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July 09, 2016 6 min read
We’ve recently gotten our hands on the new Sage X, and we’ve been incredibly impressed with it. There’s been a lot of hype and talk about this newfangled wizard stick, but we can say firsthand that it’s an incredible rod with a feel that’s not quite like anything that we’ve cast before. Sage has been at the forefront of fly rod design and technology for the last three decades, and has been crafting some of the best fly rods in the industry and has been a leader since day one. We were fortunate enough to have our Sage representative send us a 9′ five weight Sage X, and we’ve had a few days to cast it and compare it to other rods across the board. We casted Sage, Scott, and Loomis rods, all in a 9′ 5 weight with a RIO InTouch Gold line. Here’s what we think!
Sage X – My first thought when hearing about the X was this – how can it be better than the Sage ONE? I’ve been fishing a ONE since shortly after they were released, and the Sage X is absolutely a better rod. When I first picked up the X and casted it, I was surprised at how well it loaded at short distances and how much feel it had at fifteen to twenty feet. what really took me by surprise was how much power the X retained and how easily it casted at longer distances. The rod has somewhat of a ‘second gear’, and generates a heck of a lot of line speed without a whole lot of effort from the caster. The Sage X feels incredibly light in the hand, but has loads of power and can easily throw a tight loop at 60 feet. The Sage X is a very, very accurate rod as well. I’m no competition caster by any stretch of the term, and I could put a fly in a bucket at 50 feet pretty easily. It tracks very well, and that’s translates to incredible accuracy. That being said, it had a lot of feel and touch at normal fishing distances as well. Overall, the Sage X was the best casting rod out of all of those we casted, and was the most enjoyable to cast as well.
Sage ONE – I’ve had a 5 weight ONE since shortly after they came out, and it’s been one of my favorite rods I own. It’s one of the most versatile rods I’ve ever owned, but the X knocks it out of the water. The ONE has spent time with me all over South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, and has seen a lot of use and has handled it all with ease. That being said, the Sage X puts the ONE to shame. I didn’t think significant improvements could be made to the ONE, but the effortless casting of the Sage X is the next level of fly rod performance.
Sage MOD – If I were only to have one rod out of the five outlined here for a Black Hills fly rod, the MOD very well might be it. It’s a great medium action rod that has a lot of feel to it and seemed to be most comfortable under forty feet. I’m a big fan of medium-action fly rods, and this one is no exception. It has a slower line speed than the other rods in this lineup, but for the kind of fishing that we do in the Black Hills it would be right at home. I also think that this is a great presentation rod for picky or selective fish. That being said, I think that the MOD is a niche rod, and wouldn’t be a great all-around choice for someone that wanted a 5 weight to go fish everywhere with. Sage Mod Fly Rods
Scott Radian – I’ve been a fan of Scott rods for a number of years, and the Radian doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fast action rod that still retains a lot of feel and subtlety, and I think it casts excellent. It fishes close well, and can stretch out to longer distances if necessary without any issues. Cosmetically, I really like the unsanded blank, and the larger handle fits my hand a bit better than a traditional western grip. In my opinion, this was the most similar casting rod to the Sage X, and was my second favorite. Scott Radian Fly Rods
Loomis NRX LP – I’m going to be honest and say I was skeptical of the Loomis NRX initially. It may have been closed minded, but I’d had little experience with Loomis fly rods and hadn’t considered them to be much of an option when searching for a quality fly rod. That being said, the NRX LP was very similar to the Sage ONE in my opinion, but definitely didn’t have the same feel as the Sage X did. It lacks the lively feel and enthusiasm that the Sage X has, but is a fantastic fly rod in it’s own right. It’s a touch slower than the Sage ONE, but still gets the line out to a good distance tightly and accurately. Loomis NRX LP 9′ 5 weight
A video posted by Dakota Angler & Outfitter (@dakotaflyangler) on
Sage X – Extremely easy to get distance. Excellent feel through the casting stroke. Rod telegraphs the movement and loading of the line extremely well. The X Rod seems to add power to the cast with little extra effort from the caster, making distance easy to achieve. Remarkably good in windy conditions. Casts well in close as well as at distance, making for a rod that works in many fishing situations. Very impressed with the new Sage X Fly Rod. The Sage X casted very well with the in Touch Rio Gold Line. After casting several other 5 weights alongside each other, the X was easily my favorite. For anglers seeking out a premium fly rod I would highly recommend the Sage X.
Sage One – I was very impressed with the Sage ONE when it came out. I ended purchasing the 5, 7, and 9 weight ONE rods. I didn’t think it was possible to make significant improvements to rods, but having cast the Sage X alongside the ONE, I have to admit the X is much easier to cast, lighter in the hand, and throws a tighter loop. The ONE is a great fly rod but doesn’t have the same feel as the X.
Sage Mod Rod – The MOD was very impressive. A perfect rod for fans of medium action rods. Great for small to mid sized water. When lined with a Rio Gold, this is a very enjoyable rod to cast. Might have been my second favorite rod of the group.
Scott Radian – I am a huge Scott G Series Fan, they are perfect small stream and mid sized stream rods. The Radian is similar to the Sage ONE in many ways. An excellent rod with plenty of power. We casted all the rods with Rio Gold lines. It was harder to feel the Radian load this line. I would like to try another line such as the SA MPX or Rio Grand on the Radian.
Loomis NRX LP – The NRX LP had a similar action to the Sage X. It casts well. Felt a bit heavier in the hand than the X. The NRX casts a long line well and loads well at closer distances. I keep using the word feel- this rod didn’t feel as smooth and easy to cast as the X.
Overview – All of the rods we casted are high quality rods. I could happily fish any of these rods, but if I had to choose one based on the casting comparison, I was truly impressed by the Sage X. The overall feel of the X is like nothing else I have casted. With very little effort it generates good line speed, tight loops, and distance. The Sage X is also very capable of loading at short distances and making softer presentations.
Overall, I was very impressed with all of the rods that we casted, and they all have their time and place where they each excel. However, I feel that in the versatility department the Sage X definitely wins. The X feels just at home fishing small dries at fifteen feet as it does throwing indicator rigs at forty. It’s very effortless to cast, and creates loads of line speed with little effort from the caster. Hans and I fished the X a couple days ago, here’s a link to his post – Fishing the Sage X. I didn’t think they could improve much on the Sage ONE, but they definitely did with the Sage X! At $895, the Sage X is definitely an investment in fine tackle, but it’s a rod that I could see myself fishing for many years to come.
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