Travel Confidently with Sage’s New Fly Rod Tubes and Cases

fly rod tubes

Travel Confidently with Sage’s New Fly Rod Tubes and Cases
June 13, 2013 (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) – Fly fishing industry leader, Sage Manufacturing, offers anglers peace of mind with its redesigned Ballistic Rod Tubes and Traditional Rod Tubes.

Updated in form and function, Sage’s new Ballistic Rod Tubes feature heavy duty ballistic nylon, lockable zippers, updated shoulder straps, reinforced end caps and divider pockets. Available in multiple sizes including single and multi-rod tubes, single rod/reel cases, spey rod/reel cases and double rod/reel cases, anglers have plenty of options for daily use or for extended travel. Ranging in price from $40 to $75, Ballistic Rod Tubes come in 17 size options and will be available in August.

Sage’s Traditional Rod Tubes offer anglers a classic, lightweight option for the most popular sizes of freshwater and saltwater rods. Available in the stealth color with a platinum colored Sage medallion, both 2 and 2.25-inch models accommodate a wide selection of fly rods. The freshwater Rod Tubes will retail for $65 and the saltwater for $70. Both will be available in August.

Hail To The Worm



By Cathy Beck
Here I am on the Rio Malleo, which is perhaps the best dry fly river in all of Patagonia, and my Argentine/Italian guide Nicco is suggesting that I fish a worm. I can’t believe it. In his defense we have had two days of horrendous winds with few if any hatches. Nicco smiles and reminds me that we have yet to see a fish rise today. I look at the red San Juan worm and wonder what Ronnie Olson would think. He’s our host and San Huberto lodge owner. My husband Barry and I are here hosting a group of friends and fly fishermen and we sell this river on its history of prolific hatches. I try to picture myself back at the lodge when someone asks what fly worked for me today. Would I say a size 18 blue winged olive because that’s what should be hatching or would I fess up and say, Oh, a size 10 red San Juan worm, and blame it on Nicco.

And then how about Nicco. He’s a guide’s guide if there ever was one. He’s one of the best, but one look at him and you have to scratch your head – his wading boots are falling apart, his waders are torn beyond repair, he says he just broke his landing net as well as his new Sage One. He was putting the rod into a rod rack in his truck when the tip got stuck, Ouch. His check engine light is on in his truck and his speedometer is broken. If you didn’t know him, you would have to wonder if this guy is so bad that no one tips him or is his gear in shambles because he works that hard. I know from experience that it’s the latter. Nicco will do anything to get his clients into a fish.

To be honest I have a number of worm patterns in my fly boxes including a selection of rubber band worms that I find are much more effective than the vernille worms. And we just returned from a month of hosting trips in New Zealand where the rubber band worm reigns but this is different, this river is unique and it has a long list of aficionados who play by the rules with 6x and tiny dries. That said, we tie on the worm, add a strike indictor, and off to the dark side we go.

An hour into it and we have lost two and landed four including a nice cart-wheeling 16 inch rainbow. I’m not feeling the slightest bit of guilt anymore. Action is action. Oh, I almost forgot – the 6x tippet has been replaced with Rio 4x and the fish don’t care. They seem eager to egg the worm regardless of tippet size. Nicco says it’s time to move to another pool, he thinks we’ve worn out our welcome here so we move on upstream.

The Rio Malleo flows through the Olsen family’s San Huberto estancia and has over 20 beats. There are few rivers that can offer the mixed bag of fishing opportunities of this queen of spring creeks. We are fishing beat number three on the upper end of the Olsen’s property and as we come around a bend we are treated to a full view of the Lanin Volcano with its majestic snowcapped peak. The view reminds me that the mountain alone is worth the trip. Nicco points to the head of a deep run and says that there is a really nice brown that hangs out there. We start at the bottom of the pool and patiently work our way up. A pint size rainbow who acts likes he’s bigger than he is takes the worm and jumps all over the pool. Oh great, just what we need to alert any good size fish that might live here.

The head of the pool is within reach now. My cast lands and I watch as the strike indicator comes swiftly back to me without pause. Another cast, and then two more, when Nicco says just one more. This time the indictor disappears as if it was never there and the eight foot nine little four weight Sage Circa is straining against something that spells size. A few minutes later the brown in the net is smaller than I would have guessed from the fight that has just ended. Nicco pulls out a faded measuring tape and says twenty inches on the mark. I ask to take a look and can barely see the faded twenty inch mark, but it’s there and this is a beautiful wild brown, and yes, in the corner of its mouth is Nicco’s red San Juan worm.

