I’ve been getting by with a less than spectacular 5 weight for some 8 years now. The rod is nothing pretty to look at and is stiffer than it needs to be. It isn’t what you would call a smooth casting rod. On more than one occasion I’ve overlined the little 8 1/2 foot 5 weight with everything from a 6 weight to a 9 weight just for laughs.
Just recently I did a side-by-side comparison of the Sage ZXL and Winston BIIx in a parking lot test. Not much to gain from this sort of research but you get an idea of what feels good. I lined each of the 9 foot 5 weights with your basic Scientific Anglers GPX in a 5 weight. The GPX is actually half a size heavier and more of an all purpose line – good at a lot of things.
I’ve casted the Winston BIIx before and liked how it felt. Very smooth with a soft tip. Gives you that old school feeling…nice and relaxed. If it weren’t for the Sage ZXL I would have probably picked up the BIIx sooner or later.
After throwing some line around though, it was clear to me which one I liked better. The ZXL is very smooth from the tip down. It’s a little hard to explain but the tip doesn’t just fold into the middle of the rod like the BIIx. Don’t get me wrong. The BIIx is a nice rod and I wouldn’t mind owning one. The ZXL is just better.
The tip isn’t so soft that you have a tough time picking up a lot of line. With 40 feet of line out in front it just takes a smooth pickup to bring all of that line up and behind you. Once you get the line moving it just makes you look like a superstar.
A week later I went back to the fly shop to try out the ZXL again but this time I lined it with RIO Gold. That match up was nice. Much better than the GPX.
So…now I have a little dilemma. Me and the ZXL obviously get along. I guess I need to start picking through the herd and seeing what I can throw on the auction block.