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Posts Tagged ‘Sage’

Putting the Z-Axis switch to work. This little guy was enticed by a homemade sculpin pattern on the 6110. Skagit short 375 and 8 feet of T-8 were the ticket.

That 6110 has some meat down low. I’m thinking it could easily handle a bit more. I got caught up in one spot where the branches of every tree were in the way. In that case 20 feet of skagit head seemed a bit much. A chopped up 17 footer or so in the upper 300’s or low 400’s might just be the ticket. Who knows maybe shorter and heavier.

Time to check the classified section of the forums and see what I can dig up.

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Test Drive: Sage ZXL

sageflyfish.com

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.

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This latest trip almost didn’t happen. Driving when it’s dark outside is always sketchy. Mix that with highway speeds and a pallet left in the middle of your lane and well…it was close…too damn close.

Prior commitments kept half of the crew home bound. Tuber has been officially grounded until early July [self imposed…a commitment he made to himself he can’t compromise]. Good luck to you but don’t think I won’t torment you with pictures. Jay decided he had too much work and would pass this time. Tuber/Jay…you guys missed out.

Sunrise

Stats on the local showed it holding steady. That brief interruption of winter seemed to have slowed things down a bit. With the flows holding and temperatures on the rise, it made me feel confident more of the residents would be out and about.

Armed with ice cleats this time, the hike didn’t take nearly as long. The pace was furious but it had to be. A late start insisted on it. No talking…just one foot in front of the other – over and over and over again. You would never catch me just hiking around in the woods. Let the destination be some water with a fly rod in my hand and no matter how far…piece of cake.

The plan was to start at The Run. Me and The Run had a thing going the last time and I was sure I had her dialed in. The numbers said holding steady but the looks of the water said otherwise. Water was definitely up. Plan B…work it from the opposite side. After about an hour and a half I quickly got the feeling she wasn’t going to give it up. Is it my delivery? Not like the flowers? Come at you from the wrong side? What? Maybe she liked older guys because she flashed Old Guy a quick look see. While he was messing with his line a big rainbow decided to leisurely swim by. Tease.

Not wanting to stay and wait for her to warm up I decided to take my game to some more receptive water. Why waste my best moves on a lady that won’t dance. I knew of a nice piece of water but it required a crossing. Fishing it from the far bank was out of the question. Even with the water up I decided to cross anyways. I figured early on I was going to have to work for it. It took me a while to figure my way across. Old Guy decided to stay on the other side and play it safe.

This particular stretch just has that feel about it. Good looking water. Tuber and I fished it heavy last time but I don’t think we came at it right. Spilling over a slight drop the stretch is very wide and stays that way all the way to the tailout. The stretch of water is also very long and can comfortably handle two. The depth and speed is consistent. Just fast enough to let the current do all the work once you rocket a cast out there. One mend and settle in…the current will do the rest. The depth is perfect too. You can’t see the bottom and what lies beneath. You are fishing by feel.

Starting out at the very top I fired a couple of casts midway out. My cast just wasn’t grooving right. Working too hard to get one out there. What’s the deal? The night before I switched out the 400gr for the 450gr. The 6126 should be liking it. Some streamside diagnostics and I come to a conclusion – it’s the fly! With a lot of speed around and on the forward stroke I can rip that squirrel out of the water and put it way out there. Not liking the feel of that I decided to switch to a fly with a more slender profile but with all the same triggers. Ohhh…that’s nice.

Three casts later and the tip of my rod dives into the water. A quickly haul back and immediately feel the head shake and panic. I look up to see where Old Guy is. He is waaaay over there. I call him over and see him quickly make his way over. Stuck on the other side all he can do is watch. A few quick runs and I have it in the shallows. A hen shaped like a silver bullet but slightly scarred on the sides, from what I don’t know. I fumble for my camera and am able to take a quick picture before she decides she doesn’t like the attention and leaves.

Silver Bullet

At that point I realize I’m smiling because I can feel it all over. That take was what I’ve been waiting for. It was unmistakable. She hit the swinging fly with everything she had. Right after the mend as the line was settling into the swing and the fly was starting to swim was when she decided to take it down.

