Curiosity can become a strain on the wallet; especially with the price of fly rods these days. Although, any natural sense of inquisitiveness was tempered a bit when Sage released their new “ONE” fly rod back in August and I saw the price tag. While the rod has been extolled for its casting, I’m naturally more interested in how a fly rod fishes. Between a trip to a stocking dealer and the help of a very trusting friend, I was able to, more or less, satisfy my curiosity. However, it’s the “more or less” which may end putting a strain on my wallet.
Sage Fly Rods
In a very real sense, Far Bank Enterprises, Inc., the holding company which encompasses Sage, RIO, and Redington, has positioned itself to service, literally, beginning-to-expert fly anglers in terms of product, price, and technology. Product offerings have, seemingly, become a bit more geared to ‘complimenting’ the range of products under the corporate umbrella. This isn’t simply reflected in the progression of price points. Let’s just say that it must be nice for rod makers to have a fly line manufacturer under the same, corporate umbrella.
Don’t get me wrong. Sage has been around since 1980 and through a solid business model has been the “800 pound gorilla” in the fly rod industry for the last couple of decades. It’s just that, since the creation of Far Bank Enterprises, Inc. in 2005, there seems to be a greater integration of product lines which, in turn, seems to have benefited the designs of each, individual manufacturer. Well, at least as far as I’m concerned.
One lingering aspect of Sage, however, is their penchant for discontinuing rod series “before their time.” Part of their business model has always been to ‘stay ahead of the curve’ in terms of technology and sales. This has resulted in a ‘cycle,’ of sorts, where popular rod series are discontinued; replaced by, purportedly, more ‘advanced’ rods. Several years ago, it was indicated to me by a representative at Sage that they kept close track of sales figures and as a series seemed to ‘plateau,’ the next innovation was brought to the market before declining sales created an issue.
That sounds good, so far as it goes. But, that means popular rods are discontinued well before their actual popularity truly wanes. In short, other manufacturers used to not ‘fix’ what wasn’t ‘broken,’ developing a specialized rod action that worked or works exquisitely for the applications intended; e.g., the Scott Pwrply and the newer Scott G2 or the Winston WT (see links below). On the other hand, Sage’s philosophy centers around tapping new market niches through regular innovation in the belief that a broader audience will find useful, ‘all-around rods’ through a series of new rod designs/series.
Sage ONE fly rod… The Progress(ion) Continues
The new Sage ONE rod and its immediate predecessors are an ideal example of this philosophy. In 2006, the Sage paper catalog stated:
“…XP rods are the standard by which all other fast-action rods are judged.”
Arguably, the XP series of fly rods was one of Sage’s most successful designs from the standpoint of popularity. If one accepted that XP rods ‘set the standard’ for fast action rods, then that individual was likely shocked to discover that Sage chose to completely discontinue the series for 2007. In point of fact, it caught many XP fans by surprise.
What Sage chose to replace the XP with was the Z-Axis. As stated in my review of that rod (see link below), their creation of Aligned Fiber Technology allowed the company to produce a theoretically more efficient blank that no longer had less efficient fiberglass as a scrim material or, as Sage stated: “…previously unattainable levels of line feel, response and performance.” Theoretically, such a blank is stronger than one rolled with fiberglass scrim in that you are no longer mating dissimilar materials; instead, fitting, compressing, and ‘cooking’ the same type of material into a single unit.
In the Sage 2011 paper catalog, they described the Z-Axis thus…
“…From tiny spring creeks to enormous glacier-fed rivers, Z-Axis is the go-to rod for anglers facing challenging situations everywhere… Cast a Z-Axis and you’ll start to see why it’s the most popular fast-action rod in the world. Spend some time fishing it and you’ll know for sure…”
Do I detect the emphasis on casting and the “all-around” aspects of the rod design? Let’s see, the XP ‘set the standard’ and it’s replacement, the Z-Axis, is the ‘most popular’ in terms of fast-action rods. To many familiar with Sage, it was beginning to sound as if they were verging on getting rid of the Z-Axis.
