SAGE X Series---7120-4
February and March is prime time for winter steelhead here in Oregon. The rods I use are 8 weights for two very good reasons: I'm usually chucking heavy tips or flies so the 8 weight rocks that gear and I'm often fighting a wild fish that I plan to release and I don't want to spend too much time bent to the corks with it. I put the screws to every fish I hook to tire them quickly because short intense exercise is less harmful to them. A toe to toe stand off can kill a steelhead, post release. For these reasons, seven weight spey rods take a back seat to my eights.
But angling pleasure factors into the equation as well. The latest Konnetic Technology has produced spey rods that feel two line sizes lighter in the hand, and that makes the eight weights sweeter to swing and the sevens, a little slice of heaven. The SAGE 7120-4 X rod is one of those unbelievable sevens that is so much fun to fish that the many eight weights in my garage are seeing very little exercise this season.
You might think that because the rods are so light they lack the horsepower to cast heavy heads. That would be wrong. The Skagit line recommendations for the 7120-4 X are 550 grains for a Rio Skagit Max and 575 grains for the Skagit Max Short. Those are lines typically used on light, deeper flexing 8 weights. I will supplement the manufacturers recommendations by noting that I don't try to jack huge flies with 7 weights because the 8 weights do it so much easier. But if I'm fishing tube flies sporting cone heads, light bullet weights or small lead eyes, the 7120-4 X weights works wonderfully with a 480 or 500 grain head as long as I don't try to bog it down with 12 feet of t-14. The 7120-4 X rod is a dream for bouncy water stretches and choppy riffles where the fish can be right at your feet or 60 feet away in two or three feet of water. If I'm working a run deeper than that or one with slots and ledges to negotiate, I grab an eight weight, a 600 grain Skagit head and a custom sink tip, (usually made out of chunks of t-17 and some floating line). Mow tips are magic for customizing your presentation with a heavily weighted fly in those slotted runs.
I can only imagine how dreamy the 7120-4 is paired with a Scandi head and small flies during the summer months. And with the right line, it could be the ultimate skater/popper rod. Stay tuned.