I didn’t expect Sage to come out with a light-line trout rod just a year after the introduction of the Sage Dart series—available in 0- through 4-weights—but there’s a degree of specialization here that maybe only very experienced dry-fly fishermen can understand or appreciate. While the Dart is made for small flies and small water, it’s still a fast-action rod made for throwing bullet-shaped loops. As the throwback name indicates, the Trout LL is more traditional. Available in weights 3 through 6, the Trout LL is also made for rising trout and small flies, but the rod loads more deeply into the midsection at close and medium ranges, and is more suited to technical situations where you have some space to work and you’re not worried about firing a single backcast in and around obstructions.
Our tester used the Trout LL for scum-sucker browns in Green River backwater eddies. You should also consider it for pods of trout sipping in shallow riffles on the Missouri, or a single big brown feeding on Hendricksons in glassy water on the Delaware. These are situations where you don’t need to shoot quickly to a tight spot, you approach warily, carefully measure the cast, and delicately allow the line to unroll in the air, watching as the energy dissipates and the fly and leader fall gently to the water. The Trout LL also excels anywhere you are fishing 6X or even 7X tippets, and you need a limber rod to act as a buffer.
Beyond the casting aesthetics, this is one of the prettiest rods we’ve had in our hands for this Gear Guide issue. It doesn’t scream “Look at me!” Instead the mahogany blank, bronze and gold trim wraps, walnut wood reel seat, and snub-nose, half-wells cork handle are things you’ll appreciate when you’re standing alone at twilight waiting for the hatch to begin. $800 | sageflyfish.com