Sage ACCEL 7126-4 - Making Spey Friendly and EffectiveNovember 19, 2015
Although this article is pretty specifically geared towards one product, I think there are some things in the text below that any aspiring spey guru will appreciate and learn from. After two seasons of fishing and guiding with this particular rod I really want to hammer home with anyone spey rod shopping just how good I believe this particular model to be. There are lots of choices, but the customer satisfaction and success I have witnessed is too much to ignore. You can shop for the complete package online here, Sage ACCEL Spey Rod and Sage DOMAIN Fly Reel Complete Setup The Sage 7126-4 is a great all around rod for anyone that fishes primarily on small to mid sized water and casting is generally 80' or less.
What matters most in a spey rod to me however, is how does the consumer/intermediate level caster take to it? I like to see a rod that will cast with almost any line, any sink tip, big fly, small fly, newbie, or expert and perform at a high level. I have found that in the Sage ACCEL 7126-4 to do all that. It is my 2nd year with this rod and I am convinced now more than ever that Sage hit the ball out of the park with this rod. While its not inexpensive at $750, I believe it is a heck of a value. The most comparable, yet superior, is the Sage MOD Spey at $1050. I am using the 13' 6 weight as my "light rod". These are both big investments and you should think them through and try them first if possible. They will become your "go to" rod for life if you give them a chance. I really am pressing the Sage ACCEL because it is within financial reach of more consumers than the Sage MOD.
If you are dabbling with spey casting and determined to get better at it I have lots of advice. My first piece of advice is that you need practice and coaching more than you need new gear. There, I said it. You can't buy a cast. In order to get in some effective practice however you need to have a functional spey system, and you need to have your OWN gear. Skin in the game so to speak. Using borrowed gear at various classes or guide trips is just going to keep you wallowing in mediocrity which is not inspiring to anyone.
I have watched lots of first timers pick up spey rods in hopes of near immediate success. As you are reading this, that idea sounds almost completely ludicrous ha! You have 2-3 days to steelhead fish all year and here we are learning to spey cast when the game is on. I humorously equate that to major league baseball players attempting to learn switch hitting in the post season. Not a good plan. Maybe spring training or batting practice might be a better idea. Even a few hours of practice makes a huge difference in your catch count! Steelhead fishing is challenging for even the best anglers under the best conditions, if you want to give yourself the best possible opportunity for the love of God please get your own rods.
Ok, so what makes this setup so great. Well the fact that I have watched about a dozen anglers land their first steelhead on this setup, while learning to spey cast on that very day. It is so easy to cast, yet even for me (which I would consider myself to be very proficient with two handed rods) it performs at a level that meets my satisfaction. Whether your tempo is fast, slow, medium, or whatever - it seems to respond to the angler's energy and adjust. Extreme fast action rods have their place but its not in the hands of the newbies.
Switch Rods vs. Spey Rods
This should probably be whole separate article, but I will tell you this. If you are dedicated to swinging flies get a spey rod. They are more forgiving, more powerful, and you won't give up and tie a bobber on the line haha! Now seriously, the spey rod is a better tool if you are a swinger. Regarding action! On Switch Rods I personally prefer a fast action rod because I am likely to overhand cast it or nymph fish with it some. This is in stark contrast to spey rods (my personal preference) which I like moderate action spey rods. The Sage ACCEL and Sage MOD Spey are my rods of choice in the spey game. Depending on a variety of circumstances, the casting tempo can change and moderate actions seem to be more versatile and there is less fatigue. Which is a real issue. That doesn't make me a pandsy, it makes me honest, and I'll be the guy still throwing beautiful 80' casts even after several days of straight casting. In the Switch game I like the Sage ONE and Sage METHOD. Again, this is my personal preference but I also use these rods with my guests and ultimately I want to see them be successful. I believe this logic is sound.
Lines for the Sage ACCEL 7126-4
If you order this complete package, we'll setup the line for you. That part is easy. All of ours spey rod, reel, and line outifts come ready to fish. I have cast a bunch of lines on this rod... and they all seem to cast really good. It honestly doesn't matter all that much. Stick within 25 Grains of the rec's below and you'll be in good shape. This rod is very forgiving and never seems to complain about much of anything. My favorites for most fishing applications are Skagit heads either floating or intermediate. I have not cast a Scandinavian line on this rod, but I can only imagine that it will work very well. It eats up everything else I throw on it.
3 Primary Line Options
RIO Skagit MAX Shooting Head - 525 Grain - This is the "Utility" Line for all around spey fishing with swinging flies. For all around work the floating Skagit head is great, for cold water,
Skagit iShort Intermediate Shooting Head 475 Grain - This is a very short head! If you are on small to mid-sized water it is great. On big water and long casts get the true iFlight which is 3' longer.
Skagit iFlight Intermediate Shooting Head 450 Grain - This is a great line for intermediate level casters.