Sage One 590-4
One of the most accurate lightweight rods we’ve used. The Sage One 590-4 is especially well-suited to casting dry flies in challenging conditions, since the accuracy and power allow you to place small flies delicately on target, even when the winds are blowing and the fish are skittish. Equally strong in swinging streamers, and more than adequate – though not ideal – for drifting tiny nymphs.
Sage One 590-4
Sage, which makes all its rods in the U.S. at their Bainbridge Island facility just across Puget Sound from Seattle, spent three years developing the technology they introduced in the Sage One rod.
Casting Distance and Accuracy
The One uses Sage’s new carbon fiber compound – dubbed their Konnetic technology – in the new precise tapers to create a stiff, very fast-action rod capability of throwing trout lines great distances. That same new composite technology dampens vibration in the swinging rod, resulting in remarkable accuracy even on long casts. Our testers discovered the most cast farther, with better accuracy, with the One than with any other rod of similar line weight.
Even more impressive, that performance comes in a rod slimmer and lighter than most of its competition. The narrow rod diameter keeps weight down, while also reducing drag during the casting stroke. That means less arm fatigue after long days of casting – which can translate into more time on the water, and thus more fish in hand.
General fit, finish and feel
The One looks sleek and sharp, with its shiny black finish and walnut reel seat. While I personally felt the rod comfortably fit in my hand, other testers – especially those with smaller hands (including all our female testers) – felt the classic half-wells shape was just a tad cumbersome and not nearly as comfortable as the more commonly used reverse half-wells cigar-shaped grip.
While many times fish are caught within 15-20 feet of the caster, there are times when you need to reach across a river and lightly drop in a tiny dry fly to get a finicky rainbow trout. That’s when the One really shines. It can push line through stiff winds and reach across wide waters yet still delicately and accurately lay down your fly. It is equally suited for throwing big streamers out to voracious big brown trout or even steelhead. The only use for which we found it less than ideal – and we noticed just a touch of drop-off in performance – was in nymphing. When drifting small nymphs under the surface, the stiff tip didn’t give us the precision touch that’s preferred for delicate takes underwater.
How We Tested It
Fishing for rainbow trout on the Yakima River, Washington; cutthroat trout in Kelly Creek, Idaho; browns, rainbows and cutthroat throughout western Montana; and grayling in Northern British Columbia. Testers included myself, Jim Nelson of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Donna Meshke and Bree Barton – both skilled outdoorswomen and photographers.
Behind our ratings
Value: Price of this rod compared with others designed to perform the same basic function.
Weight: Weight of this rod compared with others designed to perform the same basic function.
Fit in Hand/ Grip: Feel of this rod in hand, comfort of holding and casting all day.
Casting Distance: Weight of this rod compared with others designed to perform the same basic function.
Casting Accuracy: Ability to make accurate casts compared with others in the same class and category
Versatility: Usefulness of the rod in a range of situations and angling styles, including dry fly fishing, nymphing, swinging streamers, etc.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.