught on a fly rod. It's a passion of mine! I'm blessed to live within 10 minutes of a couple of steelhead rivers, and make occasional trips for salmon as well. Some years ago while searching for a better steelhead and salmon rod, I came upon the St. Croix Legend Ultra. St. Croix rods have been made here in the USA, in Park Falls, Wisconsin, since the late 1940's. These days, some St. Croix rods are made in Mexico as well, but the Park Falls factory still exists, and both turn out high quality rods. Like other high-quality rods, the Legend Ultra has a lifetime warranty. Mine is an 8 wt rod, nine feet long. Currently it lists for $360, and in my opinion is worth every penny.

Every couple of years I manage to make it back to Cordova Alaska on the edge of the famous Copper River. From Cordova, my partners and I fly out to a very nice, but remote, fishing lodge - accessible only by air - to fish the Tsiu River. When we make that trip, it's silly to gamble on a sub-standard rod! As anywhere in coastal Alaska, conditions can be tough. Driving rain, high winds, and cold weather are the norm. Good gear, including a good rod, help make it more of an adventure than an ordeal. The fish, silver salmon, are fresh from the sea, sometimes I've fished right at the mouth of the river. My St. Croix rod delivers high performance in these tough conditions.

On a more regular basis, here in Washington, I use it on our steelhead runs, mostly on the Methow, Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. From time to time I'll venture elsewhere in Washington, Oregon or Idaho for fishing, and the St. Croix is my choice whenever I'm after big fish.

It's a moderately fast action rod. Some years ago it was thought of as fast, but rod technology keeps surging ahead and now I'd have to rate it as moderately fast. It's enough rod for me. Typically I'll rig it with a Ross Cimarron reel, although I've also used an Orvis large arbor reel. The rod is asked to heave large streamer flies, often in high wind, time after time. It's a good one for the task.

To quote St. Croix: "you can successfully navigate through fly fishing’s trickiest moments thus finding yourself enjoying considerable time with a Legend Ultra® fly rod. Its award-winning design of high-modulus SCIV graphite featuring our exclusive ART™ and IPC® technology, combined with slim-profile ferrules and top-grade components, make it the perfect tool for mastering advanced angling arts."

All that high-tech talk makes my poor old fisherman's head spin - but I can tell you that the Legend Ultra is a fine casting rod. It handles easily, is forgiving of less-than-perfect technique, and hurls a heavy streamer fly with considerable velocity and distance. When that awesome instant happens, and the big salmon or steehead hits the fly, this rod handles the fight well. It's got a fighting butt, and tremendous strength. I don't mess around with light leaders or tippits on my salmon and steelhead rig, using a straight 15# leader, usually about 6' long. When I'm doing catch and release fishing for salmon or steelhead, I like to make a short fight of it, and put considerable pressure on my gear to land that fish in a hurry.

Truth be told, I've also pressed the rod into service for bass and... dare I say it... even for carp! Carp in the flats, with a fly rod, is one heck of a sport, and those big fish can really stress a rod.

If you're considering a sturdy rod for heavy duty fishing, give some thought to the St. Croix Legend Ultra. It's a well made, well finished rod that casts and fishes well.