If you’ve ever tried jigging up winter walleyes with a rod offering all the backbone of a wet noodle, you’ll appreciate what St. Croix brings to the table with its Avid Ice Jigging Rod. I packed one of these sweet sticks on a recent trip to northern Minnesota’s legendary Upper Red Lake, and found its remarkable blend of stiffness, strength and lightness make it a lethal weapon, indeed.
Designed to put the punch back into power presentations like snap-jigging spoons and ripping hard-bodied swimming lures quickly through the column, the Avid Ice lineup includes 27-, 30- and 36-inch models, each offered in a pair of powers. The shorter two come in medium and medium-light options, while the three-footer is available in medium and medium-heavy.
All feature precision-tapered, solid-carbon blanks you really have to feel to appreciate. Whip the rod a foot or two sideways or vertically and there’s no detectable play in the tip—which makes it perfect for imparting crisp, controlled jig strokes with beefy walleye lures.
Spool up with a superbraid and fluoro leader like I do and you’ll have as direct a connection to your lure as possible. In fact, if you’re prone to delivering knee-jerk, eye-crossing hooksets at the first tell-tale tap of a fish taking the bait, you might consider backing off your reel’s drag a tad, adding a supple mono shock leader, or tying your jigging arm to your side to avoid serious lip-ripping.
Besides engendering masterful puppetry, the Avid Ice’s blank is supremely sensitive, so you can detect light bites, track your jig’s every gyration and know the second your tipping goes off the rails. To be fair, the rod’s carbon-fiber handle deserves part of the credit. Crafted without a hint of cork, it transmits data from the tip with imperceptible dampening. In fact, if you hold the handle loosely and tap the tip, you can feel the vibrations literally pulse down the blank.
Also worth noting are the line guides, which include a Kigan stripper and trio of low-profile running mates. Together, they fuel smooth line flow and aid sensitivity. I also appreciated their big-bore diameter, which resists ice-up and line restriction.
At Upper Red, while based out of a sleeper shack for 24 hours of hard-core hardwater action with veteran guide Jonny Petrowske and longtime North American Fisherman contributor Jeff Samsel, a variety of power presentations including Lindy Perch Talkers, Slick Jigs and Rattl’n Flyer Spoons sparked a non-stop walleye migration terminating on our side of the ice. And it’s safe to say the St. Croix Avid Ice was a perfect jigging stick to lead the parade.