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soloflyfisher 07-17-2008 10:50 AM

Recommendations for a Striper/Blue Rod?
I just got an invitation to go striper fishing in Boston Harbor. I have a Sage RPL+ 8 wt that I've used for saltwater fishing in the past, but I think this is the perfect excuse to purchase a real saltwater rod. Any suggestions on what to look at? I'm in Massachusetts, so I'll probably use it primarily to fish for stripers and blues. I'm thinking of a Sage Xi2 in either 9 or 10 wt. Is the Sage a good choice or are there others I should look at? And what are folks' opinions on 9 vs 10 wt?

Although I'll probably use this rod almost exclusively for saltwater, it might occasionally have to double as a pike/muskie rod.

Also, should I consider a two-hander for the saltwater? I guess that would make the rod less useful for pike/muskie, but maybe it's a better choice for salt? Is a two-hander just for surf fishing or is it okay on a boat, too. Versatility is probably important, given that this is my first true salt rod.

JimW 07-17-2008 11:11 AM

Sage is a great company that makes a great product. I'd recommend you try out some rods, the line you use with the rod can make a huge difference in the performance. If you already have an 8wt, I'd go for the 10wt. My buddy has one of the higher end Scotts that feels light in the hand even though it's rated for a 10 wt line.

In my opinion the 2-hander is not a good tool when fishing out of a boat, think of it like bringing your 12' surf rod on the boat.

BigDave 07-17-2008 01:18 PM

The Xi2 is great - especially the 10.

If you're not sure you could get 2 mid level rods for the price of one Sage.

I have a couple of 4pc Powell TiMax rods and the 9 casts better than any premium 9 stick I have tried. Might want to look into them. Don't be fooled by the price.

FishHawk 07-17-2008 02:15 PM

I used to be a Sage guy until I tried the T&T Horizon II rod. Give it a try . I have a 9wt and and 8wt . What ever you get test cast before you buy . FishHawk

Warren 07-17-2008 04:51 PM

I have both the 9 & 10 wt Xi2. great rods for striper's. I would opt for the 10 as well if you own a 8. Don't forget to look at the T&T rods or the Winston BIIx. Some of the forum guys have them & they are both sweet rods as well.

nmbrowncom 07-18-2008 05:35 AM

i fish the harbor from my boat and i also do some wade fishing on the cape.

until the passed 2 seasons i used a 9' 9 wt xi2 on both. when i broke it on the flats in may 2007 i temporarily (so i thought) used my peacock bass rod on my boat. it is an 8' 9wt gloomis crosscurrent. i was surprised at how much easier the shorter length rod and the line were to manage from a boat. the shorter length and unusual stiffness gave a huge advantage in the wind and in fighting/controlling big fish particularly in structure. despite its shorter length it casts a lot of line. it comes in 3 piece only. scott over at the bear's den sells them. also it is relatively inexpensive-$350.

when i broke the xi2 i bought a 9wt 9'9" gloomis crosscurrent for the flats while i waited for the sage repacement rod to arrive. the longer crosscurrent is quite stiff for it's length but not quite as stiff as the 8' nor the xi2 for that matter. but , it outcasts the the xi2 by a mile while it stays very light in the hand. it also comes only in 3 piece. i think the cost was $ 390.

about a month after i broke the xi2, sage sent me a new replacement's still in the tube. all of that said, the xi2 is a great rod and has more versatility than either of the crosscurrents.i.e. the longer rod on the boat or the shorter rod on the flats would make for a long day. the xi2 does both very well and better than most.however for specific use-boat or long casting from shore or the flats, check out the crosscurrents. gloomis also makes a 9'crosscurrent in their higher end glx series. it's a 4 piece, has some fancier cork and "magical" guides and a few other appointments. it is a dream to cast and a real cannon. and most importantly it is very versatile, and comparably priced to the xi2,t&t or the biix.

soloflyfisher 07-18-2008 11:25 AM

Thanks for all the great advice everyone. I think it's time for a trip to Bears Den to try some of these rods out.

