Sage ACCEL Fly Rod Review

August 7, 2014

Sage ACCEL Fly Rod Review - 2 Days of Field Testing - MENDABILITY

UPDATED - I decided that I should update this review after fishing the past 2 days with Sage insider Marc Bale on the Yakima River.  The fishing couldn't have been better, we rose well over 100 fish and got to test these rods to the fullest.  I am not sure if this is a word, but "MENDABILITY" is what this rod seems to posses that other sticks don't.

These rods are just coming out this week. Marc brought a 490-4 and a 590-4 over and we fished these rods for 2 days straight on the Yakima River as a live field test. We fished dry flies the entire time, hey it is August right now!  No nymphs required.  Plus this rod is a joy to cast dry flies with.  We fished Hoppers, Stoneflies, and Caddis and didn't do a whole lot different for the sake of testing. We FISHED.  The water types were large technical currents at times with some wind, and some small side channels that emulated a small stream environment.

How Well Do You MEND?

First off, I loved fishing this rod.  I have dozens of rods and I really like a moderate action for dry fly fishing, dry droppers, and short line nymphs.  The element that jumped out at me most was that when you are stream fishing with technical drifts and currents your rod has to "bend in order to mend".  These are the intangible benefits to a more flexible rod.  You can mend, feed line, roll cast, twitch the fly, and do all the "small stuff" required to catch fish on streams while managing slack line.  The Sage ACCEL has a fishing friendly action but the materials are advanced enough that you can throw very tight loops and achieve more than enough distance.

Reasons You Would NOT Want to Buy a Sage ACCEL

  • If you are "tight line" fishing 80% of the time or more, get a faster action rod.  
  • If you are beach fishing, faster is better.
  • If you are a speed and distance freak, go with a Sage METHOD
  • If you are an advanced caster fishing Saltwater - probably should go with a faster action rod
  • You can't afford it.  Ok, I said it.  There you go people a fly shop that admits a $595 rod is still expensive.  However, their warranty is bulletproof and you will love this rod as much in 15 years as you do today.

Sage ACCEL 490-4 AND 590-4 Review

We got to give the Sage ACCEL workout at the casting course at Red's Fly Shop the other day.  It is a very nice rod, as it should be.  Anything in the $600 range that comes out of Bainbridge Island and carries the Sage logo always comes with a set of high expectations.  The team that designs and builds these rods wake up every day and show up at work in an attempt to perfect the fly rod (and fly cast).

The Sage ACCEL bring some new things to the table that simply weren't available on previous models.  One major thing that the consumer forgets is that the materials that fly rods are built with are constantly improving.  Chief rod designer Jerry Siem, said that adding adding an axial fiber to the Generation 5 graphite allowed for the narrower shaft and great strength to weight ratio.  Whatever they did, it worked.  This rod is a joy to cast.  It feels like a more finely honed version of the Sage SLT which I personally LOVE - I still fish the 389-4 as much as I can.  The Sage ACCEL definitely retains more energy on the forward stroke though than they SLT did.  Sage has had a void in this action for a few years since the ZXL was discontinued and we are happy to see this.  There are many Sage fans out there that have turned to Winston because of the rod action and overall feel.  The Winston lineup is outstanding, especially the BiiiX for all around fishing and the actions between the Sage ACCEL and the Winston BiiiX are quite similar.  
The ACCEL comes in an emerald green blank color with olive green thread wraps with garnet and black trim wraps. Fuji ceramic stripper guides and hard-chromed snake guides and tip top complete the blank. Freshwater rods from 3-6 weights have a rosewood insert with stealth black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat and a snub-nose, half-wells cork handle. The cork handle is just like the Sage ONE, it is pretty short and light.  I personally really like this grip.

Saltwater models from 6-9 weights feature a stealth black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat and also feature a snub-nose, half-wells cork handle. The switch and two-hand models have a cork grip on both the fore and rear grips.

The grip on the 8 weight is pretty short and I like the half-wells grip, this was a pretty easy 8 weight to cast and would be a good choice for anyone blind casting a lot. I didn't cast it for a long time but I think you could fish it all day without complaint or Advil.

Overall Feel of the Sage ACCEL:

We were all a bit surprised to feel how light the touch was on the Sage ACCEL.  We were truly expecting another fast action product, similar to the old XP, Z-Axis, or the VXP which many of you may remember or currently own.  What we found was a buttery smooth action that has enough ooomph to get the job done for western style fishing where you might deal with wind, stonefly nymphs, and streamers from time to time.  This rod is perfect for the angler that is going to spend the majority of their time fishing dry flies, dry droppers, but doesn't want to sacrifice when it comes time to thrown a Thingamabobber and a #6 Pat's Stone into a slight breeze.

