Review: CIRCA, by Erin Block

Erin Block fly fishing for carp Sage CIRCA

As you all know, we love a good story about our products here at Sage. So when we stumbled across the blog Mysteries Internal, we knew Erin Block would have the charm and eloquence that would suit a review of our new, easy-going CIRCA. With no strings attached, we sent her a 489-4 to try out. Here’s what she had to say…

I was once reprimanded for speaking too readily. Many times, actually, at music conservatory. Lesson after lesson, week after week, my professor would stop suddenly: think about it first, he’d say.

And although I would then walk across San Francisco’s 19th Avenue with my feelings hurt, and once home vented the injustice of it all to my housemate Valerie (who responded, if I remember correctly, with the suggestion of chamomile tea. Soothing, I suppose in theory), I knew that my professor was right. I wanted to get things right, but even more than that, I wanted to know the answers. In many cases, those are two different things entirely. In fact, figuring out the answers most often results in getting things wrong, again and again.

And so I didn’t know them, not until long after I’d graduated and my guitar sat in its case under a bed — and then a basement.

However eventually, I did.

I figured out that firsts (answers, marriages, kisses, cars) are not always the best, and that eager answers (no matter the amount of conviction behind them) are not always speaking the truth.

Now, it’s a long way to stretch this to the action of rods.
Yet I’m going to.
In fact, I already have.

So when I was contacted by Sage about testing out the new Sage CIRCA, (given my penchant for bamboo, they said) I agreed.

But I did think about it first.

And I think that I like these slow action rods for their reminder to measure…to sink into each cast and stroke. To find a rhythm, to find your own (because it’s not going to work with anyone else’s). It’s not easy. It’s not easy to think first, to count, to measure, and not be found wanting. As with most other things in fly fishing, I think it’s as much a reminder of life as an escape from. Here on waters we meet a microcosm of life refracting back to us – in lighting where we can see. And we can rush through that (to hasten the catching of big fish and hero shots); or we can listen, thinking about it first. We can let the rod load, giving its answer back. Although it’s hard to wait. It is. But when we interrupt the cast fails, falling flat, spooking whatever fish to that point we’d snuck upon.

I fell in love with slow action rods (good, slow action rods), after making my own bamboo. The ritual of it, the reminder that we are all works in progress. The pride of our history. Split cane and fiberglass. Words written long ago about contemplation. Penned perhaps, while waiting for a willowy rod to load.

Who knows.

However, I asked to test out the 8 foot 9 inches 4 weight CIRCA and proceeded to put this graphite rod through some paces. Like test-riding a horse, you want to see what it can do before you dig out the wad of cash in your pocket you stopped for at the bank on the way out of town.

Sage CIRCA Colorado cutthroat trout
So I cast it at a backcountry lake in gale winds, and caught in the salvation flowing down. Cutthroats and brookies in tight quarters, with a door quickly closing. The CIRCA proved responsive and light. And most importantly, extremely accurate. I was (and remain) impressed. The beauty of a slower action rod, I think, lies in this: the better caster you are, the more you can make the rod do. You can control angles and curves, getting the fly into those hard-to-reach pockets – the ones with low branches on which hang evidence of previous tries.

And the CIRCA can do a lot, as I discovered.

Because I also decided to take it carping. Now carp fishing on a 4 weight (and a slow action 4 weight at that) might sound like crazy talk. And I suppose it is. But I will take a responsive and precise rod over a stiff and fast action on the mudflats, any day. And really, carp fishing and small stream trout fishing require very similar techniques at reduction: stealth and precision. An accurate and quietly laid cast. It took a bit more oomph on this softer rod to set the hook, but it performed. In the end the point being, it can do it and it can do it well.

Sage CIRCA mirror carp
If you know how to ask the question, the CIRCA will have an answer for you.

2 Responses to Review: CIRCA, by Erin Block

  1. Roger Mulrooney says:

    I have been looking for a good small stream rod for a couple of years now since I’ve been fishing small wild trout streams in my home state of New Jersey and while a couple of rods were nice I still felt some of them were too fast. I stopped by the Sage booth at the Somerset Fly Fishing show and talked with Cathy Beck about what I was looking for and she recommend I try the Circa, so I grabbed the 7’9″ 3wt and headed over to the casting pool. I expected a soft slow rod that threw big loops but instead I found the rod was smooth and controlled making short, medium, and long cast with little or no effort and great feedback.

    After casting this rod for about 5 minutes, there were a lot of people waiting to try rods and I didn’t want to be rude so I took the rod back to the booth, but I really wanted to keep casting because the rod felt so good. I could easily picture myself on one of my favorite small wild trout streams dropping an Adams lightly behind a rock or tight to the bank and a hungry native Brook trout slamming my deftly placed dry fly!

    While this rod may not appeal to the speed junky or anyone that feels that the butt section of a rod is for fighting fish not part of the casting stroke. I think anyone who appreciates a rod for small streams and tight cover or remembers fiberglass or bamboo with fondness, rather than disdain, will acknowledge the Circa’s unique qualities.

    As for me now I have to figure out how I’m going to convince my better half that “I need” another rod as opposed to just wanting a new rod! Well I should have known better than to try a new rod….

    Thanks, Roger

  2. Pingback: Sage Circa Rod

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