Product Review
September 18th - 20th, 1997
Sage SPL Rod
The Ultimate "Little-One"

Pick of the IFTD Show

by The Ladyfisher

Sage SPL
Standing at one of the casting ponds (there are two) at the International Fly Tackle Dealers show in Denver, casting a fly rod is a terrific experience. You may be standing next to one of the personalities in the business (we call them the *great and near great*), just a guy who owns a fly shop, or the fellow who designs rods for one of the big fly rod manufacturers.

I was standing next to the fly-shop guy, who was casting what looked like a neat little rod. To his right, explaining the virtues of the rod, was Jerry Seim, head designer for Sage rods.

Jerry is a real person. None of the pomp of a *big name*, he guided in Idaho, and fishes more often than you might imagine. A nice guy.

Eventually the fly shop guy leaves, and Jerry hands me the rod. "Try it," he says with a great smile. It is tiny. And it fits in my hand like it had been custom made just for me. I wiggle it a bit, and check the balance of the rod and reel combination. Seems very nice. A great share of the rods on the market today are pretty fragile, obviously this one is different.

The rod is so small that it was not a matter of throwing controlled loops to see how it behaved. I fished it. Well, I pretended to fish it. A half dozen or so casts later, Jerry hands me another tiny rod. This one a tad bigger than the first.

I fished that one too. I fished it on Nelson's Spring Creek in Montana. I fished it on the upper stretch of the Ocqueoc in Michigan. And I caught 8-inch brookies that leaped in the sun. All in my mind of course, but the rod was capable of letting you go there - if just mentally.

What were the rods? A "0" and "1" weight rod. Brand new, released at the show. George Cook, longtime Sage rep, told me later the rods had been in process and under wraps for three years. The rods were equipped with matched reels and special quiet taper lines. The lines are a mini weight forward which float high on the water.

Jerry flexed the rod, very severely I thought for such a small rod. He explained the rod is not made from the same materials as others. It is high modulus Graphite IV. (Most name rods today are made from IM6, seven, or higher modulus graphite.)

The rods also come in a 2 wt., all three of the SPL Series rods range from eight foot for the zero rod, 8 foot one-inch for the one rod or eight-foot two-inch for the 2 rod. They are great little rods. Presentation rods for drys and midges without equal.

Sage is calling the combination of especially designed reel and rod the Center Axis Model. The traditional reel seat is gone, and the whole thing feels totally different when cast. Very smooth, extremely light, and great fun! A conventional reel seat is available.

After we got home from the show, I called Sage. I had neglected to pick up an information packet or catalog on the rod at the show. I commented to several people what a terrific specialty rod it was. I had picked these rods as my *best of show*.

Then comes absolute shock. The price. "0" weight combination, including reel is $845, "1" weight combination is $850. And "2" weight combination is $855. Suggested retail. The mini weight-forward lines are available only from Sage at $45.00

What can I say? It is a terrific little rod. The price however, excludes me and I expect an awful lot of avid fly fishers from buying it. It was sure fun while it lasted.

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