Reader's Choice Award

Reader's Choice Award

Sage XP Rods

  • By: Buzz Bryson
RP, RPL, LL, SP, SLT, RPLX, RPLXi… When one considers the classic rod series Sage has brought us, it's hard to believe that Don Green formed the company only slightly over two decades ago. It's also hard to imagine that Sage could bring out a rod that's already more universally popular than any of its illustrious-and lustrous-predecessors, but that's just what has happened with the XP series. Introduced in 1999, the XP quickly became the favorite of many hardcore trout anglers. Trout fishing was, is, and likely always will be the center of the fly-fishing universe.But that's a big universe, one that contains almost as many anglers who either swear by slow action, tippet-protecting rods as it does those who prefer quick-action, "gunslinger" sticks. When anglers at both extremes can find happiness with the very same rod-and many of them have with the XP-then that rod deserves some special recognition. In fact, this crowd-pleasing rod was the overwhelming favorite of FR&R readers who cast ballots for our 2004 Reader's Choice Award. The XP rods are fast, but not hard to load. Nor will they fold on longer or punchy casts. They will deliver an unweighted Pheasant Tail on the nose of a sipping rainbow one day and laser a hopper into a pocket under streamside brush the next. And when things get slow, they'll let you dredge with a weighted Bugger. That quick, easy loading action is deceptive: These rods cast short and they cast long; they cast little and they cast big. Plus, they don't need much false casting to make either happen. The breadth of uses of the XP series is further indication of its growing popularity. There are 43 models, in 2- and 4-piece, in weights from 2 through 10, and in lengths from 7 to 11 feet. Those having the sweet 2-, 3- and 4-weight trout rods will perhaps doubt the family resemblance to the 9- and 10-weight bruisers, but the same characteristics that have made the XP popular with trouters have carried over into other venues. In fact, the XP is frequently found in Alaska, pulling on silvers, kings and big rainbows. You might also see that same rod in the Keys, being asked on one cast to instantly drop a fly in front of a bonefish that crept to within 20 feet of the boat, and on the next cast to power the fly to one that's crossing at 70 feet. Or hit a tub-size permit on the nose with a decidedly non-aerodynamic Merkin Crab, and then have the backbone to steer the beast away from a coral head. That one rod in the series can be a favorite of trouters and another the favorite of boneheads is a reflection on the design genius and applied fishing knowledge of Sage rod designer Jerry Siem. Whether there ever can be "one rod that does it all" is a debate with no answer. But there is an answer to which rod comes closest. The people have spoken. Whether for brookies or bonefish, panfish or permit, the XP is their rod of choice. The XP series range in prices from $520 for a 2-weight to $615 for a 10-weight.