A Review: The Sage One…

I don’t ever do reviews. In fact, I’m reasonably sure this is the first that I wasn’t asked to do. There just isn’t artistic freedom in a review, they are very black and white. I want to color. I want hues of blue and green at least…

It all began on a cold dreary morning. The clouds rolled in like a stampede of wild buffalo, charging to a place called nowhere and maybe beyond that. I walked the streets of Gunnison, Colorado alone. My footsteps the only sound. The frozen city slowly passed by, the lights painted their reflections against the ice. My goal was to fish the Taylor, -8 degrees pushed me away. The thoughts of fish flooded my head, but I knew I couldn’t, or could I? Pushing forward my joints began to stiffen and slow. The sidewalk pulled my feet down, begging me to stand still. I couldn’t. Restless, I moved just to move, I couldn’t fish but had to walk. I stopped into a local sporting goods store to warm up and there it was, emitting light from another dimension, or pulling it in from this one. I stared as the cold from my body fell to the floor. “You came in on the right day! We are having a sale”, a voice from behind me called. He didn’t even have to tell me. I was staring at my new rod, no matter what the cost was. Before I knew it, I was walking down the street with a Sage One in my hand and in the blink of an eye, I was on the Taylor. Still -8. I fished. The One wondering if this was its fate. Truth be told, this was its fate. To be used thoroughly, but never abused. For 15 years I fished that old Chinese rod, because I could find no better. The actions were too fast, rods were too short, fads came and went. Even frozen, the One still fought fish well, but still had no idea how it cast at the time. It threw 30 feet of ice with ease. After landing a few fish I knew i had found my new partner. image

That was February of this year, now to get to the meat and potatoes of the review. I love this rod with all of my heart. I really do. It will cast a mile and ask for more, constantly challenging my abilities to throw further. It is really amazing how well it presents a fly at 50-60 feet. Usually, there isn’t enough energy for that. You will also ask when you need to cast that far, I fish a lot of stillwater. With that being said, I use Rio Trout LT. It casts and roll casts very well, and with the energy from the One, it almost doubles that. The Rio line has never cast well under 15′ but the rod compensates a bit for it. A super fast action rod would throw a short cast like that, sloppily (like the horribly stiff Z-Axis). One of my favorite things about the rod is that it spans a distance of rod weights. I have the 5wt and it feels and reacts like a 4wt and it will cast like a 6wt if you get into the meat of the rod, it gives you back the energy you put into it. When you dig into the butt section of the rod, it seamlessly transfers that energy to the tip without that old school rod flop. Sage boasts that the rod is about accuracy, but i beg to differ here. It is accurate, but I think the rod has a lot more to offer in the direction of fighting a fish and casting. I can pull in a small 10″ fish like a 3wt would, or a 20″+ like a 6wt. However, without the drawbacks of either. The upper third of the rod is soft and quick enough to not allow a fish to shake slack into your line and the lower third offers the power to pull, and pull hard without a head shake snapping a 6x tippet. As far as everything else? The case is VERY small and another perk of its design. They can make a smaller diameter rod with the “Konnetic” process that also makes a smaller case. It does require a bit of a trick to fit, but the benefits of the smaller case are well worth it. Did I mention that it is black!? Now you have heard all of these great things, time for the bad stuff.

#1: The One takes some getting used to. For years you have probably been fighting that natural wobble in the rod you have. You won’t have to compensate here. This results in a lot of loops thrown a bit too tight.
#2: The grip is really short. I’m sure there is a reason. I found myself grabbing the reel seat of my old rod to cast longer distances, I haven’t done that with the One yet. The grip is right, but when you get into a big fish, you want to choke up. There is nowhere to choke up. Which leads me to…
#3: Be prepared to get worn out! Because of how it is designed, its actual weight/length ratio, its natural need to not twist when bending, and its low profile guides, you will work different muscles when fighting a fish. Be warned, a 20″ fish will drain you faster than the fish wears out. This makes things exciting, but at the end of the day, leaves you with a sore arm. Very much like bamboo in that regard. You can cast all day and not feel a thing, but even when it is a lot of 14″ fish, you will feel it. #4: You need to realign your guides a few times during the day. You will know when by your loss of accuracy. It doesn’t happen much when you have room to cast, but when you are laying out 30-40 foot roll casts all day, you might toss half of your rod into the river after a while.
#5: …nope, that covers all of the negatives. Seriously, there is no other con to this rod.

