Sage Salt R8 Review By: Mike Rice

Review: Sage Salt R8 890/4

By: Mike Rice


I’ll say upfront that I am in no way an expert on the technical and design-related aspects of a fly rod. I don’t understand the engineering lingo or the metrics by which a fly rod is quantified. So, I will not try to speak to any of that here. What I do know is that for over twenty-five years I’ve struggled to find a rod that is truly somewhere between fast and slow action with a solid mid-flex that suits my casting style. There are a few that have come close, but nothing like the Sage Salt R8 890/4. 

The rod came to me to try out on a sunny but breezy 45-degree day in mid-January. I was beyond a little excited as I rigged it and headed out to the pond. From shore I put the rod through its paces casting Airflo Cold Salt WF-8 floating, intermediate and sinking lines. I went through the box and threw everything from bonefish flies to small and medium Clousers to 4”-5” streamers. After the first round I decided that this is not a rod to throw a sinking line or a weighted fly heavier than a small Clouser on.

I cast the floating and intermediate lines for about an hour moving back and forth from the 40 to 60-foot range. One of the first things I found impressive was the balance between the action of the rod, weight of the line and the tempo and power of my casting stroke. The second thing that jumped out at me was the ease in picking up a lot of line on the water haul and returning it smoothly and quickly down-range. And the third was the accuracy up to the 60-foot mark. The rod has the power to get past 80-feet easily, but the accuracy drops considerably.

I was having so much fun casting this machine that I floated the canoe and spent another half-hour skipping poppers and small flies under the brush and overhangs of the pond’s bank. The accuracy of the R8 under 40-feet was ridiculous and delivered the fly into the proverbial “shoebox” every time.  The more I cast the rod the more coordinated with my casting stroke it felt, the tighter my loops became and the more efficiently I delivered the fly to the target. 

An 8 weight has become my favorite tool in the box for most of the water and areas I fish. Whether it’s New England backwater flats and estuaries, the Everglades backcountry or ponds and lakes in Maine, most of my fishing is on an 8 weight. This rod may be the next addition to my rod box. At $1100.00, it is pricey. Spread out over time, it is an investment.