|Being a tale of frustration, despair and enlightenment -read on at your peril.What follows is one man's experience and perspective--yours may vary/differ.|
"When it comes to fly rods, there's Sage and there's everyone else." That's the view of one tackle manufacturer in the fly fishing business I know. And while I don't necessarily agree, and realize there is huge room for disagreement, I will say, from my limited flyfishing experience and my 45 minutes playing with Sage's newest high end offering, there's the Method, and there's everything else...
Background: Diagnosed in April with a condition requiring laporoscopic surgical repair(details on request)I eschewed lifting loading and fishing from my kayak, and have been wade fishing for bonefish here in Biscayne Bay, with a complete hiatus following my surgery on June 24 until this week, and with the last bonefish hookup being June 22.
On Friday, my car magically transported itself with me in it to what tort lawyers would call an "attractive nuisance"e.g. the local Fly shop.There, resting on the racks, amidst a bevy of Sage One cudgels, was an 8 wt Sage Method, fresh from the factory. The proprietor, Dave Olson--a superb instructor and champion distance caster-observed that he would shortly bring his TCX to the shop to compare casting all 3 rods, as he hadn't had as much hands on with the Method as he would have liked at the recent show in Las Vegas.With this in the back of my head, I drove to my usual wading spot in Biscayne Bay this morning with the promise of slick conditions and an excuse to trot out my TCX 8 wt which I hadn't used in some time--having previously favored the super light Orvis Helios paired with a Nautilus FWX. Sadly, visibility, on account of the cloud cover, was poor, even after 9 am when the sun is usually high enough to give some view of fish on our grassy/sandy bottom. And a stronger than forecast wind created a chop that further impeded the viz and rendered any tailing fish equally difficult to see.
What i did see, however, were tons of freshly dug bonefish excavations, that clearly had not weathered even one tide change.Despite the prospect of encountering patrolling bonefish amenable to blind casting, I spent 2 hours, as the tide fell to below knee level height, casting to no avail. At the end of two hours, with a somewhat fatigued arm, I paused to rest, only to have a ten pound plus pot bellied bone swim right at me-less than 6 feet away-giving me a front, side and back view as he surveyed my legs and booties and swam away.A fruitless hail Mary cast was attempted, but failed on lift off as my rod snapped in half just above the second ferrule.OK #### happens, and besides, the fly shop was now open and I had an excuse to drive over there--conveniently 5 minutes away-to give Dave the rod to return to Sage-and perhaps test drive/compare those other two rods myself.
After packaging up my rod for its trip to Washington state, Dave left the shop in the hands of an associate and we went out to lawn cast the One and Method with my Nautilus NV 8/9 spooled with 3 year old Wulff triangle taper 8 wt line. I have resisted the temptation to cast the One during the past year, so this was my first chance to throw it.
My impressions, in summary , are as follows.
Both rods felt vastly lighter in hand and when cast than the TCX. My muscle memory of the defunct TCX was sufficiently fresh that I trust this impression.Although the One felt heavier than the Method in hand, and especially during casting, I believe that their weights are actually similar, or insignificantly different, and the different feeling may well be accounted for by the greater flexing of the One.Both rods were much easier to cast than the TCX, both seemed to cast long distance (90 feet with one /two backcasts )effortlessly and both seemed easier to handle(ie they had more feel) than the TCX. Dave--a strong believer that hauling is overrated, demonstrated his point by stripping 30 feet of line outside the tip and casting one handed by pinning the line against the cork with his right hand index finger, with his left behind his back, and sending the line 90 feet with a single backcast.By adjusting my casting stroke to have a crisp stop I was able to do the same-give or take 20 feet-better technique and I'll do better.It was easier for me to do this with the Method-as it has a more rigid feel.Using a haul, which I am more used to, coupled with better technique allowed me to cast pretty much all of the Wulff line.
Haul or not, both rods cast far and accurately, and frankly, the Method was no less accurate than the One at any distance I tried, most especially 20-60 feet.I kept switching the reel from rod to rod and kept coming back to the Method(despite its color).Casting with it seemed natural, smooth and with surprising feel on loading the rod(for a rod so fast)much more so than with the One.I seemed to be able to get 5-10 feet more distance with the Method consistently.
By way of judging my perspective, I own a rod built on Dan Craft blanks(8wt), 3 Sage xi2s(6,7,10) ,a Sage Zaxis(10), the soon to be repaired Sage TCX(8), and 2 Orvis Helios(8,9).Both the ONE and the Method seemed much better (especially easier)casters than any of my other rods, and the Method just seemed so much better in every aspect--feel, apparent weight, accuracy, distance, line pick up.As for backbone and fish fighting ability, I am looking forward to that field trial...
I had convinced myself that I didn't need the latest and greatest, and if my only choice were the One, I probably would continue in that belief-but the Method was for me, a game changer.For what it's worth, my casting would probably be rated as saltwater average--sometimes brilliant, sometimes inept, most times, adequate-and I don't care for wind. Although I did not play with either rod in windy conditions, or a fly attached to the line, based on my experience with my other rods in similar demo situations, I have no reason to think that my affection for the Method will diminish in the wind, or when I have to cast with a fly at those imaginary invisible(as my son calls them) bonefish.
In all likelihood, when the TCX comes home from Sage, it will be unceremoniously consigned to ebay to find a new owner, in part to defray the cost of a new Method.My Abel hemostat may have to wait....