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Sage makes some killer fly rods, but for some reason, they’ve had trouble making a truly competitive big game saltwater reel. They’ve had the 6000 series, the 8000 series, the 6200 series, and now the Spectrum Max. It's their top of the line "Core" reel, but can it rock the saltwater world?


8-Weight Shootout Full Results



7.7 ounces. A little lighter than average.





Let me start with the good news. The Sage has some really solid adjustability. Turn it halfway and you’ll get about 25% of the total drag. It also has a nice stop on the bottom with .14lbs. While we don’t love single turn drags, this one is actually not too bad as it doesn’t suffer the same drop off as some of the other reels. But, there’s one glaring problem: Max drag. It’s only got 3.6lbs of drag strength, and even though all of it is usable, it’s just not enough.


Drag Test Graphs




It’s the best sounding Sage. Just a little louder than the rest of them, but enough to make a difference.


Spool & Retrieval Rate

Middle of the road. There’s really not a lot to talk about here. It picks up line at 9” per turn and offers plenty of backing capacity.


Looks & Ergonomics

While there’s certainly nothing stunning about how the Spectrum Max looks, it’s got a really solid feel to it. Hard to describe, but if you compare it side-by-side to the Spectrum LT, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The Max also has better ergonomics. It’s got a bigger, better, handle and a drag knob that’s really easy to grasp and turn.


Finish and durability



Respectable. Sage has traditionally done well in the durability category and the Spectrum Max is no exception. It did well on both the drag and drop.



Lifetime to the original owner + $40.


Price: $499



I actually like this reel. As I mentioned, it feels really good when you pick it up. It’s got a great drag knob and handle. It’s sealed and has a lifetime warranty. Sage got a lot of things right, and you could really do a lot worse.  But Sage made some missteps as well. Most notably, it’s got *very* little drag for a saltwater reel. Frankly with the 20+lb tippet that I’m usually fishing on an 8wt, I’d have to palm it, and that’s not something I’m willing to do.



Buy it with Free Shipping here.



  • Great feel
  • Ergonomics done right.



  • Nowhere near enough drag