When I contacted my friend Rich Swisstack about what rods to bring to the Delaware River for a shad fishing shoot last spring, he was quick to note that his favorite shad rod is the St. Croix Panfish Series 90LMF2. The rod, while designed for crappies and bluegills, has the perfect feel for shad. It’s sensitive, but limber, keeping pulled hooks at a minimum, and helping fishermen dial in the right presentation to getting the shad to bite.
Besides being effective at bouncing darts or swinging spoons for the shad, the Panfish Series was just plain fun. We caught shad pushing 5 pounds, but never felt overmatched—though at times it was close. We also brought the St. Croix Premier Series 86LM2, though I preferred the Panfish series. The Premier 86LM2 had a slower action, which made the shad tougher to control, especially when steering them through current to the net.
The rod was also well suited for casting spoons and jigs for stillwater trout, and, as its name suggests, works for panfish, though truth be told, after using it to catch shad, the rod felt like overkill for crappies and bluegills.
Check out the St. Croix Panfish Series in action below: