Sage X rod. 8, 9 and 10 Wt. Review - Saltwater Fishing Discussion Board Including Inshore Fishing, Offshore Fishing, Saltwater Fly Fishing and Kayak Fishing
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Old 12-17-2016, 06:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Sage X rod. 8, 9 and 10 Wt. Review

I just returned from the Amazon targeting world class Peacock Bass. Casting for a week straight using large streamers (6 - 9 inches) as well as big Poppers and Pole Dancers. I had just received my X rods prior to the trip so this would be a great chance to really give these rods a work-out. Previously, the bar had been set so I will have them compete against my very much loved Shimano/Gloomis NRX rods I have run for years. As always, my reports and reviews are not short so if you are ADHD or only crave a twitter length review.... Get out now..

A note about me: I am not a professional but I am proficient with a fly rod. I get to fly fish well over a 100 days a year though not always with the big rods. Like most every fly fishing angler I have ever met, I aspire to learn more and get better on every cast, every day and every year. Growing up on the West Coast, fishing Long range and Commercial, I have been testing rods for the Salt Water Spinning and conventional use industry for decades, contributing my insight into rod designs for that industry. HOWEVER, I do not possess the ultra advanced level of fly fishing skill to expertly contribute to the designs of Fly rods. Perhaps this history allows me to present more of a well informed yet more relatable, better than average, lay-person's view of the rods being mentioned and how they will be most often employed by the majority of anglers who are not Master fly Casters.

The X-rods I chose for the job were the 9 foot 6 inch long 8 Wt, 896-4, the 9 foot long 9 Wt. 990-4 and the 9 foot long 10 wt. 1090-4. The casts would be mostly those Amazon bread and butter shots in the 40 - 80+ foot range (Much longer than general Trout casting). The casts noted provided for one or at most two false casts before shooting after the head had exited the tip. 100+ foot long, fly line dumping, casts are certainly wonderful but not very realistic for this angler with these very large and furry bugs attached to the working end of the line.

Each rod was paired to the appropriate Nautilus NV or NVG reel (At this point the only big fish reels I use). The 8 and 9 wt rods were run almost exclusively with the Rio Tropical Outbound Short Intermediate for use with a variety of different big streamers while the 10 wt. was run with both the Intermediate and then mostly the floating version of the Rio Tropical Outbound short to be run with top water poppers and pole dancers. My leader lengths were heavy straight tippet with lengths between 6 and 7 feet. Again, the flies used were all big, bigger and the biggest bugs/poppers so I can only imagine how these wonderful tools will perform on smaller, lighter and less wind resistant flies. With these Rio lines, I never up weight as I find the noted manufacturers line wt. is appropriate and matches beautifully with the rod wt. of these Sage X Rods.

First up the 896-4. Before the first cast was completed I realized this was going to be a special rod. Even with the added 6 inches of length, the balance was amazing. The design of the rod, in conjunction with this even handed feel led to the noticeably stable tracking and lack of any awkward feeling weight in my hands. After about the 3rd or 4th cast, filled with excitement, I decided to slow down my stroke to an almost gentle motion, concentrating on not concentrating at all....Free the mind grasshopper. I decided to forget thinking about the size of the bug on the end of the line or any overwhelming urge to power the cast regardless of wind conditions. Even though I was throwing very big bugs I chose to just stay with basic casting techniques, pivot the axis of swing right at the center of the reel, keep my elbow in tight and not allow for any additional reel/arm drift regardless of the distance. Additionally, by reaching further up on the rod towards the stripper guide, I lengthened my Double haul stroke keeping it smooth and in line with the rod butt to easily add distance to my cast when needed. I am not a pro so I cannot say every cast was a lesson in beauty but the majority of casts were accurate, properly presented, and had easily generated, wonderfully tight and high speed loops. Even more importantly, on my sight casts, this use of basics and mindless gentle flow of the cast allowed me to present my flies properly and without Yips to 90+ % of the sighted, shallow water flats fish I came in contact with most of which only allow for super quick, precise single false cast and long shoot. The majority of these casts were roughly in the 50 - 70 foot range with a few longer and a few shorter. The most noticeable difference between the Sage X and the Gloomis NRX is the ability for the angler to so easily and succinctly feel the load of the rod, all the way up and down the length of the rod, on both the forward and back stops and starts making it easier to forgo the mental desire for just one more false cast. Just as importantly the transition and recoil from the loaded rod to the unloaded rod is seamless and a non impact factor until your realize the fly is hauling ass out away from the angler with speed and precision. No question, these X rod designers have figured out a way to combine the power of a fast taper rod as it blends to these noticeably softer action rods. When throwing seemingly a thousand casts a day, as we do in the Amazon, the longevity of the angler's proper mechanics is naturally enhanced due to the ability to throw distance with very minimal effort. I do not want to somehow make this rod seem like some magic machine that will turn any angler into a casting guru but I do want to note that as long as proper and basic casting mechanics are adhered to, remembering to stop trying to overpower any cast, the results are simply amazing. Those who never really have felt the load of their rod on super fast tapered machines will be driven to slow down their strokes, properly track the tip section, elongate and smooth out their double haul and enhance their properly located stops/tip heights just to feel the sensation of this dramatic load for one even one additional second when using this X Rod. Okay, perhaps that is overly dramatic but I believe this rod to be the second best rod I have ever cast for large flies... With my favorite rod about to be reviewed later. My Gloomis NRX 8 Wt. 9 foot is a magnificent machine and though i love the feel and power of it, this Sage X just feels like it would suit the vast majority of fly fishing anglers whose skill levels are not at the elite level... Yet, these X rods will suit the pro, looking for ease of use, beautifully. All the guides, I had try this rod, fell in love with it especially when I asked them to slow down and sometimes even shorten their casting stroke.

