When we heard that the switch rods in Sage’s ONE lineup would be 11’6″ long, we got pretty excited, for two reasons.
- Rods north of 11′ tend to work a lot better for our ‘short spey’ applications of switch rods. Yeah, an 11′ rod might overhead cast better…but in our world we don’t overhead cast switch rods.
- We have a deep, long-standing, passionate love affair with the 8119-4 TCX – for its power, light weight, sweet feel and incredible versatility. It was pretty exciting to see a new rod from Sage in the ONE lineup with specs in the same ballpark. The hot girl’s younger cousin just moved to town!
We got ourselves an 8116-4 ONE and spent a bunch of time casting it side by side with the 8119-TCX. We’re going to write a lot of this review as a comparison with the 8119-TCX. Spoiler alert: the younger cousin is pretty hot indeed.
Sage ONE Switch Rod Introduction
The ONE Switch rods are all 11 1/2 feet long, and they range from 4 weight to 8 weight – this is the biggest one. We tend to boil the technology in the ONE two-handers (spey and switch) down to two main points.
- They’re really light but still have a nice feel.
- We have actually bought into the somewhat zany-sounding claim that the ‘Konnetic technology’ in these rods helps. Accuracy isn’t the biggest deal in the spey world in general, but casts with these rods sure do seem to fly straighter, and straight casts fish better.
8116-4 ONE Specs
It’s an 11’6″ rod for an 8 weight line (whatever that means in this world – more on line match below). It’s 5 11/16 oz, compared to 5 7/8 oz for the 8119-4 TCX. Like all the ONE rods it’s got a pretty sweet black on black finish, and like all the ONE two-handers it’s got a downlocking reel seat.
We write a lot about grips because they can have a really big impact on the feel of a rod. Longer grips mean a longer lever and better fish fighting, but shorter grips allow you to keep your hands closer to your body – which we love for casting efficiency and because not all Deneki testers have great shoulders.
The grips on the 8116-4 ONE are about 1 1/2″ longer than the grips on the 8119-4 TCX (even though the TCX is a slightly longer rod), and a little thicker. Having noticed that but not being sure why they’d do that, we did the obvious thing – ask [Sage Chief Rod Designer] Jerry Siem!
Keeping in mind that the TCX series is designed for more advanced casters while the ONE series is a little more ‘all around’, Jerry’s answers make a ton of sense. Among other things…
- “… If a grip is too narrow the tendency is to squeeze too tightly which causes fatigue and reduces swift movement of the fingertips and hands.”
- “…The top end of the fore grip on all of the handles [in the ONE switch line] does drop down to a diameter that is comfortable and with so many new anglers using double handed rods and the switches in the main as two handed casting rods, this forward position of the upper hand is critical for casting . The lower, thicker portion of the grip, being a parallel tube of cork, essentially moves (or encourages the angler to move) the hand forward to the top. It is important to have the hands separated which is a hurdle for a beginner.”
There you have it! Thanks, Jerry.
Casting Performance, Line Match
OK so how did it cast?
Since we always loved the 8119-4 TCX with an Airflo Skagit Switch 510, that’s where we started – by throwing the 510 on both the TCX and the ONE. All our casts were made with 8ish feet of T-10 and a big weighted Intruder-type fly.
The ONE with the 510 cast well, if maybe slightly underlined for our tastes. Casts hit well had sweet, tight loops and flew a mile. Timing had to be good, though, and lazy casts weren’t quite as bueno.
We threw on the 540 and loved it. The rod of course loaded more deeply – you could start to feel it bend not only through the middle of the rod but even a little bit into the cork. It was much more forgiving and slow sustained anchor casts like the Perry Poke definitely worked better. One amazing characteristic of these new rods is that they go from ‘really loaded’ to ‘rocket launch recovery’ with very little effort or drama.
If forced at gunpoint tomorrow to step into a run on the Dean River with this rod, we’d string it up with the 540 for sure.
8116-4 ONE vs. 8119-4 TCX
To keep this write-up from becoming more than coffee-break length, we’ll do this in bullet points.
