Sage Xi2 An Unbiased Review

Posted by Chad Teng 
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Took the rod for a session of serious flogging on the river today. There was a serious lack of balanced online reviews on the rod before I bought it which made an informed decision difficult. Hence, I thought I'd add my own opinion to whatever's avaliable out there in cyberspace.

Rod: 8wt SAGE Xi2 4-piece

Fittings:
The reel seat in my own opinion is one of the biggest improvements. The uplocking reel foot looks like a chamfered 'square' bolt. Due to the design, there was almost no wobble in the reel at all. This is the only reel seat I have that fits all my reels of different makes and sizes with no play.

The guides however are a let down; Even my old Loomis has SiC guides. Although the double foot snakes on the Xi2 may be a matter of personal preference, single foot snakes (which seem to catch on knots often), 'recoil' and even shape memory alloy guides are offered by competitors on their high end rods.

Casting:
What you see on the Sage website is true. The taper is indeed faster than that of the old RPLxi; Its even faster than my Sage XP. The 8wt does not feel sloppy like the older RPLxi 8wt.

In terms of weight, the rod feels light enough; which is a big plus. Sage claims the use of Generation 5 graphite and some Modulus Positioning System technology (MPS-which's probably more like Marketing Promotional S**t). While Sage claims of improved 'line feel', I certainly cannot tell. It is true that the rod feels different to others when I was comparing it to my GLX side by side. Perhaps the best description is that it has an artificial feel akin to casting a hollow plastic tube while the others feel like ... well, a rod.

A big let down is probably the indicated line weight. I was after an 8wt. The 8wt Xi2 is probably more of a 8.5 or a 9 depending on your casting style & preference.

I won't comment on the fighting power since I've not caught anything that pulls on it yet. However, there definitely seems to be alot in reserve; probably more than any other rod I've casted save the GLX Mega (which is more like a short stroker).

Overall:
If you're after a new rod, the Xi2 is worth a look if, like me, you like faster rods. Perhaps custom building is a good option provided you can import quality components. On the other hand, if you're looking at upgrading from an older RPLxi, think twice. The taper and casting stroke is very different. While a long and relatively relaxed stroke is permissible on the old model, its probably not suitable for the new one. A more aggressive and compact stroke is needed with the Xi2 which is ok for the first 4 hours of fishing or so but may be more tiring as well as detrimental to joints in the long term.
Chad,

Thanks for posting the review - great to see such a balanced report and especially valuable as you've had experience with the previous Sage models.

Regards,

Chris.

[www.flyworld.com.au]
Hi Chad
Good review, you mirror my thoughts.
I have been looking for the perfect/ultimate weapon for many years now and have the conviction that there are a number of rods that will fit the bill according to a persons ability and expectations.

I cast all the sage models I could at the recent Peter Morse day (2pc, 3pc, TCR, Xi2) and felt that the old RPLxi 2pc 8# was still the easiest rod to cast.
(It suits my laid back mentality and covers for lack of style and injured elbow)
Pity that Sage are overpriced in Oz but that will change with the stronger $Au

I hear the RPLxi will be discontinued now that the xi2 is out?

Another easy rod to cast is the Innovator distance (cheap fittings and flashy gold name tag spoil the look) but at $250 are quarter of the price.

Steve
Chris, Steve,

Thanks for the comments.

Just a few thoughts. Recently, the taper in the newer line of rods from many manufacturers seem to get more & more aggresive. I'm really questioning the wisdom of that move.

Fast rods may be easier to sell as firstly, there is the market perception that faster is better [:-] . In addition, fast rods tend to better absorb the excess power applied by lousy casters like me who tend to overpower their stroke. People who have not fished with them extensively before may also marvel at the tight loops they generate when taking it for a 10min test cast in the park (or a club casting day). However, thats only the icing on the cake.....

Perhaps a fair review of any rod can only be given after the user has fished with it extensively day after day for one week or so and not just after only one session. During the recent boneheads trip I found myself switching rods from an extremely aggressive taper initially (while I still had lots of energy) to a nice moderately-fast tapered one at the end of the 2 weeks. For an unfit and occassional fly-fisherman like myself, all the shoulder ripping and aggressive casting stroke needed to properly utilise a very-fast tapered rod was just too much to take for 2 weeks day after day. Towards the end, I prefered to just let the rod do the work with less effort from the angler.

In the future, when anyone I know is looking for a rod, I'd really advise them to think seriously about what they are going to use it for. Is it a 3hrs once a week rod; or an expedition rod; the choice may be quite different.
Good info there for anyone looking into buying fly rods there Chad, I am reserved about Sage rods. I have yet to find one I like, at the Morsey day I cast almost all of the Sage rods including the new model. At first it felt very good but the more I played with it the quicker I turned off it. The more I used it the softer it felt, but then again I do prefer stiff fast recovering rods. To my way of thinking the stiffer the better because the rod loads and unloads faster. At present I am using a Reddington DFR and I must say this is a sweet casting rod. I cast with it all day, less effort=smother longer casts consistently, just my views of course.

