The Sage X fly rod; much has been spoken of this mystical and majestic fly rod…with truth and fact being mixed with excessive hyperbole. Overstatement tends to be the nature of fly rod reviews, and even I am guilty of misusing the English language to talk about a thing.
Whatever. The simple fact remains that the Sage X is a very fine fly rod. Some love it, others lament at the discontinuation of the Sage ONE. Myself? I pride myself a Sage X fan.
Last year, we published our review of the Sage X 5 weight fly rod; and all my fanboy thoughts on the X are recorded there for your enjoyment. Check it out if you are curious about the 5 weight model of the Sage X.
However, 5 weights are not why we are here today. 5 weights are fine and great and wonderful for your local trout scene, but what about “alt” species of fly rod fish? What about going big? What about streamers and redfish and sink tips and pike and bonefish and bass and snook and carp and tarpon and America and freedom and maxing bench presses and Kevin Bacon saving that small town that hated dancing like a true hero?
Yeah! What about all that stuff I just listed that may or may not have any relevance to fly fishing? Well, read on and let’s discuss few plus size Sage X models.
Sage X 6 Weight with Fighting Butt
So maybe a 6 weight might not fit your definition of a “Plus Size Model”. Semantics. To us trout yokels in Colorado, a 6 weight is the starter weight for bigger rods and bigger fish. A 6 weight is to saltwater fish what a 1 weight is to trout. Make sense? Good.
These days, 6 weights are finding their way more and more into the hands of savvy saltwater anglers and flats guide boats. Why is this? Well, a lot of times saltwater rods are not chosen for the size of fish that will be caught, but the speed of the headwind they will be cast into. Modern 6 weights are being used to catch the average bonefish, snook, redfish, and even the occasional baby tarpon. Why is this? Well for one they can handle it due to the modern materials that are being used. For two, they are a pleasure to cast. For three, smaller saltwater fish in the backcountry are a helluva lot of fun on a 6 and can still be brought in quickly without overplaying the fish.
All that to say, modern 6 weights are totally radical. Massive digression aside, let me talk about using the Sage X round here…
First of all, as you probably could have guessed, the X 6 weight makes for a rather fantastic trout streamer rod. I have been using it to throw a variety of weighted and unweighted, articulated and unarticulated, floating and unfloating streamers; along with sinking and unsinking fly lines in a variety of flavors. The X is not as fast a rod as the ONE, and for this reason, I really dig it. It’s a powerful rod, capable of turning over heavy crap with ease, but fast action streamer rods always have that horrible jolt on the back cast that is lessened with the X and a heavy bug.
Along those lines, the Sage X 6 weight is now my go-to boat road. Streamers and big dry dropper rigs throughout the summer are the preferred methods of use. I am particularly pumped to use it this year for the Rio Grande float season.
One final note on the 6: it makes for one of my more favored carp rods. Light and quick, it still isn’t so fast that it blast line and flies into the water where more carp are spooked. In fact, it has a lot of power to throw line, but still lays line down soft enough for spooky bottom vacuuming carp.
Sage X 7 Weight
This rod is it, the “sweet spot” rod of the whole X line. I am not sure what it is, but more than a handful of our employees, guides, and reps found this to be our favorite in the line. The 9 foot 7 weight is the pinnacle model of the X lineup. It casts like a dream with no arm fatigue but has a ton of power to blast casts with big fatty flies. However, the tip is softer for throwing long casts with a delicate landing when casting to spooky bonefish and carp in skinny water.
Articulated streamers, sink tips, or poppers…carp; bass; snook; redfish; bonefish; baby tarpon; Alaska, New Zealand, or Patagonia trout; golden dorado…this rod can do any of it, and does it really well.
Sage X 8 Weight
So after a week in Florida fishing with Captian Jamie Allen for snook and reds, I have this one major takeaway about the Sage X 8 weight: it feels like a 6 weight. Seriously. It is so light and responsive and easy to cast that it felt like a 6. Not that it was “underbuilt”; it lined up with an 8 weight SA Amplitude Grand Slam very well. It also handled really heavy pulling fish with no issues. I personally thought that windy saltwater conditions were going to be the weak spot of the X lineup. Turns out I was wrong.
The X almost seems like a moderately fast action rod rather than a full on “fast action”. However, the reserve power in the butt section of the 8 weight more than makes up for the softer tip section. I had no issue cutting through heavy headwinds to make 60 and 70 foot casts to cruising snook and reds. It’s an interesting dynamic. For trout, a softer tip really helps on light tippet, smaller flies, roll casts, and mends. In saltwater, one would think it unnecessary and only opt for sheer power. That would make sense until you find yourself throwing quick short casts at 20 feet to a tailing red. They harnessed the best of both worlds in one rod I guess.
The softer tip section is also really nice when casting heavy intermediate lines and large flies for pike. It actually makes for better shock absorption on the back cast where faster rods have a really horrible jolt. Once again, the power in the butt section of the X comes through when needed to throw these heavy rigs as far as the caster’s ability can take them.
For people who find it tough to cast larger rods all day, or who deal with shoulder issues; the X 8 weight might be a winner for big game species.
On our review from last year, we covered the ins and outs of the Sage X 5 weight. After a year fishing the Sage X fly rod on our local rivers for trout, lakes for pike, and far destinations for saltwater species; we have come to really love this stick in plus sizes. Even 9 and 10 weights Sage X rods are finding their way into our hands when on destination trips to salty seas. Sage also dropped the 9 foot 11 weight Sage X this past winter for true diehard tarpon fanatics.
The beauty of the X in all rod lengths and weights is the ease of use. Sounds weird I know, but we truly would feel comfortable putting this rod in the hands of any angler, on any water; regardless of fly casting proficiency. It’s one of those rods that beginners can learn on and won’t wear them out in heavy weights, but veterans can truly use to their full advantage.