Tackle Talk - UFX-guide Juul Steyn about the St. Croix rods of his choice for zander
Updated: Jun 4
UFX guests have access to a wide selection of high-end rods and reels. Fishing guide Juul Steyn presents below his favorite rods for perch and zander fishing in Amsterdam.
“Each fishing technique requires a specific rod and I don't compromise on that.”
Just a word in advance. For the sake of readability I won't elaborate on the various awesome technologies that have gone into many of these rods. For more information about, among other things, IPC (Integrated Poly Curve Technology), ART (Advanced Reinforcing Technology), FRS (Fortyfied Resin System) and TET (Taper Enhancement Technology), I would like to refer you to this page.
Vertical jigging for zander
Although casting with hard and soft baits is becoming increasingly popular, there are circumstances where vertical jigging for zander is unbeatable. Particularly in the cold months, a passively offered softbait is very effective. There is one rod that I always put in the hands of my guests: The 5'1 ft St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass Spin with a Medium power and Extra Fast Action (LBS510MXF).
Due to its short length (1.75 metres), this rod is perfect for presenting the bait in the range of the Garmin LiveScope transducer. With an ideal casting weight of 3/16 to 5/8 ounce (approx. 5 to 18 grams) you can actually handle all situations. As long as the current, wind and water depth allow, you can fish with jig heads of 10 and 14 grams. But if you have to, you can also use it for 21 grams without the top sagging annoyingly.
The tight, fast action, combined with a very sensitive tip makes this the ideal vertical jigging rod for zander. The tip transmits even the most tentative of bites so you will simply catch more fish.
During the fight you will have plenty of fun with smaller fish, but thanks to the sturdy backbone you can also tame 80 cm+ walleye with it. By definition I combine this rod with a Shimano Vanford 1000, spooled with 0.08 mm Shimano Kariki braided line.
Another rod that lends itself perfectly to vertical fishing is the 6'8 ft Legend Tournament Bass Spin 'Pinpoint' with a Medium power and Extra Fast action (LBTS68MXF).
Casting with light hard and soft baits
The LBTS68MXF is a bit longer and therefore a lot more versatile. The casting power is the same as the shorter brother described above, but with a length of 2.03 meters you can practice more fishing techniques with it. The action is very progressive, which means that especially the first 40 to 50 cm of the rod bends and that from that point on the backbone gradually but firmly asserts itself. This makes it an ideal stick for vertical jigging, despite the fact that it was not developed for this in principle.
St. Croix has given this rod the addition of 'Pinpoint', which indicates where the power lies: in making very accurate casts. Thanks to the extremely low weight of 103 (!) grams, combined with sufficient 'flex' in the tip and an extra fast action, you can cast the lure really super accurately.
Combined with the ultra-lightweight Vanford 1000, this is a combo that will make any marksman's mouth water. Personally, I prefer to cast jigs from 7 to 14 grams, small (lipless) crankbaits such as the Spro Rk Crawler 50 and 10-gram ASP spinners.
The LWS70MLF2, short for Legend Tournament Walleye Spin, is a fraction longer at 213 cm and – as befits a walleye rod – a bit more parabolic. The ideal casting weight of this two-piece rod is between 1/8 and 3/8 oz (say 3.5 to about 11 grams). In practice, in addition to jigheads of 5 to 10 grams, I also like to fish twitchbaits such as the Megabass Oneten Jr with it. This rod is also equipped with a Shimano Vanford 1000, spooled with 0.06 mm Kairiki.
Nedrig, Carolina rig and drop shot
Especially in the summer months I like to fish in Amsterdam with various finesse techniques for perch and zander. The aforementioned LWS70MLF2 is ideally suited for this. Unlike the other spinning rods aboard, this one does not have an Extra Fast, but a Fast action. This 7-footer is a bit softer so that the fish can eat your softbait without feeling too much resistance. This is a must when fishing with the C-rig and Nedrig, but this rod is also a more than excellent choice for drop shotting. Less suspicion on the part of the fish leads to better catches. And don't mistake the 'sympathetic' action, because when it comes down to it, this rod has more than enough backbone to handle even the biggest zander.
The perfect rod for big zander
When you're targeting really big zander with bigger and heavier lures, the LBTS73MHF is the perfect choice. This super tight but extremely powerful St Croix Legend Tournament Bass is 7'3 ft long, has a fast action and is of a medium heavy caliber. With this rod you can cast heavier hardbaits comfortably, and because the blank is still rock hard even in the top, you can set the lure in motion super fast. This is especially important when fishing with chatterbaits and (lipless) crankbaits. The toughness of this rod also comes into its own when you get a bite from the super category zander, say 10 lb and up, as these fish grip the lure like pit bulls. The hard blank with a ton of backbone transmits so much power when setting the hook, that you move the lure between the jaws and the hook point can grab meat. This way you avoid losing the largest fish; a risk you take when fishing a softer rod. I combine this St Croix with a Shimano Vanford 2500 HG because the high retrieval speed of 31 inch allows you to fish fast sinking lures in a relaxed way. When it comes to the braid, I use 16/00 Shimano Kairiki. This is a bit heavier than my other set-ups because the combination of a harder rod, heavier lures and bigger fish simply releases more power. Especially when a fat pike takes your bait, not uncommon to happen when fishing for large zander in Amsterdam!
Casting with medium hard and soft baits
Finally, there is the LBTS73MXF, aka the St Croix Legend Tournament Bass Spin ‘Power Finesse’ with a length of 7'3 feet (2.21 cm), medium power and extra fast action. Despite the very low weight of 116 grams, this rod has an incredible backbone. Add to that the fact that the action is by far the fastest of all the rods I have on board, and you understand why this is my weapon of choice when it comes to perch and zander fishing with larger lures.
This 'Power Finesse' rod from St Croix comes into its own when you have to fish with heavier lures, without sacrificing sensitivity. Think of fishing with softbaits on jig heads of 10, 14 and even 21 grams and (lipless) crankbaits such as the Spro Aruku Shad. Thanks to the fast action and sensitive tip, you feel the bites perfectly and you can easily tap the lure from behind obstacles. Get stuck less, catch more.
I combine this rod with a slightly larger and faster reel: the Shimano Vanford 2000 spooled with 0.08 mm Kairiki.
Check out all St Croix Legend Tournament Bass rods here.
Check out all the St Croix Legend Tournament Walleye rods here here.
So-called pelagic fishing is a very effective technique for targeting large zander. For this I use short, fast and sensitive rods that do not break even under maximum pressure. Because you can be sure that extreme forces are put on the blank when you strike an 80cm + zander or a fat meter pike with only a few meters line out of the rod tip. For this work, I have two beautiful sticks ready: the Hearty Rise Valley Hunter Pelagic and the Spro Finesse Cast Pelagical. The latter is ideal for heads of 30 to 60 grams and with the Hearty Rise you can handle even heavier jig heads. Both rods are equipped with a Shimano Curado baitcaster spooled with 0,16 mm Kairiki.