12/13/16 @ local steelhead river, during a day of fishing and tackle testing.
It should be understood that there can be no unbiased opinion when comparing two fly rods, especially if they are very similar, but made by two different manufacturers. This is especially true if, like myself, you have been selling both brands of rods for over thirty years.
In my opinion, the two companies of G. Loomis and Sage have built some of the most respected Spey rods within the last three decades. These companies are locked in a continual battle for the top rung on the ladder. That is because they hired the two best rod designer/engineers, backed up by the two best production facilities in the business. Steve Rajeff from G. Loomis and Jerry Siem from Sage have each been grappling for the top rung for about 25 years. During some production runs Steve has been ahead, then Jerry has surpassed him, only to have to give the position back, and so it goes. Each man is a dignified gentleman, but each man is also a dedicated winner. I have had the privilege of being close to each company during their whole competition. It has been fun to watch, and even more fun to experience the rods that have been produced. The last rivalry was between Sage ONE and G. Loomis NRX. For 2017, it is Sage X vs G. Loomis Asquith. What a fun rivalry this is turning out to be, and I get to be in the middle of it because The Fly Fishing Shop sells both brands (lots of both brands).
I spent the day on the water with a 7130 Asquith and a 7130 X. The water flow=5820 cfs, Water temperature was 40-degrees, the air temperature at daylight was 29-degrees, calm and foggy.
The boat had been snowed on, then frozen. There was ice on the floor, oar handles, and seats. Both rods/reels were assembled, then laid across a snow covered seat, and photographed before the lines were strung through the guides. You will note that the Asquith handles are a little longer, and slightly smaller in diameter. Cosmetics are similar between both rods. Reel seats are similar size, but the Sage reel seat operates smoother. The rods balance similarly, but the Asquith feels slightly lighter because the tip sections of the blank are lighter. The Asquith is $1,200. The Sage X is $1,095.
I used 510 Airflo Switch and F.I.S.T. lines with 11’ of RIO T-11. The Switch line was used because Tom Larimer and Jake Zirkle said that the Switch line was their favorite for the Asquith, and I followed their instructions. I had already fished with the Sage 7130-4 X rod for three months before I had any serious time on the water with the Asquith. The red reel on the X was loaded with a F.I.S.T. As I said, "There are no totally unbiased rod tests." But I gave it my best shot. Both lines worked very well with both rods.
Tests were conducted with two similar Sage reels with lines installed, and they were switched back and forth between the rods all day. Using two identical flies, I did all my testing while fishing. The X bends less than the Asquith, and comes to power more quickly. In some ways it bends much like an NRX rod, where the Asquith bends more like a Sage ONE. So in some respects, the two companies have reversed roles when it comes to rod actions. However, the Asquith feels a little softer than the Sage ONE, and is probably lighter in swing weight. It is definitely softer than the X, which may or may not be to your liking.
I felt that the lines were tuned perfectly for the water I was fishing. The longest casts were with about 15-yards of shooting line. Both rods throw very long and both rods throw the F.I.S.T. further than the Switch. It was interesting comparing the Sage & G. Loomis design philosophies in their newest flagship series. I took them both to our shipping room and put the pieces on our postal scales, which doesn't tell the whole story but can indicate how the blank material is distributed.
Sage 7130-4 X (7 wt. 13' 4pc.) = 6.8 oz.
Butt section: 4.2 oz.
2nd section: 1.2 oz.
3rd section: 1.0 oz.
tip section: .4 oz.
G. Loomis 7130-4 (7 wt. 13' 4pc.) Asquith
= 7.0 oz.
Butt section: 4.8 oz.
2nd section: 1.2 oz.
3rd section: .6 oz.
tip section: .4 oz.
If you want to discuss my other insights and conclusions, just email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
G. Loomis 7130-4 Asquith