Sage X vs NRX+ Comparative Analysis


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Sage X 9ft 5wt vs NRX+ 9ft 5wt Comparative Analysis

I am frequent reader but due to Covid-19 and with ample time on my hands decided to sign up for the Forum.

Today I was a bit bored and decided to test cast my 9ft 5wt Sage X against my new NRX+ 9ft 5wt. Both rods were loaded with SA Amplitude smooth Infinity (my preferred fishing line for drift boat fishing in SW Montana, I have also casted both with Rio IT Gold, but prefer SA Infinity for fishing purposes)

(Sage X) A good, light swinging rod that transitions into a somewhat stiffer mid and butt section. The rod swings light through the tip but then stiffens up a bit in the mid and butt section. There is not a great amount of “feel” translated to my hand. I can feel a more abrupt taper change into the mid-section where it stiffens up. The taper on the X is not as progressive as I would have liked. It feels like casting a stiffer stick with a compliant tip, just not a lot of feel throughout the blank. I would not describe this rod as “smooth”

(NRX+) I picked up the NRX+ and it swung light with plenty of power, but right off the bat it felt smoother to me. I cast both rods again side by side trying to pinpoint the subtle differences. The NRX+ has such a smooth and progressive taper transition its almost seamless. I can feel the line load evenly and the rod flexed in perfect harmony throughout the casting stroke all the way into the grip. This translates tremendous feel into your hand that I did not get with the X. The progressive nature of the NRX+ taper is magnificent. Even though the NRX+ has a deeper flexing, progressive taper, it is still a fast rod. The blank is crisp, stable and recovers quickly which allows for accessible power while not getting overwhelmed when casting lots of line. It’s Smooth Fast.

The taper design must have taken G Loomis a ton of time to fine tune. It also seemed to have a larger “sweet spot.” I cast the Sage X again. The tip was compliant enough but then the mid and butt section felt to tight, dull feeling and the transition, dare I say “harsh.” I had to focus on what two distinct sections of the rod were doing, which required a bit of concentration. There is much less feel throughout the rod (compared to the NRX+) Both rods have plenty of power, but I am not sure I have cast a rod with so much accessible power and feel throughout like the NRX+

An important aspect of taper design that I really like is a smooth progressive taper. I believe Rajeff states this is one of his design philosophies. Here is a quote from Rajeff in an article “Some rods are progressive fast, and some are progressive slow, but every rod should flex evenly based upon the amount of line and application of casting power.” A progressively flexing rod allows for a smooth transition of energy, requires less concentration as to what differing sections of the rod are doing and allows for superb line control and feel.

Both rods are fantastic rods as is well documented on the internet. But man, the NRX+ is so smooth, the taper so progressive and so much feel is translated throughout the casting stroke. It feels like a more “fun” rod to cast. I had a buddy fish my NRX+ a few weeks ago and unprompted the first thing out of his mouth was, “wow, this rod is smooth.”

The NRX+ seems to cast with less effort and it is hard not to like the connectivity and feel it transmits through the casting stroke. I cast the Sage X one more time for good measure, and yup much stiffer in the mid and butt sections, much less feel, it almost feels like a bit of a blunt instrument. It’s not that the X is too stiff or does not have feel, it’s just that you can’t feel it throughout the rod the same way you can with the NRX+. I also cast my Sage 691-4 X (With SA Infinity) to see how the taper transitioned and it seemed more progressive that the 5wt, but I could still notice a distinct transition between sections of the blank. (If the NRX+ 9ft 6wt is anything like the 5wt it will be a must have rod for me.)

I also love the new grip on the NRX+. It is a full wells and has a more pronounced swell at the top (vs the snub nose wells on the X) and feels more comfortable to hold, at least for my hands.
At the end of the day both rods are great, both are light, powerful, finely tuned instruments. But there is no doubt that NRX+ has a much smoother, progressive taper that translates tremendous feel to the user. That fact coupled with plenty of power and an overall light swing weight makes it a very fun rod to cast.

I guess the question is, out of all rods hanging on my rack, which one would I pick when I go fishing this weekend? I am going with the NRX+, it is just to fun to cast. I cannot wait to get an NRX+ 9ft 6wt, but they are on backorder for the time being.

Wow what a rod. Well done G Loomis!

Just some thoughts on things I noticed between the two rods, hope this helps anyone that might have questions about these rods.