Hey Bill, Howsabout you send me one of those new Sage ONE Trout Spey rods for my annual Landlocked Salmon trip next month. The email was a veiled attempt to get my hands on the new rod and see what all the fuss was about. 2 weeks later the USPS dropped off a cylindrical shaped box on my door step. You know the shape, the one that your significant other instantly recognizes and enters the dreaded “What did you buy now?” mode. Honest, it’s just for a demo.
Sage 3110-4 ONE Trout Spey Rod Review: Note: Revised as the rod delivered was mislabeled as 11 feet 9 inches. The actual rod is 11 feet 0 inches
Finish and Initial Thoughts: Note: The actual length of the Sage ONE 3 weight is 11 feet but the action is more a spey rod instead of a switch and that’s what I want to focus on. That being said, the Sage 3110-4 ONE is a typically beautiful Sage rod. It’s sports what Sage calls a “Black Ice” finish however I would say in the Autumn filtered sunlight, it has a distinct Olive cast to it. The hardware is top notch as you would expect from the premium rod maker with black thread wraps with Bronze trim wraps, Fuji ceramic stripper guides, and hard chromed snake guides and tip-top. The handle/reel seat area boasts a golden bronze anodized aluminum down-locking reel seat and Super Plus cork mini-Spey fore grip and rear grip. Top that off with a black rod bag with Light Black logo and model tag and protected by a black powder coated aluminum rod tube with the Sage medallion and you have yourself one nice looking rod. Most of that stuff came from the Sage website and everyone I showed the rod to commented with a sincere “Nice”.
Balancing the Rod: The Sage ONE 3110-4 weighs in at a puny 4 3/8 ounces and I tried a few reels on the rod and it seems to balance nicely with about 3.7 ounces (My Lamson Litespeed 2) to about 6 ounces (Some old Pridexes I have lying around). Whether you’re a clicker or disc drag kind of fisher, that’s up to you and I used both throughout the day and you can decide whether you like the reel to pull the tip up at all during the swing but I found the Lamson to be more to my liking for fishing. I hardly noticed the rod was in my hand.
Lines: The recommended grains for the Sage ONE 3110-4 is reported by Sage to be 250gr but since I was fishing a river that doesn’t allow weight to be added to the leader or fly and the fact that I was going to be using a floating poly, I kept things on the smaller end. I fished with a 5 weight Wulff Ambush TT Taper, (18 foot head with at 215gr) a 10 foot RIO Floating Poly Leader and a 7.5 foot tapered leader to about 3x. I also casted the 6 weight Ambush (18 foot head at 235gr) and a SGS custom Scandit head Steve Godshell made for my Mystic M Series 3 weight switch which was 22 feet (215gr). Any of these lines worked and this rod has a huge grain window, you can just feel it. The 5 weight Ambush seemed to be the sweet spot for me and the combo I was fishing had me firing 75 feet consistently with little effort.
I didn’t try nymphing or dead drifting as that stuff doesn’t interest me but I am sure a single hander 6 wt weight forward line would work fine if you were caught in that situation.
The Goods: Casting this rod is ridiculously fun and that’s really what trout spey is all about. I tend to bristle a bit when articles about trout spey focus on throwing large streamers and stripping them in. Let’s leave that to the 5-7 weight switches and focus on the program I like to run. For this rod, it’s a 3 wet fly rig or a small lightly weight bugger in the 6-4 range that it eats up. Ask it to rip a circus peanut very far and you are either perfect in your mechanics or going to be disappointed. You’ll be disappointed if you asked your 7 foot 3 weight to do that too so let’s stay in reality for a few minutes.
Today I was swinging small feather wing landlocked streamers and traditional hairwings for Landlocked Salmon in the Lake Champlain Tributaries on the New York State side. Fish ranging from 16 to 24 inches are the norm but larger fish are regularly caught. With a size 6 tmc7999 hair wing or a 6x long #4 streamer hook with a black ghost tied to the end of the leader, the rod performed all the casts with ease. Mending was easy and manipulating the swing is also a breeze and the salmon that were in the pool I was fishing responded better to a broadside sped up swing than a classic steelhead slow vertical presentation and the extra length was appreciated. The rod is quick and responsive recovering fast and light but not a wet noodle. During the swing it doesn’t bow or bend unnecessarily, a quality I appreciate when high sticking the swing.
Fighting Fish: I had four salmon eat during the broadside swing and each time I had large bows in the line to create the desired speed to elicit the strike. Every fish came unbuttoned during the fight and I don’t think I had enough in the rod to make up for the bow in the line, the slack in the running line and softness of the rod (Not a negative, we are talking about a 3 weight here and I probably wasn’t 100% used to setting the hook on this rod either) to get a great connection and drive the hook home. And, as a local reminded me, driving a hook into the kype of a fall 20+ inch salmon isn’t an easy task anyways. I did however get a great set when the fifth fish took on a straighter lined swing, jammed the fly hard and took off towards the lake. The fish hooked itself and the rod performed with an even bend and surprising backbone down by the handle. Overall a great shock absorber for light tippets. Making the same trip, I might choose a 5 weight spey to handle these fish but I would not hesitate to swing this rod for stream trout anywhere in the country where the fish average 12 to 20 inches. Asking it to handle salmon over 20 inches consistently may be too much to ask.
Confidence: Some of the trout speys I have wiggled over the years seemed a bit thin walled and made me nervous either casting longer lines or fighting larger fish. You never want to have the threat of exploding graphite damper your enjoyment stream side. That wasn’t the case with this rod. Even when intentionally leaning on the rod during the forward stroke, the rod never felt punched out and folded.
Summary: Trout Speying is supposed to be fun and I get a kick out of taking fish on the swing. When I bought my first trout spey rod, I bought it as a toy and to play around with. It quickly became one of my favorite ways to fish for trout. I have used switch and spey rods to fish trout on many of the larger trout streams and tailwaters in the Northeast and it just keeps getting better. The Sage 3110-4 ONE Troutspey is a serious rod for serious fun. It will do all the things you ask it to and then some while you giggle and that’s what it’s all about. Whether you’re looking to extend your steelhead season by swinging flies for trout or smallmouth bass or you are tying a box full of Bergman Wets to swing during the next pmd hatch, you should feel confident to have this rod in your hand.
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