Well, I was back in the Poconos last week; doing some business, some domestic stuff and, yup, some freestone creek trout fishing.
I happened to stop by my local Fly Shop on Wednesday to get some elk hair caddis (#16's and 18's) to take prospecting, when the owner greeted me at the door with a big smile and a: "you'll never guess what just showed up here UPS." I admitted that I probably wouldn't be able to guess, he disappeared back into the shop and emerged a few seconds later with a 9'0" Sage One 5 wt. rod. Smiling again, he said: 'go ahead, take it and let me know what you think; I think I'm the only shop in PA that has one".
Here are my non-water based first impressions of the Sage One:
1. This is a very light rod; it makes even a Winston BIIx seem a bit heavy. It also had a nice half wells grip; which is good for big mitts like mine.
2. The color, finish, materials, etc. is what you'd expect from Sage
3. This is a very easy rod to cast.
I actually think that Sage has taken rod design in a somewhat different direction with the One. Rather than designing another rod that lets good casters make phenomenal casts, which has pretty much been the name of the game up to this point, they seem to have designed a rod that will pretty much let almost everyone make decent casts in the 40-50" range.
Casts at 45-60' were almost effortless. This is a rod that provides a lot of feedback to the caster, which encourages you to let the rod to the work rather than trying to horse it; something that some of us should be doing more of. To me this rod actually promotes/encourages that.
I tried varying my casting stroke all over the place; looking for the stoke that would not put out a nice cast at that distance. I opened up my loops, jerked the start of the casting stroke, drifted my stops forward and back, hauled at the wrong times and, honestly, all of this had very little effect on getting a nice cast out there time after time. After I went through this exercise I remember scowling and shaking my head at the shop owner, who smiled back and said: "ya, that's what I thought, too."
4. The tip is somewhat soft, which makes shorter casts of 30' or less both easy and fun (not the case with the Z-axis). It should also do a good job of protecting light tippets when that unexpected monster devours your fly and runs downstream with it.
5. Roll casting was not bad; considering that I was on grass. I'd expect it to be a good rod for this on the water, as well as an easy rod for line mending.
6. For long distances; 70' to into the backing, this rod can certainly do that, but I didn't think it was any better at it than my Z-axis. Granted, I am very familiar with the Z, so to get a really good comparison, I would probably need to spend more time with the One.
This is a great rod. I think that Sage will sell an absolute ton of them.
Lightweight, easy to cast, good in close in the mid-range and at distance, great feedback to the caster, etc.
I left the shop with my trusty Z-axis still in hand. It will take a lot to get me to part with that rod..........but I now have something to seriously think about......