It’s almost dark as we arrive back at the lodge and most of our group is gathered on the porch hanging waders and gear and sharing thoughts on the day. I begin to think of a way to get around the worm thing when one of our guests, Steve Binnick, walks up to me and of all things asks, “Did you bring any San Juan worms”? I am saved.

Adios. From the banks of the Rio Malleo and the San Huberto lodge.


Fly Fishing Team USA Rocky Mountain Regional Qualifier

Lone Haggler Reservoir

Right Tools For The Job
Far Bank Pro site manager Russell Miller was out competing in the Fly Fishing Team USA Rocky Mountain Regional competition over April 19th and 20th. Here is what he has to say about a 3rd place finish.

Going into this competition I imagined fishing in a T-shirt on the banks of the Big Thompson River under a clear blue Colorado sky. I knew that would not be the case when my flight from Seattle to Denver was delayed over 5 hours due to heavy amounts of spring time slop along the Front Range. Plans change and as a competitive fly fisherman you have to be prepared for any number of changing factors on the water. During competitions I have watched rivers double in size during a three hour session, lakes that change from glass to whitecaps, and in Colorado I watched our venue, Lake Estes freeze over in two days.

So we adapted. We changed the venues around in a last minute scramble. The competitors would be fishing a session on the Big Thompson and a session on Mother Lake at Sylvandale Guest Ranch and then the next day fish Lone Haggler reservoir, one bank venue and one boat venue. We would be fishing three lakes and a river over the course of two days to name a winner.

Day One.

My draw put me staring into a cold, 34 cfs, snowy beat on unseasonably crisp morning on the Big Thompson. I knew that the only places that I was going to find active fish would be in the sunny spots or the deepest water. That was my game plan. I rigged up the 3100-4 ESN with 6x to my team of flies and got to work. I spent the next three hours fishing from my knees euro nymphing with a variety of small hand tied jigged Pheasant Tail variations, small midges, and a few BWO patterns that are top producers. For the first hour and a half I did not touch a fish. They just weren’t away in this stretch I was telling myself. Finally I parked on what was the deepest, darkest, slowest hole on my beat and dredged down deep. Second cast, whack! Brown trout on and in the net! This continued at a rate of about a fish every 5 minutes. I had found my fish and just needed to work them. Once the bite slowed I would mix it up, change flies, and give them something fresh. At the end of my three hours, I had enough fish scored to take a second place in my group.

Mother Lake is a spring fed, brood stocked, muddy bottom, private lake. I would be willing to bet that a trout under 18 inches simply does not exist in there. Managed as a trophy pond Mother was going to be a real hoot. I made my first few casts from the bank using my trusted RIO Midge Tip line fished in a very static presentation with three “buggy” flies. It was not more than two casts before my 7100-4 ONE rod doubled over and a beautiful 24” hen fell victim to a slim chironomid pattern. I thought the rest of the session would be easy. My 15 yard stretch of bank had good structure and I knew that I could find more fish. After 30 minutes of no success with the midge tip I switched it out for the new In-Touch type 3 and began pulling flies right above some weed beds about 8-12 feet down. The fish were so eager to take my offering that I had to deal with 4 clean break offs on 4x. Brutal! By the end of the session I only had 4 fish, but they totaled over 77 inches. A good friend of mine had four as well, but they were 2 centimeters longer. Another 2nd place.

Day Two

Heading down to the Hag. Boat sessions fished Loch style are my personal favorite. Unlike a bank or river beat, you have freedom to make decisions on where to go on the lake. One can never complain about a bad stretch of water, only poor choices made during the three hours. My boat partner and I decided on the far SW corner of the lake while all of the other boats ran toward the dam. I figured it was either going to be feast or famine for us on this stocker lake. Well with a light chop and the wind at our backs we found a pod of stocker rainbows that provided consistent action. As they say, don’t leave fish to find fish. So we stayed. Fishing an In-Touch type 5 with a fast choppy retrieve and three of my favorite small streamer patterns tied off tags, we had a blast popping 8-10 inch fish one after another. As we motored back into the dock I had a few more fish that my boat partner, but we did not know if the far side of the lake was more productive than were we chose to stay. It turned out that or decision to fish the SW corner paid off as our boat took 1st and 2nd place.