Sound facetious or cynical? Maybe. But, in August 2011, Sage announced the ONE rod series as the direct replacement for the Z-Axis, which is now discontinued. (The ZXL is still in the line-up as it is a slightly ‘younger’ series.) Sage describes the ONE series on their website this way:
“…The ONE rod is our flagship offering that may redefine the ‘all-around’ rod category, where precision casting accuracy is needed over a wide range of conditions.”
Put simply, what Sage has done with the XP, Z-Axis, and now the ONE is create an ‘all-around,’ fast-action rod; with each progression doing the job ‘better’ – in some ways – than the previous incarnation. Yes, I said “better” and added the caveat. Since playing with the rod(s), that’s been the gist of my conversations – “The rod does this or that very well, but…”
Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at the…
Sage ONE fly rod… Catalog Specs
The Sage ONE is a 4-piece rod which comes in 22 incarnations of finished rod and 20 blanks. (The 691-4 and 697-4 are not listed on the company’s website as being available as a blank only option; these two having fighting butts on the finished rods.) Prices range from… *gulp*… $715 - $740 for the finished rod and $357.50 - $370 for the blanks. Rod weights go from 3 wt. through 10 wt., with various lengths. The 3 wt. is a 9’ only. Four and five weights are available in 8’ 6”, 9’, 9’ 6”, and 10’ lengths. The 6 wt. category has the most variety, with 5 offerings in 9’, 9’ 6”, and 10’ lengths; with the 9’ and 9’ 6” lengths available in both standard and fighting butt configurations. The 7 wt. and 8 wt. rods are made in 9’, 9’ 6”, and 10’ lengths. However, the 9 wt. and 10 wt. are only currently marketed in the 9’ length.
Categorized as an “All Water,” fast-action rod, Sage ONE rods have hard chromed snake guides and ‘custom tapered’ cork grips. The freshwater rods (3 wt. – 5 wt.) have “Walnut wood and Golden Bronze-colored aluminum anodized reel seats.” Six weights and up have “an all Golden Bronze colored aluminum anodized reel seat.” The rod blanks are the first Sage has ever offered in black; something I’ve seen referenced as “black ice” or “ice black.” (I gotta say, whatever the specific color designation, it just looks ‘right.’)
Each rod comes with a “black powder coated aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion.” What the catalog doesn’t tell you is that the diameter of the tube has been reduced to a point where you must store the disassembled rod within the included rod sock in a specific manner; i.e., with the cork down at the bottom of the bag, meaning that the tips to each section are also stored down. If you place the sections in the sock with the cork up at the fold over/tie-off and insert the combination into the tube with the cork grip/tie-off up, you cannot screw the top of the tube closed. While this makes for a more rattle-free, tighter, more secure fit in the tube, it can be a source of dissonance for those accustomed to doing it the other way ‘round.
At this juncture, we need to address the subject of…
Without claiming to follow the entire, technical discussion, Konnetic Technology is, essentially, the use of a denser graphite mix, which allows for less graphite (reducing overall weight), a smaller diameter blank, and greater torsional strength. No doubt that sounds like a catalog sound bite and, in a sense, you’d be correct. My interpretation is that, in an overly simplistic sense, it’s the Aligned Fiber Technology of the Z-Axis taken to a different level with a denser graphite mix. The reason I say this becomes somewhat obvious if you read the complete discussion of “AFT” in that review, then note what Sage says about Konnetic Technology:
“Konnetic technology is an extremely advanced process; we’ve married the best aerospace-grade materials we could find with all new manufacturing methods and processes. The most difficult of those processes is our Advanced Modulus Positioning Systems (AMPS), the precisely aligns the bundles of high modulus carbon fibers along the taper of the blank for ultimate strength and straight tracking during casting. The blank’s dramatically smaller diameter and lighter weight is realized by compacting our carbon fibers and proprietary resins using our High Compression Molding (HCM) process, simultaneously fishing the 50% lighter all-carbon fiber inner core.”
