In a couple of tens of fishing sessions, for around 150 nice sized bass, where I had as much fun casting as fishing, I have to say that my SAGE Bass II are the really best bass-bugging instruments that I’ve had in my hands during my (too) long career.
I always have two rods in my boat to have two different line weight and two different types of flyline, a floating one and the other with a very short sink tip ; this to cover as best as I can do in the classic flyfishing domain of efficiency, from the surface to 1m down deep to target the suspended fishs.
For the « one-rod » fisherman, which one of the Bluegill or Smallmouth would I advise ?
Bluegill is just the name of the rod (a very appreciated fish by US flyfishermen and gastronoms, XXXL cousin of our sunfish). This rod, given for bass up to 4lbs, is perfect for our biggest french specimens. More discreet than the Smallmouth in clear waters and when bass are close to the surface, it can be the perfect rod for the « trouter » who wants to fish predator fish, but also for the lure fishing fan, tempted to « cross the line », who will find familiar sensations in the cast and fight. Don’t worry about the performances : my Bluegill, apart from some nice trophy bass (PB at 52cm this year), has been able to overcome a 1.20m wels catfish, and a superb common carp weighting between 10 and 15kg. She swallowed my hair frog at the surface !
The Smallmouth 290gr (the smally is smaller but stronger than our largemouth bass ; a nice fish weighs 3lbs, and a trophy is around 6lbs) offers to the confirmed angler a little bit more power and safety if a nice pike take the fly, especially from the shore or from a float-tube. It allows casting easily bulkier or heavier flies, like the Hula Popper Fly that I used to fish with a spinning rod and a 20/100 line some decades earlier ! For me the Smallmouth is THE bass fishing rod for our french waters.
In the Bass II series, we find the SAGE quality : the aesthetic is a little bit flashy but good looking, its components are top-level, especially the superb anodised real-seet with the integrated fly-holder. But nobody’s perfect : the wonderful green varnish (« tree frog » color, a must for the bass !) could be more resistant to the shocks, for such rod that is often used close to the trees ; the cork is of very good quality but the handles are pre-shaped and I have a little collage default on my Smallmouth… I recognize I’m picky because I build rods and I’m rather maniac !!!
Finally, the price, always criticizable for the customer, is close to the high-level rods. Of course, you pay for the R&D the SAGE lifetime warranty but it is made of IIIe graphite (the same as the RPL+), not of the last generation. A little anomaly for the blank that costs half the price of the rod-flyline-case combo ; that’s why I would advise to go for the combo (even for rod builders), at least for the remarkable rod-line synergy and for the handy rod-case.
Finally, I give a hat-trick to SAGE and the concepter J. SIEM for those wonders of efficiency but also a reproach : since I fish with my Bass II, my ex-favorite rods are unemployed, and it will surely remain like this.