desc::Arguably one of the best all-around two-handers that Sage has ever built. If you can only have one two-handed fly rod this is it, from summer to winter steelhead...this rod can do it all. Read more!
Sage Z-Axis 7136-4 Spey Fly Fishing Rod Review Specifications
• Line Size: 7
• Rod Length: 13' 6”
• Sections: 4
• Weight: 7 1/8 oz.
• Handles: Premium Portuguese Cork - Two Handed
• Reel Seat: Uplocking Black Aluminum
• Tube Size: 44 ½”
• Action: Fast and Smooth
• Price: $800What’s the word . . .
Being one of Sage’s top dealers, I was able to borrow one of Jerry
Siem’s new Z-Axis Spey rods before it was unveiled at the Fly Fishing
Retailer. For my trip to the North Umpqua, the choice was easy; the Sage
Z-Axis 7136-4 Spey Rod. This was over a year ago and the trip was
magical. The history, the scenery and catching steelhead on dries
overwhelmed my senses. This year I was lucky enough to return to the
Umpqua. This time, I brought my own Sage Z-Axis 7136-4 Spey Rod . . .
and it was the only rod I brought.
People who know me and my love of gear have never seen me show up for a trip, no matter what the destination, with less
than half a dozen rods. In fact, I am constantly made fun of for having
“too much gear to fit in the car.” This Z-Axis Spey rod has stopped my
quest to find the perfect rod for every situation, for every pool and
every fly line. The Sage Z-Axis 7136-4 Spey rod is that ‘perfect rod’
for me. I expect it to be the only rod I use on my next trip to British
Columbia, too. Keep in mind, I do not say this lightly. . . in fact, it
hurts the total gear-head in me to think I may not have a full quiver of
rods with me on my next steelhead trip. Maybe I’ll just have three
7136-4 Z-Axis rods rigged and ready to fish . . . one with a floating
line, one with a type three sink tip and one with 10 feet of T-14? Features. . .
The Sage 7136-4 Z-Axis Spey rod is rated for a 7 weight spey fly line.
This can be confusing because a 7 weight Spey line doesn’t weigh the 185
grains that a single handed 7 weight fly line does. In fact, the
perfect line for this rod is the Rio Skagit Shooting Head for
interchangeable tips, which weighs 450 grains, that is, before the
addition of a 140 grain tip. So this ‘seven weight’ rod balances with a
line closer to 600 grains than the 7 weight designation might indicate.
Despite the rumors, fly fishers don’t make it confusing just for fun. It
is my observation (I may be tarred and feathered for saying this) that
this Spey ‘thing’ is relatively new for most of us, and those designing
and manufacturing the gear are just starting to figure some of it out.
We at Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters take it to be our mission to educate
ourselves, and you, on how to wade through this confusion so you can
just enjoy the fishing!
This amazingly efficient rod casts floating heads, sinking tips, extreme
sink tips, heavy flies, and dry flies, all with effortless precision
that I have not experienced before. The 13’6” length, weighing in at
only 7 1/8 oz., gives you the length you need to precisely control your
swing without tiring. The rod breaks down into four pieces, is protected
by a cloth rod sock and fits into an aluminum rod tube 44 ½ inches in
length, allowing you to fit it safely in most overhead compartments. This
insures the rod will make it safely to British Columbia, Alaska, Russia
or the Great Lakes. The 21” cork handle provides enough room to
accommodate any style grip. The 7136-4 comes with an uplocking
saltwater-safe black aluminum reel seat that resists corrosion when
you’re fishing the tidewater on the Dean. The fast, smooth action of
this rod generates line speeds I have never before experienced in any
spey rod, which translates directly into accurate, precise and easy
fishing. What a rod! Action. . . .