In speaking with a representative of Sage, he said that after over twenty years in the industry, it’s the most efficient rod blank he’s ever worked with; with “very little ‘dead weight’ without energy amplification.” This last was in reference to an observation I made that if you don’t control your line, the rod will assume you want to shoot it all on the cast; i.e., with the ‘energy amplification’ he is referring to, it is very easy to cast a longer line than you intended. (More on that in a minute.) What the individual was relaying was the same, basic thought that is attributed to Sage’s Chief Rod Designer, Jerry Siem; a quote that can be found on Sage’s website – “The ONE Rod offers a more fluid transmission of energy from the arm to the fly.”
If we look to the key assertions in the ‘sound bite’ I made – reduced weight, smaller diameter blank, and greater torsional resistance – what I’m essentially saying is that the Sage ONE rod is another offering in the game of lighter, faster, stronger graphite rods with better casting properties. To get a sense for what this means, the 4-piece, 9' six weight Z-Axis that I got to play with for a couple of weeks which formed the basis of my review of that rod weighed in at 3 7/16 ounces. Remember, Sage considered that to be significantly lighter than the XP; which, the 2006 Sage catalog listed in the same configuration at an arm-breaking mass weight of 3 9/16 ounces!!! In other words, the Z-Axis was 1/8 ounce lighter than the equivalent XP.
On the other hand, the Sage ONE rod in the 9’ 6 wt., 4-piece configuration is listed as weighing… wait for it… 2 7/8 oz. In other words, with the denser graphite mix and smaller diameter blank (not to mention that ‘custom tapered’ cork grip – read that ‘smaller diameter’) and lighter hardware, Sage has managed to shave over ½ ounce of weight. As a basis of comparison, the Winston BIIIX, which utilizes a boron/graphite mix to achieve its lighter weight, in the 4-piece, 9’ 6 wt. configuration is listed at 2 ¾ oz. In that context, Sage has managed to bring the weight of a graphite rod down to almost exactly the same weight as what another manufacturer achieved by using a composite of graphite and boron; thus, partially, mitigating or negating the advantages touted by other companies utilizing such a mix of materials.
(Here’s what Winston says about the BIIIX ‘technology’ on their website – “Boron is five times as strong and twice as stiff as steel, yet lighter than aluminum; it lets us add stability and up to 25% more strength to graphite enabling us to significantly reduce weight over comparable graphite rod models.”)
From a technological standpoint, it’s an impressive achievement. The question becomes how that plays into the casting and fishing properties of the rod itself. After all, it isn’t all about the technology. It’s much like the line from Conan the Barbarian where James Earl Jones addresses the “Riddle” or “Secret” of Steel by asking “What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?”
Sage is well known for making rods which cast and the ONE rod is, arguably, their best in that regard. Well, except for the idea that this is where we start with: “The rod does this or that very well, but…”
My first exposure to the rod was when I took a 9’ 6 wt. ONE rod for a ‘test drive’ in the parking lot of a stocking dealer. In many respects, critics of Sage have decried the company for making great “parking lot” rods; i.e., rods that any tyro can cast in the parking lot of a fly shop, making them an easier or ‘quick’ sale. Okay. I agree with that – insofar as it goes. In fact, when the Sage fans retort that if they cast in the parking lot, they should cast on the water, my response is: “How a rod performs in a parking lot isn’t really an indication of how it will perform in a real-life fishing circumstance; complete with wind, no back cast room, tree limbs, overhanging brush, et al.”
If either side continues to splutter, I simply say that: “I’d better be able to cast ANY rod which costs that much.” What I mean by that is that I’d better be able to cast anywhere from the leader length to around 40’ – 50’ without having to ‘fight’ or ‘work’ to do it. That covers the majority of trout fishing situations; i.e., I don’t need or even want to cast 90’ – 100’ when actually fishing.
With such expectation firmly in place, I lined up with the 9’ 6 wt. ONE rod and proceeded to have trouble from the beginning.
No. I didn’t have a problem casting from 12’ to 50’ or 60’. I had trouble keeping it inside that range. (I’m not sure how long that shop’s casting lawn is overall, but I’ll stipulate that I was shooting line off the end of it with 3 or 4 strokes and a single haul. That meant at least 60’ on the longer casts.)
