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.

Customer Email: Casting at the South Pole

Casting South Pole

Daily, we get some pretty great letters and emails from our customers. Many of them we share with Sage employees, posting to bulletin boards or through email. This is one of the emails that we shared without hesitation. It certainly caught our eye. Could you imagine casting your Sage rod at -80 just to pass the time? We think it might make for some interesting product testing. ~ Team Sage

This winter at the South Pole we have had -100 days and 6 months of darkness, which leads to severe cases of cabin fever. Being here in the winter means we are stuck with no planes coming in from February to the end of October.

I have been working in Antarctica for about a year now and it has been a life changing experience with many challenges. You really have to be creative with finding things to do to pass the time here. I stumbled across a few sets of fly rods that I started casting in my spare time.

Jared Carrier - Sage Fly Fish - South Pole - Antarctica Casting
This really helped with my itch to want to be out on the water fishing. These pictures are of me out at the Pole trying to cast at -74. This didn’t work to well because after a while the line froze.

Jared Carrier - Sage Fly Fish - South Pole - Antarctica Casting
After leaving here I will be spending 3 weeks in the beautiful country of New Zealand trout fishing and unwinding from a long cold winter here at the Pole – and thawing out!

Jared Carrier - Sage Fly Fish - South Pole - Antarctica Casting

I hope everyone enjoys these pictures from the Pole.

Story by Jared Carrier. Jared is 24 years old and working at the South Pole for the United States Antarctic Program.

Early Season Skeena with Lani Waller

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

It is one of those years on the Skeena, a season when all the dominoes line up in a perfect row. According to my reports, the first domino – that of the commercial salmon fishery’s interception of wild Skeena steelhead was “in place.” In other words, the commercial fishing season was relatively short this year. A short netting season always increases the escapement of wild Skeena system steelhead- on all the major rivers.

In addition, Skeena tributaries have been low and clear, and this fall season has been relatively dry without excessive rain which raises water levels and scatters the fish up and down river.

The Babine River has perhaps been best of all. It all depends upon who you talk to, like anglers everywhere, most Skeena steelhead anglers have a favorite river.

As far as the Babine is concerned, Silver Hilton guests fishing on the “lower” Babine got off to an incredible start as evidenced by these photos from Chuck Rund of Grants Pass, Oregon. Chuck is a long time friend and superb steelheader who knows a good thing when he sees one. Chuck fishes at Silver Hilton during our first week of the season: September 3-10.

The early fishing on the Babine can be spectacular with floating line and skating dry flies. Temperatures on the Babine this time of the year usually average around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the river is clear almost all of these early fish are “looking up” toward the surface and rise easily and frequently to a dry fly pattern- something you cannot count on later in the year when water temperatures drop to the mid 30’s. They will still lift to a dry in low water temperatures, but not with the aggressive response of early fish. Nor will the later fish return over and over to a dry before they take it.

Chuck fished most of the week with two rods- the Sage TCX 11’9’ 7 wt, and a Sage 11’ 7 wt “Switch Rod.” These two rods are light in the hand, powerful and smooth, although beginners would be better served with longer rods, as the longer ones are more forgiving when you are first learning.

Over the past five years, I have seen however, a real movement among experienced anglers from longer to shorter rods. Shorter rods are more fun, lighter and less fatiguing over a long day of repetitive casting and searching the long runs and pools of the Skeena system. I’ve always felt that a fly rod is two things at once: a lever and a spring. Your wrist is the fulcrum and the longer the rod the more pressure the “lever” puts on your wrist. You can”soften” this pressure with under handed casting style if you are using a two handed rod, but in my opinion, it is still more tiring with a longer fourteen to fifteen foot rod.

Like most experienced Skeena steelheaders, Chuck uses the RIO Skagit lines (320 grains on these two rods) and a poly leader. These lines fish all fly sizes, shapes, including bulky dressings, with ease and comfort- the flies turn over extremely well, even when used with long leaders and floating patterns.

Chuck took fifteen steelhead and fourteen were on a dry fly. Chuck’s choice of dry flies centered around a Black Pom Skater, and a Tan Pom Skater.

