Sage Xi3 new for 2010
Every few years, Sage upgrades and replaces their lineup of high-end saltwater rods. The series gets its DNA from the old RPLX, a strong, stiff-butted stick from Sage’s early heyday designing some of the first fast-action (brown–always brown) fly rods. The RPLX was followed by the RPLXi, which adopted the blue-for-saltwater color scheme Sage has stuck to ever since. Next was the Xi2, and now we have the Xi3.
Sage bills this rod as being manufactured with “Salt H2O technology,” which designer Jerry Siem explains is a shorthand way of stating that everything on the rod was designed exclusively for saltwater use (as opposed to being dual-purpose for, say, salmon or steelhead fisheries). Siem highlighted the component differences between the Xi3 and the older Xi2, such as a much stronger stripping guide with a thinner ceramic insert. The heavy duty Xi3 models (such as the 12 weight) very savvily have a longer reel seat skeleton, pushing the fighting butt (itself longer than the lighter models) further away from the reel foot. This gives room both for bigger reel diameters and also moves the reel away from the angler’s belly, making it more comfortable to crank down on a big fish during a hard fight.
The blanks themselves primarily differ from the Xi2 they replace in their stronger mid-sections. Siem explained that the Xi3 should be able to pick up and deliver more line, for longer, without generating as much angler fatigue as the Xi2. Subjectively, I found the Xi3 to be very similar to the Xi2 in how it handled, but I think this is a hallmark of how good the Xi2 was more than any sign of a problem with the Xi3. Sage has always been known for making good saltwater rods; Xi3 is no exception.
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