Review: Sage ACCEL Fly Rod | Hatch magazine

This is one of the eternal mysteries of fly fishing and it is perhaps the most debated. Are “premium” fly rods worth the price? Is an $800 stick fish better than a $100 fish? Does dropping the big bucks ensure longer, more accurate casts, better fish-fighting ability, or more angling mojo?

Do you have to be Steve Rajeff to make a difference?

Well, I’m no Steve Rajeff and the majority of fly rods in my tackle closet haven’t cost me a load. With the range of fishing opportunities I have here in North Carolina – the Appalachian nets three o’clock to my west, the Atlantic coast three o’clock to my east, and a Piedmont full of farm ponds and rivers of hot water in my own backyard – I’m loaded from 2wt to 10 in a variety of tapers and lengths. If each had cost me $700, I would be poor as a pauper.

But this past month of introducing the new Sage Accel has me thinking.

I have long believed that you get what you pay for and fly rods seem to follow the rule. The question is, “Can the average Joe Caster make a difference?”

And we all have “that rod”—that Especial that we paid $75 at the close that has just the right taper, just the right fit, and we wouldn’t trade it for a boatload of premiums. Mine is an old 7’6″ 4wt Redington CPS which is my favorite trout pole. It hasn’t been made in years. Love it and the clearance price it came on.

But these basement gems are few and far between. And when you break one, there’s no way to replace it.

Which brings me to the Accel. I didn’t want to be impressed by it because the last thing I need is the taste of good things. And since my cast is “functional” at best, I figured I wouldn’t feel the difference. I was wrong.

So here’s where this “review” falls apart. Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when he took on the definition of pornography, relented and simply said “I know it when I see it”. Well, that’s pretty much where I land with the Accel. I know a good stem when I smell it.

Sure, there’s a lot to be said for technology (Generation 5 and whatever) but it would be dishonest of me to regurgitate that here as if it makes sense to me, average Joe Caster that I am. Sage describes it well on their webpage, so check it out. I’ll just say I cast this medium-fast 6wt on Cutthroats in BC, Big Rainbows and Browns on Montana’s Missouri River, Smallmouth Bass in the Shenandoah, and Bigmouths in my own backyard. He carried an easy power within him and I just didn’t want to let go. I hated to send him away when my time with him was over.

On every fly fishing forum there are dozens of threads that start with “I’m looking for a new rod. Which do you suggest? Rod A or rod B? There are always a few half-hearted attempts to analyze and compare the two, but then someone ends the thread saying, “Throw them away and you’ll know.” That someone is right.

I launched the Accel and I know.

Does that mean premium rods are worth all that? It’s up to you to decide. But don’t accept the idea that you won’t notice the difference without seeing it for yourself. You might be surprised. I was.

I am a better spell caster than I thought.

What works

To finish
The Accel is a nice piece of equipment. I’m a sucker for green and the pristine black guide wraps and stealthy black anodized aluminum locking reel seat make it a pretty sight to behold. Yeah, it doesn’t catch any fish, but that’s fine, that’s fine. Admit it.

I believe here is a place where the best stems shine. The handle of this Accel was as smooth as silk. And I like the half-well handle as opposed to the cigar shape. My big rod saltwater side is showing I guess.

Confidence and performance
At the end of the day, it’s good to have confidence in the gear you’re throwing. The Sage is as strong as it gets and the Accel feels like a fly rod is supposed to feel. Easy power and pleasant touch. He put my other 6wts in their place.

What doesn’t work

In fact, all this talk of “premium price” rods is a bit of a stretch when it comes to the Accel. At $595, it’s not cheap, but there are plenty more expensive sticks to be had. A happy medium, perhaps? Well, not quite. But it’s a start.

Last word

Whether or not bounties are worth it will always be debated? Those who can afford a Porsche will buy one and those who can’t will find them indulgent and unnecessary (but very sexy). Let’s just say that now that I’ve covered all my fly fishing basics, from 2wt to 10wt, I’ll be more discerning in replacing or expanding my arsenal. It’ll either be something fun and dirty cheap (like a $20 Eagle Claw featherweight) or the other extreme, high-end fishing gear, especially in key locations; 5, 6 and 8wts. It will be worth it, for me.

And you can expect to see an Accel in the mix soon.


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