When we heard that the switch rods in Sage’s ONE lineup would be 11’6″ long, we got pretty excited, for two reasons.
- Rods north of 11′ tend to work a lot better for our ‘short spey’ applications of switch rods. Yeah, an 11′ rod might overhead cast better…but in our world we don’t overhead cast switch rods.
- We have a deep, long-standing, passionate love affair with the 8119-4 TCX – for its power, light weight, sweet feel and incredible versatility. It was pretty exciting to see a new rod from Sage in the ONE lineup with specs in the same ballpark. The hot girl’s younger cousin just moved to town!
We got ourselves an 8116-4 ONE and spent a bunch of time casting it side by side with the 8119-TCX. We’re going to write a lot of this review as a comparison with the 8119-TCX. Spoiler alert: the younger cousin is pretty hot indeed.
Sage ONE Switch Rod Introduction
The ONE Switch rods are all 11 1/2 feet long, and they range from 4 weight to 8 weight – this is the biggest one. We tend to boil the technology in the ONE two-handers (spey and switch) down to two main points.
- They’re really light but still have a nice feel.
- We have actually bought into the somewhat zany-sounding claim that the ‘Konnetic technology’ in these rods helps. Accuracy isn’t the biggest deal in the spey world in general, but casts with these rods sure do seem to fly straighter, and straight casts fish better.
8116-4 ONE Specs
It’s an 11’6″ rod for an 8 weight line (whatever that means in this world – more on line match below). It’s 5 11/16 oz, compared to 5 7/8 oz for the 8119-4 TCX. Like all the ONE rods it’s got a pretty sweet black on black finish, and like all the ONE two-handers it’s got a downlocking reel seat.
We write a lot about grips because they can have a really big impact on the feel of a rod. Longer grips mean a longer lever and better fish fighting, but shorter grips allow you to keep your hands closer to your body – which we love for casting efficiency and because not all Deneki testers have great shoulders.
The grips on the 8116-4 ONE are about 1 1/2″ longer than the grips on the 8119-4 TCX (even though the TCX is a slightly longer rod), and a little thicker. Having noticed that but not being sure why they’d do that, we did the obvious thing – ask [Sage Chief Rod Designer] Jerry Siem!
Keeping in mind that the TCX series is designed for more advanced casters while the ONE series is a little more ‘all around’, Jerry’s answers make a ton of sense. Among other things…
- “… If a grip is too narrow the tendency is to squeeze too tightly which causes fatigue and reduces swift movement of the fingertips and hands.”
- “…The top end of the fore grip on all of the handles [in the ONE switch line] does drop down to a diameter that is comfortable and with so many new anglers using double handed rods and the switches in the main as two handed casting rods, this forward position of the upper hand is critical for casting . The lower, thicker portion of the grip, being a parallel tube of cork, essentially moves (or encourages the angler to move) the hand forward to the top. It is important to have the hands separated which is a hurdle for a beginner.”
There you have it! Thanks, Jerry.
Casting Performance, Line Match
OK so how did it cast?
Since we always loved the 8119-4 TCX with an Airflo Skagit Switch 510, that’s where we started – by throwing the 510 on both the TCX and the ONE. All our casts were made with 8ish feet of T-10 and a big weighted Intruder-type fly.
The ONE with the 510 cast well, if maybe slightly underlined for our tastes. Casts hit well had sweet, tight loops and flew a mile. Timing had to be good, though, and lazy casts weren’t quite as bueno.
We threw on the 540 and loved it. The rod of course loaded more deeply – you could start to feel it bend not only through the middle of the rod but even a little bit into the cork. It was much more forgiving and slow sustained anchor casts like the Perry Poke definitely worked better. One amazing characteristic of these new rods is that they go from ‘really loaded’ to ‘rocket launch recovery’ with very little effort or drama.
If forced at gunpoint tomorrow to step into a run on the Dean River with this rod, we’d string it up with the 540 for sure.
8116-4 ONE vs. 8119-4 TCX
To keep this write-up from becoming more than coffee-break length, we’ll do this in bullet points.
- The ONE bends a little deeper than the TCX.
- The slightly lighter weight, slightly shorter length, and slightly longer grips (top hand being ~ 1 1/2″ further up the rod changing the ‘lever point’) on the ONE all combine to make the ONE feel ‘more shorter’ than just the 3″ that is reality. It’ll be a joy to cast all day.
- The ONE throws a few more grains and the thicker grip should help with fighting fish.
- They’re both fast-action switch rods from Sage and they’re 3″ different in length, but they really feel quite a bit different. The TCX has more ‘pop’; the ONE has more ‘really nice feel’.
It’s painful to say we prefer anything to the TCX that we’ve loved for so long…but today the slight preference is probably for the ONE.
Summary and Applications
These modern switch rods – short spey rods in our book – are pretty amazing tools. Casting reasonable fishing distances is not a problem. With the right head, backcast room and overhanging branches become complete non-factors. They turn over heavy tips and big flies just fine – and they are a heck of a lot more fun to cast than the long, clubby spey rods of the past.
We love the Sage 8116-4 ONE. Compared to our sweetheart the 8119-4 TCX, it adds even lighter weight, straighter casts, and the shorter length and bigger grips that help fight big fish. For steelhead anywhere, big Alaskan rainbows, and salmon of the not-gigantic class, this is one sweet stick.
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