In the Z-Axis review, I stated:
“One or two strokes is all it needed for 50' casts; in fact, I had to rein in a bit to keep from overshooting the casting pond. Now, for me, that is a very unique feeling. I originally thought the XP was a 'caster.' The Z-Axis seemed to nearly do it for you provided you didn't try to overpower it as one is often tempted to do with many faster action rods… It bears repeating, this rod needs to be stroked, like a fly rod should be when cast, to get the full benefit. Remember, I used the word "thoroughbred" a moment ago. While a thoroughbred is still built to run no matter the rider, if the jockey handles it correctly, you could be off to the races. With the Z-Axis, when stroked, there is virtually no tip bounce, tracking is about as good as it gets, and accuracy is dinner plate-sized… Those used to stiffer, gotta be a bit aggressive, 'punch it' fast action rods, it might take a couple minutes to find it. Just think in terms of "taking off the spurs" or "sparing the whip" and you'll be in the right frame of mind.”
This holds true for the ONE rod – in spades!!!
I don't see this as a 'beginner's rod;' due to both the price and the fact that, once you find the stroke (where you really DO have to let 'the rod do the work'), if you're not in complete control of your line, the rod will simply cast it all for you. This is not an exaggeration and it’s one of those rare times when a new product actually lives up to its marketing hype. The descriptor you’ll hear is that the Sage ONE is a ‘casting machine;’ i.e., if you let it, the rod virtually casts for you.
But, therein lies the caveat hidden in Sage’s claims. Note what they say in their catalog: “Its fast action incorporates a built in sweet spot, making the ONE rod the ideal choice for experienced and aspiring casters alike.” Put another way, this rod is not quite as ‘forgiving’ as the Z-Axis. You must hit that ‘sweet spot’ and hold it for the rod to perform to its potential.
Yes. Those with ‘bad’ technique can still cast within normal trout fishing distances, more or less. But, you will have open and tailing loops, not to mention ‘trouble’ with wind resistant flies and indicators. It’s something that you almost have to experience to understand; i.e., once you get it ‘right,’ it’s much the same feeling as having just driven 5 mph over 10 miles of unimproved dirt road and then hitting a well maintained, asphalt highway. It’s the difference between Indy cars (the ONE) and NASCAR (Z-Axis). It’s the difference between a Lamborghini (the ONE) rather than a Mustang (Z-Axis). It’s the Fast & the Furious in the difference between the ‘street’ rods and the American muscle cars; i.e., it’s got speed, but not the 'brute' power and requires proper technique.
One of the keys to this is mating it with the proper line. With both the 6 wt. I test cast at the shop and the 5 wt. I ‘borrowed’ to fish with, the ONE was mated with a RIO Gold fly line (see link below). Unlike the Z-Axis, which seemed to do its best work with the RIO Grand (see link below), the ONE is decidedly more ‘tuned’ to the listed rod weight. The RIO Gold is the one recommended to me by the Sage representative I spoke with and it’s the one I’ve seen consistently noted in the few pieces I’ve found online (written and YouTube).
**Note: After having fished the 5 wt. on a medium size creek, where casting distances usually don’t exceed 35’ and are typically much closer, I contacted Sage and stated that for close-in work (say 30' and under) and/or with heavier, wind resistant flies, my sense was that I’d probably be better off with a RIO Grand; i.e., overlining it a bit. But, unfortunately, I didn't have a RIO Grand or an Scientific Anglers GPX in a 5 wt. to test that hypothesis first-hand. Further, I had seen this recommendation by at least one Oregon fly shop. The response I received was equivocal, at best; i.e., that it would ‘work,’ but that it is not a ‘recommended’ practice.**
As I said, this rod is a casting machine - IF - you put the right line on it (RIO Gold) and you find the stroke. In that respect, it reminds me of the Winston LTX; discontinued at the end of 2003 with the introduction of the BIIX in the 2004 R.L. Winston catalog. Softish tip. Stiffer mid-section. Even stiffer butt section. The LTX has more flex while the ONE casts farther; but, that's a Winston vs. a Sage.
