what i’m fishin’

The rods I’m fishin’, the lines i like, and what I use them for

Sage 3110-4 Pulse (11’ 3wt)

I think this is one of the best Trout Speys on the market. It is no doubt the best “price point” Trout Spey that I have cast. It has been a great tool for chucking big dry flies during the Salmonfly Hatch. I don’t live in hopper country but it would be awesome for that too. Any soft hackles or smaller streamers are in the game here. I have it paired with the RIO Trout Spey 3 wt head, which is 265 grains at 22’. Attach at least a 12’ RIO Spey Leader or 10’ VersiLeader and off you go!

Sage 3110-4 Trout Spey HD (11’ 3 wt):

Enter the new Sage Trout Speys. Sporting the new Konnetic HD proprietary technology, the new Trout Speys have the same DNA as the X and Igniter series. Like the Sage Pulse 3 wt, the new Trout Spey HD 3 wt is the big dry fly/small streamer/soft hackle specialist. Is it better than the Pulse? It’s lighter, has incredible feel, and like all Sage rods with Konnetic HD technology, tracks staighter throughout the casting stroke, improving accuracy and efficiency. I have it paired with the RIO Trout Spey 3 wt head, which is 265 grains at 22’. Attach at least a 12’ RIO Spey Leader or 10’ VersiLeader and off you go!

Sage 4113-4 Trout Spey HD (11’3” 4wt):

This rod has a lot to live up to. It has replaced my absolute favorite trout spey of all time, the 4116-4 Sage One. So far, the new 4 wt Trout Spey HD has met the challenge. The biggest differences so far are how they load, weight in the hand, and feel. Yes, we talk about feel a lot in fly rods. But, since the rod is an extension of the angler, your connection to the line, the river, and fish, it can’t be understated. This rod definitely has more feel and it is lighter. But the biggest difference is that the new Trout Spey HD has is what I call “fluid power” vs “raw power”. The One certainly displayed more of a “raw power” quality. The new Trout Spey HD has “fluid power”. It could be the difference between a muscle car and a high performance sports car. In this case I am not driving the car, and it’s not driving me, but we have more of a direct connection to each other. So far I have tried a couple lines, the RIO Trout Spey 4 wt Head (305 grains at 22 ‘) and the RIO Scandi Body 6/7 (325 grains at 23’). Both cast beautifully with a RIO VersiLeader. The main difference and advantage of the 325 Scandi Body is the slightly deeper load which increases feel and allows for a greater fly size. I will be fishing this rod for Rogue summer steelhead throughout the summer and fall. If I lived closer to premium trout country, it would be my full time streamer rod. RIO does make a Trout Skagit Head, if you really need to cast huge flies and/or heavy tips.

Check out this great review by Marcus Mattioli at the Ashland Fly Shop!


Sage 5120-4 X (12’ 5 wt):

Sage really nailed it with this rod. George Cook refers to special rods like this one as those that had the “fairy dust sprinkled” on them. This one got a full dose of it! My current line-up of rods is pretty solid. It is hard to choose what I’m fishin’ each day, as I am blessed with some great ones. But, from July to December, the 5120 X will be in my boat every day. For starters, it’s just a joy to fish. Call it smooth, crisp, fluid, light or responsive, I say, “for a good time, fish the 5120”. I had never owned a 5 wt spey until I got this one, and no doubt I’ve been missing out. I’d find it hard to believe there was a better one though. Fishing this 12’ 5 wt is so effortless and easy and you will experience zero fatigue and guaranteed bliss.

This light Spey rod has a wide range of application. I will be using it on my local waters for summer steelhead. Other valid applications will involve Alaska bows, swinging for Shad, or any large trout streams on the planet. The two lines I really like are the RIO Scandi Body 7/8 (375 grains at 23’) and the Scandi Body 8 wt (400 grains at 23’). They’re both awesome, as your line speed choice is the 375 and the 400 will be the sweet spot for most people. Add at least a 15’ leader for traditional flies or skaters or a VersiLeader for everything else.

Check out this review from Marcus Mattioli at the Ashland Fly Shop

Sage 6126-4 Igniter (12’6” 6 wt):

The new Igniter series comes from a long lineage of high line speed, high performance rods, specifically the Method, TCX, TCR, and so on. Historically, this meant that these rods were really fast, or stiff, and difficult to cast. Think of it as the high performance ski that only expert class skiers could ride, like LIndsay Vonn or Bode Miller. The “castability” of this lineage, now the Igniter, has greatly improved. I have a few Igniters, have cast most of them, both single and two-hand, and I couldn’t be more impressed with how easy they are to cast compared to their predessors. The 6126 Ignitor is a joy to fish. I started with a RIO Skagit Max 450. Most 6 wt Speys will cast a 450, so that was the logical starting point. The line went out just fine with plenty of distance. It just wasn’t great. Next, I bumped it up to a 475, and hello! The rod lit up like a Roman Candle. It turned this rod into a Spey slingshot. The amount of feel and feedback with the 475 is incredible. I haven’t tried another line and really don’t plan to. Paired with 10’ of T-11, it’s a summer steelhead weapon! It will handle a fairly large “intruders” with medium lead eyes. I would consider this rod a 6 plus, maybe a 6 and a 1/3, which makes it a versatile rod as a 6 wt. If you have been hesitant to try this class of rod, fear no more! The Igniter series has re-defined the high performance line speed class.

