When Sage changes their flagship rod, it’s a big deal in the fly fishing industry. Sage is one of the largest and most innovative rod makers, so everyone is really excited to see what Jerry is going to come up with next… and then of course there are the haters, like my fishing buddy, who, when I mentioned that I had a new Sage X fly rod said, “Meh, it looks like a dressed up Sage ONE.” I can tell you unequivocally that it’s not another Sage ONE. Read on to see what this rod’s all about.
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The biggest innovation in the X comes from its KonneticHD (that’s High Density, not Definition) technology that’s buried in the blank. Not being a materials scientist, I can’t tell you what any of this really means, but here’s what Sage has to say about it:
“KonneticHD Technology is the next era in performance graphite rods. Optimizing our graphite-to-resin ratio, we have created a higher density (HD) fiber composite, resulting in lighter, stronger blanks which deliver unmatched recovery, energy transfer, and line/loop control. Building upon proprietary construction techniques developed for Konnetic Technology, KonneticHD gives us an elevated platform to achieve new levels in rod design.”
Here’s what I was casting:
Flex & Feel
I decided to change up our typical review format to highlight some of the things that are new and interesting about this rod. The first thing that struck me was the flex and feel, which was definitely not what I was expecting.
When I pick up a Sage, I’m expecting certain things – namely, a light, fast, rod that works well with my slightly-too-aggressive casting stroke. Heck, Don Green founded the company to create rods that never ran out of “power”. The ONE (and even more so, the Method) loved to be pushed hard. The bigger your double haul, the better it casts. This isn’t necessarily the case with the Sage X. If I pulled too hard on my double haul, the rod seemed to overload. With that said, the rod also didn’t need to be double hauled. It practically casts itself.
Another area where the X surprised me is in presentation. Where the ONE was a blunt instrument, the X presents a dry fly softly and subtly – a great thing for you dry fly enthusiasts out there.
Fit and Finish
Sage made some very minor changes to the aesthetics of the rod – namely they changed the reel seat. It looks nice and the engraving does make it easier to determine which rod you’re grabbing off the rack. Other than that, the fit and finish of the Sage X is just like any other Sage rod. It’s great, but don’t expect any ultra-high end components or alignment dots. One thing that I do like is the standardization of the grip. Every new Sage rod comes with their snub-nosed half-wells grip, which is one of the best and most comfortable you’ll see anywhere.
The new Sage X is slightly lighter than the ONE. Unfortunately, most of this weight was removed from the handle where it doesn’t matter and the tip is fairly similar in weight to most other high performance rods (the last 3 sections of the X are identical in weight to the Fenwick Aetos, for example). This means that when you put a lightweight reel on it, the balance is off, but only slightly.
The Sage X will give intermediate casters more distance; however it’s not the cannon of its predecessors.
As you’ve probably gathered from this review, it took me a little while to get used to the Sage X. Once I did, however, I realized that the X is fantastically accurate at 30’. That was quite a shock, since the ONE was terrible at short distances.
As I moved further away, performance was both great and somewhat confusing. At 45’, I would normally employ a double haul to increase line speed and accuracy, when I did this, accuracy suffered. But as I mentioned before, the X doesn’t like to get pushed hard, so when I laid off my usual aggressive double haul, the rod performed marvelously. Again, the rod casts itself.
The story is much the same at 60’, but I felt like the rod didn’t have as much oomph as some of the faster rods like the Scott Radian or Hardy Zephrus. BUT, the power of the Sage X is so much easier to access that a lot of anglers may find it to cast further and with more accuracy than either rod.
If you were expecting this review to end in the conclusion that the new X series is some mythological weapon that does everything for everyone, you’ll be disappointed. Honestly, I found the rod quite difficult to review as it took a lot of time to get used to and figure out.
What is clear, however, is that the Sage X will work really well for a lot of anglers. I’m happy to report that Sage is making a rod for the masses. For the beginner and intermediate angler, the X will make you look like a better caster and will allow you to cast farther and more accurately. While the extreme minority of fly anglers who really needed a rod like the ONE for their everyday needs (let’s face it, not many of us need to make 50-70’ casts most of the time) will be a little disappointed, I expect that they will find solace in the Method or Bolt.
I was torn on line selection, but I liked both Rio Gold and SA GPX on the rod. Gold seemed to cast a little better at distance.
- A Sage for the everyman angler, finally.
- Felt much more true-to-line weight than the ONE
- Hardcore Sage fans might be upset that the action is slower than what they are used to.
- I’d like to see Sage add some high-tech components to their rods.