Next up the 9 foot 9 Wt. 990-4. So often for a variety of bigger fish/bigger fly and generally somewhat higher wind uses, the 9 Wt. becomes a highly employed weapon as it combines the ease of use of a lighter weight rod but develops the power often needed for windier or big bug applications. Most all 9 wt rods really are wonderful tools to take the trout fisherman, whose 6 wt. might be the heaviest rod in their arsenal, and bring them into the world of higher weight, bigger stringed instruments. Many normal fly fishing folks I talk too find the 9 wt. at the upper limit of their efficient range of casting tools with most folks finding some difficulty, or worse, when conditions and fish size mandate a 10 - 12 wt. Thus, in my opinion, the properly designed 9 wt. really needs to become not only a perfect tool for a given application but also a bridge tool that gives the angler a bit more confidence to step up into the 10 weight and above categories when they become the required tool for the job. Nothing beats practicing and employing proper casting techniques to allow most angler to get to the next level but many of these newly designed rods really are bridging that gap. I would love to say I was as smitten with the Sage X 9 Wt. as I was with the longer 8 wt. but Alas, I cannot. Because my bar is set super high with my much loved Gloomis NRX 9 wt. I was hoping this new Sage stick would again leave me speechless. Though this rod too found it's home in a slower casting motion requiring less power the net results, though top of the line, were not as dramatic as the above reviewed 8 wt. Sage. I did not get the same feel of the load of the rod as I did with the 8 wt as perhaps the 6 inch shorter length did not provide quite the same leverage for load. I would certainly rank this rod as a great tool for the majority of anglers but I do not doubt there will be multiple manufacturers, in this rod wt. class, that will compete. As fly fishing anglers, we are so fortunate that we are offered such a wide range of manufacturer choices and price ranges all of which will yield tools with outstanding design and materials.

Finally, my favorite, the Sage X 9 foot, 10 Wt. 1090-4. Favorite may not be the right word rather I should say my favorite for the application I happened to use it for on this trip. As I noted previously, for many anglers, transitioning into a 10 wt. fly rod can be intimidating. The overwhelming urge to employ more raw power in order to throw such a big rig to big fish is pretty much standard for all of anglers entering into this stage of their fly fishing careers. So many anglers, who can easily feel and find the sweet spots of their casting strokes when using a 5 wt. rod, just cannot feel or find the sweet spot in these more powerful tools. The frustration I hear from so many folks really brings me back to the days when I was in that position. Now, Enter the Dragon. The Sage X 10 wt., for me, was nothing short of miraculous when throwing my often used and favorite Pole Dancers and Poppers. For many folks, the thought of throwing these wind catching bugs can be rather intimidating in even light wind conditions. Yet, in keeping with my mandate to use proper basic casting techniques, minimal energy and long yet smooth double hauls, this 10 Wt. blew my mind. In the amazon there are just endless areas with deep fingers, both on the flats and along the shore lines, where the angler may cast 40 feet, then 80+ feet and then 50 feet all in a matter of seconds as we work the angles and maximize water surface coverage of river mouths, inlets and cutouts. With the combinations of rod, line and big flies I have noted, those 80+ foot casts were a piece of cake with only one or two false casts before shooting.. Again, just like the 896-4, the balance, ease of tracking and feel for the load of the cast was just amazing making this feel like a much lower rated rod. The ability to accurately and easily place a big fly where I wanted it made me feel like I was casting an older 8 wt and not a 10 wt. Last year in the Amazon, I was able to play with a newer Scott Boron 3 designed for the jungle and I loved the light weight to power ratio of the 8 wt. While others were using mostly 9 and 10 wt. rods, often times getting tuckered out by the end of a long day, I felt fantastic after 6 full days of throwing the lighter rod. This year, I had zero mental or physical issues transitioning from the Sage X 8 wt. 896 to the 10 Wt. 1090 and back again depending on the application being called for. Long days (Though they went by in a blink of an eye) with the 10 wt were just no problem. It is certainly not a feather but if I was blindfolded I would never have guessed it to be a 10 wt. To the contrary, I enjoyed this rig so much I continually found reasons to throw the pole dancers on this 10 Wt. rather than the various Streamers, Deceivers or Whistlers found on my lighter weight rods. In short, this thing is a canon and easily added 10 - 15 feet to the same NRX casting distances while using the floating version of the Rio Tropical Outbound Short. More importantly, I never felt like I had to put much energy into the cast in order to get that amazing feel of the loading of the rod. Sage has hit this one out of the park.

I am also looking forward to using my new 5 Wt. 9 foot 6 inch long Sage X 597-4 next season for trout.. But that season seams like an eternity away

Best of luck in the upcoming season.

If you are not here today you could not have been here yesterday and I NEVER want to hear.... You should have been here yesterday. When in doubt go fishing.

Teach a child to fish and they will never go hungry. Teach a parent to fish and they will always have something of value to teach their children.

We need more father's teaching their daughter's how to fish so our sons will have someone worthwhile to marry, date.... or at least hook up with.


Jamie
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