Some combinations just sing.
It’s not common that you throw together a combination, take a cast, and immediately feel the rod and line work together. Often, you have to work for this. I’ve been watching some Olympic trials recently, and the commentator on the slalom championships last night pointed out how the racers try to test the snow conditions in the first few turns. They try to find their rhythm. That resonated with me; I thought, that’s the same as trying a new line and rod combination. You try a few and hope to find your rhythm.
And so it was with the Sage Salt HD #10 and the RIO Coastal Quickshooter XP with a Sage Spectrum Max reel. One day this fall, I took it out fishing for false albacore. Quick shooter, I thought? Perfect. You need to be able to cast long lines relatively quickly as albies pop up around you. I brought a backup rod just in case the rod and line didn’t match up. Once I started casting, I forgot I even had it.
The Sage Salt HD 10 is a great rod for fall saltwater fishing here in New England. It’s fast, it’s well made, the cork is high quality and feels great in your hand, and it looks nice too without being overdone. Usually I like a bit more flair to a rod, but the matte black anodized reel seat and the squid ink graphite with blue trim wraps compliment each other nicely. The whole aesthetic is stealth and speed. The same is true of the reel; the Spectrum Max was an aerated black and grey. The weight balanced the rod nicely, shed water quickly, and had enough drag to slow down some hot albacore.
The Sage Salt HD is a fast action rod, and so the extra weight of the head on the RIO Coastal Quickshooter XP was a perfect match. Lifting the line off the water, all you needed was one false cast to load the rod and shoot a bucket full of line. It felt great to cast, and put distant fish within reach. I’ll also say I’ve not cast a purple running line before, the color of the XP. Do I think it’s a problem? Not at all. The head is clear. If the fish aren’t bitting, try the fly or your presentation, not the line.
After getting about 10 albies to boat, I felt extremely confident in the entire rig. The rod and line combo put them within reach, the rod had enough backbone to fight them comfortably, and the reel had enough drag to slow ’em down. On another trip, I cast into some pods of feeding bass, also with ease and confidence.
In the end, the Sage Salt HD and the RIO Coastal Quickshooter XP was my favorite saltwater combination of 2017. Once spring rolls around, and stripers start feeding again, I’ll keep reaching for it. It’s just that good.
Sage Salt HD
LENGTH 9ft 0in
LINE WEIGHT 10
TUBE SIZE 30in
ROD WEIGHT 4 7/16oz