Why a Medium Fast Action Rod Instead of Fast Action?

The Sage ACCEL is a medium fast action which in today's world of fly rods that feel "stiff" simply means it has some personality.  Many anglers simply don't understand the advantages of a medium fast action rod so let me bullet point a few quick hitters.

Pros to the Medium Fast Action Rod

  • Better finesse mending, you won't move your fly as much
  • Better short line control
  • Easier roll casting
  • They are a JOY to cast
  • Protection of lighter tippet
  • Easier on the elbow and joints for anyone that gets fatigued after a lot of blind casting
  • You typically become a better caster when you spend time on a medium fast action rod
  • Your small dry flies will float better and you can deliver them more softly
  • You get to feel the rod bend during the cast which helps your control

Cons to a Medium Fast Action Rod

  • Typically less raw distance potential (this is kind of bologna because 99.9% of casters aren't limited by the rod, it is a skill set issue :)
  • Loops are not quite as tight
  • Less compensation from the rod for sloppy casting.  (a fast action rod will hide a lot mistakes by the caster compensating by shear force)
  • Slower pick up and lay down from a fast moving boat.  If you are looking for a rod that is going to exclusively quick-fire hoppers against the bank from a fast moving boat then look elsewhere.  The 586-4 Sage ONE is the ultimate rod for this.
  • Slightly less line speed especially with heavy flies and indicators.

What is the Best Fly Line for the Sage ACCEL 5 Weight?

I personally like the Rio Gold Weight Forward Floating Line - matched spot on (5 weight line on 5 weight rod) on this rod.  It frankly doesn't need a heavier line.  The tip is soft and a heavier line will rob your performance.  The Rio Perception and Grand would rob some energy from this rod.  Just my two cents worth, but if this your very first fly rod consider the Rio Perception.  It is a 1/2 line weight heavy and will make learning to cast a cinch.  

The Lost Art of False Casting - Sage ACCEL Casting Tip

Small dry fly fishing seems to be becoming a lost art.  With the advent of Chubby Chernobyls, Thingamabobbers, and even foam based Caddis!  (ridiculous) Anglers seem to not false cast enough.  Some of this has to do with with guides in drift boats not letting people false cast haha.  (actually very true).  But after casting the Sage ACCEL the other day it reminded me that false casting is so critical.  Here is why you should false cast, the bullet points are frankly more helpful than the video).  

Here is an article you might like, Is Small Dry Fly Fishing a Lost Art?

Why and When to False Cast
  • Building line speed.  Line speed means control, sometimes after picking up off the water you need a couple of false casts to eliminate slop and slack.
  • Building distance.  Rarely should you need more than 3 false casts to build any distance, but this is important to know and practice.
  • Accuracy.  When competing in casting competitions, I have a plan.  Two false casts and deliver.  Just like a talented NBA player shoots free throws, or a PGA pro putts.  Gotta have a system.  
  • Changing direction.  THIS IS HUGE.  Too many casters try to change direction without a false cast and the result is sloppy.
  • Drying out your fly.  More important than you might think.
  • Moving.  Cast and step, cast 'n step.
  • Timing a rise on feeding fish, actively feeding fish sometimes require you dropping your fly during their feeding rhythm.  
  • Measuring distance.
  • Shadow casting.  hahaha.  I love that and am glad your read all these tips.
  • Tightening your loop.

  1. Curious as to how the 690 version compares to the VXP and Hardy Zenith in terms of double nymph rig and small streamer performance?
  2. Brian, its not quite as fast as those rods as you build up the load but it seems to reflex surprisingly quick. A few times I thought I lost the cast all together but the rod made up for it which was kind of shocking. It won't feel as strong as the VXP and as quick as the Zenith. I don't have the 6 weight at this time however, so I can speak to specifics.
  3. Curious how the 8'6" 5 wt Sage Accel compares against the Winston Boron III LS, or the Scott Radian? Which would be deemed the preferred 'all-round' 5 weight fly rod for small, Western streams and rivers?
  4. curious on your thoughts on a 9 1/2 ft. 6 weight Accel as primarily a nymphing rod. My buddy and I fish the Missouri at Craig a lot (and should fish the Yakima more) and we nymph it a lot and it strikes me that this could be an ideal rod for nymphing and would also work for streamers. Thoughts?
  5. Have a glass fly rod with a built in landing net in the butt of the rod, End cap come off and pull out the landing net, No name on rod as it looks to have been re=done.. Anyone know about this rod? Thanks.
  6. Hi - Very helpful review. Does anyone know if this Accel rod (discounted at Cabela's sorry Red's Flyshop) is the same one Joe's is discussing? Doesn't seem Sage is building the Accel line any more, hence the deal.