well fellows... went fly fishing this evening with my brother. 15 minutes in, I hooked a big smallmouth bass on one of my home-tied streamers. (I landed it using just the tip section ) danged thing turned & ran into some pretty severe rapids, & in a misguided attempt to turn the fish, my 8'6" St. Croix (7-8 wt) Pro-Graphite fly rod exploded 6" back from the joint in the rod. I'm thinking that I actually need a 9' or 10' rod for this, preferably a 9 or 10 weight. the wind can be a bugger too. we sometimes hook stripers or hybrids doing this, so durability figures in, LOL! the smallmouth run up to 4# commonly, with hybrids & stripers going bigger. I aint rich, & in fact am unemployed at the moment. in your opinions, who makes the best rod for the buck that comes close to these specs ?