Sage SPECTRUM 5/6 Fly Reel Review
Updated: Mar 30
Comprised of the SPECTRUM, SPECTRUM LT, and the top-tier SPECTRUM MAX, Sage's three new reel families deliver good looks and the promise of high performance. While I would've been happy to review any model, I was especially pleased to receive a 5/6 tester from the standard SPECTRUM series. Why? I've been particularly interested in testing some lower-cost tackle lately, so this reel was a perfect fit being from the most cost-effective series of the three.
The fully-machined 5/6 SPECTRUM instantly impressed me with its beautiful Lime color scheme and a highly-ported design. This open, "airy" structure really pays off in the weight department, with the entire reel checking in at just 4 3/8 ounces. Perfect for lightweight rods, it also holds an ample amount of backing for most 5 and 6 weight pursuits thanks to the large arbor's concave core. While the spool core is not ported, the concave design is also touted as increasing strength.
Overall fit and finish is excellent. From the outside of the reel to the inside of the spool and frame, there's no issues with craftsmanship and all the detailing/lettering is very crisp. The connection of frame to spool has very little wiggle or flex, and there's no other wobbles or unsightly gaps to be had. Sage did a bang-up job with creating a refined little package and delivers it all at a price that's within reach of many folks.
The large arbor gives the SPECTRUM good retrieval speed, and I also like the fact that the spool isn't too wide for easy line leveling. There's a confidently solid feeling while reeling thanks to the aforementioned lack of spool/frame play, and the clicking sound the reel emits is mellow but pleasant. The machined aluminum handle isn't fancy looking, but the sizing is good and a very slight tapering keeps it comfortable to hold.
Featuring Sage's Sealed Carbon System (SCS) drag, the performance is very good with no detectable startup inertia. As line exits the spool, consistency is very good, with just a soft little fluctuation in tension detected as the spool rotates—no tippet-snapping jerks or binding to be had. The rear drag knob is numbered, features light detents throughout its range of 18 settings, and goes from zero to max in slightly less than one full revolution. The drag emits a similarly mellow but quality-sounding click as retrieval.
On a couple of other Sage reels I've fished, the rear drag knobs were slightly sunken into the back of the frame. When grabbing and twisting those drag knobs, my fingers/knuckles would sometimes hit against the frame spokes causing some minor discomfort. I'm happy to report that I don't have that issue with this reel. While it appears the knob isn't sunken into the frame quite so deeply, it could also be that the knob is just a slightly different design—but whatever it is, it's easy to use and has a really good surface texturing for a sure grip with dry or wet hands.
No spool release buttons or levers here. The frame and spool simply separate by pushing apart. With other reels featuring a similar setup, I was able to just grab the frame and spool and pull them apart with some modest force. Well, that doesn't seem to work for me with this reel. Holding the back edge of the frame and pushing the spool on each side with my thumbs gets them to separate. This required a little more effort than I had hoped, but since spool removal is only an occasional matter, that wouldn't be any kind of deal breaker for me. To re-seat the spool, I hold everything in about the same manner but pull the spool inwards with my fingers to click it back in place.
The Sage SPECTRUM 5/6 definitely exudes quality and I find it really satisfying to both fish and admire. I'm also really into the fact that it doesn't weight a ton and compliments a lightweight rod extremely well. SPECTRUM reels are offered in a 3/4 and 5/6 (both $249) and a 7/8 and 9/10 (both $299). All reels include a neoprene Sage reel pouch.
Line Size: 5/6
Weight: 4 3/8 ounces
Diameter: 3 5/8 inches
Width: 1 1/4 inches
Backing Capacity (20 pound): WF6F/100 yards
Drag: Carbon (fully sealed)
Tested Max Drag: Around 3 pounds
Machined/Cast: Machined aluminum
Easy Release Spool: Yes
R/L Conversion: Yes
Colors: Black, Blaze, Platinum, Lime (tested)
Reel Pouch: Yes
Spare Spool Available: Yes ($129)
Reel Price: $249.00
Looking for a Sage SPECTRUM fly reel? Try