The Sage X was a disappointment for me. After winning all the awards at ICAST we expected a better performance from the new X rod. I think the tip is too stiff, although the X does seem to have a faster action than the One. Both the Sky and Cross SX have a faster action with a softer tip. And the Loomis Asquith was a lot better and a lot more solid at long range. I did like the light swing weight of the X rod, but the feel just didn’t seem to be there, especially at close distances.
This is one rod that you can order with either a standard uplocking seat that has a wood insert, or one with full anodized seat and a short extension butt that would be better for salt water use. This was the model we tested.
This is a stealthy looking rod in straight black, with black wraps, that are trimmed in silver on the butt and at the ferrules. I especially like the handle design. It is a full wells, but with not much of a swell at all in the middle of the grip, and slightly smaller in diameter than most. Sage uses one SiC stripper and the rest are hard chrome snake guides. Craftsmanship was very good but not equal to what we are seeing from Scott or the Asquith.
George’s casting notes: The perfect line – S.A. MPX in WF-6-F
Performance at 30 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
The tip is still too stiff and I cannot cast off the tip of the rod nearly as easily or as accurately as I can with the Sky or Radian.
Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20
I cannot form the effortless tight loops like I can with the Sky, or Cross SX. The Asquith also was better and more accurate
Performance at 75 feet: 19 points out of 20
Good, just not great. Both the Sky and Asquith were far better at long range.
Behold the supreme hypebeast has arrived! I have to give Sage credit, they do a lot of things better than other fly rod companies, including marketing, building brand loyalty, and scheduling proper production, which allows their rods to be in stock most of the time. Is X good? Yeah I think it is. Is it better than the rest? That is a question best answered by you, after you cast it. And don’t just cast it alone, be sure to take a few rods to compare it directly.
Loyal Sage fans won’t be disappointed with the X. We didn’t see a lot of drastic changes from the Sage ONE, but the swing weight got lighter and the tip is slightly softer. Out of curiosity we put a 691 ONE on the deflection board and it matched the 691 X exactly until the tip. I’m not saying the X is just a Sage ONE with a softer tip and added green tint but I found it interesting that the first three sections deflected so identically.
I actually like the 6-weight ONE better than the X. The ONE tracks better for me and still feels insanely light. For me the ONE got it done, and when compared directly, the X feels a little vague. I couldn’t get the tight loops with the X that I was getting with the ONE. While it wasn’t throwing tailing loops, it wasn’t magical either.
We have been waiting a long time for Sage to bring that magical rod to the table. I know they have it in them, (the Sage LL 389, the TCX 12’6” 7-weight “Deathstar” are two of my favorite rods). At the same time, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and tell you it’s the best rod out there, especially since I feel other rods outperform it.
The one thing I will say is that Sage has the grip shape down perfectly, and the swing weight does feel amazingly light. I like how the reel seat says 6 on it, which allows you to find it right away if you have other Sage rods in the boat. You can choose either fighting butt or not; it is nice to have the option.
On the rods we were sent there is some sloppy epoxy work (too much epoxy on the guides) which doesn’t seem right for a nearly $900 rod. Moreover the snake guides use thick wire (and are likely heavier) compared to snake guides on other top rods. Although the cork shape is probably the best shape in the shootout, I wish the cork quality was better. Also the reel seat compared to the other top rods seems “made in China” cheap.
Performance at 30 feet: 19 points out of 20
Right away I noticed I like the grip shape and the swing weight. This rod is going to crush it on the “wiggle” test in fly shops. The X performed very well at 30 feet. That being said, I was able to get slightly tighter loops out of the Douglas Sky and Loop Cross SX. I was also getting more feel from the Winston Air and Scott Radian.
Performance at 50 feet: 19 points out of 20
Smooth and easy to cast the X feels great at 50 feet. The rod does everything I ask it to do and accuracy is very good. However, a number of our tested rods simply out performed it. I also felt the NRX, Radian, H2, and Zephrus had more feel as well as the capability to throw tighter loops.
Performance at 75 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
Again a solid performance but others were better. I expected the X to do a little better here since the ONE and Method have been fantastic at long range. The slightly softer tip on the X does have a price, which is less power in the wind or for the long bomb.
I honestly had high hopes for the Sage X to win the shootout. With the media hype surrounding the rod I thought it was a shoo-in. It did not perform as well as I had hoped but it was not a bad rod by any means. I did really enjoy the Sage X at all distances. Not one distance stood out above the other. For me, it was the only rod in the shootout that performed equally at all three distances.
Logan’s Casting Notes:
Performance at 30 feet: 18 points out of 20
The Sage X was good at 30 feet. I just preferred a lot of the other rods at this distance.
Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20
At 50 feet the Sage X still felt the same. It was not improving, like the Asquith, or worsening, like the Air. I was able to make tight loops and accurately hit the plate on a consistent basis.
Performance at 75 feet: 18 points out of 20
When casting at 75 feet I felt the same things in the Sage X as I did at 50 feet and at 30 feet. I was actually able to get a few really good casts at 75 feet.
The first thing that I noticed when picking the rod up is the good fit of the grip in my hand. I have smaller hands and find that the Sage grips are really comfortable giving me great control over what the rods doing.
The Tip of the X is just too stiff. There is no sensitivity and its hard to tell where the fly will land. If you do manage to hit the mark it will still probably be for naught because the tip splashes the line down so aggressively. A heavy in hand feel doesn’t help it’s case for accuracy or feel.
The X cast pretty well at this distance, it picked up a little bit of accuracy and had no trouble with the length of the cast. It feels really heavy though which takes a lot of the feel away and will tire you out by the end of the day.
It had the power to hit the long targets but accuracy was way down and making long casts over and over would be tiring.