If you fish for summer steelhead anywhere in or near the Pacific Northwest, the Sage 7136-4 Z-Axis is a rod that you pretty much need to have in your arsenal.
The 13’6″ length is extremely versatile and blends easy all-day casting (because it’s not too long) with the ability to cover lots of water with great line control (because it’s not too short). The true 7 weight classification makes this rod equally at home casting a dry line with some finesse, and casting anything but the heaviest sinktips with no trouble at all.
Skagit-style spey lines like the Rio Skagit Flight and the Airflo Skagit Compact in the range of 475 to 550 grains all cast well on this rod. For the most versatility with a wide range of tips, we think a line right around 525 grains will be mighty bueno.
This is not a super-fast rod. Compared to other Sage double-handers, it bends pretty deep into the butt section. If you really like to feel your rod load, you’ll like the style of the 7136. On the other hand, if you like fast, super powerful rods, you’re going to want to check out the new 7126-4 TCX, which has already been nicknamed the ‘Death Star’ and will be the subject of a future post.
On the Deschutes or the Wenatchee or the Upper Dean (especially with a dry line), the 7136 is right at home. Where does this rod not play well? If you’re throwing real big tips, like over 14 feet of T-14 or so, or if you’re likely to encounter fish over maybe 15 legitimate pounds, it’s a little light. Fighting a bright Kanektok king on this rod would probably not be the best idea.
In every series of rods by a given manufacturer using a given technology, there’s often one or two specific models that really stand out, not necessarily due to the numbers or the size, but due to ‘feel’. The 7136 is one of those rods in the Sage Z-Axis line – it’s just a real sweetheart.