No I don't have anything to do with Reddington[8|]
First up, I am the Sage distributor for WA, so I'll refrain from opinion and stick to the facts...

Rob - Redington are owned and made by Sage these days, so there's probably something in Sage's cheaper ranges that matches the DFR exactly.

Steve - Sage have discontinued all the RPLXis in favour of the Xi2s. Personally I don't think that's their smartest-ever move. The 2pce and 3pce RPLXis are great rods and would have been popular for years to come. Not everybody wants a 4pce rod, which all Xi2s are at this time. Having said that, not long ago (~5 years) nobody wanted 3pce rods either.

And you're right, the rods will get cheaper if the $ stays up; although for most of the past ten years they've been cheaper at the rate of the day in Australia than anywhere else in the world anyway. Right now they're exactly the same price as the USA, if you include 10% freight, 73-cent exchange rate, 5% duty and 10% GST; and then you get an Australian-backed lifetime warranty (all Sage rods are serial-numbered).

Sage blanks and components are available; if you wanted an Xi2 with flasher guides, you could use a factory rod and remove and replace, or buy a blank and the Sage reel seat and start from scratch.
Hiya Hal
Youre right about the popularity of the 2pc flyrods.
Its probably just a comfort thing, like tying your own tapered leaders means more knots so more ferrules means more weak spots! maybe.
I used to fish slow action Orvis rods years ago, and then moved onto faster Diamond backs for saltwater stuff, but lately I have coveted my neighbours sage,
again a comfort thing I suspect.
I panicked when I heard the RPLxi was to be discontinued and spoke to Santa.
Its now my preferred weapon at least until some other beauty turns my head.
Steve
Actually,

I beg to differ. While the 5pc RPLxi I've cast is a little too soft for my liking, 4 piece rods are probably the way to go for the future. Gone are the hassles of long cumbersome 2pc sections which cannot fit into boots of small cars like mine.

Technology & ferrule design have certainly caught up recently. Probably the most significant (& probably first) multi-piece rod whose action does not differ much from the 2 piece models is the Sage XP which is introduced after the RPLxi series. I have it in the 10wt and this is certainly one of the most underated rods. (probably because its rare). While it does not have too much lifting power (in lower weights), the taper is the one I'm most comfortable with; faster than the older RPLxi but a tad slower than the Xi2.

Likewise, others like TFO, GLoomis, Winston and Powell have caught up and are all introducing new models exclusively in the 4-piece configuration. Maybe the popularity of 4 piece configuration is catching on so fast that it is uneconomical to produce 2 pieces anymore. As for ferrules being a weak spot, its all a matter of carefully putting them together. Any loose joint is just as deadly on a 2 piece rod as it is on a 4 piece.

Like Rob, I prefer fast rods; but not too fast. The RPLxi is slightly too slow for me. No experience with the DFR but would love to try it one day Rob. But the funny thing with fly-rods (unlike reels) is that beyond a certain price range, there is no 'best rod' anymore. Its all a matter of personal preference and taste; Hence the risk of ordering something that has not reached the country and that no one has ever seen / cast before. I've been lucky twice; with the Sage XP and Xi2 that Hal. & Co brought in for me. But I wouldn't advice others to do the same....
Another plus for four piece rods (that Crano pointed out to me at the day with Morsie) is that you can split them in half for storage in rod lockers etc. and they are effectively as neat and tidy as a two piece. At the same time, you can probably carry them fully broken down in a suitcase.

I'm interested in your comments Chad regarding carefully putting ferrules together - any tips here (from anyone), beyond connecting them at an angle and twisting the pieces to align the rod?

I broke my Loomis when the top peice worked loose, which it always does after an hour or so of casting, and I hooked a fish. I have since got a completely new rod and I still have the same problem. Is this something you just have to live with (and look out for), or can it be effectively eliminated? Does anyone use surfboard wax to help?

BTW - interesting discussion about the Xi2.

Cheers,
Dave,

Yeah; I remember the loomis thats you 'stuck' together and still caught fish [grinning smiley]

Its interesting that the problem occured again cuz even after fishing for an entire day with either my 4 pc Sage or 3 pc Loomis rod, the ferrules are still nice & taut. I put them together by the twisting method you mentioned. Perhaps it may be a bad blank or ferrule design.

However, I do use wax on the ferrules (candle, surfboard .. anything) .. but only once in a while with only an extremely light coating. Does not seem to make much of a difference though.

I have since heard others suggest the use of light oil (face / nose oil) just before putting them together extremely tightly. Prevents them from getting stuck. The first time I saw someone do that, it was pretty foul sight to see him rub the ferrule all over his nose while assembling the rod; especially from the side view where it looks as if the entire ferrule is stuffed up his nostril. [:'(]

Anyone out there can verify the effectiveness of this method.
PS - Just got one of those new Rio Tarpon Tapers in a 9wt I'm pretty impressed with it. Full Intermediate, aqua colour with a clear tip. Loads my loomis nicely.


Where from Cole??