Review: The Sage PULSE Fly Rod

Sage PULSE fly rod

Sage rods have received an extraordinary amount of praise over the years for a range of reasons. Among the rods that have have created the greatest amount of fanfare, it has often been the fast action rods that generate the biggest buzz.

Carefully crafted, made in the U.S.A., and featuring many of the finest components available for rod manufacturing, many have often coveted fast-action rods from Sage and have only found that a deterring factor for owning one of these rods is the cost. With that in mind, Sage now offers the PULSE — a fast action family of rods with a vast number of model options and a price that will attract many anglers.

Sage PULSE rod

Since cost is a factor for most anglers, let’s first take a look at this aspect. While certainly not cheap, the PULSE is available for $450 for single-handed rods — a price that is substantially less than the ONE — Sage’s most high-end fast action rod. Considering the long-gone a yet more expensive XP, Sage has advanced their technology and materials in the years since the XP was in shops, and looking at the cost in general, the PULSE remains made in the U.S. at Brainbridge Island. In addition, the switch rods cost $550 and the Spey rods are available for $650. For comparison, the ONE retails for $950 for the switch and $1050 for the Spey models.

With that out of the way, let’s look at how the rod performs. The PULSE features Sage’s Generation IIIe technology. Why name this right away when addressing performance? A hallmark feature of Generation IIIe technology is the combination of both strength and feel. For me, these are critical aspects of a fast action rod. I don’t want to overline for feel, and I need to be able to have enough feel for distance casting, especially quickly. And of course, I do not want to compromise strength for feel, and over the years, many fast rods have attracted me for the way they cast then have disappointed me when it comes to everything from lifting power to durability. After all, one of my favorite all-time casting rods collects dust at home because it breaks in the salt.

So when it comes to the aspects of strength and feel, the PULSE shines. These all-water rods have a perfect place for anything from presenting a small dry fly on a high mountain lake to chucking big scuplins on a big river. This rod perfectly executes a wide range of duties and ought to impress an equally vast range of anglers.

With respect to this range, the switch and Spey models are going to win over anglers, and I enjoyed casting a PULSE Spey rod. I recently heard a casting instructor remark that a fast rod is best for casting, but a medium fast rod is best for fighting fish. While I generally ignore absolute statements like this about topics that generally rely on subjective preference, my counter point would be that a fast rod would plenty of feel would satisfy his desires in both departments. (Or at least this is my own personal preference!) With this, the PULSE Spey performs well as a casting rod that manages lots of line well but also feels good when wanting to feel fish. Considering how it performed in this respect, I am already eye-balling the 7-weight PULSE switch rod for West Coast surf perch — a small salty critter that I want to feel but are found in a fishing environment that requires long casts of heavy lines (including shooting heads) and some of the most challenging line management demands imaginable. Other attractive models include the 7’6″ 3-weight — a great high mountain creek or lake rod, especially when windy out, and the 9’6″ and 10′ rods that would satisfy numerous nymphing needs.

On looks, this rod is an attractive olive color on all models. For line weights 3-6, the PULSE features a rosewood insert and black uplocking reel seat. For the heavy rods (6-8-weight, switch and Spey), all rods have a black anodized reel seat.

The PULSE is available now in 3-8-weight models with lengths ranging from 7’6″ to 10′ for the single-handed rods. The switch rods are 11’4″ and come in 7 and 8-weight models. And they Spey rods are 13′ for the 7-weight and 13’6″ for the 8-weight.

To check out more on the Sage PULSE family of fly rods, please click here.

– Tim Harden

Disclosure: Sage is in a professional relationship with the Fly Fishing Guide Directory, LLC and the Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.

One thought

  1. I agree with you whole heartedly. I have fished for trout with a 6 wt Sage Pulse for the past 2 seasons. It accurately casts 50 feet of line with 3 false casts and has plenty of spine to land big fish. When fighting 5lb plus fish you don’t get that rod bounce, just a deep cushioning flex. A great rod.

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