Tested: The World’s Best Fly-Fishing Rod
Bainbridge Island–based Sage just dropped the mic on the fly-fishing world
Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
In fly-fishing, your rod matters. And there’s nothing better out there right now than the new Sage X.
The rod, created by Jerry Siem, head designer at Sage, is highly accurate, can throw a pile of line across an entire river, and allows the angler great range when it comes to feel and control. Other fly rods have earned high marks in a couple of those categories, but not all of them. Put another way, the X is the equivalent of a top-end big-mountain ski you can trust anywhere.
We’ve had one of these rods on hand for the past few months—the X officially launches in August for $895—and we think it’s an ideal blend of Sage’s two previous flagship products: the smooth Z-Axis (2007) and the powerhouse ONE (2011). Sage, based on Bainbridge Island, Washington, achieved this balance by tweaking its proprietary balance between graphite and resin, the two main ingredients in a rod blank.
While we’re excited about X, we’re not surprised it’s so good. Siem is always looking for ways to improve an angler’s experience. “When I build prototypes and put them in my hand, I do it by feel and keep in mind the balance and enhancement I’m trying to create,” he says. “If I do my job right, you’re gonna want to pick up this rod and leave the old one behind.”
Siem also says he ignores industry trends and instead focuses on making rods for specific tasks, whether that’s a windy 70-foot cast to rolling tarpon or a 10-foot shot to a mountain brook trout. The X falls somewhere in between, with enough power for long, accurate casts and enough finesse to move the fly a lot when it’s in the water.
Near his home in Paradise Valley, Montana, Siem will fish, tweak, fish, and tweak until he lands on what he thinks is right. Not surprisingly, he’s already figuring out how to make the next model even better. “I haven’t quite thought of what’s going to replace the X,” says Siem.