When the X was introduced in August 2016, a enormous amount of hype coincided its release. For many, the X immediately entered the discussion of top-tier fly rods on the market; such as the Scott Radian, the Orvis Helios II, Winston’s Boron IIIx, and the Sage model it was replacing, the Sage One. I was actually in the market for a new 5 weight this spring, and specifically was seeking one rod that would (hopefully) allow me to take it wherever my angling expeditions took me. I prefer a faster-action rod, and have fished both the Scott Radian and the Sage One in their 9ft. 5wt. models, both of which I enjoyed immensely. So naturally with the X replacing the One, it was amongst the top of my list of potential candidates–along with the Radian, the Sage Method, and the Winston Boron IIIx. The Method is an ultra-fast rod, and too stiff from grip to tip for me to feel confident I could place dry flies delicately. The Radian is similar to the X in feel in the lower half of the rod, but there is a noticeable difference in the softness of the tip section with the X. The X is similar to the Boron IIIx in regards to the softness of the tip, but possesses much more backbone throughout the lower 70% of the rod. I also compared it alongside Winston’s newest rod, the Air, which is a medium-fast action and significantly slower than the X. The Air didn’t give me the confidence that I could throw a heavy, articulated streamer at distance; but again, I prefer a fast-action rod. In short, I opted with the X because I felt it provided a “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears” experience–not too fast, definitely not slow, and for me, perfect.
The X is very similar to the One it replaced. Both are fast action rods, with soft tip sections which aide in cast recovery, and increase feel for the angler. The X is built on a slightly smaller diameter blank with a tapered design. The tip of the X especially is a great deal softer than the lower sections of the rod. The X weighs just over 2 1/2oz. and is available in 3-11 weights, at a variety of lengths (8′ 6″, 9′, and 9′ 6″ in 5wt and up, and a 7′ 6″ 3wt). These specs result in a high-sensitivity experience, meaning the angler will feel the rod load closer to the grip. Increased feel helps “fix” perhaps what would otherwise be a botched cast, as well as make it easier for the user to match fly a fly-line to the rod, depending on their own specific variables. Together, the angler, rod, and fly-line experience is far more uniform than any rod I have cast previously.
Truly, the X is my favorite rod I have ever fished. The incredible feel helps significantly when loading your rod with a sometimes-clunky double-nymph rig. Being able to feel almost exactly when the rod is loaded and begin your forward cast has saved me lots of time I might otherwise spend untangling my indicator, flies, and split-shot. Moreover, I am able to cast my biggest, heaviest streamers on my 250 grain sink-tip line as far as I need. That being said, my favorite experience with the X is casting double-dry rigs at a great distances. I can cast near my entire fly line because of its stiffer lower section, and still halt my forward cast so my flies land delicately and not spook fish. The X is absolutely the “one rod to do-it-all” experience I was seeking.
Again, fly rod selection is a personal endeavor. Those who prefer slower rods may feel the X is too fast, and those who prefer too fish primarily streamers on an ultra-fast rod may think the X is too slow. Personally I find the X to have a perfect balance between the two polar ends. I think the feel is frankly unmatched, and I have become a better fly caster and fisherman since I began using it.
The X comes in a Dark Spruce color, which I find is a good blend of old school/new school aesthetics. Additionally, the rod is equipped with fuji ceramic stripper guides with hard chromed snake guides and tip-top, and is built using Sage’s top-of-the-line “KonneticHD Technology.” The X is available in both snub-nose or half-wells handle. The half-wells is built onto a vera wood insert with “stealth black” anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat, and cork handle. If you are in the market for a new fly rod I adamantly believe the X would be an amazing choice. But you always should compare it alongside other options. Our shop is equipped with a plethora of rods from different manufactures that could optimize any specific angler’s cast and the type of fishing being sought. We are open daily, and would love to help outfit you with a rod that will take your fly fishing experience to the next level, whatever that may be.0