Tired and sunburned I surveyed the bank of Lone Haggler for the final session of the tournament. I decided to stick to my 5100-4 ONE that I fished from the boat over my 7100-4 ONE. Although I would sacrifice distance from the bank I felt that a softer rod would improve my hook to land ratio. The lake decided to glass out as the start of the session and the midges came off when it did. I threw on my midge tip once again and began to pick off rising stockers with a small un-weighted streamer and a diawl bach. Having anglers to the left and right of you makes you anxious as they pluck fish off and you finish a retrieve without a bite. It was time to just fish and focus. I stuck to my game plan and managed 14 fish from the muddy banks of Lone Haggler. I edged out 2nd place by two fish. What fun! After putting down my rod we all shook hands and congratulated each other on fish caught and talked about the ones that got away as well.

Back at the lodge, to my surprise I found out that I was in contention for a medal. I was tied for second place overall and it was going to come down to who caught the most total centimeters of fish over the two days. Well, I fell short so to speak and had to settle for a Bronze medal! What an honor. Regardless who wins or loses at these events it’s about learning new techniques and the shared experience. It’s a great honor to get to fish with so many incredible anglers and learn from each other.

Until the next comp, it’s time to get back out and continue to fish!

Accuracy Above All

Accuracy Cast

Accuracy Above All

Sage Ambassador, and frequent contributor to Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine, Joe Mahler gives some tips on how to increase your casting accuracy. For more great tips be sure to pick up the latest Fly Fishing in Salt Water Magazine or sign up for one of Joe’s casting lessons if you’re in the Fort Myers area.

“Now, drop it in there again, but this time a quarter-inch to the left.” I had just placed my fly in a doormat-sized opening in the mangroves at 75 feet, and that was as close to an “Atta-boy” as I was going to get from Captain Kevin Merritt. No fish struck on that particular cast, but a feisty 22” redfish nailed it on the next one. Those two casts were not luck (maybe a little), but rather the result of hours of focused practice on the grass.
Accuracy skills are probably the least-practiced, but most valuable of all casts. The most common request I get from students is “I want to work on my distance”. Ironically, the best way to increase distance is to start with accuracy. Here are a few tips.

Do a One-Eighty

The first important element in accuracy casting is the back cast. The most efficient and dead-on casts will feature a back cast that is 180 degrees from the target. Energy is stored in the line during the pick-up and back cast and is simply re-directed with the forward cast. Straight back, straight forward and there you have it. By the same token, the trajectory of the line should follow that 180 degree rule, with a shorter cast having a steeper downward angle than a long cast.

Take a stance

With all fly casting, there are a variety of styles that work. The one that works best for me is to square-off to the target. Point your eyes, shoulders, toes and even your belt buckle at the target. For the best results, I prefer a closed stance – placing my right foot slightly forward (the left foot for a left-handed caster). This helps to keep the rod tip traveling in a straight-line path. Try engaging the body by gently gliding back and forth, but not rocking. This will allow you to move the rod in a very straight path and decrease arm movement.

The eyes have it

Serious cyclists know that when you are in danger of crashing, you should not look where you are heading but rather where you want to go. The same holds true for fly casting. While there is some benefit in watching your back cast, especially in long-distance casting, I tell students to keep their eyes on the target. If you are sight fishing and you turn to watch your back cast, you will likely not be able to find your target when you turn your head back around. Even when blind casting, pick a flicker of light on the water, or a piece of floating grass and keep your eyes on it.

Keeping the rod hand in line with your line of sight will also add accuracy. If the rod tip is traveling far from the line of sight, a triangular problem involving the target, the eyes and the rod tip is created. When keeping the rod in line with the eyes, the only consideration is how far to cast. As the rod tip path is placed further out, you will still have to gauge distance, but now you must factor in an additional angle coming from the side (see illustration). One common mistake I see often, particularly when casting longer distances, is the caster tilting his head in the direction opposite the rod. This may give the caster a feeling of added power, but doing the opposite and tilting the head slightly inward will help keep the stroke in alignment and keep the rod closer to the line of sight.

SAGE Accuracy Overhead


While it is usually best to keep false casting to a minimum, hovering over a stationary target is the best way to hit it dead-on. Not a great idea on a clear water bonefish flat, but very beneficial in the shaded backcountry or when placing your fly under a dock. It is common to see a caster make a couple of beautiful false casts and on the final presentation, overshoot the target by as much as three or four feet by extending the arm too far forward. Make sure that the stop on the final stroke is precisely the same as on the previous ones. Remember also, to make the stops on the back cast “cookie-cutter” as the tendency is often to drop a little further back with each false cast.