The point is, one of the major criticisms leveled against the LTX was that you had to hone in on the right stroke. If you do, it shoots line well. (I know. I have the 9’ 5 wt. and, not coincidentally, it does very well in conjunction with a RIO Gold line.) The trouble is, if you don't find the stroke, and many didn’t, you were in for a day of open loops and 'dead feeling' casts; i.e., it still gets out to reasonable fishing distance, but you're kinda left wondering why you can't seem to cast today.
Roll casting doesn't seem to be the ONE’s forte'. It'll do it at short distances with a RIO Gold; but, with the limited amount of time I devoted to it, the rod just didn’t seem to WANT to. Part of this, I suspect, is the physically lightweight nature of the rod itself, coupled with the softish tip. Part of it may have to do with my applying too much ‘power’ and not letting the blank do the work; e.g., treating it like my other rods. It’s possible that overlining with a RIO Grand may have helped; but, as stated, I didn’t have one and I’m a bit dubious, given how tuned the rod seems to be for its designated line weight, that doing so is a ‘good’ idea. The bottom line insofar as this technique is that it worked; but, I’d need more time working with it to make a more definitive assessment.
Dries and small nymphs are no problem to cast; though I only used the rod with 4X and 5X RIO Fluoroflex Plus (see link below). Size 10 and 12 Wooly Buggers (see link below), with the 9’ 5 wt., required opening up the loops a bit. Indicators with the 5 wt.? Using a Palsa Pinch-On on small lakes with a size 14 nymph was no problem and, when I found the stroke, just seemed to shoot out there. Small Tipper-style indicators weren’t an issue either.
But, that brings us to the idea of how the rod performs while…
The same “Sage fanatic” friend who loaned me the Z-Axis used for that review, had obtained a 9’ 5 wt. ONE rod. While I had been hoping for a 9’ 6 wt. or a 9’ 4 wt. to ‘test drive’ on the water, he already had the 9’ 6 wt. in the Z-Axis, so opted for the 5 wt. Alright. It’s his money and since I was ‘begging’ (to borrow), I wasn’t going to be choosey. Long story-short, he was tied up with business and two associated trips for approximately three weeks from the end of October through the first part of November, soooooo…
I’ll state, right up front, that I’m not a big fan of fast action rods; preferring the more progressive actions of the Scott Pwrply/G Series/G2 Series, Winston WT, and even that of the Redington CT series (see links below). Until the last half decade or so, faster action rods were usually made of higher modulus graphite with a resultant, stiffer rod. Such stiffness has, for many (including some rod designers), become erroneously synonymous with 'faster action.' To mitigate such stiffness, particularly when it comes to tippet protection and 'fishability,' many rod manufacturers have incorporated a more flexible 'tip' section; thus, the expression "a stick with a tip."
In that context, my perception of the ONE is that it has more flex than (not as 'stiff' as) either the XP or Z-Axis; being somewhere in between those and Sage’s former SP/SLT (both listed as medium-fast) rods, with a softer tip, but DECIDEDLY better casting characteristics. Again, I only got to use 4X and 5X RIO Fluorocarbon Plus; so, I don't know how it protects lighter tippets. But, the SP's I have do just fine with standard 7X mono and the softer tip of the ONE did just fine with 5X.
In fact, it is that softer tip, combined with the stiffer action, which makes it a better than average “high-sticking” rod for both dries and nymphs. I encountered two situations where I brought this into play. The first was a small back eddy where three rainbows of about 11” – 13” were facing away from the bank; but, were only about 7’ off the bank under an exposed limb hanging about 3” off the water’s surface. The trick was to extend the rod, with about 7’ of leader/tippet out the rod tip, and dip the size 16 Red Fox Squirrel Hair Nymph (see link below) gently on the bank side of the limb without getting hung up on the branches. This netted two hook-ups; one lost and the other being the 13” hog of the hole.
