Behind the scenes

Rod Review – Sage Trout LL

By Pete Tyjas on 22nd February 2020

Tags: brown trout, fly culture magazine, fly fishing interviews, fly fishing photography, fly fishing podcast, fly rod review, flyfishing magazine, grayling fishing, Rio fly lines, steelhead, tackle review

The rebirth of a classic product can be a tricky business. It often doesn’t live up to the original and then comparisons are drawn and the new model can fail.

Sage decided to go down this dangerous path with the launch of the Trout Light Line (Trout LL) series of rods.

As someone who has been around a while, I know the original well and actually owned a 9ft 4wt. I used it a fair bit and even caught a few fish with it too.

Even now, prices of the first incarnation of the Light Line trade at healthy levels further bolstering their reputation.

The most sought after rod in the range was the 8ft 9” 3wt and Sage have made sure this is included in the new line up.

When you look at the latest version you can immediately see they have drawn inspiration from the original. The look is similar and is complimented with a  walnut wood insert reel seat and a high quality cork handle. The colour of the blank is called Mahogany, drawing once more on the colour of the first range of LL rods.

The feel and look is there immediately but the biggest change is that graphite and resin technology has moved on in the 30-something years since the original was on the scene. The current rod features the same Konnetic HD technology featured in the line up of all of Sage’s premium range rods, making it light yet strong.

I’ve spent some time with my 389 (8ft 9” 3wt) not just casting it but fishing too.

As with any rod I test I first look to see if that company designs their own lines. Sage haven’t done this for a while now but being part of the Farbank Group they share the same parentage with RIO and also Redington. 

My guess is that the pre-production rod will have been designed and tested primarily using RIO lines. This is a good place to start and I found the first line I tried was with the RIO Gold 3wt. It worked as I hoped but I preferred the new, Technical Trout line that is designed with a longer front taper to help achieve delicate presentation. It also loads the rod really quickly, meaning fewer false casts when I’m targeting a rising trout.

I’ve noticed that I fish a little differently these days preferring to wait for a rising trout rather than fishing the water and so mainly fish dries. The rod has a super-smooth medium action that suits this style of fishing perfectly but it also has the backbone to handle a nymph should you wish.

For a rod that has been aimed primarily to tackle river fishing I was pleasantly surprised with how easily I could make longer casts and carry a lot of fly line in the air. There won’t be many situations where I’d need to, but if you fish a bigger river there is no need to worry, the LL can cope.

The other thing that is often overlooked in reviews is the ability of the rod to actually play fish. As it bends deeper into the blank it makes the whole process a pleasure and the chances of popping your tippet are greatly reduced. This means I can land a fish and return it quickly.

The Trout LL comes in a variety of lengths and line weights from a 7ft 9” 3wt all the way up to a 9ft 6wt. All the bases have been covered.

It isn’t a cheap rod at £799 but you are buying a well constructed rod that does the job it is designed for really well. If you’ve been around the block a little like me then you’ll know the original range. The new range is everything I hoped it would be. If you’re new to the LL range but are a serious river angler they are worthy of serious consideration. They are fun and easy to cast and great to fish with.

Companies like Mini, and Fiat with their 500 model, relaunched classics with a modern twist and pulled it off. Sage have done the same with the Trout LL.