Fly Rod Review: On the Water with Sage ESN

Fly Rod Sage ESN

The 2012 Sage ESN

The more I dabble with European nymph fishing techniques, the more of a believer I am in their effectiveness. I recently had an opportunity to fish a 10-foot, 4-weight version of Sage’s just-introduced ESN (for European Style Nymphing) fly rods, and I’m also becoming more of a believer in the “special rods for specific techniques” school of thought as a result.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I like to bass fish also, and accept the notion that one needs a certain rod action for chucking crankbaits, another for finessing tube jigs, and right on down the line.

When you think about it, fly fishing nymphs in the Euro style is essentially tube-jigging for trout. It’s all about feel.

Indeed, these ESN rods are exceptionally supple, and that translates to feel as those heavy flies tumble through currents and (hopefully) meet the resistance of a trout inhaling them. Shorter and much lighter than a switch rod, longer than the norm—yes, side-by-side, and cast-for-cast, there is a tangible difference between the ESN and the standard all-around #4 weight I use to throw dry flies and nymph fish in the high-stick style. I did sacrifice some casting distance and versatility, but I more than made up for it in hookups. And I can definitely see this rod translating to other effective uses, like fishing from a float tube with small flies, dibbling wet flies… even teaching my young son to refine the cast, because every feeling vis-a-vis weight transfer of the line is so clean.

If you think about it in golf terms, you wouldn’t hit every shot with a driver (though I guess you could). Sometimes you need the seven-iron, sometimes the wedge, inevitably/always the putter. Mind you, at just under $700 retail, ESN costs about what a full set of irons does. But with the growing interest in Euro nymphing in all parts of the country, I think ESN will indeed find a place in many anglers’ hearts. It’s worth playing around with and feeling for yourself the next time you’re in a shop that sells them. It might just flip your switch.

Sponsored Link: Buy a Sage ESN Fly Rod

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  • SCB

    I love my ESN 3100. I have been fishing euro-style for 3 years with a 9′ 5wt and this rod got me to take the plunge. It really works well. I could see myself also liking an 11′ version.