We recently got the chance to spend some time fishing another one of Sage’s new ONE spey rods – the 7126-4. Today you get to hear what we thought about it.
The 7126-4 ONE is a 12 1/2′ rod for a 7 weight line. The trend towards shorter spey rods continues here – 12 1/2′ would have been considered really short just a few years ago.
Think summer steelhead, smaller winter fish, and maybe a mix of tips and dry line work. This is a really versatile configuration, made for easy casting but still with enough backbone to land most anadromous critters. You’re not going to throw 15 feet of T-14 or land big kings on it, but otherwise it’s quite at home in the Northwest world of fly swinging.
Like the other rods in the Sage ONE series, the 7126-4 is finished in Darth Vader black (sorry, Sage calls it “Black Ice”). It’s got a downlocking reel seat, something we don’t feel that strongly about one way or another.
Continuing on the theme started in our other ONE spey rod reviews, this is a really light rod at 6 3/8 oz. Compare that to another recent classic by Sage, the 7126-4 TCX (a.k.a the Death Star) which weighs 7 3/8 oz. Ounces matter when you’re talking about two-handers, and this thing feels really, really light in hand.
Fishing Performance and Line Match
We’re combining two topics here because the 7126 fished so differently depending on how we had it lined. We’re pretty fired up lately about fishing short heads, so we tested it with the Airflo Skagit Switch 480, 510 and 540. We liked all of them, which is the first thing to note – the ‘grain window’ (the range of heads through which it casts well) is pretty massive. With the Skagit heads we used 10 feet of T-8 and a weighted fly.
With the 480 it felt super lively and threw laser tight loops. ‘Conventional’ casts like the Snap-T, formed with a nice big D-loop, absolutely sailed. If you like to give a nice firm pull with your bottom hand, you’ll probably like the 480. Mega-sustained anchor casts like the Perry Poke felt a little underlined with the 480.
After making his first few casts with the 480, one of our test casters made the comment that the rod seemed to cast ‘really straight’. Hmmm..Sage claims that their ‘Konnetic technology’ in the ONE rods makes for straighter, more accurate casts. In past we’ve tended to agree when it comes to single-handed rods, but with a two-hander…really? Does that really matter? After watching a whole bunch of casts come out of the 7126, we might just be sold on that one– the line sure does seem to fire out laser-straight. It’s pretty well known that straight casts tend to fish better…hmmmm…maybe there is something to the whole “decreased lateral movement and vibration” claim.
Anyhow, the 510 seemed like a nice middle ground, loading well with a wide range of casts.
We threw the 540 on just for grins, and guess what – loved it! With the 540 you feel it load a lot deeper threw the butt section, but much to our surprise it had plenty of power to launch this bigger head. The Perry Poke works beautifully with this setup, and with a cast like a Snap-T you just need to slow down a bit.
That powerful butt section should also make this a great fish fighting tool. It’s November in Seattle so we’ll admit we haven’t had the chance to pull on a fish yet – we’ll keep you posted.
Here’s the strange conclusion to the line match section – somehow we liked the 7126 better with both the 480 and the 540 than we did with the 510. With the 480 it’s lively and with the 540 it’s deeply loaded, but for some reason we weren’t in love with the happy medium. Strange – file that one under ‘try a bunch of different heads before you decide’.
For you dry line folks out there, we tried it and liked it with the Airflo Rage Compact 480.
We used a Sage 6010 which weighs 8 3/4 ounces and felt a little heavy. If you can fit your running line on a 6080, that’s probably a better choice.
The Sage 7126-4 ONE is another light, powerful, versatile tool for those of you who join us on the ‘shorter two-hander’ bandwagon. It’s really fun to fish, and it just might help you cast straighter too. If you’re looking for another arrow in your steelhead quiver, you should give it a serious look.
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