For information and future booking possibilities at Silver Hilton Lodge, contact me the following email address:

Lani Waller
Executive Vice President
Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Sage Fly Fishing - Lani Waller - Steelhead

Stacking up Awards

Sage Fly Fishing - Awards - IFTD

Adding to the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition (EFTTEX) “Best New Fly Rod” award won in June, Sage Manufacturing received three more awards at last week’s International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) show in Reno, Nevada. The CIRCA from Sage won both the “Best Freshwater Fly Rod” and “Best in Show” and the new 8000 PRO series won the “Best Saltwater Reel” award.

“Winning these awards is further evidence that we have the best design team in the industry,” comments Eric Gewiss, Sage marketing manager. “This is a big honor for everyone at Sage.”

The new CIRCA collection is Sage’s first high performance, slow action fly rod. Using Konnetic technology, the CIRCA collection packs more carbon fiber into a smaller diameter using new manufacturing methods. This technology results in a consistently slow yet responsive action from butt to tip and minimal torsional movement for extraordinary accuracy. Enhanced sensitivity gives anglers precision and control needed for delicate presentations making ‘match-the-hatch’ fisheries ideal for these fly rods. The two through five weight CIRCA series will be available at fly fishing specialty retailers in September.
Sage Fly Reels - 8000 Pro - IFTD
The 8000 PRO series gives anglers a new dimension in fish stopping power via an integrated secondary drag control system. Based on Sage’s proven Sealed Carbon System (SCS), the 8000 PRO features a two-stage drag control. The primary drag knob adjusts in one revolution with 1-20 numbered settings, while the secondary drag knob fine-tunes drag resistance by 15 percent with each sequential adjustment as well as prevents over-spooling when pulling line to cast. With settings A through E, there are a total of 195 individual drag combinations with a maximum setting that has 40 percent more drag than the 6000 series. Featuring a quick change spool mechanism, a broad concave palming rim and a grooved frame for securing line when not casting, this reel will be sold at fly fishing specialty stores in September.

The Other Side of the River

Sage Fly Fishing - Leah Ricketts - River Snorkeling

(Photo: Leah Ricketts via Outside Online)

Ever have the urge to just dive into that perfect pool and see what you are missing? Ya, us too. So why not not throw on a snorkel and explore every place you wish you could put a fly? Russ Ricketts and his wife Leah have made it a habit in Leavenworth, Washington. In a recent Outside Online article, Russ explains whats its like on the other side of the river, and surprisingly how much you can find.

FISHING TACKLE: I’m a fisherman, but I had no idea how terrible of a fisherman I was until I realized just how many fish there are down there. They are kept company by every lure and lead weight lost or abandoned by hopeful fishermen. Monofilament line can snare waterfowl and fish, so it should be removed whenever possible. Luckily, it generally comes packaged with other fish gear that holds some value. Matt and I picked up 52 pounds of lead in a two-hour swim. A 10-ounce sinker sells for $2.59. Do the math.

GOLF BALLS: What is it with hitting golf balls into water? Negatively buoyant, golf balls sink. Picking them up is fun and can be an easy way to pay for that sexy wetsuit (or golf lessons). Don’t worry, there’s plenty for everyone.

Not only can snorkeling improve your knowledge of how the river works and where to find more fish, but it can also improve the health of the river by finding and removing trash. Surely a day snorkeling the river may be a tad more wet and cold than fishing in the comfort of your waders, but not by much (especially by our northwest standards).

Read Outside Online’s full post here.

Astonishing Numbers for Bristol Bay

Sage Fly Fishing - Save Bristol Bay

The country has spoken. 200,000 people took the time to submit comments on the EPA’s Watershed Assessment on Bristol Bay, AK. More impressively, 98% of them agreed with the EPA’s findings in opposing Pebble Mine.

The Assessment concludes that Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and other natural resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and is valued at about $480 million annually. The EPA also found that even at its minimum size, mining the Pebble deposit would eliminate or block 55 to 87 miles of salmon streams and at least 2500 acres of wetlands – key habitat for sockeye salmon and other fishes. Are you concerned yet?

It appears that the country is in fact concerned, yet the result is now out of our hands. The Obama administration, with help from the EPA, must now move forward on implementing a 404C to firmly protect the region. Are 200,000 voices enough to be heard? We must wait and see.

To see some more amazing numbers and the latest news, visit