Sage Trout LL

David Anderson adds to his fly rod collection

First things first. If you’re looking for a direct replacement for your 30-year-old Sage LL, keep looking because the new one is a very different beast with only the understated build and warm brown tones in common with the original. 

Gone is the slow-mo action that, while charming, and perhaps less threatening than Sage’s typical ’80s fast action monsters, could be frustrating when it came time to launch a fly beyond intimate range. Don’t get me wrong, the diminutive 6’6″ 3-weight was a real stand-out at the time in tight water and the 9′ 4-weight a dry fly legend, and both remain classics and highly collectable to this day.

No, the new ‘Trout LL’ — or ‘Light Line’ — despite being labelled a ‘medium action’ is quite powerful even by Sage’s lofty standards and therefore far less specialised than they might be suggesting.

I tried the 9′ 5-weight during the off-season with three different lines: an aggressive RIO Grand, the more general RIO In-Touch Perfection and an older RIO Gold with its more subtle long front taper. The Grand slightly overwhelmed the blank while the Perception would be my pick for general use and the Gold for selective and slower water.

The first and most obvious traits in the action are the soft tip and turbo diesel-like punch through the middle of the blank that had me slowing down, backing off the hauling a little and appreciating its more laid-back and forgiving purpose. In the 20 to 40 foot cast range, this is best-case for feel and feedback and effortlessly accurate, and the slower stroke made aerial mending and false casting to gauge distance as easy as it gets. 

Sage call the Trout LL a ‘dry fly’ rod, but after testing it with both large and small wool indicators on long leaders, I would suggest it would also be fine throwing  even moderately heavy double nymph rigs at realistic distances and would easily turn over medium bass flies on stouter tippets.

After 60 feet and well onto the back taper of the lines, the LL requires more concentration not to overload the blank and send a mess out to the backing. With this rod an experienced caster has the power for long casts, but patience is required to make them pretty.

The new Trout LL range is currently made up of seven models from a 7’9″ 3-weight to a 9′ 6-weight. They have a simple but elegant build with Fuji guides wrapped in brown and gold over a mahogany blank and a bronze up-locking reel seat with a tidy snub-nosed half wells grip and gorgeous walnut wood insert.  All models come in a cloth bag and quality aluminium tube and are covered by Sage’s lifetime warranty.

While the launch models would more than likely tick off most troutie’s needs, and the 7’9″ 3-weight I’ve ordered can look forward to a very busy season, I would still love to see a new 6’6″ 3-weight for the nasty stuff and an all-rounder 8′-ish 2-weight for alpine meadow streams as I can imagine, with this new action, both would become classics as well.