This review was initially posted on my personal blog
A while back, I purchased a St. Croix Rio Santo Fly fishing outfit on Ebay for a ridiculously small sum. It came with a 4pc, 4wt rod, reel, WF4F line, and a case. If you were to buy the entire outfit new, you would probably spend right around $200 - if you read nothing else, it's worth it.
I am not going to lie, with what I paid for this outfit I expected a pile of garbage. When I received it, I was somewhat surprised. The case is pretty nice and allows you to keep the reel mounted to the butt section while stored.
Once I opened the case, the first thing that I noticed was the reel. Generally, it's a pretty generic/cheap looking reel and you almost want to get rid of it, instantly. If you take it to your local stream, the reel will be a dead giveaway that you have a very inexpensive outfit and are probably a new fly fisherman. If you look beyond that, though, you will notice that it is mounted on an aluminum reel seat instead of the plastic that you might expect.
Once I got over the cheap reel, I took the rest of the rod out and I soon started to feel good about my purchase. I loved the look of this rod. It has a muted sage green finish with tasteful gold'ish wraps holding down the stainless steel snake guides and the aluminum oxide stripper guides. A+ in the looks department!
Short term impressions
This rod is labeled as a moderate fast action rod and once you cast it, you are bound to agree. You may even say it's a hair slower than that. With that said, it is unbelievably smooth. You can feel every single second of the rod progressively loading and telling you exactly when to start your forward cast. I was shocked at how easy it was to cast and maintain a decent loop at 40'; even with a slight breeze. Even though I still hated the reel that it came with, it's sole job was to hold the line and it did that just fine.
I was fortunate enough to be able to test it's fish fighting ability on my first outing when a giant 14" crappie fell for the old woolly bugger. The rod seemed to have enough backbone and enough sensitivity to feel every thump along the way.
I have been casting this rod for about 6 months now and it is one of my favorites. It has accompanied me on several work trips and the case has survived the rigors of the TSA with flying colors. The reel has been upgraded along with the line. I tried to over line it and I would actually recommend not doing that on this rod. If anything, an under line would be more appropriate.
I have caught many fish on this set up including large mouth, smallies, blue gill, and rainbows - it has handled them with ease.
My only complaint about the rod itself is the cork. St. Croix claims it is a premium grade of cork, but I would classify it as a decent-at-best. It's really starting to pit and show the holes where a filler was used. Not a huge deal to me, just something to note.
The rod itself is a clear winner. Buy it, use it, love it.
I would recommend buying the rod itself, but not the whole outfit. You can buy the rod by itself for right around $100 and use the rest of the money to buy a better reel and line.