A properly executed double-haul will add distance and control to accuracy casts. In Jon Cave’s book “Performance Fly Casting” he uses the term “In-line hauling” to describe how the haul should be executed by keeping the line hand in direct alignment with the rod hand, line, and rod. The haul itself should mirror the casting stroke in speed and length and, when done “in-line-style”, will aid in accurate casting by keeping both hands moving in line with the target.

SAGE Accuracy Haul
A Few Drills

In fly casting, great things happen on the grass. Practice is important and practicing the right way is even more-so. Always do your drills with an outstretched high-visibility cord, or better yet, a tape measure. Frisbees, soccer cones and tennis balls make great targets. There is an adage among flint-lock shooters “Aim small, miss small”, and casting to a target the size of a tea cup will definitely improve your average. Keep your practice sessions brief, and do them often. You may also want to mark your lines with a sharpie at significant distances. Always practice with a yarn fly of some sort. A five-inch length of brightly-colored surveyors twine doubled and nail-knotted works nicely, tied to the end of an eight-foot tapered leader.

Place targets at ten-foot intervals along the tape and place a few to the outsides. Pay particular attention that on the forward cast, the entire length of fly line and leader lands parallel to the tape. If the line lands in a serpentine formation, make a few casts and watch your hand throughout to be sure that that it is moving along the straightest path possible. When casting to the out-laying targets, take time to square-off in that direction.

As you practice, try to make your loops tighter and tighter. Strip off another ten feet and do it again. You will find that as your accuracy improves, added distance will naturally follow

Act to Save Bristol Bay Salmon

No Pebble Mine

We at Sage have always been strongly opposed to the proposed pebble mine in Bristol Bay and now the campaign to save one of our most important salmon fisheries has hit it’s most critical juncture yet.

Here’s where the situation stands:

After being asked to deny the Pebble Partnership a Clean Water Act 404 permit, by Federally recognized tribes, Commercial fishing interest, and the Bristol Bay sportfishing interest, the EPA undertook writing a the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. In May of 2012, EPA release the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. This Assessment was then peer reviewed by a select group of scientists. The EPA has taken the recommendations of these scientists and is now rewriting the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment for a 30 day public comment period.

In short, your comments will influence whether the mine happens or not.

Simply visit

Highlights from the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment

• 46% of the global abundance of wild sockeye (37.5 million fish annually) are found in Bristol Bay.

• Nushagak River Chinook salmon run can reach over 200,000 fish.

• 35 fish species (all 5 species of Pacific Salmon Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Grayling, Arctic Char, lake trout, and Northern pike), 190 bird species, 40 terrestrial species are potentially impacted.

• Direct loss of 55 to 85 miles of streams and 4 to 6.7 square miles of wetlands could result from Pebble.

• If all major claims were developed, a direct loss of 114 miles of stream and a 30 square miles of tailings storage facilities would result.

• Tailings spill would eliminate 28% of the Nushagak Chinook run.

• Populations of Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden could be lost for decades.

Bristol Bay

Sages Through The Ages: A Shootout between the
Sage Graphite III 9140-3, TCR 9140-4 and ONE 9140-4

Fly cast in motion

Sages Through The Ages


Topher Browne
New fly rods are usually greeted with a healthy mixture of curiosity and skepticism. The desire to cast the new rod is frequently tempered by a guarded cynicism regarding advertising claims. I’m often asked, “Is there a difference between the new rod and the old rod?” To which I usually answer, “Let’s cast them and find out.”

Last week, I compared a new rod with two old favorites. It’s March in Maine. Superstorm (a popular term around here lately) Nemo dumped a record 32 inches of snow in my backyard, so getting to the river is a bit of a chore. The mercury has dropped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit on several occasions this winter. Water in liquid form is in short supply. Ice shacks dot the frozen waterscape. I need open water or tiny grappling hooks on my leader to anchor a spey cast to the ice.

