Which Rod Won Top Honors at Muskie Expo Chicago?

After three days of checking out the newest rods, a panel of muskie experts made its choice for “Best New Muskie Rod” at Muskie Expo Chicago.

Which Rod Won Top Honors at Muskie Expo Chicago?

The St Croix Legend Tournament LMD90MLF Bantam Bait Musky Downsizer rod was selected “Best New Muskie Rod” at the Muskie Expo Chicago. (Photo: St Croix)

At of the largest annual congregations of muskie aficionados, Muskie Expo Chicago, a panel of experts selected the Legend Tournament LMD90MLF Bantam Bait Musky Downsizer rod as “Best New Muskie Rod” at the show. 

After three days of checking out the newest muskie rods, the panel selected the St. Croix rod from a slate of entrants. The 9-foot rod has medium-light power, fast action and is only one of three rods in the Legend Tournament Musky Downsizer mini-series. The series is designed to meet the interest from anglers who are more frequently fishing smaller baits.

“The Downsizer series was designed and built because many muskie anglers are beginning to go back to their beginning stages and throwing smaller baits again,” says Rich Belanger, St. Croix’s resident muskie expert and Promotions Manager. “A lot of these anglers are doing it out of physical necessity. But on the flip side of that, a lot of these anglers understand that these smaller baits, which have been around for decades, are successful at catching large fish. In many places, muskies haven’t seen that small of stuff in a long time. It’s just that the bait and rod development pendulum has swung so far to the large side, and now that pendulum is swinging back. It creates a lot of opportunities to catch fish and also not put so much on the physical pressure on the angler.” 

Belanger said the rods have been in development for four or five years. Jeremy Smith, host of Lindner Media’s Angling Edge TV, put the rod through paces in scenarios ranging from river muskie fishing to numerous Canadian trips.

“I just like throwing it, especially for a lot of smaller baits, and it’s really versatile, too," Smith said. "Besides smaller bucktails it’s become my number 8 Colorado rod for double 8s. Also, I’m using it with Super Shads and triple Ds and crankbaits with smaller hooks—it’s just a good stick for all that stuff. It’s also become my go-to live bait rod. I’ve been testing the rod for a couple of years and have caught a couple dozen fish on it. It was a rod we were pushing for big time, so we put it through a lot of testing and supplied a lot of feedback during the development stage." 

Smith said the rod "makes fishing so much more comfortable and sporting, especially for anglers who don’t muskie fish a lot." It's designed to make boatside maneuvers easier, such as figure 8s at eight or nine feet.

"After throwing Bulldawgs and double 10s all day, It’s really nice to throw #5 Mepps or 500 Series Bucher Tail," he said. "Tish get conditioned to bigger, higher-profile baits and a lot of times that little snack comes by it’s going to appeal to the fish.”

SPECS: St. Croix Rods Legend Tournament Musky Downsizer Series

  • Advanced Reinforcing Technology (ART)
  • Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) mandrel technology
  • High-modulus/high-strain SCIV graphite with FRS for unparalleled strength and durability
  • Fuji K-Series tangle-free guides with Alconite rings and Corrosion Control (CC) matte finish frames
  • Fuji LG tangle-free top with Alconite ring and Corrosion Control (CC) matte finish frame on Downsizer rods
  • Fuji PLS-SD Deluxe palming reel seat with frosted silver hood
  • Split-grip/super-grade cork handle
  • Machined-aluminum wind check and trim pieces
  • Kigan hook-keeper
  • Two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish.
  • 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
  • Technique-specific musky series features unrivaled technology and performance.
  • Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A. 

Note: Information for this story provided by Traditions Media, which has St. Croix as a client.

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