The second situation was a circumstance where you had to flip the size 12 stonefly out along the bank side of a current seam and let the flow pull (not quite ‘swing’) the nymph into the quieter water along the bank. This was a visual game where the take was so gentle that the indicator wasn’t disturbed and the slow water meant that determining whether the indicator had ‘stopped’ due to the current or because of the fish was problematic at best. What you relied on was the fish’s reaction to hooking itself and when it started dancing, the hook was set; just not solidly and after a few seconds, the hook dislodged and ended up flying out far enough that you just went with it as a full back cast.
Accuracy? Once again, I’ll provide two examples. The first required an upstream cast of 45’ into a slip of current along the bank that is roughly 6” – 10” wide. Cast too far upstream or to the right and the current will take the size 18 dry into midstream, with the fish remaining placidly tucked against the bank. Too far to the left and you’re going to lose the fly or spook the fish as you swim to where it’s hung up. Complicating things is that you need to give it just a little hook at the end so that you end up with the fly drifting about 3’ downstream and around a notch in the bank without the leader/tippet preceding it.
The result? Let’s just say I didn’t lose a fly; but, that meant I only got it exactly right with about half the casts I tried. This led to missing the first take (which happens with just about every new rod I try until I get used to it) due to my shock at getting it ‘exactly right’ on only the second cast. The second wasn’t exactly a ‘take.’ It was the largest trout I’ve seen in this section in a long time come completely out of the water, missing the fly as he came down on it, and my watching the fly continue downstream in a near perfect drift. This resulted in a more ‘testing’ of the rod for accuracy; strictly in the interest of a sufficient sample size for the purposes of this review – you understand. (No. He never rose again.)
The second scenario played out along a large, downed tree resting across almost the entire width of the stream at that point. The roots of the tree are completely exposed as they took a chunk of the bank with them when the tree fell. This means the roots now sit approximately 7’ – 10’ off the bank; but, you cannot wade out into the flow to work around them, lest you spook the fish typically holding just downstream in the current closest to the bank. You then have three points to cast to:
A.) a slightly upstream cast 50’ to stream left where the heaviest current is emerging from the ‘top’ of the tree and will carry you down the far bank – provided you have enough slack to keep the currents in between from causing you fly to swing back to stream right.
B.) a quartering, 35’ cast to a ‘notch’ in the currents which will cause your fly to come back directly toward you through a relatively ‘dead’ spot that the bait slingers like to toss into and sit on the bottom.
C.) a 40’ cast to stream center, right up against the main trunk of the tree (without getting stuck to the trunk) that will cause your dry to drift into the ‘corner’ where the base of the tree meets the roots. If you strip quickly, the line remains taught; which it needs to be to feel the take since you can’t see the fly or the water for about 10’ of drift. The current will carry the line into the feeding lane you dare not wade because of. However, to accomplish this, your distance must be exact and there must be an ever-so-slight ‘hook’ to miss the exposed root sitting about 15’ in front of you and directly in line with the point you’re casting to.
Needless to say, the ‘best’ fish are found by availing yourself of Option “C.” (I know, I know. It sounds like I've been watching a little too much of a certain Gary LaFontaine/Dick Sharon DVD. see link below)
Now, what’s a fella to do? I mean, there is a review to write and the rod’s accuracy is a necessary component of that review. Right?
Let’s just say that Option “C” tends to reinforce the thought that one must control their line when casting the ONE rod. If you don’t the rod simply assumes you wanted to cast ALL of the line you’ve stripped off the reel and it doesn’t care a whit about how many flies you might lose in the downed tree as a result. (Nope. I didn’t lose any flies. But, I was very aware of the potential.) Option “C” also reinforces the consistency one can attain with this rod. I didn’t count the number of drifts through there that it took to get the rise, but it did strike me at one point that my casts did have a machine-like repetitiveness to them insofar as distance and placement.
It had to be the rod.
Oh, as a relevant note related to the fishing properties of the rod… Option “C” also provided the opportunity to get a sense for how the 9’ 5 wt. ONE rod flexes with a 14” Rainbow on 5X and a size 18 dry; with the fish insisting it would be better off under the moss than in the net.
