It is the eve of my last steelhead trip of 2016, in a few hours we will be headed to Idaho to fish the Salmon River which I suppose would be considered my home water for steelhead fishing. 2016 was the year of the steelhead for me with my season starting in mid September with a trip to the Bulkley River in British Columbia and that trip was closely followed by a trip to the Northwest where I was able to explore the North Umpqua around the famous Steamboat Inn areas. Since I was introduced to the world of two-handed rods and spey casting, I have come to realize two things; it can be extremely rewarding and extremely overwhelming.
There is nothing like hooking a fish on a swung fly whether it is a soft hackle on your favorite trout creek or a green butt skunk on one of the famous steelhead rivers of the northwest. For me, the overwhelming part of the two handed game was figuring out the correct line pairings for any given spey rod. There are Skagit lines, running lines, scandi lines and mow tips. What does it all mean? If these are the terms you’ve got floating around in your head come September/October/November, I can tell you it means you’re on the track for… FUN!
With that being said, picking a rod can also be an overwhelming experience. I will be the first one to tell you, I am no spey guru and I have a lot to learn but in terms of my fly fishing preferences, starting a new pursuit or diving head first into something new is one of my favorite fly fishing experiences. I currently own one two hander but over the last couple years I’ve been able to fish a few different rods and the Sage Mod Spey is a rod I’ve become quite familiar with.
Since day one, I’ve been a fan of moderate action rods and the Mod, hence the name, is a moderate action rod with lots of personality and loads feedback for the angler. Although the rod is considered a medium fast action, there’s loads of power in the reserves. This is a killer rod that can be fished in a variety of situations with a variety of line combinations. When casting the Mod Spey, I knew where my d-loop was and when it was loaded and ready to be punched across the river. Prior to fishing the 6130 and the 7130 Mod, I had never fished a two hander longer than 11 feet. The additional two feet in length helped an intermediate caster like myself pick up line and properly place the anchor throughout my casting strokes. The combination of a forgiving action and extended length really helped to clean up my casts. Speaking of clean casts, Konnetic technology is utilized in the construction of the Mod spey. I found the rod’s recoil to be minimal and the dampening of the rod happened quickly resulting in consistent and clean casts (as best as my abilities allowed).
On smaller rivers the 6130 would be a great rod for bigger flies, tips and longer casts. While on the Bulkley, I used the 6130 paired with a 370 grain Rio Scandi Short Versitip and a floating poly leader to throw dry flies, hair wings and smaller flies. The 370 grain might have been a little light but it seemed to work well when clean presentations and finesse were required. I’d like to try something along the lines of the recommended 400 grain Scandi with the 6wt but the 370 grain Versitip worked well and didn’t seem to under-load the rod at all. I’ve also used the 6130 on the Salmon River in Idaho. I typically us my 11ft 6wt on this river but I really enjoyed having the longer rod for mending.
I used the 7130 was my big gun on the Bulkley. There are 40”+ fish on that river and I felt I was well prepared for anything I might have hooked into. On the Bulkley, this rod was set up with a 525 grain Rio Skagit Max Short and 12’ of T11 with bigger flies. I could deliver larger, weighted, intruder style flies and tips at greater distances when needed but I could still make those shorter, head length, casts while feeling the rod load properly. This size gave me a little trouble with my timing at first, which was likely due to my lack of experience, but after a few days with the rod, we got a long great.
The first thing you’ll notice about the rod is the color. Sage went with the “Skittles, Taste The Rainbow” approach with a few of their new rods over the last couple years and there was lots of moaning and groaning about how bright the rods were at first. Let’s keep in mind the “ Jade” blank stand out amongst most rods on the river, which some like and some do not, but realistically the color doesn’t affect the rod’s performance and I’m willing to bet once you fish one, the color will grow on you like it did with me. I quite like the bright green blank paired with the black reel seat, accent thread wraps and reel seat hardware.
As a side note, I have also been able to spend time with the Sage Mod trout rods. I have fished the 490-4 and the 590-4 on a variety of medium to larger rivers and it’s a killer trout rod. I’d consider this a do-it-all rod with emphasis on presentation and trout casting distances. If you’re a trout angler interested in the Sage Mod, come by the shop and cast one, you won’t be disappointed.
- Handcrafted on Bainbridge Island, USA
- Moderate action
- Konnetic Technology
- Jade Blank color; Yellow-green thread wraps with black trim wraps
- Fuji ceramic stripper guides; Hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
- Black rod bag with Jade logo and model tag
- Black powder coated aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion