Sage X fly rods are not exactly brand new, having filled the void leftover by the departure of the popular ONE series in 2016. With such big shoes to fill, it appears the X hasn't disappointed Sage fans in the least. Despite these rods being out for around three years now and receiving some serious praise, I had yet to fish one. While reviewing an X had always been in the back of my mind, it wasn't until I received word of a new Special Edition X series coming out did my interest really spike!
Taking an existing product and introducing new colors, features, or editions into the lineup is a smart way to liven things up. Just look at the auto industry—manufacturers are constantly coming up with little ways to keep even older models looking new and fresh. While it doesn't always work, in Sage's case here I think it does. In addition to the standard Black Spruce Sage X fly rods, these Special Edition versions can be had in two new colors: Electric Teal and Tactical Green. Not only do these colors look outstanding, but there's no added cost involved.
Line Weight: 5
Measured Weight: Approx 2.81 ounces
Stripping Guide: Hard chrome with SiC insert
Snake Guides: Hard chrome
Reel Seat: Stealth black aluminum with Vera Wood insert
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
The Sage X Special Edition 590-4 differs only in color from the "regular" black spruce that was originally launched—all other features stay the same. These rods are not geared more specifically for either fresh or saltwater, but rather do very well in both environments. While a 5-weight probably doesn't come to mind as a rod to use in the salt, as you'll see my tester worked extremely well there.
The Electric Teal X blank is a thing of beauty. The glossy color scheme pops brightly in the sunlight and offers a truly vibrant appearance. Constructed using Sage's top-tier KonneticHD technology, the folks at Sage sum it all up by saying:
"KonneticHD Technology is the next era in performance graphite rods. Optimizing our graphite-to-resin ratio, we have created a higher density (HD) fiber composite, resulting in lighter, stronger blanks which deliver unmatched recovery, energy transfer, and line/loop control. Building upon proprietary construction techniques developed for Konnetic Technology, KonneticHD gives us an elevated platform to achieve new levels in rod design."
The blank is rounded out with premium components like a single Fuji SiC stripper guide and hard-chrome snakes, and you'll find a hook keeper down by the logo. The guides, ferrules, and around the logo are adorned with bluish-green wraps as well as some thin teal/black trim for accent.
To once again sound like a broken record—I love the snub-nosed cork grip Sage uses on their lighter rods. Maybe it's because I'm foremost a saltwater, bass, and streamer guy, but it just looks better while feeling more natural to me. Being a premium stick, the grip on the X sports some wonderful flor-grade cork.
The reel seat is comprised of a vera wood insert with anodized aluminum hardware. Of particular note is the hood which not only looks cool but captures a reel foot very securely. Everything tightens down via a single ring, but oddly I didn't feel that the ring spun as fluidly as they typically do.
From tip to butt, the care in assembly and finish was excellent.
My testing of the 590-4 included sightcasting to snook on the beach as well as some local bank walking looking for largemouth and peacocks. Lines used were a discontinued RIO WF5F Bonefish line (160-grains @ 30-feet) and a WF5F Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Infinity (150-grains @ 30-feet).
The majority of my fishing with the X was done at close ranges of no more than about 30 feet. Here, I thought the X felt good. Of course you're likely to get more feel out of a softer rod at such distances, but for close streamer shots it got the job done very well. I had no issues quickly and accurately placing the fly in the path of cruising snook or plopping a streamer alongside a piece of cover.
This blank has plenty of pop, so when the casts start stretching out further there's tons of juice to tap into. Actually, this is where it really shines. As rated, the action is indeed fast and it'll throw tight loops all the way to and past the backing knot. It's a satisfyingly crisp rod that really dominates at these medium to long distances with a very lively, lightweight feel in hand. If you're a caster with some skillz it'll go as long as you need it to and do so without extra effort. Just really good!
I remember back in the day when the Xi2 rods first came out, Sage marketed those as having increased sensitivity so you could better feel the rod load and unload—or something like that. When I casted one side-by-side with an RPLXi in the parking lot of my then local fly shop, the difference in feel was instantly noticeable. I immediately thought of that day when first casting this rod as I got a lot of that instant "feel" here, too. The similar blue color probably had something to do with that nostalgic thought as well! Fun to cast? Check. I'm certain a lot of fly anglers will also find the 590-4 enjoyable and ideal for situations requiring a little more grunt such as when tossing hoppers, nymph rigs, streamers, or sinking lines.
The Sage X 590-4 Special Edition proved to be a precise performer from backyard lakes to gulf beaches. Built with beauty and ample power, it was both pleasing to look at and easy to manage. As with any rod manufacturer, not every individual model will be a home run for every angler, but this 5-weight was definitely a winner with me. At $900 the cost of acquisition is high, but for those of you hunting for a fast rod that isn't overly rigid and soul-less, make sure to stop and look at the X.
Looking for a Sage X Fly Rod? Give Trouts Fly Fishing or Fishwest a look!