Duranglers Sage X Fly Rod Review
So here is where I am at: the Sage Z-Axis (for me) is the rod by which all other Sage rods are measured. The Z-Axis 9′ 5 weight was the first high end rod I ever owned; which I still fish to this day. It is not an “old” or “classic” rod by any means; but it is not a “new” design either. It is the rod that brought me into the realm of fast action trout fishing sticks. Some anglers swear by the classic XP, others the SP…and both rods have their own cult followings. I have cast and fished the XP and SP, and while do like how both fish…they never were “my rod”. Maybe in a few years I will be one of those cult following Z-Axis fanatics who harp on how “Generation 5 was the best graphite Sage ever used”. I also hope when I do this, I am a grumpy old man on a porch yelling it as kids that ride by on their bikes.
So when the Z-Axis was replaced by the Sage ONE, I was a little sad to see a good friend be replaced by a newer model. A new model that I reluctantly accepted, but secretly was a slightly annoyed with. I never grew to love the 5 weight ONE like I did the 5 weight Z-Axis, it never had that “something special” for me. Don’t get me wrong, the ONE is laser accurate and an absolute casting machine; but for whatever reason I just liked my Z better. Even though both are fast action rods, the Z-Axis just has a slightly more sensitive tip.
(That being said: I think the Sage ONE 6 weight beats out the Sage Z-Axis 6 weight. Go figure. It’s just my humble opinion that best 6 weight ever created happens to be the ONE.)
But I digress…and I am taking up a lot of words to get to the actual point of this post: a Sage X fly rod review.
So with the Z-Axis as the standard of measure, I set forth in a world where rods and rod technology are constantly progressing and evolving. Along the lines of evolution, trends also dictate where rod manufacturers take their rods. If fast action rods are selling better than slower action rods, you better believe companies will invest more in fast action rods. This is a world where vetran and startup companies are constantly pushing the envelope of what can be done with fly rod technology. A lot of these rods are great, but to me, they have not measured up to the 5 weight Z-Axis standard of measure.
(It should be noted, if you have not figured it out by now, that this fly rod review is very subjective.)
So, along comes the Sage X. Sage’s newest flagship rod. The X: Roman numeral for 10, is indeed Sage’s tenth flagship fly rod. I have heard some balk and even scoff at the idea that Sage would replace such a fantastic rod as the ONE. I say it was time. Time for the ONE to go the way of the Z-Axis, XP, and SP. Put it down in the lore of great rods of yesterday, the annals of history. Give the ONE it’s own cult following, but bring on the future.
The X is the future.
When I first heard of the X and the “Konnetic HD” technology, I actually chuckled a little bit. The name ‘X’ coupled with the tech term Konnetic HD…It just felt…I don’t know, maybe over the top. HD? High Definition? Is the action measured in lines of resolution? Is 4k up next?
So maybe I feel the name needs a little razzing, but on to the rod…in Sage’s words first:
The X rod’s all-new fast action taper built with our KonneticHD Technology delivers greater blank recovery and a crisper tip stop – creating tighter, more efficient loops throughout all ranges of casting styles. This taper allows you to dig deeper into the rod and access the lower sections, shifting power closer to the angler. Decreased lateral and medial movement and vibrations in the blank result in a more accurate and efficient presentation, resulting in a performance driven, forgiving fast action blank – refining the synergy between angler, rod, line, and fly.
So in response to Sage’s claim, Han Solo:
Did I mention we were given a 9′ 5 weight Sage X to put through some paces during our Rio Grande float season and on our local Animas River earlier this summer? So what did we think? Tighter loops, yes. Accurate, yes. (accurate as hell in fact). Accommodating of a wide variety of casting styles, yes. Forgiving, yes. Cast bomber, yes. Light, yes. Roll casting machine, yes. Fun to fish, yes….and on an on!
I tend to utilize a lot of roll and spey style casts with my single hand trout rods these days. It’s a by-product of my love of two handed rods. The 5 weight is so fun to single hand spey cast with. Light, snappy, and deadly accurate. It just works for me.
