Sage took the wraps off their new line of saltwater sticks, the SALT, today. You can read their press release here.
Basically, this is a progressive update to Sage’s longstanding cobalt blue saltwater series, dating back to the RPLXi. Since then we’ve gone through the Xi2, the Xi3, and now the SALT. I’ve cast all of these rods in a casting pond/exhibit environment, but the SALT is the first I’ve actually fished in saltwater.
To my hand, the biggest transition in this series happened between the RPLXi and the Xi2. That was when Sage cut the greatest amount of swing weight and fundamentally made this a good casting stick as well as a great lifting rod. I still feel that lifting and fighting fish is the primary goal of this line of rods. We had both Method Elite and SALT rods at our disposal in Mexico. For sticking casts into a stiff wind with burly permit flies, I’d prefer the Method. But you also have to actually fight the fish, and when it comes to that, I am not sure there’s a stronger rod anywhere than the SALT.
I had the opportunity to fight permit, bonefish, and medium to large crevalle jacks on the SALT. Especially with the jacks, I really put the screws to them. I appreciated the SALT’s substantial ass; you could lift the rod to about forty five degrees, which with jacks feels about like pulling a tractor uphill with a jump rope, then reel down on them with authority.
From a casting perspective this rod will be very similar to the Xi2s and Xi3s most of us are familiar with. 80 to 90 foot fishing casts are easily in play. If you want to try your luck in a casting tournament, the Method is still the stick for you. As with all Sage rods the fit and finish are best in class and as good as anyone’s out there. You won’t find better cork, reel seat accessories, or epoxy work on any other rod (in fairness, most top end manufacturers use the same suppliers for their grips). Sage eschewed the trend toward flexible line guides and stuck with the standard hard chrome snake guides. I am totally fine with that; so far I haven’t had a single occasion where I felt the RECoil guides used by several manufacturers served any purpose. However, some manufacturers I have spoken with do note that old-school chrome guides can eventually wear down, especially when used with lots of textured lines in a dirty environment.
This rod will be the gold standard series for saltwater anglers for the next few years. It is a worthy, albeit somewhat foreseeable, update to the Xi line.