Those of you who fish for stripers a lot and have both 9 and 10 wts--do you find you use one wt more than the other? In the past, I would have leaned toward the lighter rod, but since I bought a Sage Largemouth (330 grain line), I've started to appreciate the ease of casting big flies with heavier lines.

BigDave 07-18-2008 11:45 AM

You can do a lot more with the 10 especially if you are boat fishing. A 9 wt will not handle the heavy lines needed to really get deep. Also better for hardtails and/or windy conditions. My .02

soloflyfisher 07-18-2008 12:03 PM

Thanks Dave . . . and your answer begs another question--what lines do you recommend getting? I was thinking of starting with an intermediate and a fast sinking (and skipping the floating line). Does that sound right? I'm assuming you can fish poppers okay on an intermediate line, but I'm not sure, since I've been pretty much a fresh water fisherman until now, and have very limited experience with stripers.

nmbrowncom 07-19-2008 07:00 AM

while using poppers with an intermediate line is possible, it can be a real pain, particularly if you let the popper sit even for a few seconds after you strip. the line pulls the popper down. i'd recommend getting a floater for the poppers. i like a heavy front end line like a bass taper to turn over large and/or heavy flies.. i use the rio clauser line. but there are plenty of others. the sci angle striper line is also great.

on another note, that 7' 11" 330 grain sage bass rod may be the perfect size rod for the boat. but, i don't know how well it will stand up to salt water use.

Warren 07-19-2008 02:15 PM

I use the nine, when I am casting in light wind & surface flies. Either an internediate or the Rio Outbound S-3.
But when the wind kicks up or a heavy sink tip line is required I use the 10wt with a Rio Outbound sink tip. Depending on the depth I want I use a S3, S6 or when one must sink to great depths the S8 line. Lately I have taken to using the S-3 in shallow water as a go to line & change from there as required.

BigDave 07-21-2008 08:31 AM

I use a very fast sinking line, a light sinking line and a floater.

If you need to really get down deep the RIO Striper DC is a good one. 450 is about the max I can handle on a stiff 10wt.

I use a really light (300g) sinking line rather than an intermediate because it loads faster and cuts through the wind. Wonderline there.

I like the Wulff SW Triangle Taper for a floater.

I have a number of intermediate lines and hardly use them at all anymore.

soloflyfisher 07-22-2008 09:05 PM

Test casted a bunch of rods
I visited Scott at Bears Den today and he spent a good part of the afternoon letting me cast rods. For those who are interested, I thought I'd share my impressions of the rods I tried:

Winston Boron IImx 10 wt--feels a lot like a nine weight; is very light weight with a medium fast action; like most Winston rods, a pleasure to cast. Would probably be the easiest 10 wt of the ones I tried to cast all day. I couldn't get quite as much distance with this rod as with some of the others, but shortening up the amount of line I was carrying in my false cast and shooting more line helped with distance.

Thomas and Thomas Horizon II 10 wt--the other extreme from the Winston. A very powerful rod that really shot line well and could carry a ton of line outside the guides on false casts. I liked the feel of this rod quite a bit, but my impression is that it might suit someone with a bigger frame. Still, I think it would be the best rod with big fish and heavy sinking lines.

GLoomis 10 wt--this was the one that gave me the best loops and the most distance. It felt a little bulkier than some of the other rods (bigger diameter blank), but wasn't heavy. Scott didn't have a 10 wt Sage Xi2 in stock (he's ordering one), but he said most people find the Sage and Loomis similar. I want to compare this and the Sage--I have a feeling one of these two will be the right rod for me, unless it's the following:

Loop Opti 10 wt--Scott just got these in the store today. This was a very interesting rod with some novel features (like removable weights to balance the reel). It was somewhere between the Winston and the other rods in feel and weight. I got a bit more distance out of it than I did the Winston, though not as much as I could get from the T&T and Loomis. Still it shot line very well. I need to cast this one again before I make up my mind. It's a neat stick and less bulky than all the 10 wts except the Winston and with a bit more power than the Winston.

