My Sage METHOD 7-weight has been a trusty companion for several years now. Extremely fast and quite stiff, yes, but it serves a niche purpose when a more powerful presentation is needed. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and when I started seeing METHOD rods going on sale a few months back, I knew the end was near. Thankfully, a popular lineup is usually not just simply discarded permanently, but replaced by something that's typically a step up in performance (but sometimes in price, too). With the METHOD rods now discontinued, the new IGNITER series is the fiery new lineup filling the void.
Line Weight: 5
Measured Weight: 2.97 ounces
Stripping Guides: Stainless frame/Alconite insert
Guides: Chrome snake guides
Reel Seat: Cocobolo Wood/Aluminum
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
No doubt my 5-weight IGNITER test rod is a good-looking stick, but to be completely honest the looks of this series are slightly disappointing to me. Think about the last two ultra-fast rods from Sage: the TCX and METHOD. Both rods were undoubtedly attention-grabbing, with the TCX sporting a vibrant electric green color, and the METHOD showing off a flashy red. The IGNITER uses more of a subdued red tone dubbed "chipotle" along with a little bit of silver trim around the logos and at the ferrules. Again, very good looking, but I was expecting more of an edgy zing from these ultra-fast hot rods.
Premium components are used on my IGNITER with a single stripping guide and hard-chrome snake guides adorning the blank, while on the handle end there's a flor-grade half-wells grip and cocobolo wood/aluminum reel seat with laser-etched line weight on the slide band. Otherwise, there's a hook keeper just above the grip, but no alignment dots at the ferrules.
These rods boast KonneticHD technology which Sage reserves for their most premium offerings. You can see the whole list of benefits right here, but in a nutshell this makes them thinner, lighter, stronger, and offers great feel. The blank of my tester is indeed both thin and lightweight.
Craftsmanship was on point and I didn't spot any errors or sloppy areas. The blank pieces all fit together tightly and the reel seat ring works fluidly to solidly secure a reel.
IGNITER rods are all designed with ultra-fast actions which means they excel in demanding conditions like when presenting bulky flies in stiff winds. I fished my rod a little bit here in Florida for local largemouth bass, but also took it with me on a trip out west. There, I fished it for trout, but also smallmouth and largemouth bass, too. The fly lines I fished the most included a WF6F RIO InTouch Gold (168 grains @ 30 feet) and a standard WF5F RIO Gold (146 grains @ 30 feet).
This is a phenomenal rod to cast. It's very fast, light, dampens super quick, and feels surgically precise and accurate. There's no disappointments in the power department, either. It punches well above its weight and allows you capability that surpasses many other 5-weights on the market. Whether it was bulky bluegill patterns, weighted clousers, or a removable sink tip in conjunction with those flies, the IGNITER overcame all of them with ease. It's crazy how a rod this thin and light can be so capable!
Yes, it's a stiff, powerful rod, but it doesn't feel lifeless at all—even without up-lining. Surprisingly, the WF5F line proved to be a good match for me on the IGNITER. Close range feel with it was better than I anticipated, but as expected, the rod really excelled with more line out. In fact, this rod was able to cast that entire fly line with the most ease of any rod in recent memory. Just tons of guts and precision in this blank to cast long distances and form very tight loops.
Though the rated line worked well, it's no shocker that the IGNITER 590-4 was also good when up-lined. I used the heftier WF6F RIO line several times to effectively deliver bulkier bass flies and for punching flies out easier in blustery winds. This also makes a great combo for making quick, short shots to individual targets as I walk the bank.
An ultra-fast rod may not be the very best all-around choice for many anglers, but one can quickly become your best friend when faced with big flies and snotty conditions. While I do wish the IGNITER delivered a bit more punch in the looks department, this rod totally nailed it in performance. Is it a step up compared to a 5-weight METHOD? Without a side-by-side comparo I can't say for sure, but it's certainly outstanding. A premium offering at a VERY, VERY premium price—that's the Sage IGNITER!
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