Product Review: Sage R8 Core.

By Kirk Deeter
I know, I know… I’m late to the party.  But I finally got around to doing some serious fishing (my season restarts in September given how hot summers have been) with the R8 Core from Sage (($1050, that’s been leaning up against my office wall for months.
A few things up front:  I only fished a 9’-5 wt., though the company professes that each model has its own personality.  I fished it with a RIO Gold line. I fished mostly on larger rivers (too wide to cast across) and lakes.
I think this rod is a wolf in sheep’s clothing… almost a saltwater rod with a freshwater wrapper.  That’s not to say that it lacks feel or sensitivity—quite the opposite, in fact.  It isn’t a cannon like Ignitor (and that’s good). But it’s a line speed machine… in the right angler’s hands.  The average angler will have to ease off the throttle a little bit, or risk throwing tailing loops.  But once you find the stroke, it is very, very easy to pack tight loops with less physical effort. Moreover, it’s the kind of rod that allows a good caster/angler to really play around and have fun. Challenge yourself with curve casts, pile casts, single-hand spey moves and more.  Even simple details like mending the line or snapping roll casts seem to benefit from this taper and the R8 Core materials.
I often use golf analogies: When the average duffer buys irons, they usually get what that industry refers to as “game improvement” irons with a larger sweet spot, more forgiveness, and so forth.  But the pros, and people who actually know how to shape shots, put spin on the ball, and so on, get “tour” or “player” irons… sometimes affectionately just called blades.
R8 Core is a player level fly rod.  That’s not to say that there won’t be oodles sold (at over a grand per) to anglers who aren’t pro-level anglers. That’s merely to emphasize that this rod can be a helluva lot of fun, and can be fished in many different situations, most reasonably in the 20-60 foot casting range (which is a pretty darn big range, minus the super-short stuff).
I am absolutely taking mine to the bonefish flats next time I go.  I won’t throw big heavy flies with it, but it will do fine in light winds and precise presentations.  And for trout with dry flies, especially large mayflies and terrestrials R8 Core is a definite winner.

Leave A Reply