I checked the fly and worked my way back up to the top. Stripping line from the reel I start quartering casts lengthening them out until I reach my limit. My cast is grooving now and I start the ritual. Cast…mend…settle into the swing…take a step. Repeat.

I make my way downstream about 5 steps and about half way into the swing my line stands up and the rod tip dives into the water. I set the hook and immediately the fish turns and heads for the other side toward Old Guy. I palm the reel hoping to slow the fish down as I watch running line disappear from the spool. I make my way downstream reeling up as much line as I can putting sideways pressure the whole way. I finally get the upper hand and I slowly work the fish into the shallows. Landing fish is always easier with someone to help. Solo is always tricky especially on bigger fish.

Not wanting to injure the fish and no time to tape I just laid my rod next to her and snapped a quick picture.

Long & Lean

My number must have come up because I would go on to repeat this 4 more times. The fish were scattered throughout and each one hammered the fly on the swing way out there and headed for the horizon at a burning pace. One sizeable fish I wasn’t able to land. The fish and I parted ways as I was easing it in. It was funny. We made eye contact and like that…the fly slipped from the jaws and the fish turned slowly and swam away.

Heavily Spotted

Old Guy managed to capitalize and hauled in his first of the year. Sorry about the picture. Tough when the camera is way over on the other side.

About Time

Not wanting to overstay our welcome we decided to move on and work our way back. With me being on the wrong side I was dreading the crossing. I scoped it out longer than I’ve ever scoped a crossing out before. I could see the bottom but knew from the previous trip it was already waist high with some cfs. It looked a lot deeper and faster standing there on the wrong bank. My backup plan was to walk all the way back to where I had crossed earlier, a good half hour out of the way for sure. That was the safe play. I opted for the other. I made my way to the very top of the crossing and slowly made my way across using the current to help move me along. Safely on the other side I looked back and realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

With the first half of the day going the way that it did I was content to sit back and watch Old Guy work the water. We later sat down for lunch. A short while later I managed to catch a glimpse of Old Guy in the distance, rod high. Packed up and ready to go I caught up with him and asked what that was all about. He told me he had managed to hook and break one off. I wish I would have been there to see his reaction.

Mojo

This setup is carrying some mojo for sure. The force is strong in this one. I hope I haven’t burned it all up…still a long season ahead.

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This year I added the Sage Z-Axis 6126 and the Nautilus CCF 10 to the lineup. Quite a sick little setup if you ask me. According to the stats so far, it’s carrying a lot of mojo at this point.

For now, I have it paired with a RIO Skagit 400. It worked well but I had some trouble launching bombs with a squirrel tied to the end of my tippet. I made some onstream adjustments with cheaters and various lengths of T-14 which helped a bit. The only way to stretch one out there though was to change the fly to something less bushy. It was amazing how much of a difference the fly made.

On the next outing I’m thinking of going a bit heavier to help lift some of those furry critters out of the water better. I’m planning to load up the Nautilus with a 450. I’m hoping the extra mass will help me launch that squirrel.

As far as specifics on the Sage…what can I say? The Z-Axis is very nice! In addition to the 6126, I also have the 7136. Both rods are very light and if you work with them they will work with you. I learned this one the hard way…trial and error and error and error. First couple of outings my casts looked like crap. Crumpled piles of just ugliness. Unless the fish were just at my feet, what I was doing just wasn’t going to work. Then I remembered how smooth and relaxed the big dogs looked on the RIO video. I mimicked that and WHOA BUDDY. I ain’t cured but at least I’m fishing.

The Nautilus CCF 10 has made the cut for sure. Loaded with about 150 yards of 30# backing and the 400, it balances well with the 6126. I like the fact that it has a silent retrieve and only makes noise when a fish is running for the horizon. Good looking reel too.

Nautilus CCF 10

What does it for me is that I submerged the reel in the freezing water for a minute or two, took it out and exposed it to the subzero air temperature, grew some ice on it, and it still performed. No fade on the drag. Tuber’s reel on the other hand lost all drag when he did the same thing, took him a while to recover.

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