The New Toy: Meat Slapper
Taking a peak at the New 2016 Sage lineup during an early spring visit from my Farbank rep, there was one item that garnered my full attention. As an owner of several Sage ONE single handed-rods, which fit my casting and fishing style perfectly, the thought of a Sage ONE 3wt 11’0” two-hander haunted me until it was in my hands all rigged up and ready to fish. My home waters in the Midwest are small to medium rivers with slow flows, deep undercuts, fallen trees, and sparkling clear water down to 4ft. Depending on the season, we chase everything from smallmouth and largemouth bass, to spring creek browns, carp, and of course steelhead on the Lake Erie tributaries. These small to medium rivers have slow flows creating a perfect scenario for shorter two-handed rods and swinging streamers through deep pools.
My goal was to find a two-handed rod with a faster, responsive action that could throw a lighter style Skagit shooting head, spey versileader, and a monster fly for targeting big browns and bass that eat MEAT. From deer hair bugs to articulated streamers, I was demanding a very versatile fly rod out of a mere 3wt.
Setup: a RIO Skagit Trout Max 250grain, 25lb RIO Grip Shooter running line and RIO 10ft Light Scandi Spey Versileader/5ips sink rate. Goal: a larger fly to slap water near the bank and swing/strip through the bottom like a smaller sculpin, leech, or baitfish (Meat Slapper)
A couple weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to get the outfit wet!
One word… Effortless. The rod did most of the work all day long. As my co-angler was fishing a 7wt single handed rod, false casting 1-2 times before each presentation, I was able to Z-cast, double spey, and single spey to present a 4 inch articulated fly in 1 fluid cast. Excelling in making tight accurate casts, this ONE made me a better two-handed caster on a smaller river through its responsive and accurate graphite components. Not only can you feel the rod load under the Skagit head, but you feel the deep reserve power in the cork that makes you feel you can push the rod harder. Keep in mind, my goal was not 60+ feet casts, but deadly accurate 30-50ft casts in lower canopies, log jams, and undercut banks situations. I would highly suggest this particular fly rod for an angler who also has rotator cuff or has difficulty throwing a heavy streamer rod and sinking fly line all day long.
Rigging the outfit with the RIO Gripshooter was a must! Not only can you shoot this smaller Skagit head a country mile, but the handling section allowed me to use a critical jerk/strip method to entice these predators. I just can’t wait for the spring and summer bass season when I can get out on the larger waters 60-80ft with a deer fly in the aquatic grass! As a loyal Sage fly bum, I think they hit the ball out of the park on this particular fly rod and especially the design of the Skagit Max Trout Line. Maybe I can convince RIO engineers to design a extra light MOW tip kit!!!!
I hope you will enjoy this on your local streams, as I will continue to do in the 2016 season.
Matt Parker, General Manager