Yeah, I backed off the Avid idea pretty quickly when I saw that it was so much more expensive than its spinning counterpart. I guess the Imperial is St. Croix's flyrod offering in that price range. Thanks for the suggestion of the 7'6". Getting hung up in stream-side flora is a concern I have. Why would the shorter rod be better for smallies?
By the way, I fished the Susquehanna on a 2-day float trip this summer. The fishing was extremely slow on Saturday because of the mysterious fish kill occurring on that river among others in the region, but it picked up some on Sunday. That is a great river.