The Sage ZXL 8’6 #3 Destined to become a classic ?
Sage’s chief rod designer, Jerry Siem must be a brave man, to a lot of people the SLT’s were a rod that needed no improvements, so like a few others I was a bit surprised when I first heard the SLT was being replaced with the new ZXL.
I better start by admitting that while I think the 9’ #4 SLT is one of the greatest river dry fly rods ever made and the 8’2 #2 is as sweet as sugar lumps dipped in honey (please bury me with both) the #3 left me a little underwhelmed – it was sweet enough, just a little lacking in punch over 50 feet, and as much as I like fishing at my boot laces, occasionally a longer cast is required and a good graphite 3 weight needs to have both firepower and finesse.
This new ZXL #3 does have both, it can on the one hand be as twiggy as the twiggiest little glass rod, but on the other throw a longish line like a modern graphite canon.
On the water going from a little flick cast or short water haul to a big hit upstream into a headwind is effortless and not something that needs much thought.
At 8’6” this is a long three weight and I consider it to be more of an all-round stream/small river rod than twig so I tried weight forward lines on it.
After more than a few hours casting in the park I picked the XPS as the best line for it, however while out on the stream to do the pictures I ended up fishing it with the Scientific Anglers ‘Trout’ taper that was on my Bougle reel at the time. While the line didn’t impress in the park on a windy day, on the water it proved a perfect match for the rod and easily turned over tungsten bead nymphs & indicators on long tippets.
As a final note, for what it’s worth, I think the ZXL is a beautiful looking rod as well with a rich dark brown blank, even darker brown wraps and a bit of bling bling gold detail.
There are 10 rods in the ZXL range starting with a 7’6 #3 and going up to a 9’ #6, all are 4 piece and come in an aluminium tube and being a discontinued model might make for a good second hand buy.
The only thing missing in my opinion is a replacement for the short lived SLT 2 weight, Jerry if you’re reading this could you please look in to it for me – thanks.
Review originally published in Flylife Magazine in 2008.