Gig Harbor Fly Shop held a casting party last night for the new Sage X fly rod. In addition to the beer and impressively prepared hors d’oeuvres, the representatives from Sage brought a good number of X models in additions to other existing Sage rods. All rods were available for casting at nearby Skansie Park.
I’ve been casting long enough to know that it takes time to really understand how a rod performs in one’s hands (and how that may change with different fly lines). Last night provided an opportunity to cast a number of rods several times, but I don’t think the length of time was sufficient to form any final conclusions. So, consider this a set of first impressions.
I got to cast the following X models: 9’ 0” 5-weight with Rio’s Intouch Gold; the 9’ 0” 6-weight (with fighting butt) with Rio’s Coastal Quickshooter; the 9’ 6” 6-weight with Rio’s Coastal Quckshooter, and the 9’ 0” 8-weight with unknown line. In addition, I got to cast the Sage MOD 9’0” 5-weight with Rio’s Intouch Gold, Perception, and Grand.
Of all the rods tested, I really liked casting the 691 (9’0” 6 weight with fighting butt). I felt like I was having an easy time getting my timing down with it. The rod just felt right. The line shot a mile with almost no effort – though to be fair I think that was due to the new Quickshooter line, which I think I’m going to buy and replace my Rio Outbound line. The reel was the new Sage 6250 – very smart looking reel.
The 697 (9’ 6” 6-weight) was also a nice rod; easy to cast and powerful. But I would like to have cast it side by side with a 9’ 6” 6-weight Scott Radian, which is a great rod.
I can’t say much about the 9’ 0” 8-weight. I really suspect it was the fly line but I couldn’t get much of a feel casting it. And by the time I picked it up the casting area (with trees close behind) was getting crowded, with fly rods on the ground everywhere – making it difficult to put the rod through its paces.
The biggest disappointment – at least last evening – was the 9’ 0” 5-weight X. I was casting the Rio Intouch Gold, I could not get a sense of the rod. It felt light in hand, but I couldn’t get the timing down. I would like to have tried a Perception or MPX line on it. This model has gotten a lot of good reviews so I’m thinking I didn’t really see what it’s capable of doing.
The MOD testing was interesting. I liked it best with the Intouch Gold, but the Perception was nice on it too. And I think it was a much better casting rod, at least last night, than the 590 X. And for it’s moderate action, it could carry a lot of line and get some good distance.
As I finish this post, I’d have to say I think Sage has a winner in the X. But it seems to me that its capabilities are more subtle than with previous Sage rods; meaning that it’s going to take some time casting it, and adjusting one’s cast, at varying distances and with a number of different lines to find out where its magic and promise exists for the individual angler.
I plan on doing that.