Product Reviews

November 22nd, 2004

Sage TXL 00wt Rod and Sage 3100 Reel
Jeff Winikoff

As a teenager growing up in Western Washington, there was a gang of us who were inseparable. Mike, Danny, Steve, Bryan, and I. We stomped all over Cougar Mountain, and one of our favorite places to spend a night in the outdoors was a little creek, which, at the time, had no name (at least that we had heard it called.) We'd head back into the brush behind Steve and Bryan's house, through Buttercup's pasture, into the old orchard, and down a deer path to the little stream (no more than four or five feet at the widest) I later learned to be Lewis Creek. We'd yank little 8 inch trout out of the water with a piece of mono tied to an egg hook. Slide on a Pautzke and lie down on the creek bank over the under cuts. No room for a rod. The arm was all that was needed. "It don't get any better than this," was the refrain. Unroll the sleeping bags, build a little fire and fry up the little buggers. Ummmmmm!

The creek is, for the most part, in a pipe now. Houses now cover the north side of the mountain, stacked in tighter than sardines in a can. But how I loved fishing that little stream. I still love to fish little streams like that. And thanks to FAOL and Sage, I have the perfect rod, reel, and line to do it with. I was the very fortunate winner of the September, 2004 drawing. I almost missed it, but that's another story. The prize was a Sage TXL 00wt rod, a Sage 3100 fly reel, and a DT00F line. Wow!!

The outfit arrived a couple of weeks after the drawing, after Marc Bale of Sage, e-mailed me several times to confirm my address and to question me about my personal preferences. If I recall, the finish on the reel and its handedness were the only options, but he was eager to make sure I got what I wanted.

Of course, on arrival, I immediately headed for the lawn in the back yard. This thing is feather light, weighing only 1 7/8 ounces. The reel comes in at 2 ounces. A perfect balance. I was a little unsure of the grip on the rod. Seemed awful small for my meat hook hands, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It feels great. I had the opportunity to try this rod at the Idaho Fish-In last September on the lawn. I must say that at that time it felt uncomfortable. It is not a fast rod, and I'm not the best caster. Deanna said, "Slow down, relax." I tried, but it just didn't feel quite right. I handed the rod to whoever was next in line (Z, I think). When I called JC to respond to the winning e-mail, he suggested that it might take a little getting used to.

Fast forward 3 weeks. I'm in the backyard. I have no choice but to make this thing work. I remembered what LadyFisher had counseled. "Slow down, relax." Words to live by when using this rod. I finally got it down. Put the rod away, quick, before I forget. I took it out a couple more times on the lawn before finally getting the chance to get it wet.

Veteran's Day, November 11th. A beautifully clear, cold day here in Eastern Washington. I had a couple of errands in the morning, but around noon I headed west to Crab Creek, a little stream at this point in its journey to the Columbia River, tucked against a steep break in the Channeled Scablands. Pretty desolate, but truly beautiful. There was not a soul around. I headed downstream with a plan. Interestingly, the wind was only slight. Most of the time it howls pretty good through here. Let's get busy.

My oh my! This rod is perfectly designed for this type of water. Tight quarters and spooky fish are the norm here. The creek is about 8 feet across (on the average) in the section I worked. It is very shallow in most places with some undercuts where the elusive fishies like to hide. I had rigged up with a furled leader I got from Kat Scott in Maine, tied on 5 feet of 6X and a size 16 red butt Adams-like thing I tie for cutthroat. This little stream can be tough because of all the brush along the bank (and behind you). The rod kept the line up well. One of my favorite holes has a tree growing over it and one must tuck the fly in under it to get to the top of the drift. It requires a pretty tight loop without a splash at the end. My forward cast gently rolled out and the phony insect on the end very quietly landed on the water. I was also pleased with the distance I got with the line in this tight spot. I couldn't let too much out behind without a reverse hook-up. I had to shoot a few feet out in front to get it where I wanted it and it performed perfectly. Only caught one little fish (LDR'ed, but that was my fault) and I had a blast!

The whole outfit is perfectly balanced. The reel is a precision piece of machining. Absolutely smooth. It's a large arbor affair which makes for nice big coils of line and winding up goes pretty fast. My only complaint is the size of the crank. Too small for my big hands, but not at all impossible. This is my first really quality reel, and it does make the fishing better. Don't have to worry about unwrapping line all the time. Really a jewel!

Some more specifications. This rod is 7'10", 3 pieces, and made with Sage's new Generation 5 (G5) technology. Ask Sage what that is, 'cause I don't have a clue! The rod has an uplocking wood insert reel seat and comes in a sock and a durable aluminum tube with brass fittings. The Sage 3100 reel is light, machined out of aluminum bar stock. It has a click and pawl drag and is designed for 00, 0, 1, and 2 wt lines. It comes in pewter or black. The line I got with the rod is a Sage Quiet Taper DT-00-F that Marc said is made by Scientific Anglers for them. Apparently it is the only 00wt line made.

This is a super rod for a special purpose. Having the right tool for the job really makes a difference. And this is the right tool for small streams and tight quarters. The rod is also very well appointed with a beautiful reel seat and beautiful, simple wrappings. I will be using this rod a lot. I love little, secluded streams and this rod will make the fishing even more enjoyable.

Sage is a sponsor here at FAOL. You can find a link to their site on the sponsor's page. ~ JW

Sage Manufacturing Corporation
8500 Northeast Day Road
Bainbridge Island, Washington 98110
Phone 800/533-3004
Fax 206/842-6830
E-mail SAGE sage@sageflyfish.com

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