by Steven Neely


Live the dream

Sage, more than any other rod manufacturer on the planet, is THE brand that anglers are drawn to when it comes to fly rods. Sage rods are aspirational, the pinnacle when it comes to prestige, and the best there is in terms of delivering performance.

True story: In my early 20’s, when I was properly skint, I yearned to own a Sage. It took me some time, but by scrimping and saving, I finally scraped together enough cash to buy my own, a hand-built RPL+. It was a two-piece 9ft 6inch 7wt, and I loved the thing. It was my ‘Loch Leven’ rod, and I could whack out Hi-D lines and lures all day long with ease; what a tool.

Even just walking from the car park to the boat jetty, carrying that cream-coloured rod tube with the brown Sage logo for all to see, made me feel like a real fisherman. Weird, I know, but all true; some brands just have that power.

As Good As It Gets

With the new R8 Core, Sage has pushed the envelope and delivered one of the most astounding fly rods that I‘ve ever had the pleasure of fishing with. From the moment I picked up the shiny, gloss white tube I was intrigued. After pulling the sections out of the cloth bag I was instantly impressed by the top-level finish and incredible attention to detail. It’s a joy to hold, and a special thing to own.

What is it about the R8 Core that makes me feel like that? Well, there’s so much more to this rod, but we need to look at how they are made to understand why.  At Sage, perfecting performance is the company mantra. Always experimenting. Always innovating. Always pushing prototypes beyond the point of breaking until they have finally arrived at a fly fishing tool that meets their exacting demands. It starts with exceptional materials such as proprietary graphite fibres and cutting edge resins. Then it’s the human touch, following hundreds of meticulous steps and passing through 23 sets of skilled hands. These unique handcrafted manufacturing techniques optimise their advanced leading-edge materials and turn them into something truly handcrafted and special.

Understanding how they are built is one thing but what is it actually like to use? After my first session, I was hooked and, like any fishing addict, I wanted more. It’s an utter dream, and a true extension of the caster’s body. It’s hard to explain until you actually fish with one, the new R8 technology virtually makes this rod cast itself. You load it up – which is very easy to do – and watch it go; mine has barely been out of my hands since. Honestly, I have handled many fly rods; this is the best multi-application Stillwater rod I have ever laid hands on!

A Powerful Lightweight!

Find further information on the new technology behind the R8 Core (Here). However, I will try and be succinct in explaining very briefly: Sage are geographically positioned extremely close to many aerospace companies, and so they often get to see and use proprietary materials that other rod manufacturers can only dream of. The innovative materials utilised in the construction of the R8 Core enable Sage to craft a super light yet incredibly robust rod with a stiffer, stronger backbone. But, and this is the science/clever part, it has a far more sensitive tip which gives us, the angler, a more enhanced sense of connection when we are casting, fishing, and playing fish. The noticeable thing is how lightweight and well balanced the rod feels in hand. Do not be misled by the featherweight feel, though. The power, control, casting accuracy, line-mending, and fish-playing ability of the R8 Core will blow you away.

A Long-Term Investment

Not only is this an outstanding fishing rod, it’s supported by Sage’s outstanding aftersales service for peace of mind in the long term. Outside of the ‘original owner warranty against defects in materials and workmanship’ Sage’s repair centre is legend for building at a reasonable cost, new sections when needed for Sage rod. God forbid that anything untoward should happen, like crushing a tip section in a hastily closed car boot or door; Sage’s craftspeople will roll you one that marries up to your pride and joy exactly and slots perfectly into place, just like the old one. Knowing you’re always covered means a lot and goes a long way in making my mind up when it comes to buying the brand.

Sage is always tweaking super high-end materials and marrying them with handcrafted precision, creating the ultimate fly fishing rods. With the new R8 Core, Sage has succeeded in bringing the finest multi-application fly rod to the market. Yes, the R8 Core is a rod that breaks the mould, a trailblazer, and is unique in so many ways, but most of all, it’s a fly rod that makes me want to go fishing.

In part 2 of this article we shall look closer at how the 10′ #7 rod performs in different stillwater scenarios.

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