“Ultra Fast”, But Not Too Fast – Sage BOLT Fly Rod Review

7 April 2016
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7 April 2016, Comments: 0

“Ultra Fast”, But Not Too Fast – Sage BOLT Fly Rod Review

Sage Bolt Fly Rod Review Duranglers Flies and Supplies

It’s official, I know what it is about these new mid-price rods from Sage that I love.

Is it the color?  Not really…but the colors are cool though.

The names?  No, not even close.  I don’t really like the names.

It’s the Generation 5 technology they are being built with.  Now before I continue with this rod review; for those interested, here is what Sage says about their Generation 5 Technology”

“Enhanced blank construction featuring a proprietary graphite hoop combined with minimal glass scrim. The result is a lighter, more responsive and livelier rod blank with a narrower shaft. The lightness and responsiveness of Generation 5 technology lets you feel the line load for optimized casting control, and enables us to continue designing new rod applications that are leaders in their class.

  • Unique graphite hoop material combined with Sage’s proprietary carbon/resin composite found only in Generation 5 technology rods.
  • Modulus positioning optimizes blank strength, responsiveness, and performance along the length of the shaft.
  • Enhanced graphite hoop with minimal glass and axial fiber positioning reduces weight, improves responsiveness, and enhances cross-sectional durability and performance.

Ok, so I haven’t lost you yet have I?  This information may mean very little to you.  Basically it’s sweet technology; lightweight and responsive.

So as anyone that fishes with me knows, I fish my Sage Z-Axis 9′ 5 weight quite a bit.  I fish it a lot in fact.  I have a good quiver of rods and access to plenty more here at the shop.  I just love the Z and grab it most often when headed out for trout.  It just feels so great in the hand and casts beautifully and it does what I want and…you get the point.  I love it.  The Z-axis was one of the first rods built utilizing Generation 5 technology.  It was top of the line a few years ago, but sadly is now discontinued.  The Gen 5 tech just does it for me apparently.

On that note, the Sage ACCEL is built with Generation 5 Technology, and I really like the ACCEL.  You can read my review here, but to sum up my thoughts on the ACCEL:

“…if the ZXL and the Z-Axis had a love child, it would be the Accel.  Not as slow as the ZXL, but not as fast paced as the Z-Axis.  Really a great balance of two fantastic rods.”

So after fishing the ACCEL for a little while, and after fishing the Z-Axis, ZXL, TXL-F, and XI3; I was just left to assume that anything Sage put out with the Gen 5 label on it would be something I would immediately dig.

And then the BOLT dropped, and I am sure you can guess my initial response…

…I didn’t like it at all.  Not even a little bit.

Along with all those great rods built on the Generation 5 Technology was the TCX; a rod I never really fell in love with.  I had fished the 5 weight version of the TCX and I thought it was just a broomstick.  When I cast the 5 weight version of the BOLT, it felt no different, my initial response was as such:

“I know some people will love this rod.  I did not love it all that much.  It is a very fast action built with Gen 5 Graphite Technology.  It reminded me of the older model Sage TCX, which I was not a fan of either in the 5 weight.  I will say I would love to test out the 8 weight BOLT though.”

Well, I got to try out the 8 weight BOLT this past weekend along with the 6 weight at our Fly Fishing Festival and I will stand by what I said.  I did not love the 5 weight all that much, but I did love testing out the 8 weight…

I also really, really liked the 6 weight.

Confused?  Don’t be, I can explain.

Sage Lineup

A whole lineup of Sage rods to try out, one after another. If you can’t tell, the BOLT stands out by being bright orange.

When I look at 5 weights, I look for a good, all around trout stick that works great for Colorado.  While some people may love the ultra fast action of the BOLT in a 5 weight, I don’t.  I would not grab this rod for a personal day on the river.  However, when you step the BOLT action up into a 6, 7, or 8 weight; we are talking a different game entirely.

These heavier weights make for a cannon of a rod that will work magic in windy conditions when you are hucking streamers or fishing saltwater.  While not something I would grab to fish a PMD hatch, the 6 weight BOLT is absolutely something I WOULD grab for a fast paced day of floating the Animas and throwing heavy streamers at the bank.

Step that 6 weight up to an 8 weight and now you are talking a bomber pike rod and a fantastic saltwater rod for bonefish, snook, redfish, and seatrout.  If you fish in the wind a lot, the BOLT is a rod to look at.  This is a rod for situations where distance actually does matter.  Long pike or bass bombs with wind resistant flies would be no issue.  While not a delicate rod at 30 feet, 80 foot casts will land with less power; especially if you don’t want to spook those bonefish or carp.  And when the game is throwing into cover, laser pinpoint casts are needed.  The BOLT is is a good option for those mangrove days of fishing for snook and baby tarpon.

And do you know what I found with the BOLT?  In these bigger line weights, it is fast, but not too fast.  I actually had the chance to cast the 6 weight BOLT next to the Sage METHOD and found that (from my perception) the BOLT was a touch slower than the METHOD.  Maybe I am wrong, but it just felt so right.

What else can I say about the BOLT?  It has a stealth Black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat in the 6-8 weights and comes in a pumpkin orange color that Sage calls “salmonfly”.  With that color, maybe I should reconsider my stance on the 5 weight.  Especially when I consider taking that 5 weight over to the Rio Grande and fishing the Salmonfly hatch from a boat.  It’s fast and furious fishing with big bugs where accuracy and speed are key.  This is the type of fishing for which the BOLT was crafted.

You know what else is great about the BOLT and it’s “ultra-fast” action.  It falls well below the “premium” rod price for the common man looking for a bug launcher.

Andy McKinley
Andy manages Duranglers Flies and Supplies online store and web content. When he is not plugging away in the basement of Duranglers, he can be found in the shop talking weird flies, throwing spey casts for few fish, eating pizza, drinking coffee, painting, and raising a family in Southwest Colorado.

His fly fishing writings have been published on blogs such as the Daily Drake and Simms Wading Room.

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