The ‘Flash Flyrod Account Remove Coin’ or FFARC for short, is my new universal economic yard-stick to to gauge purchasing power parity as it relates to high-end fly fishing rods (Similar to the Big Mac Index – feel free to use it in light conversation)
Though I have at various times been well FARC’ed, at the moment, thanks to all my wife’s high maintenance children and her instance that their education and food and stuff are more important than fishing, I’m not all that FARC’ed up at present. I say this because by seasons start in September after yet another trip to their FFARC-ing orthodontist, it was clear to me that I might only get to buy one new fly rod for the rest of my life and therefore wanted to get it right.
Do I need another 3-weight as much as my kids need new shoes ? Clearly, but do I also need another 5-weight and 2-weight as much as my oldest son needs 8 more weeks at university ? Maybe not so much. Sigh.
Anyway, glass half full, the good news is the new Sage ‘Trout LL’ rod is here to fill the touchy-feely hole in our lives where the Circa used to be and after trying the 5-weight for an upcoming Flylife Magazine review I said FFARC it and ordered the 3-weight sight unseen. You only live once right ?
It soon arrived with another stack of bills and the immediate out of the box and wagged around the living room impressions are that it’s considerably quicker than the original LL and, by modern Sage standards, at least a medium action. Once out in the park and lined up with the RIO Perception WF3, it starts to work to almost half way down the blank and has excellent feel through a very forgiving tip. Unlike the slower original LL’s (from memory) there is, as expected some grunt in the blank and great accuracy and loop control thanks to the well damped action and 30 years of advances in graphite technology and taper design.
Compared to the new Dart 3-weight, or my sharp little 7’6” X, it’s still no powerhouse and needs a little more casting skill to make good presentations at the end of long casts. Obviously, that’s not what Sage had in mind and they describe the Trout LL as being a dry-fly rod for “walk and wade trout fisheries” and I would have to agree that at normal small stream casting distances, the LL is right at home while for longer casts, it’s not embarrassed.
For its first day out on the stream, and thinking I might be throwing heavier nymphs over high fast spring flows, I took punt and lined the rod up with a new RIO Creek in WF#3 that I figured, thanks to its short head, would be up for the harder work. Fortunately, the water was crystal clear, only a very little over it’s very user friendly best and I was able to properly test the rod in more normal conditions.
Compared with the Perception line, with the Creek, the dynamic of the Trout LL changes considerably, it becomes more aggressive, will throw long casts off short and sharp hauls and shoot line like a fast 4-weight. It’s not quite as controlled as a long cast with the Perception and requires a little more concentration to get a soft touch-down once out there, but geeze it gets those nymphs way out of the guides. In a way, this combination reminds me of an over-lined short fast rod from the earlier XP or Z-Axis generations except it has all the feel and improvements on short casts with none of the problems at distance.
That said, get too far off the back taper during false casting and you will need to be on your game to keep the line from hinging and making a distant mess. On a short rod, this is a line you need to dial into and walk before you run, but once there, it’s transformative and a brilliant match for the little Trout LL and you will be walking with the best.
Up close and in the tighter stretches of the stream, roll casting or simply flicking, I would put the trout LL on par with a similar size Circa for sub 10 – 15 foot ranges, call it much better out from 20 to 30 feet and a major improvement anywhere past that. In general, and all comparisons aside, I will happily call the Trout LL 7’9” 3-weight Sage’s best small stream rod yet though if they make a 2-weight model, I might have to rob an orthodontist or sell a child to see if it remains true.
The build of the new Trout LL is simple and elegant with Fuji guides wrapped in brown and gold over a very thin diameter mahogany coloured blank and a bronze up-locking reel seat with a tidy snub-nodes half wells grip and best-yet walnut wood insert. It comes in a cloth bag and aluminium tube and is covered by Sage’s lifetime warranty.