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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Benjlan's profile picture
Cedar Rapids lowa

Posts: 54
Benjlan on Aug 24, 2011August 24th, 2011, 5:55 pm EDT
Hello everyone, just wondering about a small mouth outfit. A year ago or so I went out and spent a wad of money on a Sage smallmouth rod, hate that rod and whats worse I also bought his big brother the Sage largemouth hate that rod worse.

Can someone please guide me in the correct direction. My trout rods I like are St. Croix Avid series 2-5wt and Lamiglass fiberglass 2-5wts, sometimes I get in a old school mood and the Lamis come out but for the most part the Avids see the water more.

Has anyone used the 6 and 7wt avids with larger smallmouth flies or poppers? Do they handle good? Or can someone guide me in a different direction? I do not know if I like a fast rod never had one. Lamis are sloooow and Avids are not much faster so there is my problem. I really do not want to drop another 600 on rods I don't like.

If anybody is in love with the Sage bass series no offense they are just not for me.

Any help would be great!

Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Aug 25, 2011August 25th, 2011, 6:24 am EDT

I'm from the school that thinks, "it's not the tools it's the carpenter"...:) I have never cast one of the Sage Bass-Series rods but I'm more than happy with the Sage's I own.

I went through a phase years back where I practically only fished my 3&4 wt rods when I fished for trout...When I actually fished with one of my 5wt's it would feel like a club for a bit after fishing those other rods.

Personally, I prefer my 5wt"s that are 9 footers when chasing smallies and don't have any issues with casting the larger stuff with them...These bass rods of yours are just under 8' and run from 7-10wt rods. For me, I would think, a 6-7 wt rod like you mentioned above would be enough...

I actually won, back in the 90's, a Loomis that reminds me of those "bass" rods...It has a fighting butt etc except it is a GLX 9' rod and a 7wt...It really feels like a club in my hands and I have to take a little time with adjusting my casting speed etc...I hardly ever feel the need to fish with it though.

I think every rod has it's own personality, for lack of a better word, and it just takes a little work to discover it. I had a rod damaged in the early 90's and had to send it back to get the tip section re-matched with the butt...A good friend lent me a rod (Fenwick I think it was) that he had wanted to re-wrap and got halfway through it and changed his mind and stopped...I think it was a 5wt 9' rod (maybe an 8.5) and it looked sad...One section in one color wrap and the other in another...The smallies, to their loss, never seemed to notice...:) I still have this rod...It's part of the nephew's starter kit ;).

I guess what I'm saying here is that it's too bad you have a couple rods you are not happy with...That's a waste of dough for sure. Didn't you cast them at all before you bought them? You need to attend a fly fishing show where they have a casting pond, or visit a good fly shop so you can do a test run...At the Lodge I stay at they are always trying to stick a new rod in my hand, "Spence...Just fish with it for the day and tell me what you think." etc...Like test driving a car before you buy it I guess.

I guess I really don't understand this "specialty" type rod thing...Do we need a different rod for each type of fish we chase...I understand the need for different weight lines say for fishing the flats as oppossed to chasing brookies in a feeder creek, but do we need a rod for "panfish", for small-mouth bass, and another for large-mouth bass, and another for trout,steelhead, salmon, etc? I think, to a degree, this is marketing and an attempt to sell/draw in folks from other fishing backgraounds in to fly fishing in general.

Anyway...My $2.25 worth of "insight"...Good luck.


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Benjlan's profile picture
Cedar Rapids lowa

Posts: 54
Benjlan on Aug 25, 2011August 25th, 2011, 6:01 pm EDT

Thanks for your insight on this problem of mine. I have tried my 5wt for smallies but it just seemed too light. I don't need the latest greatest top notch stuff but I do enjoy nice toys. When I bought those Sages I thought I needed a real heavy rod to do the job I was going to ask of a bass rod. Throwing a 9-10wt line totally sucks. I really enjoy a 9' 5wt for panfish and large trout a 3-4wt for small to medium trout. But smallies are so explosive in the water I really wanted something a little heavier.

We do not have a fly shop within 2hrs drive from us and the ones 2 plus hrs will not let you cast a rod, stupid huh. They do not get my money. I have been dealing with a shop in Idaho, super people, they give you your full purchase price toward the trade of a new rod.

I think I will try a St Croix bank robber, I've heard good things about them and it's a 6wt I think it would be a good streamer rod as well for big trout.

As for a waste of dough on the Sages I can trade for the new one and get my full purchase price on trade.

It was awesome to here from you again, I have been sooo busy this summer. Between family, yard work, and the fishing trips there has been no time for troutnut:( But things are calming down now. How about you, anything new?

Well take care and talk to you soon.

Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Aug 25, 2011August 25th, 2011, 6:47 pm EDT
I'm just sick and twisted I guess but I do all of my smallmouth fishing with a 7 1/2-foot 3-weight. While I don't recommend this for everyone - and it certainly won't work under all circumstances - I have managed to land 3 smallies in the 18-20" and 4-5 lb. range, plus four more in the 14-16" range, in the last year and didn't lose any (how I'm not sure, just played them all very carefully). Spence was witness to and photographer of one of these on the Huron last year, an 18-incher that smacked a #10 White Wulff out in the dark...see my profile pic, it's of the very same fish (just to the left!).

I've also pulled in largemouth up to 18 inches on 3-weights (and a 20" 5.5 pounder on a 5-weight), but as you all probably know well that's not as much of an accomplishment...it was in fact a pond full of largemouth that was too brushy to fish with anything longer than 7 1/2 feet (in fact I used to use a 7-foot 3-weight there before I finally snapped it last year) that got me using my 3 instead of my 5...I just got into using it and it has stuck, and in case the bass aren't biting the sunfish can bend it over pretty good too!

Anyway, you can take my advice with a grain of salt, it's not normal but then again neither am I...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Benjlan's profile picture
Cedar Rapids lowa

Posts: 54
Benjlan on Aug 26, 2011August 26th, 2011, 3:40 pm EDT

That's crazy, not bad crazy, just crazy. Do you have to wear the fish down to the point of complete exhaustion? That's amazing! I bet your drag is smokin and pissed off at you:)

Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Aug 26, 2011August 26th, 2011, 7:09 pm EDT
Actually, Ben, would you believe I have fought all of these fish by hand??? No drag involved other than that my left fingers can provide. It's a fine art, I'll tell you that, but I have been at this fly fishing thing for 26 years now so I guess I just have a feel for line fighting by hand. Yes, they are pretty worn out by the time I bring them in and you do need to give those fish some recovery time. Thing is, I wonder if using the lighter tackle leads to more success? Bass aren't known for subtlety but they can sometimes get moody, and I wonder if a lighter approach is better? Especially on smaller waters, the pond where I caught the 18" largemouth last year is crystal-clear and you can see the bottom (and the fish) all the way across...a 6-weight would slam the water too hard there. I guess I just prefer smaller rods because of the fight, I loved using ultralight spinning gear before I went purist maniac fly rodder (2008). Just having too much fun with the fly rods these days though, most certainly that 7 /2-foot 3-weight...I actually throw full-sized bass bugs (cork or styrofoam bodies, painted) on the danged thing - not very far, but far enough in the ponds I've fished the past few years...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Oct 5, 2011October 5th, 2011, 10:07 am EDT

Drag? Rod?...Different strokes for different folks for sure, but what was the action of your Sage Rod? Major rod makers make rods in different actions. Big, popper, wind ristant flies because of their bulk take tight loops to throw them. I would think a med. action rod that would load up with less line placed in the air, and a good casting stroke where you can throw a tighter loop would work fine. The line needs to be heavy enough to carry the bulky fly, and your leader needs to be stout, and shorter with not too long of tippet so it will turn over well. Fish rising to hit a popping popper is more than likely not leader shy. I don't know the clarity of your water but I would be using a 1x, or even a 0x tippet. And I fight the fish off the rod, not the reel. I put plenty of pressure on a fish using just my click drag Hardy's that have very little drag resistance.
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Oct 5, 2011October 5th, 2011, 10:47 am EDT
Hey guys -

The specialty bass rods by Sage were designed to meet the length requirements of pro bass tournaments. Unless you are concerned about the limitations imposed by B.A.S.S., there are much better rods for the purpose.


"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
WestCO's profile picture
Palisade, CO

Posts: 65
WestCO on Oct 5, 2011October 5th, 2011, 8:05 pm EDT
I used to fish smallies a lot on the fly and it was amazing. I used a 9 ft 4 wt but couldn't throw anything larger than a #8. I would've preferred a 6 wt but the feel of my 4 wt sage is just so superior to my 6 that I gave up some hook size. It never mattered because as long as you can get it out there, finishing the cast doesn't matter. You're raising hell with the rig anyways. Plus its so much fun catching smallies on a light rod. They're magical creatures.

I had my best action on a white #8 popper. For some reason it just did it for me. But smallies are more attracted to action anyways. Very fun fishing. Just do it like streamers but stay on top. They've very predictable, but I've always fished them in rivers. Never enjoyed lakes for any type of fish. Still water and I don't speak the same language.
...but fishermen I have noticed, they don't care if I'm rich or poor, wearing robes or waders, all they care about is the fish, the river, and the game we play. For fishermen, the only virtues are patience, tolerance, and humility. I like this.

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