The new Sage SALT Fly Rod is, of course, Sage’s latest and greatest. It replaces the still-good-in-its-own-right, Xi3. It’s always a tall order to replace a rod that people like. Luckily, Jerry Siem had something to fall back on – Konnetic Technology. What is it? Probably some new resin, but I’m no material scientist. What I do know is that it’s produced some pretty great rods so far.
Calling a fly rod “Salt” is bold. Read on to see if it lives up to it. The guys at IFTD sure thought so because they voted it Best New Saltwater Rod for 2014.
Fit and Finish
Fit and finish is top notch on the Salt, just as you’d expect from Sage. It’s got a great full wells grip made from top of the line cork. The reel seat has gotten a nice upgrade from the Xi3 as well, with a laser etched line weight (just in case you forget which rod you’re casting) and a more heavy duty feel. If I could change one thing on the Salt, it would be the guides. Yes, they are wide enough for saltwater use, but they are also heavy and chrome. In today’s day and age, I’d like to see Recoil guides which are lighter and more durable. And of course no alignment dots…
4 oz. It feels a little on the heavy side, even though it’s in line with other 8-weight rods. Oddly, it’s also a little heavier than the Xi3 was. Perhaps Sage is trying to make it more durable? Casting it side-by-side with a Hardy Proaxis One-Piece made the Hardy feel like a trout rod by comparison.
The Salt is not a long distance champ, but it’s no slouch either. It’s no problem laying out 80’-90’-100’ feet of line.
What really surprised me about the Salt is how accurate it was. When you’re bonefishing, 30-50’ casts are the most important. The closer you can cast to the target, the more fish you catch – it’s that simple. The Xi3 wasn’t really all that accurate. It had power, but no finesse.
The new Salt fly rod is just the opposite. Jerry Siem dialed in the Konnetic technology and got it just right. I compared it head to head with the NRX and couldn’t see a lot of difference.
30 feet: The Salt produces tight loops at 30 feet and is really accurate. I thought this distance was the biggest upgrade over the Xi3, which wouldn’t load at 30 feet. If you’re a bonefisherman, this is an important consideration, as you’ll have lots of shots at this distance. One thing I found odd, though, was that despite its accuracy, the Salt seemed to leave something to be desired in terms of presentation. The fly almost always hit the water hard.
50 feet: As you’d expect, 50’ is probably the best distance for the Salt. It’s very tight.
70 feet: The more moderate action of the Salt means you have to work a little harder at 70’ than a really fast rod. Because of that, the accuracy suffers a bit at this distance.
Flex & Feel
Sage has dubbed it “salt-action”, or medium-fast. I’d say it’s a pretty fast rod, but not super-fast. It’s got a (relatively) softer tip, combined with a stiff mid- and butt-section. This accounts for the Salt’s ability to make better casts at various distances. That stiff butt section also allows you to quickly pick up, change direction, and shoot line – another key flats skill.
If anything was lacking in terms of flex and feel, I’d say that I wanted a little more feedback from the rod. It performed well, but sometimes in a surprising “that actually went where I wanted it to go,” type of way, rather than a deliberate confidence-building, “I knew it was a great cast,” way.
The Salt is the first saltwater rod from Sage that really caters to the sight fishing angler. It’s going to win a lot of people over with its flats fishing abilities. It loads well at all distances. It’s got plenty of strength in the butt section for those bigger fish you might catch. If I was a pike angler, blind casting all day, I’d probably go with a lighter, more powerful rod, like the Sage Method. Bottom line, if you’re a flats angler who liked the Xi3, but wanted a little more accuracy in close, you’re going to love the new Salt.
Pair the new Sage Salt with your favorite tropical saltwater line, like Rio Bonefish and it will perform beautifully.
- Great accuracy across key distances
- Nice upgrade to reel seat and fighting butt
- Heavier than we’d like
- Guides haven’t been upgraded from the Xi3