- The ONE bends a little deeper than the TCX.
- The slightly lighter weight, slightly shorter length, and slightly longer grips (top hand being ~ 1 1/2″ further up the rod changing the ‘lever point’) on the ONE all combine to make the ONE feel ‘more shorter’ than just the 3″ that is reality. It’ll be a joy to cast all day.
- The ONE throws a few more grains and the thicker grip should help with fighting fish.
- They’re both fast-action switch rods from Sage and they’re 3″ different in length, but they really feel quite a bit different. The TCX has more ‘pop’; the ONE has more ‘really nice feel’.
It’s painful to say we prefer anything to the TCX that we’ve loved for so long…but today the slight preference is probably for the ONE.
Summary and Applications
These modern switch rods – short spey rods in our book – are pretty amazing tools. Casting reasonable fishing distances is not a problem. With the right head, backcast room and overhanging branches become complete non-factors. They turn over heavy tips and big flies just fine – and they are a heck of a lot more fun to cast than the long, clubby spey rods of the past.
We love the Sage 8116-4 ONE. Compared to our sweetheart the 8119-4 TCX, it adds even lighter weight, straighter casts, and the shorter length and bigger grips that help fight big fish. For steelhead anywhere, big Alaskan rainbows, and salmon of the not-gigantic class, this is one sweet stick.
You can check it out online right here.
Here’s our Product Review Policy and FTC Disclosure.
Jacob Hirst says
So here’s the question for you Andrew… If you had to pick “one” out of the 7126-4 one or the 8116-4 one, which would you choose? I must say we are dying to know since the reviews have been so close to each other.
Great question Jacob – probably the 8116. I’m on such a ‘shorter rod’ tear these days that I find myself usually fishing the shortest rod I can in any given situation. The last time I fished for steelhead on the Dean I think I brought 5 rods and barely touched anything other than the 8119, if that tells you anything…that was in the pre-ONE days.
Andy D says
During any of the testing did you try the 540 head on the 8119?
I’ve fished the 8119 a ton over the past couple of years. I’ve tried it with the 540, but I just feel like it’s a little livelier with the 510. I wouldn’t call it ‘super deeply loaded’ with the 510…more of a ‘just right’ kind of action.
FYI if anything I’m often accused of overlining my two handers – I’m pretty lazy.
As a committed fan of the TCX 8119 its always interesting to see how the new one compares and your reviews are always great to read. I won’t be trading in the TCX as it is such a nice rod and completely agree about the 510 skagit switch it is a brilliant combination. The One does sound like a great rod too and Sage seem to be really pushing the envelope with switch rods which can only be good. The TCX is also great with an AFS 7/8 (plus 10′ polyleader) Rio scandi short versitip in an 8 wt and the airflo rage 480 also with a 10′ poly leader. I may look at the sage one in the lighter sizes though especially the 4wt. I also love the TCX 7119. Another great fishing rod. Such difficult decisions to make
Andy D says
what reel do you use with the 8119 and 8116?
I’ve been using the Sage 6080 and 8080 Pro – plenty of capacity and both balance the rod well.
Jay F says
I will be returning to the Dean next year in early July. While there last summer one of our group fished a switch rod (Z-Axis 8) with good success. I have a light switch rod and have been considering adding another to fill the gap between my longer 6 weights (Sage and Beulah) and 8 weights (Sage and Beulah). I have been toying with the buying a Sage One 7 weight switch. While arguably a touch light for the Dean it seems usable on the Dean and a great rod for the Rogue and rivers to the south. Would appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks in advance!
Sorry for the slow response!
I fished the 8116-4 ONE a bunch on the Lower Dean, below the canyon, this year. I loved it and never felt like I was under-gunned (although I am a bit of a shorter rod guy these days). I haven’t spent much time with the 7 – but my gut would would be that I’d love it above the canyon and think it was a touch light below the canyon.
We’re looking forward to seeing you again this summer!
Andy S. says
Have you cast the 7136 -ONE this year can’t seam to find any reports on it as yet! and if so can you send your reports to me,,,,,,,,,