Sage One Spey & Switch Rod Review by: Steve Schmidt

Steelhead SS 001 (33)I first got my hands on a Sage ONE Spey Rod on the Dean in August of 2011. Nothing like getting teased with something you can’t have. Sage fly rod Company along with other fine fly rod manufacturers have played an integral part in the development of today’s spey rods and their growing popularity. With the introduction of their new ONE Spey Rod they prove they are still an industry leader and have pushed the envelope in two handed fly rod technology and performance once again.

I remember my first spey rod, a Sage I purchased in the 90’s. Being an obsessed steelheader I was drawn early to the advantages of a two handed rod. Jim Vincent sent me some hand drawn stick figures on paper along with a formula for how to build a spey line and off to the park I went. Since then both Sage and I have come a long way in this game. Given today’s options in spey rods and lines if I had started my adventures today my learning experience would have been much easier. Looking back at my journey, however I have no regrets. After all, I didn’t get into fishing with flies because it was easy.

Credence to Sage’s prowess in the spey rod game is their iconic TCX 7126-4, affectionately known by steelheaders as the “Death Star”. This rod really addresses today’s Skagit and Scandi style of casting and steelheading techniques that were pioneered by the likes of Ward, O’Donnell, McCune, Howell and others in the northwest. This rod is light, quick and can easily handle a variety of Skagit or Scandi lines, heavy sink tips and lead eyed flies. Even with this “one” series of Sage spey rods, the “Death Star’s” cult following will not see this rod go away anytime soon.

Steelhead SS 001 (2)So how does this new series of spey rods differ from some of the other rods that are out there?  Why are I and my staff so impressed with this Sage’s latest series of spey rod?  For starters it is light thanks to its boron carbon fiber blend. The markedly slim profile is also quite evident, yet amazingly these rods possess a thicker wall construction compared to other Sage spey rods. That doesn’t sound like much, but given the average length of today’s spey rod the narrow profile will allow for improved line speed and on those blustery fall steelhead days, make a significant difference in your ability to turn over a fly. All this is good on the water, but that said probably their most noticeable attribute thanks to Sage’s Konetic technology is the ability of these rods to track like few other rods we’ve had the pleasure of putting a line on.  Having now fished and cast most of these new spey rods, I find them to be consistently nice in the hand, smooth and throw a line rather effortlessly when matched with the appropriate line.

The prototype rod I was introduced to on the Dean was a 7130-4; a rod length that never made it to production. Personally I thought the tip was a little stiff. When I got an opportunity to cast a production rod, the 7136-4, the extra inches took care of that problem and made for a smooth, very light yet very responsive and powerful spey rod. The day this rod arrived I called all my steelhead buddies for an afternoon session in the park to get some feedback. Everyone was impressed with this rods versatility, weight, ease of casting, and ability to track a line. Given the variety of rods this crew owns and fishes: Berkheimer’s, Winston’s, T & T’s, Scotts, Meiser’s, Sage’s, their more than favorable appraisal of the new Sage ONE 7136 was fair testament to its broad appeal. We’ve found that to be true with most of these new rods, but especially the 7136-4 ONE  and 7126-4 ONE. Both meat and potato rods for the waters we fish in BC and the northwest.

There are a lot of good spey rods out there. These new Sage rods however are somewhat of a game changer. Again, when it comes to rods we recognize that we all have personal peculiarities when it comes to rods and even more so when it comes to spey rods.  That said, if you are in the market for a Skagit, Switch, Scandi, or more traditional line, whether it’s your first rod or one to fill a niche, your should test drive one of these new Sage ONE Spey Rods. They are impressive.

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Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boot Review by Steve Schmidt

7The Patagonia Foot Tractor takes wading to a whole new level of comfort and traction. Several years ago we; Western Rivers staff had an opportunity to test these boots out on our annual shop trip. After 4 days of pounding around in them we were impressed. The Foot Tractor right out of the shoot was noticeably an improvement over the Aluma-Bar boot. After using the Patagonia Aluminum Bar Boot for the past 3 seasons (which still have plenty of life left in them), I left them behind this fall as I headed to BC for my first steelhead trip of the year and some of the most challenging wading anyone will be confronted with.
Regardless of the new bar and sole design of the boot, which is grabbing everyone’s attention, this was the most comfortable 8heavy duty wading boot I’ve ever worn. The lacing system is ingenous, and I’m glad that they didn’t use the BOA system, which they initially intended to do. Their new system almost feels like the laces are being pulled through pulleys on the lower part of the boot. The top two hooks cleat the laces in place once you pull them in. These hold the laces firmly in place while you finish tying the boot, keeping the laces secure and tight all day long. The wide upper makes the Foot Tractor super easy to get out of, also at the end of a long day this boot is so comfortable you won’t be in a hurry to take them off.On the traction side I definitely prefer the new bottom and the way they’ve integrated the aluminum bar into the rubber sole. The new bar pattern is definitely better, especially when you’re scrambling around on the bank. For those who fish out of a boat, or have an occasion to, the new bar and sole design is really nice. I hardly noticed the bars in the dories we floated. Compared to the old boots, they we’re much less slippery in the boat, on dry rocks, and on steep grassy banks, which were issues they needed to address.

IMG_1713The new Patagonia Tractor Boot is a game changer just as the Aluminum Bar Wading Boot by Patagonia was. Although it feels heavy in the hand, I never noticed the weight after spending 10-12 hrs in them. For those having trouble getting around in the river, whether its the wading or you are simply looking to feel more grounded as you wade, this boot by far, will give you the security your looking for. Plus do so in a very comfortable fashion. My only regret is they aren’t offering these in just a sticky bottom version as well. Rumor has it that Patagonia is working on them.

We are freshly stocked up on Patagonia Foot Tractors, you can purchase from our website or give us a shout 801-521-6424