Sage 590-4X Rod Test

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We have been asked by several customers, “Are the Sage X rods really any better than the previous ONE series? And if they are, could I tell the difference?” With Sage X Spey rods, both myself and my entire sales and guide staff have a lot of experience. We know them and love them. In our neighborhood, anadromous fish swim right to the front door. It isn’t easy to get interested in ten-inchers when there are ten-pounders around. But some years there is a lull in anadromous action in June, July and the first half of August. This may be one of those years. So we’ve been trout fishing in the Mt. Hood National Forest, the perfect opportunity to test an X against a ONE in the 9’ – 5-weight size.

Fly angler Michael Marx tests a Sage X fly rod on Oregon’s Deschutes River.

In the Spey rods we use for anadromous fish, there is a noticeable gain in line speed with the X over the ONE series. I decided to test a new 590-4X against my favorite 590-4 ONE. I wasn’t expecting much difference. But I was surprised. My good friend George Cook calls it, "ferocious line speed!" To facilitate my test, I enlisted the help of some friends who had various degrees of casting experience. Everyone got into the game. It isn't often that you get to play with new, cutting edge equipment. How many beginners that have never fly fished before they get handed a Sage X and are told, "This is the rod you are going to learn with."

All the players soon lost interest in the 590-4 ONE. The X is just that much better. The tests with the X were recorded with compact video cameras. The attached video was done without a script or even a plan except to capture what ever happened and bring it to the public in a coherent fashion. The assembled video clips were done while practicing casting, and/or fishing.

Half of the video evolved from me trying to match the famous Sage Konnetic HD drawing of an incredibly narrow line loop being formed inside the loop formed by a rod constructed with older technology. Being naturally suspicious, I wondered if it was an illustration of something fantastic or real. Then I pondered if I personally had the skills required to cast that kind of a loop, even if such rod/line technology were actually available. I set up an appointment with my staff photographer for a couple of video shoots. In a couple of hours of using this rod that I had no prior experience with, the loop illustration was proven to my satisfaction with a bright colored fly line.

An illustration of how Sage X rods enable tighter fly line loops.

The other half of the video is of clients who are using this same rod to fish with. The first video clip is of an angler who has a lot of experience casting, but is bucking a ferocious wind. The sequence is within his first dozen casts with the 590-4X.

The final casting segment is of a student who has never cast a fly rod before the day of the shoot. She has had about a total of two hours of casting and fly fishing instruction. This is her first time ever fly fishing experience. It is easy to believe that the better the tackle, the easier it is to learn with.

The 590-4X is quite probably the best rod of its size for anglers of all experience levels.The casting accuracy an angler can generate with this rod is phenomenal. Even more amazing, is how little physical energy it takes to do so. But the most amazing thing about this rod is how you can feel the energy flow within the rod itself. The ONE rods have connectivity through the surface of your skin. The X rods feel like they communicate directly with your nervous system, and give you intimate control over your ability to store and release energy within the rod during any cast. How a rod transmits feel to the caster is of utmost consideration.

Mark Bachmann fishing for trout on the Salmon River in Oregon with a Sage 590-4X fly rod.

During my tests, three different weight-forward fly lines were used. These lines were made by RIO, Airflo and TFO. The lines were selected for color rather than taper or weight. They all performed well enough. However, there is a probably a magic line out there that will take the 590-4 to an even higher level of performance. The line that we used the most was very conventional in design.

This is Jenna’s first time casting with a fly rod. She is using a Sage 590-4X rod.

Although my experience with the subject is somewhat biased, I believe that people learn faster with the best gear. Inexperienced anglers learn faster with rods that deliver consistent performance. They also learn easiest with rods that transmit the most feel. Most instructors automatically believe that softer rods that bend the most, deliver the most feel. After using the 590-4X rod for several days, I would submit that this theory about rods needs some more research.

Mark Bachmann Releasing a trout caught, while using a Sage 590-4X fly rod.

How a rod transmits feel is also an important aspect when it comes to feeling fish bite while you are fishing nymphs. That is research I am always willing to participate in.

View the: Sage 590-4X Rod.

View the full selection of: Sage X Rods.

View the Sage 590-4X on YouTube


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