Sage have long produced a range of dedicated saltwater fly rods for this growing sector of the Flyfishing market. With advances in technology on rod blank design, they constantly strive for a more finely tuned casting and fishing tool than the one before. A tough challenge that certainly is, they seem to successfully pull one out of the bag time and time again. Most companies dedicate one range to the saltwater market. A super-fast actioned rod that can for many be a difficult rod to cast well.
Here, looking at two beautifully crafted rods with excellent cork, fittings and finish, there's a distinct difference in cosmetic design, but that is not what we should concern ourselves with when choosing the right rod. The Salt is unsurprisingly Blue and the Method a Deep Red.
On comparing the Sage Salt with the Sage Method, it is quickly apparent that they've dealt with the majority of demands a saltwater fly fisher has. The Salt is a fast actioned rod with ability to throw a tight loop very well, but it has feeling down the blank and all the way to the handle that you'd expect to find only in a medium or slower action rod. A rare attribute in fast actioned rods, this is very important for casters who may often struggle to get their timing right. We all rush the cast when fish are in sight or when dealing with a head wind. It's wrong, we know that, but human nature or the testing elements push us in that wrong direction. So, this ability to await the feeling in rod blank on our back cast is very useful indeed. The Salt loads quickly, picks up a long line, holds a long line in the air with ease and delivers a tight loop with only minimal amount of rod bounce if hit too hard. An excellent rod in majority of fly casting hands.
Step in the Method. Sages follow up to their TCX and before that the TCR series. Rods designed with freshwater or saltwater in mind. These predecessors were all firm favourites with those who love to cast. And the Method tightens things up even further with a blank that initially feels very stiff in the hand but comes to life with a good fly line through its rings. Both rods were tested in 9ft #9 size and using the same fly line, a Rio Permit taper WF9.
Remembering that feeling down to the handle on the Salt, this time, the rod in test was immediately able to do everything as well, yet the rod bend and feeling under load was noticeably different. The surprise for many will be that on short lines the Method stands up to the Salt. It has feeling, it does perform at close range and throws the tightest of loop when casting within 10yards and of course is then able to hold the longest of line in the air that any skilled distance caster could wish for.
It has less bounce when hit very hard, almost zero, no matter how hard it is forced through the cast. The loop shape remained sharp and tight throughout a number of different casting strokes, from a slow movement with a delicate tapping at the stop, to forcing right through the stroke, making a much faster more aggressive delivery. I've used the Method range a lot myself, and following this interesting rod comparison I still favour it, but it's a very close call and the Salt surprised me with its ability to compete with The Method on tight loops and distance casting.
Which is the rod for you? Method is the fastest action for sure. The tip recovery is incredible. They both perform extremely well and the Salt has more room for casting error. But which rod gets the best out of you? which model makes you smile the most when casting?