I have always been a little intimidated by fast acting fly rods. I’m a trout guy, a small stream freak who is much more comfortable with a slower, more precise tool for making shorter casts in tighter spaces. For me, fast fly rods morphed into weapons of random destruction, and to use them properly they required longer casts, double transports, and often compensation for the wind that was probably blowing where something so stiff. and ruthless might be necessary.
And then I learned to hunt bonefish on the flats.
In some ways, all of the above is true. Fast-acting fly rods do indeed require a bit more sophistication to cast effectively. To get the most out of them, they require more line to load than a shorter, softer fly rod. But the payoff is that 60 or 70 foot throw toward the cruising bonefish with the wind blowing in from creative angles. The precision? It’s up to you, frankly, and it’s a practical thing.
As we walked a lean flat in the backcountry of Ascension Bay earlier this winter, the tropical northerly wind that cursed the area for most of our week in Yucatan was on my right shoulder and busy creating small ripples on the somewhat sheltered stretch of water. Conditions for a companion (at best) angler were far from ideal. In the distance, I caught the telltale lightning bolt of a tail bone, and after focusing I could see a pair of pretty fish walking towards me, zigzagging lazily across the sand in search of small shrimp and crab.
It was a routine shot, as the bonefish opportunities arose, and with just one backcast I was able to stretch just enough line to knock the almost weightless Gotcha down in the way of the tail fish. As they got closer to where my fly was resting at the bottom of the bay, I did a little fly tick, and in a second I was hooked up to a very respectable 3-pound bonefish.
âLet me see that rod,â said my guide for the day, a fat Maya named Charlie, after we released the fish. I gave him weight 7.
âSage BOLT,â he said. “It’s a beautiful cane.”
The BOLT is, indeed, a fast acting rod. And it is a complementary tool. By that, I mean, it is an instrument that can help a fisherman with just enough innate ability to do exactly what he intends to do. In this case, despite a touch of wind from the worst possible angle, it helped improve my limited skills as an angler and allowed me to put my fly where I wanted. Like most rods, it won’t do the job for you – it comes from hours spent chasing fish on the flats or days in the park practicing the double stroke with the wind in your head.
You manage the basic skills and the BOLT will do the rest. That’s a good thing in my book. I threw heavy rods (7-9 weights) which are heavy and bulky and generally uncomfortable in my hands. The Bolt is the opposite. It was comfortable and despite the wind and general blustery weather we endured on the weeklong trip to Mexico, I never felt like it lacked the spine to do the job that had to be done.
Presented as a “super-fast” rod by the manufacturer, the BOLT keeps this promise. In more than one case this has helped me pick up 60 feet of line and, with just one backcast, send a line of fire across the flat to my intended target.
With this super-fast action comes the sacrifice. The BOLT is not a precision tool for delicate presentations. A few times the speed of the rod worked against me, especially when I managed to be particularly precise. On bonefish dishes where the fish are spinning and sailing in less than a foot of water on occasion, it is essential that the casts are precise and do not fall into the water with a bang. The BOLT is ideal for tight curls, long casts and quick recovery. But in the hands of a generalist fly fisherman like myself, he’s not going to drop a size 6 shrimp pattern two feet in front of the tail bones without a bit of a splash.
The Bolt is a nice rod with its âsalmonflyâ blank and top-of-the-line hardware, and at $ 650, it compares in price to its competition. When it comes to salt, the rod is an excellent windbreaker, even in the 7-weight model. It was also great for the heavier flies and streamers that we used when casting on trevally and snapper, and I suspect the weight 7 would be a fantastic rod for the big rainbows of the Missouri River. on a gusty fall day near Craig.
To cut the wind or lift big flies, the Bolt is a great addition to any fly-prowler’s quiver. Perhaps his best asset is his weight. At just under 4 ounces this is meant to be an ‘all day’ rod, something that won’t wear down an angler and will make lifting that glass of rum at the end of the day a real challenge. .
I liked the BOLT, and would find plenty of opportunities to use it, but due to its super-fast action and lack of finesse in presentation, this is not a jack-of-all-trades rod.
Learn more about the Sage Bolt (via Sage).