Sage is best known for decades of delivering some of the best fly rods ever made. And though their reels have also been on the cutting edge for quite a while, it’s likely that Sage reels have been living under the shadow of the company’s incredible rod lineup. It’s like an Alex Honnold—Jimmy Chin scenario. Jimmy Chin is a world class climber and one of the greatest adventurers on the planet. But because he’s alongside Alex Honnold on so many climbs, his incredible accomplishments don’t get the focus that Honnold gets as the greatest climber of all time.
Sage reels are the Chin side of comparison. They are absolutely badass in their own right, and those who know gear (like those who know climbing and mountaineering), know that Sage reels are all that and more. And if there was any doubt or confusion, the new Sage Spectrum lineup ought to settle that.
The Venturing Angler was fortunate to get on the water with the Sage SPECTRUM LT reel for a few weeks and found this reel performs on the water as good as it looks on display. While some regard a trout reel as no more than a line-holder, such a perspective undermines the reality of what many anglers need in gear. In this case, international travel to another continent followed by three hours of driving to base camp at Las Pampas Lodge then tough dirt roads to mountain hikes meant that there was no room for gear failure when that 25-inch trout slammed the fly and immediately kicked the drag into gear. There’s no taking chances with “line-holders” in this situation. And in fact, when putting in the work to get such a fish, you want your gear completely dialed in, and the SPECTRUM LT fits that need perfectly.
Before getting into performance, let’s get the obvious out of the way: This is a damn good-looking reel. And in fact, even after looking at the new lineup of rods at the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Orlando in July, it was these reels that stood out the most. But beyond looks, these reels are designed to perform. The smooth and strong SCS drag is ready for battle and perfectly engaged and handled every fish — some of them the largest trout some of us had ever seen. And the 20-digit numbered and dented drag knob meant always knowing your settings and confidence and ease when changing the settings.
The fact is, when using this reel, it was hard to even notice it — and this is a good thing. It’s lightweight and when unnoticed when casting. It has an ergonomic handle that was always easy to find when feeling for it. And it’s drag setting can be so perfectly dialed that adjustments or needs never arose when fighting fish.
As for the build, the SPECTRUM LT is comprised of fully-machined 6061-T6 aerospace grade aluminum and is hard anodized for protection. The Sage SPECTRUM LT reel comes in four sizes (3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10) and four colors (Black Spruce, Lime, Silver, Stealth) and costs between $349 and $399 depending on size.
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