Scheduled for replacement March/April 2022.
The X rod’s 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.
Here is what Australian fly fishing champion, Christopher Bassano says about the 9' 6" #5 weight.
I don’t like writing reviews on anything until I have given them a good ‘working over’. Reading a review soon after a product has been released is actually quite frustrating because they either regurgitate what the company has said about the product on their promotional spiel or, it simply describes someone’s first impressions.
I have now been using the Sage X, 9’6” #5 for well over a year and while my first impressions were good, my thoughts at the time would not have done this rod justice.
I first came across this rod while competition fishing on a lake in Tasmania’s highlands. It was early in the season and my female boat partner, Jane, had the rod rigged up in the boat with a sinking line on it. She kindly past the rod to me before we left the boat ramp so that I could ‘feel’ it. It was very light and unlike a few of Sage’s more recent rods, it felt a bit more responsive. I was pleasantly surprised but there was no time to delve any deeper as we had to get fishing. My curiosity in its performance was heightened when Jane starting making lovely casts and covering plenty of water with a heavy, two fly rig, long leader and fast sinking line. These sorts of things are usually in the realm of a ten foot six or seven weight. She fished very well for the entire session and while this was very much due to her skill as an angler, the way the rod performed was exceptional and led me to purchase one soon afterward.
The rod had already proven itself to me as a lightweight boat rod that could clearly be used for pulling wet flies. I knew from the action of the rod that it would also make a fantastic boat, dry fly rod and it did not disappoint me when, on my first (and subsequent) trip, I was able to deliver fast, accurate casts with three dry flies on a 15+ foot long leader. The rod was smooth and required very little ‘driving’. I couldn’t help but feel as though this rod was a very light weight version of the Z-Axis that Sage had previously manufactured. They seemed to have gone away from making wonderful casting rods and made a brilliant ‘fishing’ rod. There is a distinct difference!
The rod seemed to track very straight with very little side to side movement of the rod tip and even less ‘bounce’ in the tip after the stop.
The rod certainly had the tick of approval from me as a light weight boat rod. To be a good boat rod, a rod needs to be longer than the standard nine foot rod that most anglers use while wading. This is due to the amount of line that you need to pick up at once and the spacings between your flies when fishing from a boat – but this is for another article! The longer the rod, the less accurate your casting usually is so there should be a fair bit of compromise if I was going to use this rod for wade polaroiding. My curiosity again got the better of me and I took the rod out to Tasmania’s western lakes and tested out, casting into a very strong head wind. It passed with flying colours. I had replaced my long bellied floating line (SA Expert Distance or Trout) that I use on the boat for a shorter, more aggressive front taper (SA MPX) and I was able to deliver fast, accurate casts at short distance with ease. It is amazing how much difference it makes to a rod when you change line tapers. It was a pleasure to use and I didn’t feel as though I was compromising very much by using a rod that was six inches longer.
Up to this point, I was more than impressed, but it got better. I found myself in New Zealand last November and took this rod along with a few of my competition nymphing and dry rods. The 9’6” #5 Sage X has “New Zealand nymph under dry” fly fishing written all over it from the moment you pick it up and so it proved. It helped me to deliver large flies with heavy nymphs at distance and performed equally as well as a single dry fly rod while at the same time, protecting lighter tippets than most people fish with.
All of this sounds pretty impressive so far and so it should but the best was yet to come. I had driven two hours south from my home in northern Tasmania to work and fish around the Tyenna River. On arrival, I realised that I had left all of my rods at home except my Sage X. I was not impressed as the river was a good height for short line ‘euro style’ nymphing and my favourite rods for this style of fishing were at the other end of the state. I started to set the rod up with a nymph under dry rig, knowing that it was not going to work very well due to where the trout were going to be holding. I hate knowing that I am not doing something properly and thought I may as well give the ‘euro nymphing’ a go just so that I could say that I had tried it with this rod. Out came the #0 - #3 fly line and on went a couple of nymphs.
Fishing the first run, I was surprised how accurate the rod was. I had also expected it to be far too stiff to deliver the flies well but even using beads under 3mm in size, the rod handles it well. The light nature of the rod also enabled me to keep my arm away from my body while fishing, giving me better drifts. I would be lying if I said that it was the perfect rod for this sort of fishing but it was better than ‘passable’. I varied my tippet diameter to see where the lower limit was when using this rod and was comfortable using .12 mm tippet without breaking any fish off. Of course, the heavier the flies I used, the better this rod performed and I would be happy to use it when nymphing with anything but the lightest of flies. Fishing with heavy flies in New Zealand, this rod would be fantastic! Yes, some extra length would be helpful if I was going to do it seriously but the fact is, you can use it for this sort of fishing if you need to.
I could go on about how the rod looks and what sort of tube it comes in but there is nothing out of the ordinary to say here. It is of the quality you would expect from the world’s best rod manufacturer. Having been impressed by the Sage X 9’6” #5, I purchased a 10’ #6 and have been equally impressed with this rod although it has fewer applications. It’s shorter, lighter, family member is arguably the most adaptable rod I have ever fished with. Yes, there are compromises everywhere when you want to purchase one rod to do multiple tasks but with the Sage X, 9’6” #5, the compromises are much negligible. I have always got frustrated when asked ‘What rod should I buy?’ by people who then go on to list the multitude of fishing styles that they do, expecting that ‘one size fits all’. Well now we have the answer. For this reason and this reason alone, the discussion has turned to, ‘Is this the world’s best rod?”
Christopher Bassano - Current Australian fly fishing champion.