But let’s get back to the Z-Axis standard of measure for a second and how I felt the X measured up. To recap, the X replaced the ONE as the newer, better model for this year. I personally liked the model before the ONE, the Z-Axis, a little better. And now the X is here. Compared to the Z-Axis the X is lighter, snappier, even less felt swing weight, and more accurate. I think the X and I just clicked, much like I clicked with the Z-Axis so many years ago. It is not a chore or a pain to cast in the slightest. It is just fun.
The final thing I found is, as Sage claims, “This taper allows you to dig deeper into the rod and access the lower sections, shifting power closer to the angler.” This is absolutely true, and a reminder of my old Z-Axis. While the X is a fast rod, it seems Sage pulled off the throttle just a little bit compared to the ONE. I think it is this aspect that really made me fall in love with the X. It has a slightly softer tip than the ONE and really works as a better rod when short distance casting or tight line nymphing. The ONE was beautiful when you needed to throw 60 feet of line, but to me it was not as impressive when casting only 10 feet. The X, like the Z-Axis, does both equally well.
Will the X surpass the Z in greatness in my mind? Time will tell…but I will say that given either option on a river today, I would probably grab the X.
This is all one man’s opinion though, and it might be better to get a few more thoughts before we conclude our Sage X fly rod review. I asked around the shop to see what everyone thought of the new Sage X 5 weight.
John: “My first reaction was that the X is definitely lighter than the ONE with a softer tip that gives it more feel. While it has a softer feel, the power of this rod is comprable to the ONE.”
Rob: “The X is ligher than the ONE and actually felt a touch faster. While faster, it had more progressive loading that you can feel a lot better. It is also very accurate.”
Tom: “Awesome! A little more sensitive. Sage has done it again and is leading the pack.”
My coworkers are men of few words, but it’s safe to say that we are excited about the progression of Sage fly rods with the Konnetic HD technology and can’t wait to see where they take it next. You can expect all the great Sage components with the X such as Fuji ceramic stripper guides, hard chromed snake guides and tip-top, vera wood insert with Stealth Black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat on 3-6 weights, and flor grade snub nosed half-wells cork handle. I am also glad they stepped away from the all black color of the ONE with a (still very dark) black spruce color and dark green thread wraps with metallic grey accents. All in all it is a good looking rod.
Thankfully, as you read this, you do not have to wait for the Sage X to be released. We have just received our first shipment of Sage X fly rods in the shop and they are ready to go. Stop in the shop to check out the X, maybe take it for a few casts. You may be as excited as we were to get this rod on the water.
How is it vs the radian?
From what have experienced, the X and Radian are fairly similar. The X might be a little faster than the Radian; but I would call both rods “progressively fast”. They both roll cast very well but are still fast enough to punch line into the wind if necessary. Honestly I think between those two rods, it would probably come down to personal preference where you would have to cast both side by side to see which one you liked better.
Let me know if you have any other questions at all. Thank you,
Duranglers Flies and Supplies
Thank u I’ll come and cast one. I’m from Albuquerque so there are no Scott rods here. I’ve heard great things about the radian also. In your opinion which one is better at long range?
Great review. I had a 9′ 5 wt Radian that was stolen, and I recently replaced it with a 9-5 X. While the radian was possibly my favorite rod for dries or dry/dropper fishing, I almost couldn’t stand it when trying to fish with any sort of weight at distance. After breaking the X in with four days on the Bighorn, I am in love with it. It is extremely comparable to the radian with a dry (perhaps even lighter and more accurate), but it also handles heavy nymph rigs and small/medium streamers with ease. A roll casting machine for sure with a lot of room to explore on the overhand. Definitely bears comparison to the z-axis (also one of my all time favorites).
Nice Jeff! We are really finding that the X does have a ton of power, even with a lot of sensitivity. It is a great rod. Thanks for your input.
Look for our larger model Sage X review coming real soon.
Any comparison between the Sage X 9′ 5 wt. and the Orvis Helios 3D??
Sorry, I realize this is a review of the Sage X. Nevertheless, what line do you recommend on the Z axis?
I really like the Rio Gold for the Z-Axis.