I have a new favorite setup for the big ones.
It used to be that when we went after big salmon we had to fish 14 to 16 foot rods in 10wt. As a steelheader, I have gotten very comfortable with my shorter 12.5 to 13.5 ft rods and do not like casting the extremely long rods that much any more. I like the compact lines and compact casting strokes that go with the shorter sticks.
This summer I got to fish for monsters in a few amazing places, and fell in love with a new heavy duty spey rod that everybody should love for big fish.
Sage figured out the need for the shorter 10wt and knocked it out of the park with this one. The 10130-4 Sage One, 13ft 10wt rod, is phenomenal. Short, lightweight and powerful it launches laser beam loops with even the nastiest tips and flies. A very clean and smooth rod tip tracks beautifully during the cast and effortlessly delivers flies at distance or with extreme accuracy as needed. Every cast is under control putting the fly exactly as you wanted it. It also has the guts to put the wood to the big ones and you feel confident you are not under gunned when you hook that fish of the week.
I Fished this rod on Russia’s Kola Peninsula this summer. The river’s I fished required that I launch for distance to cover high water conditions, as well as get the fly down to the fish in the colder spring water. We were throwing large flies for the largest Atlantic salmon on the planet and using the largest flies they ever use on the rivers, because of the conditions. Lots of the European guys were still fishing the gigantic 15 and 16 foot rods and by the end of the day they were visibly tired of casting the beasts. Their casts fell apart and they were less efficient at the end of the day. At first they scoffed at the idea of a 13 foot rod in such large water, but everyone took note by the end of the week, most guys insisting they try the lighter shorter rod. The shorter rod could cover as much water as the long rods, but was easier to cast and did not tire you out when fishing all day. I won’t be grabbing a 16 footer again anytime soon. The rod also was able to handle some unbelieveable Atlantic Salmon in the Mid twenties, covered in sea lice, and hell bent on returning to the ocean after being hooked. The rod was strong and able to turn even the nastiest fish in the current.
Next I took my new best friend to BC for some of the biggest Chinook on the planet. Again the rod impressed and handled everything we threw at it and needed to throw with it. It was surgical with a 12.5 ft of t-17 tip. The river we were fishing was very wooded and required precision casts, turning over under the branches on the far bank, or perfectly in between fallen debris in the water. The precision of such a powerful rod was refreshing. It casted like a much lighter rod, delivering big heavy flies and deep sinking tips with ease and accuracy, with flat controlled loops. No chuck and duck. It also held up against some true sea monsters, landing one fish of about 44 lbs and a bunch of others from 20 to 35+ lbs., fresh from the sea. Kings are crazy strong fish and the rod held it’s ground.
The rod was an amazing tool, made better by the lines that loaded it. I have fallen in love with the ridiculously inexpensive Trilene Big Game 40 lbs running line. Super slick and stiff, it doesn’t tangle much and gives no resistance to outbound loops. I am loading the 10130-4 Sage One with Airflo’s Intermediate Compact Skagit in 720gr. This outfit can handle as much tip as needed, 15ft of t-17 isn’t even a really big deal. This outfit can handle any job, for the biggest,strongest fish in freshwater, period. Give it a try next time you go looking for sea monsters in a river.