Jan 10, 2018

X Marks the Spot, Sage's 7wt Smallmouth Slayer

Bass fishing... I know what you're thinking, "they're just stupid bass", but it is one of my favorite past times and a ton of fun.  Hooking and fighting a bass on a fly rod is a totally unique experience, and something I recommend for everyone to try.  Don't get me wrong, trout, steelhead, and bonefish are all fun to fish for, but to many, bass are readily available and generally pretty happy to bite a fly.

Now, you don't need anything really fancy to catch bass, but that's not my style.  I'm a go big or go home kind of guy when it comes to fishing gear.  I like to know that my equipment is not going to hamper my success and that the only one to blame for not catching is me!  When looking at rods to kick up my bass game for the Columbia River, I knew that I had to go big!


Spring Cow fishing fast and shallow with Sage X 790

I will say, that after fishing the Sage X 790-4 for over a year, you would be hard pressed to find a better smallmouth bass stick.  This rod is crazy light and mega powerful.  I have never cast a 7wt with so much oomph.  I am able to cast flies I would normally fish on a 9wt with this rod!  And did mention how light this rod is?  It weighs as little as my older 4 and 5 wt!  It is insane how Sage was able to pack so much power in such a light stick.  The power to weight ratio is off the charts with this boom stick.  Paired up with one of the lightest reels ever, the Lamson Force SL II #3 at a mere 4.41 oz, and I could cast all day with no fatigue.

Featherweight Combo for Hucking Bugs

I have fished a myriad of lines on this rod, from floating to fast sinking and it handled them all with ease.  The line speed this rod puts out makes casting in the wind or with heavy flies so much easier and less exhausting.  And, as you might know, it rarely stops blowing in the Gorge.

This is a performance rod, no doubt about that.  The swing weight and sharpness make this rod sing, especially with the right lines.  It does feel slightly more forgiving and deeper loading than the Sage One, which is likely due to the new graphite Konnetic HD tech.  You can cast pretty darn easy with this stick, but give it a good punch and double haul and the line speed smokes!

After a year of testing, here are my favorite lines on this Sage X 790 canon:

Floating- bass bugs, poppers, float n' fly or fishing the top foot of the water column: Scientific Anglers Wavelength Titan

Poppers as the sun drops

I also cast the Rio Directcore Flats Pro when it got hot late last summer.  This is THE line for this rod in tropical locales.  Bonefish, reds, sea trout, whatever!  Load it up and watch it fly!

Intermediate- streamer- Rio Coastal Quickshooter or SA Titan Full Intermediate.  Both lines rocked on this stick, but I might give a slight edge to the Titan as it shoots better with the textured coating.

Fast Sink- streamers, crayfish- SA Titan Int/S3/S5.  You probably see a theme by now, but the Titan lines are made for a rod like this.  I even threw the super fast sink Titan S3/S5/S7 WF8 and this rod got it done!  That line weighs as much as a WF10 standard FYI...

Skagit- OPST Commando with 10' T-8 sink tips.  I have had a blast chucking this stick on little creeks for steelhead and coho.  The power and speed of this rod is perfect for the quick Commando heads.  The 790 X loved the 275gr head.

Sage X + OPST Commando= HO Slayer

A couple quick notes on line selection for this rod:
1.  Do not get a light line for this rod
2.  If you throw big or heavy stuff, go mega heavy, like the Titan, Outbound Short or Quickshooter  3.  For highest linespeed and tightest loops try a Rio Bonefish/Bonefish Quickshooter or SA Bonefish line or as mentioned above, Rio Flats Pro

As you can probably tell by these notes, there are some caveats with this stick.  This is no finesse rod, and my thoughts on making this a trout streamer stick are out the window.  This is a no holds barred, bad to the bone 7wt, not some lily-livered trout rod.  Line choice does matter too, and unless you are a great caster, overweighted lines are the way to go.
Bronzeback Love
For those of you curious about aesthetics and specs, here are a couple photos...

Sub 10oz rod/reel/line 7wt!!!

A simple, elegant rod finish, a la the Sage One

Hard to capture, but the rod is a dark black spruce green, not jet black like the One

My biggest gripe is this reel seat.  I know it is light, but it just does not fit a $900 rod
My thoughts on aesthetics are just that, thoughts, and I know Sage is pursuing performance rather than looks, but given the price tag, I personally wish they would incorporate some beauty into a rod of this caliber.   They make Ferraris beautiful, why not Sage rods?

Aesthetics aside, I have to say that after a year getting to know this rod, that there probably isn't another 7wt this light with this much power on the market.  The Loomis 790 Asquith is the only one in this ballpark.  So, if you are looking for the ultimate bass rod or bonefish rod look no further than the Sage X 790!

Tight Lines!

Ryan Van Duzor
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

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