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Old 03-18-12, 07:54 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: McDonough
Posts: 7
Default 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.
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Old 03-18-12, 08:15 PM   #2
Trouty Mouth
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Roswell, GA
Posts: 986

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!
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Old 03-20-12, 12:25 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Jefferson, GA
Posts: 97

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.

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Old 03-20-12, 08:17 AM   #4
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Location: Laurel Park, NC USA
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Default Either

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.
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Old 03-20-12, 08:30 AM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,374

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.
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Old 03-26-12, 09:47 AM   #6
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Steilacoom, WA
Posts: 30

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.
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Old 03-26-12, 06:17 PM   #7
Dawg Vet
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Waleska, GA in the Good Ol' US of A!
Posts: 643

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
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Old 03-27-12, 03:57 PM   #8
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 712

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.
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Old 03-28-12, 06:57 AM   #9
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: alpharetta
Posts: 151
Default 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.
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Old 03-28-12, 10:23 AM   #10
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Atlanta (Grant park),GA
Posts: 1,320

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.
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clearwater, imperial, orvis, rod, st. croix

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