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Sage Salt R8 990-4 quick review

Sage Salt R8 990-4 quick review

I have had a chance to fish the new Sage Salt R8 9'0" 9wt a few times now and it continues to impress me.  I love the lightweight feel, powerful action and pleasing aesthetics. 

All of those things are great, but this rod is seriously nice.  Like blows-me-away-every-time-nice.  My 9wt feels like an 8wt in hand, but it punches like a 10.  Just wow!

I fished it in the Bahamas for a couple of days where I had found a pile of barracuda hiding out in a "river" that was really just a salty backwater.  The Salt R8 was able to push whatever fly I needed into some tight mangroves with repeated success. 

I am by no means a great flats caster.  Give me a two-handed spey rod and I feel comfortable saying that I am pretty dang good with it, but I get jelly arms when I see a permit feeding at 40 feet with a stiff breeze on my side.  This rod all but casts the fly for me.  I was hitting some crazy accurate casts in a breeze with weighted flies.  That was my first day with it and I was blown away then.  

Now, after another salty trip, I can say that this rod is still just as impressive as the first time I cast it.  

The thing that impresses me the most was in the various types of bad casts that I made with this rod that should have melted in the air, but managed to get to where I needed them to go.  Casts where I tried to pick up too much line, not a problem.  Casts where I clearly pushed the timing, not a problem.  Casts that started at the wrong angle and were doomed from the first place, not really a problem....  all recoverable.  

I was able to fish a couple of other rods over a few days to make some comparisons.  While rods like the Recon and Big Y Boss were actually quite impressive, this rod is seriously on a whole different level.  Firing on all cylinders.  The other rods just did not have the recovery and reserve power to get the job done.  A couple of unnamed rods really required a precise, perfect double haul, which is not something I carry in my bag.  

I love the power, durability, cosmetics and overall feel of this rod!   There is a reason it is so expensive....  Because it is worth it. 

Here is what Sage has to say about it themselves:  


While saltwater locales often move slower, the fishing is faster, the pressure more intense and the variables more variable. From wind, weather and tides to spooky fish, seasonal migrations and salty guides, it’s a different game with a different set of rules in venues that range from tournaments and Grand Slam flats to legendary bonefish lodges and hushed redfish beaches. The shots are fewer, the stakes are higher and seconds matter in sight fishing. By the third false cast, your time—at least for that fish—has passed.

But more than just delivering a fly on demand, saltwater sight fisheries necessitate a different tool than what works for your standard trout stream. A rod that loads quickly and predictably, a sweet spot more intuitive to feel. More strength to land fish quicker and more touch for precision short shots. A more durable rod that is built to survive both long skiff runs and remote destinations - where broken rods are absolutely heartbreaking. A precisely honed taper that will ensure your fly is presented in the right place at the right time.

Most salt rods are built for pure power and ultimate strength—that is table stakes for the venue and the discipline. With our new R8 graphite, adding 25% more strength-perweight was the easy part—a simple function of material advancement—but one that also increased the fight in the rod even down to our six-weight. We increased the pure pulling power without the need to add more material, fillers or reinforcement. The outcome is simple, providing the ability for faster landing times and reducing fish stress and catchand-release pressure on ever so delicate ecosystems.
More strength and fight were an obvious upgrade, yet few salt rods, especially in
the heavier weights, achieve the importance of feel for fine touch shots and precise presentations. Shaping a taper that brought this increased touch into the equation took more time. Yet after a long residence in the birthplace of saltwater fly fishing, and working directly with the experienced guides there, our rod designers found the right profile and fiber alignment that delivered strength, fine touch presentation, and a more intuitive sweet spot to a class of rods that have long had a reputation as unwieldy, unforgiving and difficult. With the SALT R8, gone are the days of sacrificing the feel and touch in your saltwater rod.

• 25% Greater Strength Per Rod - Greater Pulling power equals more fight for faster landing and less stress on delicate ecosystems
• Enhanced Durability - Enhanced toughness withstands more rugged situations and demands of remote travel
• More Intuitive Sweet Spot - Prioritizes touch and speed for shorter shots and
on-demand casts
• Saltwater Specific Guide Set - Fuji K-guides resist corrosion, while angled shape prevents snags and tangling in the chaos of the fight. Oversized chrome snake guides and tip-top allow larger saltwater knots to pass with ease.
• Heavy-Duty Reel Seat - Built for enhanced contact and confidence, heavy-duty reel seat and oversized locking rings keep reel tight to the rod for greater contact, rigidity, and a more direct connection when fighting powerful high-stakes fish

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