Gear Review: Sage IGNITER Fly Rod


As soon as I assembled the 4-piece Sage IGNITER, I knew I had a formidable weapon in my hand. One of the first things I noticed was how light it felt compared to other rods in its category. This rod has been touted as a specialist rod that does well to throw heavy sink tip lines, large flies and handle windy conditions. I decided to test the Igniter with both a weight-forward 8wt floating line and a weight-forward 8wt 15’ sink tip line.

Using a WF-8-F line, the IGNITER will produce a very tight, wind-resistant loop, yielding an extra 10 feet of accurate distance to a typical cast. With a double haul technique, I was easily casting with accuracy out to 60 feet. Surprisingly, the rod did not feel overly stiff which might detract from its feel; it had a nice, moderate flex. For shorter-range casts it performed as any rod might, but it really shines at 40 – 55 feet.

There’s great potential beyond a wet fly presentation for dry flying with bombers where the sheer size of the flies cause wind resistance. There have been more than a few times I would have been able to use some of the backbone the IGNITER has to cast to Salmon spotted at the tail end of a pool without having to wade further and inevitably spook the fish.  I also threaded on a RIO InTouch 15-foot sink tip line (WF8F/S6 ) and tied on a large streamer. The IGNITER’s ability to cast such a set up was impressive. With a slight adjustment to my timing, I was able to cast the sink tip line very much like a regular line on a medium fast rod, and the rod cast the entire rig out very well.

The 8 weight IGNITER in the hands of a strong intermediate caster would open the door to a new level of casting accuracy, precision and distance. In the hands of an expert, the IGNITER becomes a tool, like adding a specialized driver to the golf bag. In the hands of a novice, the subtle differences between this rod and another model might not be accessible until later, but, by no means would it be unsuitable.

The IGNITER’s ability to roll out a sink tip line and streamer aids in its ability to fish a variety of swift or deep water conditions. The fact that it can cover water accurately and precisely is a great help as presentation and feel are key to raising a fish and knowing that it has struck the fly. It’s also well suited for bigger sport fish like steel head or Atlantic salmon.

The IGNITER could be recognized as a specialist rod, however it has many attributes that also make it a solid candidate to be touted as an excellent all-rounder, especially if you fish wide rivers that have variable flow rates.  A final note on aesthetics: the cork handle, guides, fit and finish of the wrappings were all flawless.