Sage 6139-4 X (13’9” 6 wt):

New to the X series in 2018, the 6139 is obviously unique as a 13’ 9” 6 weight. The first line I cast on this rod was a RIO Scandi 400, which is 37’. I like my Scandis light and fast, as the 400 fits the bill. Add at least a 15’ leader and you have yourself a dart thrower. I’ve tried a few other lines on it, but keep coming back to the Scandi 400. I don’t claim to be a long line specialist, and therefore haven’t tried any longer heads, yet. I’m sure there are some other great options. This isn’t likely your first 6 wt unless your home water is a big river. But, with how light these X rods are, it sure doesn’t feel like a rod pushing 14 feet. As I experiment more with this rod, I will update my findings. Until then, the RIO Scandi 400 is my go to line for traditional flies and skaters on this summer steelhead secret weapon!

Sage 7120-4 X (12’ 7 wt):

This is the first X I got when the series came out and it’s still one of my favorite summer steelhead rods. At 12 feet, it is incredibly light in the hand. It has the horsepower to drive T-14 and large lead eyes. It’s short enough to thrive in tight quarters and smaller rivers, just slightly longer than most switch rods. Yet it doesn’t feel like a switch rod when casting it on bigger water. I have tried several Skagit lines on it, but my favorite is the RIO Skagit Max 525. The 550 works good and doesn’t overload it, but just slows it down a bit. The Skagit Short 525 and even the 550 Short work quite well. I don’t consider myself really tall, but at 6’1” with long arms, I prefer regular Skagit lines in most cases, as it compliments my length. Physiology definitely plays into line length preference. I also use the 7120 for winter steelhead, mostly on the smaller coastal rivers. Like I said, this rod thrives in tight quarters. And when I’m backed into a corner, give me the 7120 and I will step up to the challenge!

Sage 7140-4 X (14’ 7 wt):

Sage hasn’t had a 14’ 7 weight in the line-up since the 7141 European action rod, dating back 15 years or so. As you can imagine, the introduction of this rod was met with some excitement. Having had it couple of years now, I’ve narrowed it down to lines that I really like. Like the 6139 X, a rod this long may be a luxury and not a necessity. That being said, the 7140 gets put in the boat year round, for both summer and winter steelhead. For the most part, it’s a full time RIO GameChanger rod. The GameChanger is a multi-density sinking Skagit head, designed to reach the depths and slow down your swing. Built in several sink rate configurations, the GameChanger head features 4 graduated sink rates plus whatever sink-tip your put on it. Given that, it’s more difficult to lift out of the water when starting your anchor stroke. That’s where the 7140 comes into play. The added rod length gives you a more forgiving lifting angle, and therefore makes it easier to accomplish. I started out with a 525 GameChanger. If you stay compact and crisp, the 525 is lights out. I have since moved to the 550 GameChanger and it’s a little more user friendly and you don’t sacrifice performance. The other head I absolutely love on it is the RIO Scandi 460 at 37’. Paired with an 18’ leader, it’s a high performance, tight loop specialist. This is the set-up I have used in many of many casting videos, like “Don’t be afraid of the Single Spey” and “Don’t be afraid of the Snake Roll”. Sage Rep George Cook likes the Skagit Max Long 550 on it. Whatever the case, having had it for a couple of years, and on the surface seeing it as sort of a “niche” rod, I can’t imagine not having it as in intregral part of the line-up!

Sage 8130-4 X (13’ 8 wt):

I really need 2 of these. That’s right. This is no doubt the single best BC and Winter Steelhead rod on the planet. Like it’s little brother, the 7130 (which I don’t have, but should), the 8130 encompasses everything you want in a BC/Winter Steelhead rod. It’s powerful, light, and easy to cast. If I had 2, a RIO GameChanger would live on one and a Skagit Max would live on the other. Since I don’t, the RIO Skagit Max 575 or 600 is my choice. Add whatever sink-tip you want, within reason, and off you go. I like the line-speed of the 575 match, and when paired with a 15’ sink-tip, specifically the new RIO 15’ MOW tips, it’s a deadly weapon. I’ve found most of my clients cast the 600 a little better, as it slows the rod down a hair. No doubt, if you are in market for a BC/Winter Steelhead specialist, look no further!

Sage 8136 Igniter (13’6 8 wt):

If you’re interested in unleashing the beast, you better bring your “A Game”. The 8136 Igniter a serious piece of equipment. And you had better be prepared to harness it’s power. New to me last winter, this Igniter raw and mean. It might even be more rod than I want for Winter Steelhead. It’s most likely going to shine as a King or Atlantic Salmon rod. It falls into that high performance line speed category, and it’s not for kids or beginners. Truth be told, I need to spend more time with it. I have tried everything from a 575 to a 650 on it, and I have settled for now with a RIO Skagit Max 625. When I get new rods, it often takes time to work them into the starting line-up. For now, the 8136 will work as the back-up quarterback, the young gun with the big arm, until it proves itself against the scout team. As I learn more about it, I will update my findings.

Rods on my wish list:

Sage 7130 X (13’ 7wt):

It’s kind of ridiculous that I don’t have this rod. I have cast it plenty. I have sold many. It’s the most versatile 7 wt in the line-up. It’s an incredible rod. Mostly I don’t have it because I have many 7 wts and it hasn’t been a priority. But if are looking for a premium and versatile 7 wt, this is it. It likes a RIO Skagit Max 525 or 500 and a RiO Scandi Short 480 or Scandi 460.

Sage 7126 Igniter (12’6 7 wt):

The most legendary Spey rod of all time, known as the Death Star, is the Sage 7126 TCX. The Death Star is two generations removed from the Igniter, the Method bridging the gap. As the lineage of the high line speed/high performance series has evolved, so has the “castability”. I have cast this Igniter many times, and it delivers with the same authority as the old Death Star. But, it does it with a ton more feel and it’s certainly lighter in the hand. I have only cast a RiO Skagit Max 525 on it so far, and no doubt a 550 will light it up.