Last week we were fortunate enough to have our Sage, Redington and RIO Rep, George Cook in town for a few days. This year we teamed up with the crew from Fly Water Travel and all got together to cast some of the new rods Sage has recently released. We also got to cast some Sage X and Igniter rods that have been around for a bit, but with some new line offerings from RIO. In this blog, I’d like to spend some time talking about the rods that I really enjoyed casting and why. Down the road, I will have a blog that dives more into the lines we cast throughout the day and how they influenced each rod.
The first setup of the day that I got my hands on was Sage’s new Trout LL 9’ 6wt with RIO’s new Technical Trout Line. Let’s spend a bit of time breaking down this setup. First, the rod: Sage has a storied history with their LL series of rods which were originally produced from 1987-1999. This is one of the handful of single hand rods that I have heard from customers over the years was just an absolute gem. For a lot of folks, Sage is synonymous with fast action tapers. But the LL rods proved that Sage may more accurately be thought of as being synonymous with advanced technology. The LL rods showed that by using the same technology of their fast action rods, they could produce something with a medium action that was every bit as smooth and enjoyable to cast as other well-known medium action rods out there.
So now it’s 2019, twenty years after the LL’s final production date and Sage has released their revised medium action trout rod, the Trout LL. So what’s different about it? The thing that sets Trout LL rods apart from other medium or medium fast rods out there is the Konnectic HD technology Sage chose to build it with. Simply put, this rod, like the X and Igniter, casts exactly where you point it. That’s important. It doesn’t just mean you’ll look like a better caster in front all your friends. It means you will be able to land flies more accurately, likely resulting in more connections with fish. Whether or not you land more fish is on you.
Anyways, I noticed right off the bat that rod really loaded well in close when paired with a standard weight trout line. Like I said before, the first setup I cast of the day was the 690-4 LL with RIO’s new Technical Trout Line. This setup not only excelled at distance and loop stability in the 30-50’ range, but it also loaded in close, from the 15-40’ range. This is critical in most trout fishing situations where 90% of the action is happening within fifty feet. This amount of feel is something I really believed to be present throughout the LL models which I cast. Throughout the day I spent some time with the 389, 486, 490, 590 and 690.
If pressed, I’d say my two favorites were the 8’9” 3wt and 8'6" 4wt. These rods were so buttery smooth to cast, but also offered surprising distance. If you bump into me on Hat Creek next spring, don’t be surprised if I have that 8’6” 4wt in my hand with a size 18 PMD tied on.
But our casting session wasn’t just about the LL rods. George also brought for us Sage’s new Payload rod and multiple X and Igniter rods to try out. These rods ranged from the 9’ 5wt Igniter up the 9’ 9wt X, and Salt HD. I’m going to leave the heavier rods off the table here because that’s not really my domain – I just have not spent enough time with rods in those weights to review them in any meaningful way.
I did spend a bit of time with the 590X which I feel I can speak about a bit. I own the 490X and have really enjoyed using it locally on the Upper Sac, and Upper Rogue with dry flies. To me, this rod benefits from being fast action. It makes for a very versatile 4wt that is able to cast larger flies and cut through wind with ease. The 590X to me feels like the exact same rod just one line weight heavier. It shares all of the things I love about the 490X and matched with RIO’s Perception 5wt Line, it was just a bombshell casting tool.
We also had the 590 Igniter paired with RIO’s new Technical Trout Line in the 6wt. The Technical Trout Line is not over weighted at all and features a long rear taper for increased loop stability. This setup was just insane. That 6wt line just performed beautifully on the 5wt Igniter. In a later blog I will dive into more detail about my thoughts on line taper, length weight and the way it influenced specific rods we cast that day.
In closing, I’d just like to relay that both Will and I and members of the Fly Water Travel team were really impressed with various rods we cast that day. There are many great brands that we work with, but if you are interested in a Sage, they have a very full offering that you should consider both for your trout and steelhead fishing needs. And as always, we are happy to help steer you in the right direction in terms of recommending the proper rods and lines for your fishing from any of the brands we proudly support.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the phone at (541) 488-6454 Monday-Friday if you have any questions!
-Blog by Marcus Mattioli, shop manager
Images by Chris Myron