I've been fishing nothing but super fast rods (TCX 7, BVK 8 for example) for the last few years. I like the power and wind-cutting abilities of these rods. With the right line/rod/timing setup you can seemingly punch through anything below tropical storm force winds. The problem with me is, though Sage claims the TCX has the perfect all around action with a soft tip for short accurate casts and plenty of backbone to carry more line than most of us will ever be able to carry, it is for **** at short range unless loaded up with an extremely heavy line. Since I fish a lot of docklights as well as flats and also bombing big casts into a pass from the beach, I found myself changing lines every other time I go out. I recently acquired an old Sage SP 8 weight 2pc. from a good friend of mine in Mass. He has had it for about fiften years and only thrown it a handful of times. At first I couldn't make a cast more than fourty-five feet or so. Once I got a little more used to slowing my stroke down I soon realized this rod is a cannon. I can fish in-close with no problems and carry more than enough line to make a solid ninety-foot shot if needed. Long story short, I am in "rod love" all over again! I have forgotten just how smooth these rods were. It seems to have a hidden power deep into he blank that just lets loose when it's needed. Basically what I am saying is be careful of the "shake test" and go out and cast a rod before you make any big $ decisions. Despite all the hype, super fast ultra stiff rods aren't for everybody. Don't get me wrong, my TCX and BVK are a treat and are great rods but when I want to go smooth that SP is the new/old all-arounder of the pack! Just wanted to get it off my shoulders!
This is the first post from you I have come across, I always enjoy reading a post like yours. Have you ever followed an artist's work from the first paintings that went into prints right up to the latest offering? I have, and often times I see the early work as being the best, as they progress there seems to be a greater effort to make the painting look more like a photograph. It seems that the early efforts are the product of passion and the later a continuing endeavor to produce something better than the last. I hope I'm not losing you with this, there is a correlation between what I see in outdoor art and fly rods. I have the advantage of having come of age as a fly rodder at the same time that graphite was introduced as a fly rod material. The thoughts I will share here are only personal observations and preferences and not meant to be taken as the result of some sort of real data collection that would resemble a true research.
It would seem that the early graphite rods (some of them) were just about as good as a fly casting tool could get. By the late 1980's marketing became a driving force more so than at earlier times in our history. The rod makers may have slid into the groove whereas the thinking was that; if every year you did not offer some new & improved version of the fly rod, your sales would suffer. For the most part the scheme worked. Every new design, taper, higher modulus, and flashy name was accepted and diligently bought up by the angling market. With each new season of production and marketing there was also a new batch of would be fly fishermen to buy the new & improved rods. This trend reminds me of why a Great Horned Owl breeds in January. The idea is that by the time the eggs have been formed and deposited to the nest, then incubated, it will be the end of February or there abouts. The adults share the task of feeding and keeping the young warm. By the time the owlets are at the fledgling stage it is the end of April. Am I losing you again here? The whole of the design is that by the time the young owls are ready to begin learning to hunt it is May and there are litters of young rabbits and squirrels who are as inept at avoiding capture as the young owl is at catching them. The analogy is that the new crop of humans entering the fly fishing fraternity every year are similar to those young rabbits. If the rod manufacturers had to rely on fooling an old rabbit like me every spring they might go hungry.
Those anglers who owned the early graphite and also picked up some of the new sticks were privy to the differences. I watched as the rod makers supplied the shops with a seemingly endless lineup of new rods each with a new name. Most of the titles that were attached to the rods could have easily been affixed to a new missile technology of the times just as well as a fly rod. The claims made for the next generation each year were copious at the least. Faster was almost always part of the description, this was accompanied by other phrases like; vibration dampening, quicker recovery, higher modulus, and of course, more backbone. For a fellow who was only fishing, all of the new rods and the hyperbole that was flooding almost every magazine in the form of gear reviews was dizzying. I remember being at an Orvis store when a guy who enjoyed a certain level of localized fame as both an outdoor writer and fly casting authority was demonstrating the new rods on the lawn out back for a group of customers who had came for the casting clinic. I watched the demo but didn't fall in love with any of the rods that were purportedly allied with the same technology as the US Navy's submarine fleet. After the casting guest and the customers had went inside the store I tried some of the rods. They were very different than my old rod but there was no comparison as far as it having a better feel. I do admit that they were pretty snazzy though.