The first impression when I opened the tube is that the rod blank was
thinner than a traditionally-built 13’6” rod. As I put the rod sections
together, my observation turned into the physical conclusion that this
rod was light! I wiggled the rod and it did indeed feel light in the
hand, and fast! (Wiggling rods is a fantastic pass time, and is done the
world over in fly shops. This is a poor way to determine a rod’s
action, but until every shop has a river running through it, we are left
to wiggle.) I strung up the recommended 450 Grain Rio Skagit line, with
a floating tip, and started to fish the North Umpqua. This is really
the only way to determine a rod’s action. If a rod Only feels good in
the store, it should stay there. After numerous casts, I could confirm
that this rod was “fast”; not in the tainted meaning of the word, which
means “stiff”. “Fast”, as in the awesome meaning that it transferred a
magical amount of energy to the fly line and created loops with
tremendous line speed. Line speed in this situation means easy casting
and accuracy!! The last attribute that I look for in a rod is tracking.
Does the tip follow the butt of the rod and, therefore, the casting
stroke? If it does, you get accurate loops and a versatile rod that
accommodates many types of casting styles. This rod has a thin blank for
low windless drag, is lightweight for tireless fishing, generates amazing
line speed, tracks like it’s on rails, and handles all types of lines,
flies and all my different casting styles. Jerry Siem, the rod designer
at Sage, has built into this rod the potential for it to be a seamless
part of your fishing; where you no longer feel the rod as a fly fishing
rod, but, as an extension of yourself to land your fly exactly as you
pictured it. Materials. . .
The Sage 7136-4 Z-Axis is built with the Generation 5 Technology
process, a significantly different and improved method used in building
rod blanks. Instead of a typical fiberglass “scrim” or mesh that is
rolled around the steel mandrel to bind the longitudinal graphite fibers
together, the Z-Axis Series has this scrim replaced by a lighter layer
of graphite cloth. This cloth is rolled at a 90º angle to the
longitudinal power fibers, resulting in a rod with greater “hoop”
strength, more power, a thinner wall and less weight. A more efficient
rod with less weight?! Sage wins this one! Fit and Finish. . .
The Z-Axis rods are also attractive, with a rich, olive green blank and
contrasting brown thread wraps over English Hopkins and Holloway guides
and tip top. The finish over the wraps is a medium build and has very
professional, near flawless appearance as you would expect. The reel
seat is a black aluminum, giving the rod a solid look. The handle is top
quality Portuguese cork which is a beautiful tan and natural to the
touch. It’s all organized in a custom tan rod sock and fits into a
handsome aluminum brown Sage rod tube. Sage’s fit and finish is equal to
their reputation of making the finest fly fishing rods in the world. Reliability and Durability. . .
When a fly fishing rod bends, its circular cross section becomes an
oval, with the greatest stress occurring in the compression element at
the inside of the bend. This phenomenon is typically what causes
graphite rods to shatter when they’re overstressed (aside from car
doors, dog teeth, and nicks from weighted flies). In addition, when the
G5 layers are compressed with tape and baked in an oven, as all
synthetic rods are, the epoxy resin fuses the layers together more
effectively than it would with scrim, and uses less resin in the
process. G5 tech has already been proven over several years within the
existing Sage line of tough Xi2 Salt Water rods, and one might assume
this durability will carry over to the Z-Axis line, as well. Time will
tell, but I have no concerns in this department. Company Profile and Customer Support. . .
Sage was founded in 1979 by Don Green, an experienced rod blank builder
and one of the architects of the modern fishing rod, as owner of the
Grizzly Fiberglass Company, which later partnered with Fenwick. It was
originally called Winslow Manufacturing (after the city of Winslow on
Bainbridge Island, Washington) but within a year had changed its name to
Sage. Emphasizing high quality fly rods sold only through specialty
stores, Sage rode the crest of the fly-fishing boom in the post “A River
Runs Through It” years. Today, although there is no industry repository
for exact numbers, Sage is probably the world’s largest producer of
premium fly rods and employs over 100 workers in their manufacturing
So, has being the 800-pound gorilla affected the quality of their
product as it has with so many other companies in the outdoor industry?
