The Win­ning Sticks

Field and Stream - - FIELD TEST -

BEST OF THE TEST: BASS

G. LOOMIS GLX

The star of the G. Loomis lineup for decades, the GLX got a makeover this year. It is built from a new feath­er­weight, in­cred­i­bly sen­si­tive blank and has SiC guides in Fuji Ti­ta­nium frames. Loomis also added an in­no­va­tive new reel seat that both Cer­mele and I found to be com­fort­able and sharp-look­ing. The new GLX ex­celled in ev­ery test cat­e­gory, and just edged out the St. Croix Leg­end Glass for best bass rod of 2017. Bot­tom line: If you’re look­ing for high-end crafts­man­ship and top-notch com­po­nents in an Amer­i­can­made rod, the GLX fits the bill.

BEST VALUE: BASS

ST. CROIX BASS X

With so many high-end rods de­mand­ing su­per­premium prices these days, it’s nice to know you can still get a killer stick for $100—namely, the new St. Croix Bass X. The blank is made of the same pre­mium SCII graphite as the hugely pop­u­lar St. Croix Premier se­ries. This light­weight rod sports alu­minum-ox­ide guides in black frames and looks sharp with blue-and-sil­ver let­ter­ing on the matte black fin­ish. Most im­por­tant, the Bass X was a stand­out for cast­ing abil­ity, blank qual­ity, and sen­si­tiv­ity, re­gard­less of price— which made it our clear win­ner for Best Value.

BEST OF THE TEST: CAT­FISH

WHISKER SEEKER CHAD FER­GU­SON

The new 91⁄2-foot, two-piece heavy cast­ing model in Whisker Seeker’s Chad Fer­gu­son Se­ries is an ab­so­lute beast. The rod’s length cou­pled with the ac­tion of its com­pos­ite blank helped it crush all com­ers in the cast­ing cat­e­gory. Its sheer power is im­pres­sive; it will heave weights up to 12 ounces and has all the back­bone needed to man­han­dle the big­gest blues and flat­heads. The 12 low-pro­file, black ti­ta­nium-ox­ide guides are durable and aid in cast­ing dis­tance. As good as it is as a cast­ing rod, this one will ex­cel at bot­tom bounc­ing and drift fish­ing, too.

BEST VALUE: CAT­FISH

BERKLEY MUD CAT

Any rod at $40 is a steal these days. But a $40 cat­fish rod that casts like a champ and can truly han­dle big fish is a real win­ner—in this case, win­ner of our Best Value award. Cer­mele and I agreed that we would use the Mud Cat as our go-to kitty stick in a heart­beat. Even at its very mod­est price, the Mud­cat of­fers some solid com­po­nents, in­clud­ing stain­less-steel guide frames with alu­minum-ox­ide in­serts and a full, rub­ber­ized, shrink-wrapped han­dle. If you’re one of the many cat­fish an­glers who pre­fer fiber­glass for cast­ing big chunks of bait, this rod is for you.

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