The rod has more of a bend with a fish on than I thought it would for a fast action rod. It's definitely not a Scott or Winston in terms of 'feel’ and it's slightly stiffer than my Sage SP’s. Once again, proving that physically "light" doesn't necessarily equate to 'sensitive' or 'feel;' though, for me, it is decidedly better than the XP. In a sense, it would be ‘fair’ to say that it retains the ‘feel’ of a Sage and if that's something you're used to or you place more emphasis on the 'cast,' then the ONE has its advantages.
As stated, I didn’t get a chance to play with a variety of different lines. However, since I use the RIO Gold with a number of rods and find they give their ‘best’ performance with that line, the fact that the ONE seems to be designed ‘around’ that line isn’t an issue for me. Further, the ABEL .5 Big Game reel (see link below) I had the line spooled on balanced the 9’ 5 wt. almost perfectly.
Given the rod has only been on the market since August, no one can really address the concept of long-term durability. All I can say is that I haven’t heard of one breaking – yet. Sage does have an excellent reputation for warranty service. Something to bear in mind, however, is that the entire industry is cracking down a bit on “unconditional warranty” services. In this case, Sage is now offering a “Lifetime Warranty” with some conditions attached. I’ll let you consult Sage’s website and/or catalog for that. Suffice to say that the era of breaking a rod in a car door and having any rod company repair/replace it with no charge (other than shipping) seems to be over.
Throughout this piece, I’ve hammered on the issue of price. Let’s stipulate that $715 - $740 isn’t out of line for a major company’s top end graphite rod these days. For instance, the Scott G2 series now lists for $725 and the Winston WT is $750 on a special order basis. When it comes to comparing ‘fast action’ to ‘fast action,’ the Sage ONE almost appears as a ‘bargain’ compared to the Winston BIIIX which lists for $795 - $870. It’s right in there with the $725 Scott S4. Unfortunately, in the current economy, such pricing comes across as a bit steep if you already have a rod and are looking to upgrade or have a ‘collection’ of rods and are looking to fill a niche.
It’s also the primary reason I am loathe to label this a rod for “beginner’s.” I’ve seen individuals who, literally, don’t seem to be able to cast much past their shoelaces lay out $1,000 or more on a rod, reel, and line. If you’ve got more money than time and figure that technology can compensate for practice, then the ONE as a certain potential in the sense that, if you can ‘capture’ the stroke, the rod is going to do a lot of the work for you in terms of distance. It’s just that I prefer to have people learn on a more progressive action rod since it teaches them to cast. In addition, I’d hate to spend the kind of money we’re talking about on a rod to simply have the ‘beginner’ decide after dabbling a bit that the sport isn’t for them.
Hopefully, Sage bears that in mind when looking to their usual ‘cycle’ of rod series discontinuance and introduction. Why? Because I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I’d like to obtain the 9’ 4 wt. ONE (probably matching it with an ABEL Trout Series reel, see link below, loaded with the RIO Gold) for nymphing on waters such as the Crooked River in Oregon, the Gallatin in Montana, and a few others you don’t need to know about. I just haven’t come to grips with the idea of paying that much for a rod; nor have I figured out how I can scrape together that kind of money for another rod. Therefore, it may take me awhile.
Just the fact that I’ve kinda/sorta ‘committed’ to it, at some point, when I can afford it, ought to say something as regards my ultimate recommendation of the Sage ONE. In short, it may not be THE “ONE” rod I’d keep, once I have it, but it is one that is likely to find its way into my assortment.
Reviews Cited Above
Redington Classic Trout (CT) 8036
Redington Classic Trout (CT) 8644
Redington Classic Trout (CT) 9044
Redington Classic Trout (CT) 9064
Scott Pwrply (G) Series
Scott F (Fibertouch) Series
ABEL .5 Big Game Reel
ABEL Trout Series Reel
RIO Gold fly line
RIO Grand fly line
RIO Fluoroflex Plus Tippet
Red Fox Squirrel Hair Nymph
Successful Fly Fishing Strategies DVD
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