Although challenged by industry wide flat sales, the growth of the
Internet, and increasingly higher quality Asian imports, my impression
is no, for several reasons. Sage has continued to retain talented people
and spend money on research and development. The proximity of
Bainbridge to the Boeing Aircraft manufacturing plants near Seattle and
Toray Composites in Tacoma provides access to a wealth of knowledge from
the aerospace industry, the primary end users of graphite fiber. More
importantly, aside from a few casting and spinning rod models over the
years, Sage has pretty much stuck to their original intention, building
very good fly rods.
The Z-Axis has a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner. If
you damage or break your rod, you are responsible for the shipping
charges and insurance to send ALL of the pieces to Sage, plus a $40
handling fee, to cover return shipping and insurance within the U. S.
International owners are charged the actual shipping and insurance fees.
Not a bad deal for an expensive, relatively fragile tool. The other
five or six top US makers offer similar rod warranties, but not all
provide the same level of service. I’ve seen some customers wait 3 or 4
months, or longer, to get their rods back. Sort of puts the damper on
the fishing season. Sage’s lead time for repairs is currently about 2 to
2 ½ weeks during their busy summer, and shortens to about 1 ½ weeks in
the winter. Overall Rating. . .
Scott Howell is one of the finest guides I have ever fished with. His
passion for steelhead fishing is only rivaled by his intensity for
having his clients catch
one on a dry fly. He was one of the pioneers of Skagit-style spey lines
and was perfecting his cast before most of us knew what Spey fishing
was. His belief is that this rod has put Sage back in front in spey fly
fishing. “There were, until now, independent boutique manufactures that
produced better rods. The Sage Z-Axis Spey Series and, specifically, the
7136-4 Z-Axis Spey rod changed all that.”
I feel them same way. After fishing this rod for a full year, I can say
that this beautiful spey rod has halted my search for different rods for
specific situations. On a trip last year, I brought six rods to fish.
This year, I brought only two; both 7136-4 Z-Axis Spey rods, one for me,
and one for my fishing buddy, Thys. These were the only rods we used
all weekend and we never felt under or over-gunned. This has never
happened to me before. I’m sold, and I have a lot of boutique Spey rods
that are going to very lonely in the closet. Reviewer. . .
I’m the owner of Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters by no mistake. I’m,
admittedly, a gear head, and there is nothing better each day than to be
surrounded by fly fishing equipment. I personally have 50+ fly rods,
maybe twice as many reels, 12 cameras, 8 guitars (I can barely play),
1,800 bottles of wine (I barely drink), and four boats. I love the
stuff. I enjoy spending hours trying figuring out what rod matches best
with what line, leader, and fly on a specific river, in variable
conditions. I keep hundreds of lists, and on most trips will be greeted
by groans from the guides on the number of rods I have brought that day
to test. I was introduced to Spey casting about ten year ago, and it
resonated deeply with my love of steelhead fishing. There is nothing I
would rather do than to work a run in the cold autumn of a British
Columbia morning with a Two-Handed Rod. Spey rods and spey lines make up
the focus of many of my current lists. I hope my above review was as
helpful to you as it was fun for me to test the gear and write about it.
Please, if you have any questions, call the shop, as I would much
rather be talking about steelheading than doing the paperwork I find
myself confronted with more and more as a store owner!
Tight Lines – Josh Leland Frazier PROS
This is the one steelhead spey rod I’ll bring on my next
trip, regardless of where it is. . . B. C., the Pacific Northwest, Idaho
or the Great Lakes. It does it all! CONS
Being a gear head, I’ve been used to having a few rods with me. This limits my need for a quiver. BOTTOM LINE
Light, powerful, and strong; I don’t think I’ve
ever said this before, “This rod is a ‘must-have’ for every steelhead
Sage no longer makes this fine rod. Click here to view Sage's latest work, the Sage ONE 7126-4 Spey Rod
. She's a doll!
Click here to see Sage's best steelhead Spey outfit.
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