Re: SAGE ONE: Looking for thoughts...
It is not an issue of the ONE being better than Helios or whichever your favorite #5 is...ONE is different from other rods. The majority of 5-weights are easy casting all-round trout rods; not to heavy not too light, just right. That is why more 9'/#5 rods are sold than any other size fly rod. Nothing mysterious about Helios (or H2), it is light and smooth and easy to cast. ONE is different; you may need to learn to cast ONE. It is not so much that it is "stiff" it is really less stiff than ultra fast recovering; there is so little mass in the rod that its responses are unlike other rods. To use an automotive analogy, a fine street car like a Benz or Cadillac soaks up the bumps and road irregularities smoothly and compliantly whereas a sports car has a suspension and steering that makes you feel every expansion joint and not only permits but encourages the driver to carve every apex. You have to concentrate more but the driving experience is mush more rewarding and you are engaged. So to with ONE; it demands you focus on your timing, it will be unforgiving of anomalies in your stroke, your casting must elevate to ITS standards. It is not that it is hard to cast, it isn't...it is hard to cast it well and when you do you begin to extract the performance out of it that may not exist in your Helios. ONE is the penultimate technical rod and the only reservation I have with it is that the snake guides are slightly too small for the ultimate in articulate slack line downstream feed. However, the tip's reflexes over come that as such adroit mends are encouraged by its unparalleled precision. My 5-weight is a very early example and I was happily fishing Z-Axis before that. I took a while to transition from the more compliant tip and more progressive taper of Z- to the ONE's sharper reflexes but it was very rewarding once I did. I do not fish ONE exclusively though. I also have Hardy's Zenith #5 which is largely as capable as ONE but much more relaxed and intuitive to cast well. As I often say, I like rods with varied personalities and I fish Zenith very happily much of the time but when the ultimate in precision is called for on demanding technical water with bank sippers focused on one phase of the mayfly emergence...out comes ONE!