Behind the scenes

Sage ESN Reel Review

By Pete Tyjas on 13th June 2020

Tags: flyfishing magazine, sage esn, sage fly fish, tackle review

As the popularity of tightline (or European) nymphing continues to grow, Sage have added the ESN to their line up of speciality reels. Made primarily to complement the rod of the same name, it can also be used alongside any other rod you might use.

First up, the diameter of the reel. I’d call it large arbour plus and will keep your line in nice big, memory-free coils.

An interesting design feature is that it is full frame. Essentially, this means your leader isn’t going to get caught up anywhere. The diameter of the frame has also been designed to be thinner to accommodate thin Euro nymphing lines and leaders.

I usually use a Sage Click or an even older 3300 with my ESN rod. Recently, I have been fishing spots where I’ve encountered larger fish than I usually expect to catch. This is where I feel the drag (sealed carbon) on the ESN reel will come into its own. It is super smooth with zero start up inertia. This should mean no breaks from strong, angry trout or grayling. It is possible to really dial in subtle changes to the drag with settings running from 1 (light) to 20 (super strong) and there are also half-steps between each setting, giving you a wide range of permutations that can be easily tailored to your personal preference and the size of fish you’re catching.

The colour of the reel I was sent to review is stealth (matt and all black) but it also comes in a lighter grey with a chipotle red centre.

When I add the reel to my ESN rod, pull off some line and balance it on my forefinger where I usually hold it, it is perfectly balanced. That is all well and good but if you’re planning to fish this technique all day you’ll find that having more weight towards the butt of the rod will make everything more enjoyable and comfortable. This is where we come to the real USP of the ESN reel: Sage have included a selection of weights that you can add to the inside of the reel by simply removing the spool. The default setting for the weight position is the top of the reel but you can make adjustments to move it to pretty much wherever you’d like. It is extremely flexible. The weights come in a small carrier that you can keep with you so that you can make any adjustments as the day goes on.

Made from fully machined aerospace aluminium, it is clear Sage have spoken to serious nymph anglers and as a result, the ESN reel is designed for the angler who wants performance and flexibility when out on the water.

Available from Sage dealers RRP £425