Fly rods are personal…when you find one that suits you and casts just right, get two of them because that model will be discontinued and replaced by something “newer and better” (according to the manufacturer). Probably no rod maker has bridged the gap and followed the progression from klunker fiberglass to modern graphite technology better than Sage. I have owned and fished with many Sage rods through the years. I’m not much of a fly rod techie geek, but when I find a good one I try to hang on to it for dear life!
I found a history list of Sage graphite rods from the early 1980s through 2011. A few comments:
The early RP rods were great casters but be careful with fine tippets and dry flies…lots of meat and easy to break off. If you can find a 490 RP, grab it…great all-around rod for dries or wets and not as beefy as the 5 and 6 weights.
The GFL and Graphite II rods were full flex and a little softer…the 6 & 7 weight GFLs were great streamer rods.
The RPL and Graphite III rods were probably what made Sage famous…really good and versatile rods in any weight.
The LL rods were only made for a couple of years and are highly sought by rod aficionados, going for big bucks on Ebay!
The RPLX saltwater rods set the standard for saltwater fly fishing…still to this day.
The XPs were classic dry fly rods…very popular.
The Fli, Launch and Flight rods were great casters for a fair price.
The Sage Z-Axis rods were the easiest and nicest casting rods of all!
Sage Fly Rod History Chart 1982-2011
Year Model Description
1982 RP… Reserve Power for long Casts
1982 GFL… Graphite II
1985 RPL or Graphite III RPL… High Performance
1985 LL Traditional Action 2-5 Weight (LL=Light line?)
1986 RPLX Saltwater 8-12 Weight
1986 DS Discovery Series – Moderate Action
1986 TH Double Handed ?
1997 SPL… “Best of show” new rods
1997 RPLXI Revised and improved saltwater
1999 XP Lighter narrower tapered Fast Action
2003 SLT Medium Fast Action
2003 TCR Ultra fast action for experienced casters
2004 Xi2 New Saltwater rod was first with new generation 5 (G5) Technology
2005 TXL… Near weightless for light lines
2005 FLi… Entry Level Fast Action taper with maximum power transfer
2005 Launch… Entry Level smooth progressive power curve and very high strength to weight ratio
2006 VT2… Mid price point upgrade to long running VPS
2007 Z-Axis… Ultimate Fast Action Rod coupled with tremendous feel (2 piece, 4 piece, Spey and Switch)
2008 BASS… Finally released after years of development and even showed up on magazine covers with Snook, Baby Tarpon and Pike
2008 ZXL… Medium action cousin to the Z-Axis in weights 3-6
2009 TCX… Replacement for TCR but fitting a wider range of casting styles (kryptonite green)
2011… ONE Flagship “all-around” rod Fast Action
VXP… Ultra high speed line and slender shaft, beginner to experienced
Flight… Great features and a great price
Vantage… Medium Fast value rod
TXL-F… Light Line Ultra lightweight
ZXL… Easy and Relaxed like the classic action rods
Xi3… Salt Water Replacement for Xi2
99… Nymph angler 9’9″ with unique taper to make open loops
BASS II… Upgraded for faster line speeds for big flies still good for Bass, Snook, or Tarpon, Pike and Musky
ESN… Designed for European direct line nymphing with multiple flies