Sage Salt R8 Fly Rod Series: Model-by-Model Review
We get questions about specific rod models all the time. "How does the 9wt compare to the 10wt?" "When should I use this rod?" and "What line works best on this rod?". This article is designed to pass that info along to you. We started a model-by-model blog series to provide better information so you can make a more informed buying decision.
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Sage is a brand with a long history of building legendary saltwater fly rods. However, their past few flagship salt series have largely disappointed. Sure, there were a few solid models, but most were too stiff, fast, and clunky for the average angler. When we had the opportunity to cast each rod in the new Salt R8 series, we were immediately impressed by Sage’s commitment to developing a salt-specific series that is enjoyable to cast for the average angler. Here are our impressions of every rod in the lineup:
When we first pulled out the six-weight, we immediately thought, "Bonefish Six." Rest assured, this rod can deliver a Crazy Charlie to spooky bones on the Yucatan. However, if you're looking for something heavier to throw back home, this rod was flexible enough to throw a Rio Striper or SA Titan line as well. In terms of lines, this is actually one of the more flexible rods in the lineup. This is a "saltwater" six, though and it means it won't be as light in hand as a Helios 3D.
Best Uses: Light line bonefish and dock light snook
When you bump up to the 7wt, you get a rod that's noticeable faster. It's got a lot more power than the 6wt, but strangely, it's too soft for a Titan Taper or Striper line. However, for those looking for a bonefish seven, it throws a tight, controlled loop with an Amplitude Bonefish. This is a high-performance saltwater rod and one of the best in the lineup for sure - but just be aware that it's a little line sensitive.
Best Uses: Anything tropical
Read the full review HERE.
We love the 9wts here in New England for stripers and albies, and it's the rod some probably reach for the most. The nine is also an excellent crossover rod for permit and reds. Unfortunately for Sage fans in New England, this is a rod designed for Belize rather than the rocky shorelines of Maine. It lacks the guts to handle bigger flies and our favorite striper lines. Don't let that dissuade you, however. If you're looking for a permit rod in the lineup, this is it.
Best Uses: This is a true flats 9 - fish it for Permit
The Salt HD 10 was a complete cannon, and I felt like this rod over-corrected a bit and it's a touch too soft [for a 10wt] for my liking. Still, this is a decent rod for small-to-medium tarpon and larger permit. However, if you're looking to bomb casts with Beast flies... you'll probably want to look elsewhere - the rod was completely overloaded with an SA Titan or Rio Outbound Short.
Best Uses: Delicate work for permit and tarpon
The 11wt is now the go-to for tarpon anglers worldwide, and Sage designed the R8 Salt eleven specifically for this purpose. Like most of the series, it's soft - and if I'm being honest, it was too soft even with an SA Tarpon line. It's really more of a 10.5wt than an 11. If you're fishing for big laid-up fish, and you're an excellent caster, this might work...
Lines: We didn't find one we liked, but if you're looking to try something, check out Rio Technical Tarpon.
Best Uses: Technical tarpon fishing?
9' 12wt w/Extended Grip
While most of the new Salt R8 series was soft, this one was not. If you're looking for a rod that brings you back to the Xi3 days, this is the one that does it. It's ideal for big tarpon, GT's and smaller billfish. Be prepared - it's a lot of rod, but it can really throw some line.
Best Uses: GTs, small sailfish
As much as I hate to say it, the winner is the 9' 8wt. It has clearly (and perhaps rightfully) gotten the most attention from the rod designers, and it shows. This was the only rod in the series that was truly able to cast a wide range of lines the way we like them. Honorable mentions for both the 6- and 7-weights
Least Favorite Rod:
The 9’ 11wt had me confused. It was SO soft - to the point of wondering what purpose this rod could possibly serve.