If you don’t already have one, get the One. This is the future of fly fishing that merged with the old school bamboo. It isn’t what you may think. It is so much more. If you bought one and can’t get it in the rod tube, here is some help…

You want to have the grip and tip on the same side.image

The other 2 sections should be thin side up. In the middle slots of the sleeve.

Fold over the top flap, roll both sides to the middle, and tie a knot.

Insert into tube knot side first, otherwise you might have trouble stuffing the knot in and getting the cap on. Be gentle while doing this, the tip has a very small diameter and is fragile!!!

That’s it!! If you have any other questions about my experience with the Sage One, feel free to comment.

17 responses to “A Review: The Sage One…

  • cofisher49

    I have no doubt that the Sage One is a great rod, as are most Sage rods. I’d fish one in a minute. But I’m still convinced that a “lesser” fiberglass rod of current vintage would catch the same fish and be just as much fun and half the price.

    And by the way, welcome back!

  • cofisher49

    Naw, you’re one of the Colorado crew!

  • Erin Block

    I’m with you on reviews, although ironically I’m trying to write one right now. *sigh. But you managed to fill this one with blues and greens…and I enjoyed it immensely.

  • Jim Smith

    It’s been 9 weeks since I sent my Sage One for repairs and it’s still not back…It can’t be repaired so it’s simply a replacement, and a slow one at that. The sage one is a slow action so-called fast action rod….I fish bamboo most of the time and the One feels like a bamoo fly rod.

    • backcountryfishnerd

      I always admire opinions. The One only feels like bamboo due to the ultra-fluid transfer of energy. I really wish I had cleared that up in the post. I’m sorry you feel the way you do about the One and Sage as a company (you don’t work for Orvis, right?). It is truly a progression of fly fishing that may catch on after everyone is done overweighting, czech nymphing, and slapping line on the water… When people are ready to cast again. As far as action, I really do not understand why you call it “So-called fast action”. The rod exponentially moves line for every movement you make and reacts faster than an instant upon loading or hook set.

  • kkh

    so how would u describe the action, fast? medium fast? how would u rate the action compared with the ultra-fast sage vxp? and how is it with dry flies? the sage vxp i have is great for nymphing, but not great with short and medium distance dry fly fishing. i joined TU as a life member and they are going to send me a ONE in about a month, along with a sage reel. i have absolutely no experience with sage reels, but it seems a little heavy for the weight of the ONE. i might put a ross evo on it. thanks.

    • backcountryfishnerd

      The rod is probably the most demanding of all rods. It is a very fast action rod, but the energy transfer is absolutely stunning. You can still roll out 60′ with the Rio LT line on a 5wt with a wooly bugger, yet delicately place a #22 griffiths gnat 15′ out with the right touch. It is a particular beast though. You might be casting for a while before you get it down. Mending is also a dream.

  • kkh

    also….i wonder if you have seen the 5 weight shootout that yellowstone angler does every year. they didnt have much good to say about the sage ONE. i guess its all in personal taste, but maybe u could check it out and see what u think. http://www.yellowstoneangler.com/gear-review/2013-5-weight-shootout-g-loomis-nrx-lp-loop-optistream-hardy-zenith-hardy-artisan-tom-morgan-sage-circa-orvis-helios-2-greys-xf2

    • backcountryfishnerd

      I did see this. However, this is new tech. People aren’t used to it yet. It’s like putting the first graphite rod in with glass rods. This rod enhances your casting strong points and compounds the problems. If you aren’t an expert caster, you will soon be. Oh, by the way, stick with the Lamson lightspeed or the sage click series. You lose the drag with the click, but it IS the lightest reel on the market and they didn’t have to make it smaller.

      • kkh

        Well too late on the reel. I went with the grey mist Evo. Partly because I have one on my vxp, partly because I get them for half price on pro form. ( I am a guide ). It works great, seems light enough and looks super sweet in the grey. Can’t really beat being able to get an Evo for $142.50!!! I’m really happy with the setup. I got the 1.5 which is the 4/5 rather then the 5/6 wt so its a tad smaller and lighter. I put the Sage 2050 on my 6 wt. Fly Logic and that’s a good match as well.

  • JOJO

    You didn’t mention which ONE model this is?

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