Sage TXL 00wt
The 00wt TXL is a great ultralight rod because it pushes the limits of quiet presentation, is able to cast 35 feet with very little effort, makes catching smaller fish such as bluegill more fun, and has enough backbone to leverage larger fish.
The 00wt TXL rod is physically lightweight. After casting this rod all day, my 3wt SLT literally feels heavy in the hand. Either because the rod is so light, or because of the new technology Sage uses in their graphite, this is also a highly responsive rod, both in terms of casting accuracy, and in terms of line sensitivity and feeling every head jerk of the fish.
In theory, this rod is perfect for adventurous ultralighters who are willing to put their fish-landing skills to the test, on any sized water, with the lightest feasible tackle. Keep in mind I say "feasible." A lot of ultralight rods are, effectively, noodles. The TXL, even in the "double ought" line weight, has a very stout butt section, which transitions into a very soft tip. The result is more backbone for fighting fish than other ultralight rods, and because the rod tip is so soft and responsive, this rod has an incredible built in shock absorber for the tippet that actually allows you to pull harder on a fish than you can get away with on a heavier rod.
In practice, how does it work out? Well, it's not perfect, but it has its uses. TXL stands for Trout, Extra Light. Bottom line is they need to rename the rod BXL, for Bluegill, Extra Light. I've used my 00wt in a variety of situations and I've got to say that I'm most impressed with its use as a bluegill rod and most disappointed with its ability to handle the small stream environment where small trout are most fun to catch from.
For lakes and open streams, casting dry flies or small nymphs to bluegill, this rod rocks. It doesn't matter the size of the fish, they're all a blast to catch on this rod because you literally can feel every head jerk as you reel them in. The rod actually can handle larger fish too, even without relying on the reel's drag to fight the fish. I've caught 11-12" rainbow trout on this rod and though the rod allows these size fish to take longer runs than a heavier rod does, the stiff butt section lends a surprising amount of leverage to the fight.
For the small stream fishing situation, the results are kind of bleak, however. The first thing I noticed is that when the hook gets caught on something like a leaf or even a blade of grass, I can't just yank the rod and free the hook. The rod tip is too soft to command a fly to jump out of a snag and it forces me to use my hand to unsnag the fly, even if it's snagged on something stupid like a single blade of grass on the ground. This can be a highly frustrating problem when there is brush overhanging the stream on three sides. The second thing I noticed is that as a fast action rod, this doesn't load that well closer than about 12 feet, making delicate presentations tricky at this distance, and often resulting in having to recast, which, coupled with the soft rod tip that can't pull hooks free of minor snags, can result in a headache on a small stream.
The extremely light fly line offers a significant advantage over heavier ones in stealth delivery, but it has some notable disadvantages as well. If I'm casting a nymph or a tiny dry fly, wind is actually less of an issue with the 00wt than it is with a 3wt. This is because the thinner 00wt fly line presents less surface area to a breeze than a heavier one. However, if it's a bushy dry fly, or any dry fly larger than size 16 that I'm casting, wind can be a hinderance because a 00wt fly line has less forward momentum than a heavier one and is affected by the movement of the fly itself. There's also a definite limit on weighted flies, as can be expected of such a light fly line, so it's small nymphs, unweighted streamers, or dry flies only with this rod. But really that's to be expected.
I really fell in love with the rod's smooth cast right from the start. I abslutely adore its near-weightlessness in the hand, its surprising power, and the way it feels when a smaller fish is on the end of the line. However, speaking for me personally, it is just an unacceptable rod for small stream situations, which is what I originally bought it for. The tip is too soft for dealing with streamside brush. Fortunately, I've found the perfect bluegill rod in the 00wt TXL.