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Orvis Clearwater vs. St. Croix Imperial

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  • Orvis Clearwater vs. St. Croix Imperial

    I am looking to buy a 7' or 7'6" 3-wt fly rod. I am in the $180-200 price range. Which rod is the best? Orvis Clearwater 7'6" 3-wt or a St. Criox Imperial 7' 3-wt? Why do you think so? The price is only $8 difference in the two.

    Thank you for your input. I'm new and need some advise.

  • #2
    The Clearwater is a good rod and well designed by Orvis to get people hooked (pardon the pun) on thier equipment. I don't know anything about the performance of the other rod, but doubt it would outperform the Clearwater by much, if any. I would look closely at the warranty for the other rod - it's pretty hard to beat the Orvis warranty and the ability to walk into an Orvis store and drop off a rod to be fixed, no matter what reason for it's breakage, and to be able to do that for years and years!


    • #3
      I bought a 4wt last year and it has made its way to the top of my fishing pole list. I love it. The Clearwater did not appear as nicely finished when I was shopping for my rod. This is partly why I went with the Imperial. Make sure your reel fits it before you buy one though. I had to go through a few reels to find one that fits.

      Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk


      • #4

        Either rod is a good pick, but as someone mentioned, take a look at the warranty. More important with these rods or any rods, don't buy one until you have a chance to throw it. Go to a good shop that carries both, have them rig the rods for you and walk outside and see which one fits you better.


        • #5
          I have had both in a five weight.

          That clearwater took too much effort to cast the initial thirty feet. I used it a few times, and I never used it again.

          CCornelli loves them though.


          • #6
            I have owned the St. Croix Triumph and Imperial. I have also owned the Orvis Clearwater.

            Two Stories ...
            I broke my Clearwater on a rock on a Saturday. Called Orvis on Monday. Shipped my rod to them on Tuesday. Received a new rod on Thursday. Cost: $0.

            My Imperial was broken by a moving company. Called St. Croix, and they said I could buy the top section as a replacement. Cost: $40.

            For my money, Orvis is more user-friendly and responsive. Maybe I spoke with the wrong person at St. Croix.


            • #7
              Be careful on evaluating rods on just warranty! Too many companies offer a great warranty to cover over rods that are over-priced. St. Croix has a long history of fair, honest customer service. I personally would rather deal with a company that will sell me a replacement piece at a good price if it's my fault than just take all rods back and build in this cost to the initial price. I have 2 Imperials and would put them up against rods that cost a good amount more. Check the various reviews online and you will find similar evaluations. Besides, the Imperial is still a USA-made rod; may not matter to some but it does to me these days. Also, St. Croix has a "trade-up" program that lets you purchase one of their higher level rods by trading in your less expensive rod minus $10 per year of owning it. Very cool deal at a more than fair price. Saying this, I think the Clearwater rod is good for the price but I do think Orvis' marketing/warranty and pricing is done with different targets than St. Croix has.
              - Jed Green

              "I will make you fishers of men" - Christ
              Bamboo rods, Clear streams, and old Jeeps


              • #8
                I have the Imperial in a 6wt and it is a monster of a rod. Very fast tip and tons of backbone. Considering my other rod is a med action Zero Gravity 4 wt, this rod is perfect for me for throwing streamers and big double nymph set ups. Bob Merriman recommended it to me and I have been very happy, especially now that its wearing a Nautilus FWX.


                • #9
                  Rod Comparison

                  I own an Imperial 5 weight and have fished the orvis rods with a number of guides. They are both great rods but I favor and imperial. I got mine because a buddy had one that broke on a trip and the company was so great about replacing the rod so I agree with their customer service.

                  A guess you can not go wrong with either it just depends on what you prefer but for me the Imperial is one of the best rods out their. I have two.


                  • #10
                    I personally like the orvis rods. I think they are well built and made to last. My buddy, who posted in favor of the st. croix did have one, but I saw the reel seat fall off because of a poor glue job. AND he sold it, so..... I am not saying any names, but you know who you are! Anyway, I fished the st. croix entry level rod that I rented for my Uncle at unicoi last year and I really did not like the rod. I can't remember the name on that rod. It just didn't feel nice. My Uncle also agreed, so I ended up lending him my Hydros and I used the St. Croix. Now with all that being said, go cast both rods and then decide which one you like more.


                    • #11
                      The new Clearwater is sweet. I have the older version in a 7wt and it is a good rod.


                      • #12
                        I very much agree with trying to buy products made in the USA (as well as supporting the local fly shops). Some of the Orvis products are made in the USA, but others are not (South Korea and maybe Vietnam). I agree that where a product is made should be an important factor, especially during our economic times. In the past, Orvis has always been good to me, as they have been generous to us military folks.

                        That being said, my Imperial is a pretty sweet feeling rod. Lots of backbone with a soft tip.

                        Nevertheless, Driftwood is right-on when he said a person just needs to cast them both. There is no substitute for trying an item before you buy ... another good reason to shop at your local fly shop or sporting goods store, instead of the world-wide-web.



                        • #13
                          I totally agree that, in the end, it should always come down to that person casting the rods and choosing. Seems to me, though, that too many people assure because it says "Orvis" or some other high-end company, that it is automatically a better rod. Personally, I think St. Croix has one of the best line-ups or rods out there and all are a bargain.
                          - Jed Green

                          "I will make you fishers of men" - Christ
                          Bamboo rods, Clear streams, and old Jeeps


                          • #14

                            are you only interested in the Orvis and St. Croix rods? I looked at both of these rods in a 4 wt but also looked at the TFO Finesse. I ended up buying the TFO and it was much cheaper. I too found the Orvis difficult to cast in tight spots. I had an opportunity to throw all three on a creek about 25 to 30 ft wide and then on a small stream about 3 ft wide and full of overhanging brush. The TFO was much easier to shoot line up the small creek than the other two.

                            Just my two cents.
                            If all else fails.......go fishing: sigpic

                            LA MantaRay12 (Charles)