Layered in the depths of my tackle closet—behind the 389 LL, the 586 RPL, the 590-4 Z-Axis, the 890-4 XP, the VT2 7130-4 and the Z-Axis 7136-4—reside two of my all-time favorite rods: the Graphite III 9140-3 and the TCR 9140-4. I still fish these rods, but it’s been a while since I uncased them. The challenger, a fine layer of cork dust on the grip, is the new Sage ONE 9140-4. In order to keep things apples-to-apples, I’ll cast each rod with the same line: a RIO AFS 9/10 affixed to 50-pound RIO SlickShooter, a 10-foot RIO Intermediate VersiLeader and an eight-foot-long tippet.

First up, is the Graphite III 9140-3. Age, as always, before beauty. Göran Andersson, the father of the underhand cast, played a role in the development of this rod. The Graphite III 9140-3 still commands a healthy respect in Scandinavia, where many consider it the finest 14-foot rod ever built. The price for a specimen in mint condition usually exceeds the original retail price. Bidding wars on eBay and Internet bulletin boards are common. I spent the better part of a month in Norway chasing salmon a few years back. I ran into one angler on the Gaula who said he would trade his first-born for a new Graphite III 9140-3. You get the picture.

9140-3 Graphite III

Piecing the rod together, I am struck by the diameter of the butt section and the corresponding robustness of the cork. The grip is fairly chunky by today’s standards. The British-style reel seat is perhaps out of place on this definitive Scandinavian-style two-hander. The rod feels light in the hand, a byproduct no doubt, of its three-piece configuration (the rod will not fit in the trunk of my car). The 9140-3 feels top heavy with a reel of 8 ounces, yet balances perfectly (to my tastes) with a more substantial salmon reel of 13 ounces.

When casting in a straight line—i.e. a switch cast or an overhead cast—I’d stack the Graphite III 9140-3 against any 14-foot rod I’ve ever thrown. The bend profile is effortlessly smooth and without flat spots at any point along the blank. The recovery is fairly snappy considering it’s built with graphite from the Reagan era. The rod dampens well. It is always difficult to evaluate tracking as this quality rests equally in the hands of both designer and caster. Let’s just say that when this rod fails to track in a straight line, the operator is at fault. The rod works best with a fairly short, compact stroke.

A single spey is automatic out to about 45 degrees (where 0 degrees is directly downstream). Beyond 45 degrees, I have to pay particular attention to make sure I initiate the angle change with my hips well before I throw the rear loop of the spey back cast. The 9140-3 delivers its payload quickly. Loading and unloading is a fairly rapid process. The rod is reasonably forgiving of small errors in timing. Paired with a single spey, it’s not an ideal rod for your first day with a two-hander. When you line everything up the way you’re supposed to, the RIO AFS shooting head flies farther than you’re ever likely to fish.

The Sage TCR two-handed series features a quartet of rods. The TCR 8123-4 and TCR 9140-4, though fast in action, are less demanding to cast than the über-quick TCR 9129-4 or the TCR 10150-4. Assembling the TCR 9140-4, I notice that the fore grip is longer and the lower grip is shorter compared to the Graphite III 9140-3, with a higher grade of cork throughout. A fully machined up-locking reel seat has replaced the lightweight aluminum hood and cork spacer of the 9140-3. The fit of reel to rod is more secure on the TCR as a consequence. The two stripping guides are smaller and of higher quality, and the color of the rod—chili pepper—is an arresting departure from the Sage brown of old.

9140-4 TCR

Putting the rod through its paces, the TCR 9140-4 delivers a satisfying “whuump,” to use Mel Krieger’s term, during recovery after the forward stop. I’ve never felt the like on any other rod series. The rod catapults the RIO AFS shooting head through the air with startling line speed. The stroke is short, compact and not a little vicious. I can also find this sweet spot on the TCR 8123-4 and, with practice, on the TCR 9129-4. I’d need to go on a steroid regimen to find it on the TCR 10150-4, which may be the stiffest and most powerful 15-foot rod around which I’ve wrapped two hands.

Finding the sweet spot on each and every cast with the TCR 9140-4 requires practice. The rod has what I describe as a narrow performance window. If you operate within its proscribed parameters, you cast like a hero. You can see yourself at Golden Gate Casting Club peeling more monofilament shooting line from your reel than World Spey Casting Champion Gerard Downey. The pond may not be large enough. Release the hounds!

If you miss this performance window, you are quickly brought back to reality. You secretly hope no one saw your last cast. The transition from Spey god to Pee-Wee Herman is both miraculous and instantaneous (only you didn’t mean to do it). I fished this rod for a month straight in Norway. You fish around the clock there—it never grows dark. It’s easy to cast yourself into a state of oblivion. When I grew tired, I noticed I was in the latter category (auditioning for the remake of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) more often than I was in the former.

