The SAGE Bass II fly rod is a fast action, do-it-all system that will keep up with you on the pond, stream, or river. Here's a full review.
You have to be careful when a great company like SAGE gives you some excellent gear to use. It would be easy to just start right off by extolling all the virtues of this fly rod system and just leave it at that, but the good folks at SAGE wouldn't be getting their money's worth.
It wasn't all that easy since we've had record flooding here in the northeast, and the rivers and streams have just begun to return to normal levels.
Having said that, there were no excuses to not take out this rod! SAGE sent me the Bass II fly rod complete with a 4260 reel filled with RIO WF7F line. All I had to do was add the leader of my choice and it was off to the races.
The first thing you notice about the Bass II is the olive green carrying case that will easily fit into your vehicle, or better yet start across your back with the adjustable carry strap. The pieces of this pack rod fits well into their own individual sleeves inside the case for ease of use, whether you are getting it out or putting it away.
I took the Bass II to a calm Lake Ontario to start. From the ease of the shore and with no wind it was easy to cast a big fly in the open water on my initial few casts. Right away I could feel the smooth glide of the line through the eyes.
At 7'11" it doesn't have quite the reach of a traditional rod, but its handling makes for immediate fun nonetheless. This wasn't so much a trip to catch fish as it was a trip to try out the rod and reel. Here's where's where things start to get even better.
Next, I was off to a local canal, where I knew casting wouldn't be as easy. Even worse, the cottonwood trees had already begun to shed their 'snow,' making every cast a routine in removing white debris from the line.
I had to battle a bit of a west wind and some current to get it where I wanted, but had no trouble with accuracy; I could place a nice size bass popper right next to the edge and work it back with the flow. The feel of the grip in the hand is one of the best things about the Bass II, which was noticeable as soon I hooked a few rock bass.
What the Bass II Did Best
Once I finally got the chance to fish this system on one of my favorite early summer bass streams, it really started to shine. With the water now low and the bass beginning to spawn, it was time to see what the Bass II could do in closer quarters. I made the point to start in a spot I don't always fish: right under a bridge.
I had no trouble keeping the rod low enough to cast almost sideways and still keep the accuracy. There was a big log jam from all the flooding so I needed to stop my bait just before it. I'm a decent fly fisherman, not a great one, but I had no trouble.
I finally hooked up in a more open area with the Bass II and it was immediately evident that I was using a stiffer, shorter rod made to handle more aggressive fish in a tighter area.
The Bottom Line
I fished the SAGE Bass II on an open lake, off the shore in a canal, from the middle of a moving stream, and once from a kayak. The only accuracy issues were my own. When I used the rod correctly I had no trouble.
I casted with the wind and against. I used flies that I should have used, and ones that I shouldn't (once I even tried a little F-7 flatfish). The weight forward RIO line made casting a breeze, although I seemed to have a propensity for the line to hit hard.
One issue I had was rod separation. Every 20-30 casts or so one of the central pieces would come apart enough to stop the action. I seemed to have some trouble with arm fatigue, but it could be partly due to my lack of fly fishing this season (I did use my nine-foot steelhead rod quite a bit in March and early April).
The feel of the grip along with the light weight of the 4260 reel was especially good during one particular fight I had with a decent smallmouth.
The 7' 11" full-wells Bass II fly rod with cork composite fighting butt will run you $550; the 4260 reel $289. The price may be a little high for some, but hardcore fly fishermen will pay a lot more, and often for something not near the quality level. This system will get you in the game for large and smallmouth bass, snook, peacock bass; even pike and muskie.
The Bass II is as lightweight as it is strong. You could spend a lot more, and you could spend less. I like to tell people that if you get three prices for an item, don't take the cheapest or the most expensive. Go somewhere in the middle.
That's where the SAGE Bass II fly rod and the 4200 series reels fall. You won't regret it.