We live in a world where people can’t get enough of “better”. Our computers, cars, bicycles and sporting equipment we are told, no matter how current, can always be improved on and we buy it up. I for one however, upon finding something that I like, often stick with it and use it until it’s warn out or breaks. For example, I have an old first generation Dell laptop that won’t even update new stuff anymore because it can’t handle it but I still enjoy writing drafts on it simply because I like the way the keys feel and the computer itself just seems to be bullet proof. I also fish with an old Sage VPS Light 389-3 fly rod for similar reasons. I just love everything about it, the way it fights fish, casts and feels in my hand, with my crappy old SA System II reel.
So on the topic of fly rods, one of the industry leaders, while constantly improving on gear also has a soft spot for what worked in the past. This is evident in rod lines like the Circa whose action takes us back to more pleasant times when glass rods ruled and slow was the norm. Sage tugs at the heart strings of anyone that cut their teeth before 1980’s and still yearns for that action of slow, progressive glass. But that is for another blog. Today, we want to talk about one of Sage’s greatest developments, Generation 5 Graphite Technology and the New Accel fly rods. Although Accel is one unto its own, it is somewhere between the Z-Axis and the TCX which many consider to be two of the finest fishing rods ever made. But note that we said “Fishing rods”. One has to be careful these days in the world of the “super rods” as for casting or tournament tools, there are 4 or 5 products out there that can’t be compared to. Seasoned anglers, however look for other things in a rod. Tippet protection, performance at all distances, fish fighting ability and price should be near the top of the criteria and that is where Accel comes in.
First of all, it does happen to be a stunning rod. The classic green blank works well with the darker green winding’s and black anodized reel seat (690-4 and up) or the rose wood and black seat (590-4 down) finish off the appointments nicely.
However, this med-fast action rod is not just a pretty face. We fished the 486-4 for trout and 7100-4 for steelhead and found that it was a better than average fishing rod. The 7100 fought fish well and was very forgiving with the lightest of tippets. The 486 exceeded our expectations as a trout rod and worked equally well as a dry fly or nymphing tool although we decided we would like to try the 490 for an all round trout rod.
The two handers (we tested the 7126-4 and the 7114-4) fared very well too. In fact, they more than met our expectations. Although we only dry cast the 7126, it did everything expected of it with a 455 grain Rio Scandi and we anticipate it will fish equally well. The 7114 however, was fished this past fall and I quite frankly fell in love with it. In fact, I plan on using it to replace both of my primary two handers (11 foot switch for indicator fishing and a 12’6″ 7/8 for traditional stuff.) and tying everything into one rod.
As a retailer, that may seem counter productive but I’ve always leaned to the side of practical and let’s face it, not everyone wants to dish out the peso’s for two premium rods that get limited use. This rod fished wonderfully with a #7 Rio Intermediate Scandi head with MOW Tips and fought fish beautifully. We’ll go out on a limb and say this might be the perfect Great Lakes steelhead rod.
The only real deficiencies we found was that the 7100 struggled a bit beyond 70 feet but a 10 foot rod in our opinion really isn’t meant for crazy distance so we may have been looking for too much from her. The other issue was that we would like to see the Accel in a 4100 and a 5100 but beyond that, she is a wonderful mid to high range fly rod that more than deserves consideration.
GRO ROD RATING
Performance- 4.5 We went back and forth with this but in the end, decided on this rating due mainly to the 7100’s distance thing. It’s really not fair though because neither of us are distance guys and agreed that we were being a bit hard on her but just couldn’t give her full marks.
Craftsmanship- 4.5 She could have had some winding checks but for the most part, she’s a pretty rod.
Value- 4.5 As fly rod companies continue to push the envelope at the retail price point level we tend to push back both as retailer and consumers. I guess we were looking at something more in the VXP price range so when Accel hit the racks, we were just a bit disappointed but it remains one of the best bang for your buck rods out there.
Over all rating. 4.5