Sage Xi2 9 wt--Scott didn't have the 10 wt in stock, but he had the nine weight and I tried that last. It felt like a 3 wt after casting all those 10 wts. This rod had a fast action with a stiff butt section, but the tip felt notably flexible. I was able to make very tight loops with the rod, but had to be careful not to overpower the tip and catch my leader. I'll be interested to see how the 10 wt version of this feels. Compared with the other rods, the Sage 9 wt felt most similar to the Winston to me, but I think this was more because the Winston felt so much like a 9 wt than because of similarity in casting feel. The Sage action seems to be more of a two-part action, very fast in the butt section but much softer in the tip, while the winston is more consistently medium-fast in both butt and tip. Or at least that's how it felt to me.

When Scott gets the Sage Xi2 10 wt in, I'll head back to try again and make up my mind. Scott carries Scott rods too--I didn't cast those today, but they're probably worth trying next time as well. It's neat to cast so many different rods together like this--you get a very good sense of how subtely--and not so subtely--different they all are. Only problem is I kind of liked all of them, which makes it awfully hard to decide.

Smcdermott 07-22-2008 09:22 PM

Because there are so many great casting rods out there I think its important to consider other qualities. A big one for me is the warranty. I really like the Loomis sticks for just that reason. For ~$60 they will 2 day air out a new rod with a return label for the old stick no questions asked. If you are going to only have one rod to start with for the salt that feature may help break a tie. Not sure if any of the other manufacturers offer that same level of service. I know Sage requires you to send the broken rod back for repair and was a few week turnaround for me last year.

BTW, I agree the 10wt CC GLX is a cannon yet light in the hand. Landed a number of small tuna to 30lbs or so on that stick.


soloflyfisher 07-26-2008 08:43 AM

Loop wins out!
I went back to Bears Den again yesterday and cast the 10wt rods I was considering (Winston Boron IIx, Loomis CC GLX, Sage Xi2, Loop Opti Power, and Thomas and Thomas Horizon II). It was pretty clear after about a half-hour of casting that the Loop was the best for my casting style. For some reason, I cast most consistently with that rod, getting great tight loops and really good line speed on just about every cast. Only the Loomis was close in casting performance for me, but the Loomis was much bigger and heavier, which made the Loop an easy choice. All of these rods are very nice, and depending on your casting style and your size, you might like different ones. I'm relatively small (5"7") and not particularly strong, and so I tended to feel more comfortable with the smaller, lighter rods--the Winston and the Loop. The Winston has a very nice, sweet, smooth casting feel to it, but not quite the same power as the other rods. The Loomis and T&T both felt pretty beefy to me and would probably be the best rods for fighting big fish, but both also seemed like they might be tiring to cast and would be better for a bigger caster (the T&T, in particular, felt like it had great lifting power, while the Loomis was a real cannon for distance). The Sage (which is what I initially thought I'd buy) was also quite nice, as all Sage rods are, but I actually found the tip a bit more whippy and I had to be very careful not to overpower or underpower my cast even slightly to get a nice loop. The Sage was somewhere in the middle for power and lightness of feel. Overall, the Loop was impressive because of its unique combination of lightness and real power. It also is a very nicely finished rod, with a really neat reel seat and removable weights at the butt which you can adjust to balance the rod with the reel.

I matched the rod with a Hatch Plus 7 reel (nice simple design--maybe more of a 9 wt than 10 wt reel, but held 230+ yards of 30# backing with a 10 wt line) and ended up with three lines: Rio Clouser for the floater, a Wullf intermediate, and a Rio 400 grain sink tip.

Got a bit of a chance to cast with it in the surf yesterday--rod performed great in fishing conditions. Wind was only moderate yesterday, but the rod just fired line out into the surf. Unfortunately, I have no idea where or how to fish for stripers yet, so my casting was nice, but my fishing no good . . .

Only bummer was that I managed to drop the rod on the gravelly parking lot while removing the reel and got one or two small nicks and scratches in the finish (the rod literally sprung out of my hand as the reel came off--it loads up that easily!) I guess it was gonna get dinged up sooner or later, but I hate to see it happen on the first day!

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