No doubt the new rods sell every year, this new technology is part of what fuels the used rod market on sites like eBay. Remember I said 'part' of what fuels sales not the sole reason rods are sold. I have many fly rods, I gave in to the desire to have rods that would be situation specific. In truth, there are but a handful of these rods that see use every season. Most of the rods I use are old and posses what would be considered a slow or full flexing action. Even with these rods that lack a 'flex rating' I can make as tight a loop as a fellow handling a brand new rod. I can cast as far as most people using a new generation rod while also being able to get the rod to do what it should do at close and medium ranges as well. The most interesting aspect of the old, slow rods is that I can present a very small dry fly or a size 2 salmon fly with them with equal ease Told rods seem to be all round fishing tools.
I'm happy that you found your way to something that will make your experiences while casting more enjoyable.
Spug, Pardon my slight counter-point to Hardy Reel who I respect. A couple of points actually. TCX is NOT an all-round rod by any stretch; it is a super accurate distance rod for sight fishing and does not shine at short casts nor blind casting. The #7 you have is regarded by many a bonefisherman as one of the best rods ever designed...but a speciality rod by anyone's description. TCX and all the new Sage rods were designed by Jerry Seim, a great rod designer best known for his fabulous Z-Axis. Your new/old SP was the work of the founder of Sage named Green who was the same individual that introduced the very first graphite rod to the public in 1974, the Fenwick HMG. When Fenwick was aquired by a larger corporation Green and team didn't like the culture, quit, and formed Sage. Now my memory fails me, chronolgicly, if the rod that had the three pronged trident in its graphics that HR wrote about was concurrent with the SP...but the fore mentioned rod was a terrible caster and prone to blowing up but the SP was smooth and delightful. Somewhere in my storage is a 9'/#8 3pc. SP+; the plus models of this line of rods where ridiculously fast, unbelievable in the wind but painfully unforgiving for day-long fishing. I have to dig that rod out and try it with some of the newer, superior fly lines for salt water, thanks for inspiring me. What lines are you rigging your TCX and BVK with?
Sweetandsalt. You are correct in everything you said but Sage does claim the TCX to be softer in the tip for short accurate casts. That's just marketing and I think trying to make up for the TCR that was REALLY worthless at short from what I have heard (never thrown one). I'm not blaming Sage at all Jerry Seim is a rod Jedi if you ask me. I did cast and stare at that rod before I bought it for about three months at the shop. I love the hell out of it for what it is designed for. I certainly hope not to start another rod debate on a forum. We all know that's like going to the bar and talking religion and politics..could go on all week . As far as lines go I have tried a ton. Just about every Rio and SA especially. I had the pleasure of running a shop here in FL so I was very fortunate to have access to many lines. I settled on the Bermuda Triangle from Wulff and the Tropical Clouser from Rio. The Triangle Taper casts like a dream! That's cool to know about Mr. Green and the early days of Sage. And you mentioned the SP+, yup, it is a cannon! Thanks for the input.
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Hardyreels, I am kinda' just rediscovering the forum. I made an intro a little while back and kind of forgot about it. It's a pretty cool place! Your analogies listed are awesome. I guess rod design is just like anything that has to progress. I was an auto mechanic for ten years and was big into cars for a while. I personally can't stand the way they are heading technology wise but others love all the bells and whistles. Give me a 1976 Toyota FJ40 Landcruiser, carbureted and I have a truck for life! Don't get me wrong, I like new rods, just don't want people to forget the old stuff either.
I guess compared to a TCR, the TCX has a "soft tip". But it doesn't. I happen to like these lines of rods but, with appologies to Hardy Reels, these are unabashedly specialty rods. These are rods for hunting permit or adult bonefish; every cast is long, must be spot-on and you are making like a couple of dozen casts per day...or less. This type of fishing is not for everybody and neither are these rods. Have you tried an NRX?
Not yet. I have a couple buddies around that have them but I haven't thrown it yet. Loomis did a good job with that rod from what it sounds like. I played with one in a shop near here and it has a nice feel. I really dig the color scheme of the rod too.
I just started searching out older rods to add to my quiver. In my search I picked up a 589-5 SP that I'm anxious to fish with. I too have some nice fast tools... but I want to expand my experience on the water, hence the SP I picked up as well as the 389LL I picked up. Can't wait until March!