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Rod Review

Drastically Different : The St. Croix RAGE RC71MHXF Rod (continued)

Sensitivity:  I feel the sensitivity is about average.  There is decent feel both with bottom contact and swimming baits, but I really prefer using braid on this rod for the increased touch it affords.  The minimalistic handle helps to improve blank contact, but I really wish it was easier to put an index or middle finger past the reel seat threading and onto the blank for added contact.  Unless I uncomfortably stretch a finger to it's max, this isn't possible.  My preferred method of fishing many plastics, jigs, etc. is to have my index finger on the line, and middle finger on the blank.  This really gets me in tune with what's going on, and I feel like I seldom miss bites.

A foam butt cap protects the end of the handle.

Power:  Power-wise, the ratings and strength of this rod are pretty accurate.  Once you get past the light tip, there is ample backbone and the rod lacks nothing for power.  You can turn a fish easily and stay in control the whole time.  Despite the reserve power, after getting this rod I was actually surprised the line ratings started at 12lbs.  With the tip softness, I would be more inclined to see it starting at 8, or 10lb.

Getting back to the tip again, for overall fishability, a slight increase in stiffness would be welcome for bottom contact techniques.  Fishing a football jig around rocks, or a Texas rig through weeds is not a place for a soft tip.  It is acceptable for techniques like those, but could be better unless your rigs are on the lighter side.

The red trim provides a nice contrast to the wraps.

Application, Warranty, Price:  Application wise, this is a rod that can do many things but isn't going to be perfect for all of them.  Bass fishing with soft jerkbaits, Senkos, hollow body swimbaits, and spinnerbaits immediately come to mind as what it's suited best for.  I like it for bottom contact techniques only with smaller baits and weights.  This would also make a killer saltwater rod for throwing single-hook baits like swimbaits, plastic shrimp tails, and jigs.  I don't care for an extra fast action with treble hooked baits. 

The RC71MHXF Rage has an MSRP of $150.  The pricing is in line with other rods at the medium price point.  St Croix backs the Rage rods with a 5 year warranty.

The underside of the Pac Bay Minima reel seat.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide)

St. Croix Rage RC71MHXF Casting Rod Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Build quality is decent, but a few imperfections were noted upon close inspection. 7
Performance Accurate caster with nice power.  The tip was softer than expected, though.  Average sensitivity. 7.5
Price Compared to the competition, could be a bit more refined for the money. 7
Features Some interesting features but nothing mind blowing or of above average quality.  7
Design (Ergonomics) It's a shame the exposed reel seat threads are present, because the handle is comfy otherwise.  The rod as a whole is just a tad tip heavy without a reel. 7
Application Good application for many techniques.  A slightly stiffer tip would make it even more versatile. 7

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Extra fast action - A couple minor cosmetic quality control issues
+ Decent versatility - Tip could be slightly stiffer
+ Handle material is comfy - Exposed reel seat threads aren't comfortable
+ Price tag is affordable for most  

The RC71MHXF made quick work of this quality Largemouth.

Conclusion:  The St. Croix Rage RC71MHXF has proven itself to be a good stick overall, but like every other rod on the market, it's not 100% perfect.  At a price of $150, it sits in a sea of strong competitors.  As manufacturers fight for notoriety in the mid priced rod segment, it becomes even more crucial that the design and craftsmanship of a rod stands out in the crowd.  While the Rage certainly stood out with some unique cosmetics and design, it lacked the true “wow factor” in the bang for the buck department.  Just because it wasn't ideal for me, doesn't mean it won't be ideal for you.  If you're searching for a mid priced micro guide rod that's a bit different, it might be just what you're looking for!

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