Publisher, Jen Ripple, on magazine publishing and testing/fishing the St. Croix Imperial USA.
Not only is Park Falls, Wisconsin’s St. Croix Rod a family-run company, they’re an even larger global family of passionate angler customers. No matter the style of fishing or species, there’s a St. Croix Rod user out there willing to share his or her story.
When it comes to fly fishing, meet St. Croix Rod’s friend and fly fishing expert, Jen Ripple, the founder and publisher of DUN Magazine.
“I grew up in Wisconsin, so fishing St. Croix rods is partially a nostalgia thing for me. I love the fact that St. Croix rods are manufactured in Park Falls, Wisconsin, and American made. I love, love, love the people there — the owners, the Schluter family — and the factory is full of quality people, which makes it easy for me. Plus, St. Croix is the kind of company that the minute you fish their rods you become part of the family,” says Ripple.
The way St. Croix does business has much in common with how Ripple runs her publication, DUN Magazine. “I looked for a women’s fly fishing magazine and there wasn’t one. So, I started working on one in June of 2013 and by September we had our first issue. As of 2017, we had 180,000 readers of the digital publication, but anglers would write in all the time asking for print. In July 2017 we issued our first print version and now it’s carried at Barnes & Noble and countless fly shops across the country, besides numerous subscriptions,” says Ripple.
The quarterly magazine is more like a coffee table book than yet another fly fishing magazine. “It’s really a large ‘book-a-zine’ where we focus on beautiful photos and tell the everyday woman fly angler story. It’s not about the professionals. The vast number of stories are written by everyday anglers.”
Along those lines, DUN Magazine also features content about the fly fishing lifestyle, human interest stories, topics like conservation, food and drink, and fly fishing history.
“For example, most anglers have no idea that women have been involved in fly fishing since the 15th Century. In 1497, a nun wrote the first fly fishing book because the Church required a document to sanction any kind of pastime. This book covered how to make a hook and fly, how to dye horse hair for use as line depending on water clarity, as well as early commentary on conservation, trespassing, etc.,” says Ripple.
Of course, DUN Magazine does feature plenty of content about fly fishing — from beginner information to advanced concepts. “Every magazine is completely different. One thing we do in each issue is a ‘Back to Basics’ page, which covers those topics that anglers may feel embarrassed asking about, like fly choices for summer. The best way for new anglers to start fly fishing in summer is to choose a terrestrial or surface pattern, like a grasshopper, ant, or cricket, which doesn’t require a perfect presentation. And when it comes to gear, we cover items that do their job well and try to explain why we love the expensive gear that we do.”
Along those lines, you might expect the founder and publisher of one of the finest fly fishing publications in the world to choose a fly rod with a price tag nearing four digits. Not Jen. For the past year, she’s been fishing the lightweight and fast action Imperial USA — a family of fly rods produced right at the St. Croix factory in Park Falls, Wisconsin, with a price tag between $230 and $330.
“My first experience with Imperial USA Fly was in the Driftless Region last year, where I tested 4 and 5 weight models with St. Croix National Accounts Manager, Dan Johnston. I was really surprised at the ease of casting, especially given the price point. You expect less expensive rods to be bulky and difficult to throw. Not the Imperial USA — it’s unbelievably castable. The 4 or 5 weight Imperial USA fishes perfectly for short casts, drifts, and mending on smaller creeks but you can also cast it a long way, which was really surprising,” remarks Ripple.
Along those lines, she says it’s rare that you find a fly rod that’s both perfect for beginners and advanced anglers. “Some rods today are just so fast. The Imperial USA’s action is perfect. Not only is it the perfect beginner or novice rod, it’s a great choice for the advanced angler.
Whatever casting level you’re at, you can adjust your cast to the Imperial USA very quickly.”
She adds that equipment like the St. Croix Imperial USA helps dismiss the misconception that fly fishing is an exclusive old white guy’s sport. “Women are the fastest growing demographic in the sport of fly fishing. Anyone can do it, regardless of age, physical situation, or socio-economic status—and equipment like St. Croix rods make it easier for all.”
St. Croix Rod Director of Marketing, Jesse Simpkins, feels fortunate to work with a fly angler like Jen Ripple. “Male or female, there are very few fly anglers out there of Jen’s caliber. She’s technically gifted, well respected, and very knowledgeable. Although we’re able to develop rods based on years of knowledge, there’s always the need for refinement, so we work with all types of anglers before we bring rod models to market. Asking Jen to join us in testing what we felt was an improved Imperial USA freshwater and saltwater line made perfect sense. She was able to provide feedback that has allowed us to create even better fly fishing rods for all anglers. We now think it’s the best value of any fly rod produced in the U.S.”
IMPERIAL® USA FEATURES
• Dynamic blend of high-modulus/high-strain SCIV graphite and premium quality SCII graphite.
• Slim-profile ferrules.
• Kigan Master Hand 3D stripper guides with aluminum-oxide rings and black frames.
• Sea Guide® snake guides with black PVD coating for extra hardness and increased smoothness.
• Uplocking, machined-aluminum reel seat with wood insert on most 2-6 wt. models.
• Uplocking, machined-aluminum reel seat on 7-10 wt. models.
• Premium-grade cork handle.
• Kigan hook-keeper.
• Two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish.
• Rugged rod case with handle and divided polypropylene liner.
• 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
• Lightweight, fast action fly rods designed for maximum performance and value.
• Chestnut Brown Metallic aesthetics.
• Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A.