Moderate-action fly rods may fall short in the popularity department when put up against their fast-action counterparts, but that doesn't mean they can't fill important niches in anglers' arsenals. When delicacy and accuracy are far more important than power and distance, a moderate action can provide a distinct advantage. Dry fly anglers fishing smaller waters are one such group that cherish softer rods for gingerly placing diminutive patterns ahead of rising fish.
Sage's new TROUT LL series of fly rods is a new lineup that's geared towards dry fly anglers seeking the utmost in presentation quality. You may recall Sage offering an LL series years back, but these new rods offer Sage's newest tech all wrapped up in classy packaging. For those who may miss the LL rods of days gone by or just simply desire a new premium trout stick no matter what the label, read on!
Line Weight: 5
Measured Weight: Approx 2.69 ounces
Stripping Guide: Hard chrome with SiC insert
Snake Guides: Hard chrome
Reel Seat: Bronze aluminum/Walnut insert
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
Let's start down at the handle of the TROUT LL, where you'll find a snub-nosed super-plus cork grip. Followers of Demystifly will know what a fan I am of this grip style, and the cork quality found here doesn't disappoint, either. It's clean, tight, smooth, and compliments the rod perfectly.
The reel seat features up-locking aluminum hardware with a gorgeous walnut spacer that matches the blank nicely. The aluminum color is a very light bronze—almost silverish—and there's just a single twisting ring to tighten down a reel. I didn't really care for the ring design all that much as I felt it needed more grip on the surface to be able to easily secure the reel tight enough, but in the end it gets it done.
The TROUT LL's blank is constructed using Konnetic HD technology which Sage explains in their own words here.....
"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's coloration is a glossy mahogany with brown and gold trim wraps at the ferrules and surrounding the main logo. Sage adorned the rod with a single SiC stripping guide, thin chrome snake guides, and a hook keeper just above the winding check. The guide sizing looked appropriate for the rod and they all lined up straight.
Build quality overall was flawless—as it should be for this price point!
For testing, the line I chose was a WF5F RIO Gold (146 grains @ 30 feet) which also happens to be one of the lines Sage recommends for this rod. This grain weighting sits at the very upper limit of "Acceptable Weight Range" for a WF5F line as set forth by AFFTA. Of course, those grain weight guidelines are loosely followed these days, but being a moderate-action rod it's no surprise that a line with a more standard rating like the RIO Gold is a top pick.
There have only been a handful of rods I can recall off the top of my head that I would put fully or at least somewhat into the category of "numb" or "dead" at short range. As a big saltwater and streamer angler who fishes mostly fast rods, I guess you could say I have a different tolerance or feel for fly rod action than other folks might. Most fast-action rods feel at least acceptable to me in close, but others who likely fish softer rods much of the time could disagree. With the TROUT LL 590-4, however, I think we could all come to an agreement—this rod has a killer short game.
The TROUT LL is butter smooth, feels lightweight, and is a very easygoing rod to cast. I would actually go so far as to say it's quite relaxing. Despite me spending much of my time with fast rods both out of preference and necessity, the TROUT LL proved to be downright enjoyable. Yes, I had to slow my casting stroke down. No, I didn't think it was great for long distance. But, it does what its supposed to do and does it very well.
I was getting a lot of feedback with very little line out and had no problems in the accuracy department. Same story at medium ranges. Here, the blank loads deeply and performs great with just a smooth, slower stroke. As eluded to, long distance is not the TROUT LL's specialty. During lawn practice, I was getting the line out there maybe 60-ish feet but felt the power starting to wind down a bit here and didn't try to eek out any more. Of course, sheer distance isn't what this rod was designed for and Sage makes that perfectly clear in the rod's description stating that "....the TROUT LL is perfected for wade fishing, closer casts, small flies, and light tippets." I almost forgot to mention this is a great roll casting rod, too.
Whenever I review "trouty" tackle like this rod, I always wish I could magically get transported to some prime trout water out west to really fish this rod how it was intended. Don't get me wrong, it was a blast catching peacock bass with this TROUT LL and it did just fine placing small streamers where I needed them to be, but a few days on a cold trout stream with this thing would've been.......SWEEEET.
Ranging from a 7'9" 3-weight up to a 9'0" 6-weight, Sage offers the dry fly aficionado a bevy of choices in the TROUT LL series. As this review indicates, though, don't get locked into thinking these are only good for dries. Some light nymphing and streamer fishing is definitely doable, especially with the heaviest 5 and 6-weight models. Most everyone needs a 5-weight, and after fishing the TROUT LL 590-4, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this one to anybody seeking out a more forgiving option in a market full of fast action sticks!
Get your own Sage TROUT LL at Trouts Fly Fishing