Enter the Sage ONE 9140-4. Removing the black rod from its dark sleeve, I find it hard to believe I’m uncasing a 14-foot rod for a 9-weight line. The diameter of the butt section and the svelte nature of the cork grip more closely resemble the proportions of yesteryear’s 13-and-a-half-foot rod for a 7-weight line. A traditional down-locking reel seat is standard on the ONE, replacing the up-locking reel seat featured on previous generations of Sage two-handed rods. The ONE 9140-4 is exactly two ounces lighter than the TCR 9140-4 and, in four sections, 1 and ½ ounces lighter than the three-piece Graphite III 9140-3.

ONE Two Handed

Assembling the ONE, I am struck by the size of the ferrules. They are virtually non-existent. It could be my imagination, but the male-to-female fit of these ferrules seems even more precise on the ONE compared to either the Graphite III or the TCR. The ONE balances perfectly with a reel of 8 to 9 ounces. I am also satisfied with the balance of the rod with an S-handled salmon reel of 13 ounces. The down-locking seat seems to accept a wider range of reel weights, accommodating those of us who like to stare at a classically proportioned reel when the fishing gets slow.

I make a series of switch casts with the ONE and the RIO AFS shooting head. The bend profile is an emphatic departure from either the Graphite III or the TCR. In fact, there is little in the DNA of the earlier rods to suggest a common bloodline with the racer-thin black mamba in my hands. The ONE loads more deeply into the middle and lower third of the rod than either the Graphite III or the TCR. I am able to flatten the upper third of the ONE when making an angle change, while maintaining a smooth and even load in the lower two thirds of the rod. As a result, I can make angle changes greater than 90 degrees as a matter of routine when executing a single spey.

I tend to cast best when progressively bending a rod from the butt to the tip. The ONE effortlessly allows this bottom-to-top progression while still permitting a pure tip cast at short distances. The rod has bucket loads of control without tipping over into the regressive feel of a long-belly rod in the British style. The action remains firmly in the progressive camp. It has a smooth, slingshot feel in contrast to the abrupt, catapult-like action of the TCR. I am able to lengthen my stroke, slow down and smooth out the application of power, yet still maintain perfect tracking. The timing of the ONE is relaxed and casual, the effort slightly above minimal. Missing the performance window of the ONE is about as likely as a joint literary venture between Philip Roth and the Kardashians.

There is an entrenched belief along the banks of many North American rivers that double-handed rods designed for Scandinavian-style spey casting are or should be fast in action. Pool cues. Smoke poles. Fast, faster, and fastest. I’ve fished with many of the finest casters and rod designers in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Few if any of their designs or preferred actions are lightning quick. Instead, they are smooth, deep-loading affairs with an abundance of feel and enough power in reserve to cast a weighted tube into a north wind.

It turns out that all the qualities of a good mid-belly rod—a progressively loading butt and mid-section smoothly ascending to a firm, authoritative tip—also define the qualities of a superior rod for Scandinavian-style spey casting (or any shooting head for that matter). I personally believe we are going to distance ourselves from double-handed rods designed for niche markets within niche markets. A good rod is a good rod. It should be able to cast a Scandinavian-style shooting head, a skagit head, a short- or a mid-head line with equal facility. The Sage ONE is that rod.

It may be too soon to declare the winner of this three-way shootout. I wish I could say that any conclusions are the result of a rigorous commitment to the scientific method and efficient double-blind testing protocols. If it makes you feel any better I did do a fair bit of casting with both my eyes closed (which is about as close as I get to the latter). There are enough hanging chads in this shootout to tip an election either way. The established favorites held their ground when confronted with the unforgiving pace of technology. The old guard acquitted itself well in a showdown with the young, the bold and the new. If shove comes to push and I am forced to commit, I can say that like the man who sang the “Folsom Prison Blues” and “A Boy Named Sue,” my streamside ensemble includes a healthy dose of black this season.

Topher Browne is an ambassador for Sage, Patagonia and a member of the advisory team for RIO Products. He co-wrote the spey-casting DVD, Spey to Z, and recently released Atlantic Salmon Magic (Wild River Press, 463 pages) and 100 Best Flies for Atlantic Salmon (Wild River Press, 244 pages).