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Sage 790-4 Xi3 – Light with Fight

Posted on June 03 2010

Just a little lighter.  Photo: Louis Cahill
Just a little lighter. Photo: Louis Cahill

Michael Gracie got to spend some time at Andros South a couple of weeks ago fishing the Sage 790-4 Xi3.  Michael was one of the cast of characters at our first Deneki FIBFest – a casual gathering of folks who write about fly fishing online.  He writes a great blog about fly fishing, finance and technology.

Michael wrote up a review for us of the 7 weight version of the Xi3.  We also fished the 8 weight Xi3 during the week, and we’re running a drawing from our newsletter subscribers for that 8 weight Xi3, a Sage 6080 reel and a matching Rio Tropical Clouser line.  Click here for information on how to get in on the drawing.

Without further ado, here’s Michael on the 790-4 Xi3.  Thanks Michael!

Sage 790-4 Xi3 – Light with Fight

The 8-weight is standard issue bonefishing artillery for most situations. It’s generally quick, light, and agile – you can target small fish and big fish and have equal fun. But every once in a while you might find yourself needing something a little different, and I do mean NEED.

It’s overcast and muggy, and the wind is virtually non-existent. Your visibility is limited, and you are fishing semi-skinny flats in Grassy Creek with a highly motivated guide. You are jumping fish every twenty-five steps – the only problem is you are doing so when the fish are only twenty-five feet away. The super-fast 8-weight might work in the hands of an FFF Master Casting Instructor, but you are a novice angler with just a decent casting stroke. Getting the rod to load, and getting the fly in front of wary fish, becomes a chore. You came to catch fish, not spin with aggravation at every spooking school.

What you need is a 7-weight rig – one that is fast enough for the longer shots, but still touchy enough to make the short cast with a minimum (meaning one!) of false casts. If you are lucky, that rod is a Sage 790-4 Xi3, a well-balanced combination of featherweight sensitivity and fish fighting prowess.

On my recent visit to Andros South for FIBfest, I had the opportunity to carry this stick along. Most days there was enough breeze and sun to leave it in the rod well, but on two the exact conditions described above reared their ugly head. And out came the test gear.

And it produces!  Photo: Pete McDonald
And it produces! Photo: Pete McDonald

I’m not the best caster on the planet, but the Sage Xi3 really stepped up my game. Fitted with a Rio Tropical Clouser WF7-F, it felt punchier than I expected when 40+ feet was called for. And when the short shot was called for (the reason I was carrying it in the first place), it loaded quickly enough that I was able to drop Gotchas in front of pointy noses as though it were instinct (which it usually isn’t for me).

The Xi3 is supposed to be the new speedster in the Sage lineup, but I found luxury. Very smooth casting, and line tracked to target precisely where the tip wound up pointed. I caught quite a few fish on the rod too, and while nothing to hand was in the trophy category, I never felt out-gunned.


…just a few that were uncovered

  • Loads quickly and effortlessly on short shots
  • Capable of handling moderate wind, and longer distances
  • Very light and smooth, hence easy on the arm


…only because I didn’t have enough time

  • Unproven in strong gusts
  • Unproven on hogs

At the end of the day, you and your guide are heading back to the skiff when he notes that we got us some fish when we shouldn’t have.

I think to myself that must have been because he did his job, and we had the right setup for the job.

As I know it wasn’t the angler.

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