For the 2015 season, Sage introduced their newest line of premium saltwater rods called the SALT. We’ve spent a lot of time with the 890-4 model (that’s a 9 foot, 8 weight) here at Andros South, we really like it, and today we’re going to tell you why.
As fly rods have evolved over the years, particularly saltwater fly rods, the general trend amongst rod makers has been to develop stiffer, faster action rods to help cope with the heavy winds, bulky flies, and potentially long casts that are common in many saltwater situations. Modern fast action rods have enabled many anglers to throw tighter loops with higher line speed than ever before – but it hasn’t come without a cost.
While most saltwater-specific rods today do a fantastic job at creating extremely high line speed to blast long casts through the wind and turn over long leaders and heavy flies, they often lack the sensitivity needed to present a fly delicately at short-medium distances. On the other hand, softer ‘trout style’ actions are able to present the fly delicately, but generally fall apart when the wind kicks up or during the rare instance when you do need to punch a long cast.
We say it all the time, but contrary to popular belief, on South Andros you don’t have to cast very far to catch bonefish. Therefore, we’re usually more interested in a rod that can load quickly and easily and present flies accurately, rather than chuck an entire fly line every time.. There aren’t many rods out there that do both well.. Buy hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there were? The SALT is one of those rods.
Unlike its predecessor, the Xi3, the SALT has a much suppler feel, particularly in the midsection of the rod. The rod has a deeper load when casting at medium distances which translates into a smoother feel and more delicate presentations than we’ve seen from other saltwater rods in its class. That’s a big deal when fishing in areas like South Andros, where the majority of shots are under 50 feet.
However, one thing we really like about the SALT is that while the midsection is slightly slower than many super-fast saltwater rods, the tip of the rod is still quite fast. A fast tip coupled with a slower mid section means that it turns over flies exceptionally well at short distances (let’s say, 25 feet or so) with not a lot of fly line out of the rod tip – experienced bonefish anglers understand how important this is!
Probably the most surprising feature about the SALT we found was how well it performed at long-ish distances as well. It would make sense to assume that a rod that presents well at short-medium distances would be a bit of slouch at long distances, but surprisingly enough – it boosts! We’re not quite sure how to explain it, but when casting beyond 5o feet or so (or into a strong wind for that matter), there is a feeling of ‘extra power’ locked into the stout butt section that seems to take control once a certain amount of load is put into the rod that creates a lot of line speed.
It’s just all around goodness, in case you didn’t pick up on that already.
Like Sage’s other premium rods, such as the METHOD and the ONE, the SALT has an extremely accurate feel to it. The common factor? Sage’s Konnetic Technology.
We know, we know, more technical fly rod jargon.. We don’t always buy into it either (nor do we pretend to understand it all), but this is one feature we’re sold on. Cast one and you’re likely to notice it for yourself.
According to Sage, ‘Konnetic Technology’ reduces the lateral movement, or ‘east-west’ vibration of the rod, essentially allowing the rod to track in a straighter plane. You can actually feel less side-to-side vibration, giving it an extremely accurate feel.. Trust us on this.
We paired the SALT up with a Hatch 7 Plus Finatic and found it made for very well balanced rig. One thing we like about the SALT is that it is actually slightly heavier than its predecessor, the Xi3. We’re only talking fractions of an ounce here, but we’ve found that the slight difference in weight actually results in a better balanced rig when paired with most beefy saltwater worthy reels, making it actually feel lighter in the hand.
Don’t get us wrong, ‘heavy’ is relative.. When compared to most saltwater rods out there, the SALT is still an extremely light weight rod.
Sage also added some pretty snazzy new components to the SALT series that weren’t present on the previous Xi3 series. The most notable being larger locking hubs and threads on the reel seat which work much, much smoother around salty and sandy environments, as well as a slide band laser etched with the weight of the rod to identify your rod quickly.
According to the chief rod designer for Sage, Jerry Siem, the SALT is the best saltwater rod Sage has ever made.. That’s pretty tall cotton coming from the man himself, but after spending enough time with it, as far as the action is concerned we’d have to say we would agree. And, while we doubt it was made specifically for our fishery here on South Andros, it sure as heck seems that way!
The SALT retails for $850.00 and is available in 5 through 16 weights. For more information, check them out on Sage’s website, here, or visit your nearest fly shop.
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Larry Lewis says
Good review Kyle- I appreciate the depth.
As you know, I fished a 7 wt Salt while at Andros South a few weeks ago. I loved fishing this rod, quick to the cast and great feel. I had not had a chance to use it prior to the trip- so rather than buying 7 wt lines and trying out what worked best. I went with my 8wt Rio Standard Bonefish line. This line with the longer taper, loaded the rod well.
My only tough part was with the first nice fish -clearing the poling platform and guide- 7 weight and deeper bend made the guide duck a lot lower. That was a fun problem!