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Rod Review: Sage ACCEL

by Robert Morselli

Sage Accel Fly Rod

There’s a fine balance in staying true to your roots yet continuing to innovate: settling into one groove generally pulls you out of another, and this is something that fly rod (among other) manufacturers struggle with on a regular basis.

So you make fly rods, but how do you make an impression on a potential customer?  One way is to make a fly rod that is just right for them.

Easier said than done, but one fly rod maker is doing just that.

Sage has settled into a comfortable groove as of late, churning out noteworthy, appealing, super-model-thin blanks that have garnered wide attention – and praise – for all the right reasons. Many of the latest releases like the Circa and Method are imbued with the things that the most demanding anglers insist on – power, smoothness and accuracy – but these two rods are miles apart in terms of what they offer in an overall package.

One of my favorite things to do is hand a fly rod over to another angler, tell them to make a few casts (perhaps even land a fish) and then ask, “What do you think?”

I did this with the new ACCEL and the reactions were almost unanimous: everyone liked the rod’s feel, and it loaded beautifully and felt light in hand. Mending was often mentioned, and how expertly that could be accomplished with this rod. Two features that are immediate standouts on the ACCEL are its extra-sensitive tip – always a difficult component to get right, and the reel seat, which is coated to allow the up-locking ring a near-zero-friction spin.

Remember Goldilocks wanting her porridge just right? The ACCEL was exactly that for the four other anglers who handled it. Balanced with the right reel this rod becomes an all-rounder. Targeting trout will make sense with this rod, as will targeting smallmouth or just about any other freshwater species that isn’t off the charts weight-wise (I tested a single–handed 4-weight).

Sage Accel Fly RodsJerry Siem, Sage rod designer, describes the new rods this way: The ACCEL are medium-fast and feature an added graphite hoop core and axial fiber material in the new Generation 5 technology which allows for a lighter, ultra-responsive, and livelier blank with a narrower shaft.  The result permits anglers to feel the rod load for optimum casting control. Jerry uses “lively” to describe the blank, and the term is bang on. I’m certain that that’s what anglers appreciate most about the ACCEL. Simply put, a lively blank is a very big part of what makes fishing fun.

Reels make great gifts. Flies make great gifts, too, as do fishing accessories, but I would never recommend giving a fly rod as a gift. Anglers must to go into fly shops to obtain the rod that’s best and that’s right for them. That said, I’d make an exception with the ACCEL because of its potentially broad appeal. If ten anglers were to receive this rod for their birthdays (just sayin’), I’d be stunned if there were more than one return.

As for myself, I enjoyed handling the ACCEL – immediately. It felt new, yet familiar. Final word goes to my friend, who fished the ACCEL and was asked after 30 minutes and two brookies, “what do you think?”

“I like it… a lot… the fish probably won’t.”

The Specs

ACCEL single hand rods range in weights from 3 to 9 and are priced at $595. Switch rods come in weights 6 to 8 and are priced at $695. Spey rods are available in weights 6 to 8, for $750.

Hardware specifications: Fuji ceramic stripper guides, hard-chromed snake guides and tip top complete the blank. Freshwater rods from 3-6 weights have a rosewood insert with stealth black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat and a snub-nose, half-wells cork handle.

Saltwater models from 6-9 weights feature a stealth black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat and also feature a snub-nose, half-wells cork handle.

All models come in 4-piece configurations.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing
Robert Morselli is the research director for the internationally syndicated television show "How It's Made."
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  • Riverrhino

    Well, all I see here are the positives but there are negatives. This rod is heavy, compared to
    other top 5-weigths like the Loomis LP or Scott Radian. The action is also slower than these rods and not as nice for shorter distance feel and accuracy. I wouldn’t call this rod lively. But at least the green color is nice

    • 3weight

      “I wouldn’t call this rod lively”

      I would – and I’m basing that qualifier as
      a comparison to the 100 – 125 fly rods I’ve had the opportunity to test over
      the last 12 years.

      “The action is also slower than… ”

      The action may very well be ‘slower than’ –
      but, assuming your casting basics are in
      order, this won’t prevent you from propelling your bugs as far as need them to

      Glad that you at least found the color
      attractive – I thought it was a great color selection as well.

  • gunner95b

    Your article caught my attention. Been looking for new 5wt rod. Loomis NRX-LP is a serious candidate based on reading Yellowstone Angler Shootout. Mostly fish Southeast Mountain streams. Casts are 30-50 feet, but we do have a lot of private streams that have 20″+ trout & the “Hooch” that has very large Browns. Not big fan of Fast Action rods. Learned on Bamboo & glass rods. Looking for rod to cast accurately at shorter distances. Shootout said LP rod was exceptional at this. My question is do you have any experience with LP to compare with Accel? Price is very attractive..

    • ross slayton

      I think its a load of crap to hijack a Sage rod review of an amazing rod with a G.Loomis product. Don’t know anything about any Loomis rods, never owned one. I have had some Redington, Sage blanked customs, a Temple Fork, and a Beulah switch but you don’t see me on here comparing them to the new Sage Accel now do you? I had the pleasure to cast the new Accell and was very impressed! It felt good in my hand, well balanced and easliy cast at 40 feet. I had superior control over accuracy at will and found turnover to be dang near perfect. I will own one, as I find it the perfect fit between the Circa and My redington RS4 6 wt streamer rod. I like having a full arsenal and this will be in m quiver very soon

  • gunner95b

    P.S Don’t understand comment this rod is heavy. Loomis LP is 3.1 oz for 5wt 9′ while Accel is 2 7/8 oz for same size.. Small observation