I have never been one to go for bells and whistles or reels that are in my opinion over priced, so it was with slightly gritted teeth that I parted with some cash and bought myself a Sage 4210 reel to go with my new Sage Salt rod.
I probably should first of all go through my reasoning for this. I have done a bit of fishing in Australia’s Tropics over the years and have done quite a bit of fishing in Weipa over past few years. Let me just say that these places test your tackle from hooks to line, rods and of course your reel. While I haven’t had too much tackle failure, I have had some reels “play up” whilst away and that can sometimes mean it get’s put aside. Simple things like knobs falling off, spools hitting frames and in one case a bent washer on the drag bearing meant for a noisy time when playing 20lb Long Tail Tuna. My last trip saw me snap the tip off a rod on a Blue Bastard and to this day they are still bastards! So my thinking was simple – get something that is good quality, a good brand name, and by that I don’t mean trendy, by that I mean a company that stands behind their product and for the most part have really good customer feedback. I also discussed it with a guide who has seen a lot of different fly tackle in his boat and can tell you the common failures of most brands. That helped immensely.
O.k. so I settled for a 9 weight Sage Salt and a matching 4210 reel for my Weipa trips from now on. It will also be my go to Aussie Salmon and Kingfish rod when in home waters. In this review I am going to stick to the 4210 reel. First of all straight out of the box the finish is excellent. I went for the Ember colour cos I reckon it will look good in photos ;), The thing that sold me on the reel is that it is fully sealed so giving it the occasional dunk in the water won’t be an issue. You won’t get sand in it when walking the flats and really the only maintenance it needs is a wipe over and a wash when you get home. It would be worth taking the backing off every so often to clean and wipe underneath it, as that is where most corrosion starts on reels.
The other thing I liked about the reel is that it doesn’t have a screw on knob to hold the spool on. I have had these come off when fishing with other reels and on one trip had the spool come off and into 20m of water. There I was pulling all the backing off until I got the spool back to the boat and then had to wind it all on without tangles. Challenge accepted and met, but it took a lot of fishing time! Actually to take the spool off the Sage 4200 series you need a 5 cent piece or something of that size to turn the lock knob. Once that is loosened you physically have to click the spool off the frame. This is very very secure.
The drag was the next thing that impressed me. The drag itself is made up of 4 parts. 3 floating carbon drag washers on one side of the central main washer. This keeps the reel level and balanced and allows the drag to be set and never vary as things wear. The other feature I like is that you can apply full drag with just one full urn of the drag knob or set it to one of the numbers on the drag knob and you will know that it will always be the same pressure being applied. So if you find that say setting 5 is what you use when fishing for tuna then every time you fish you just turn the knob to 5 and you have the exact same drag setting each and every time. The carbon disc itself is made to withstand high temperature and is the same as they use in some sports cars and aeroplanes to pull them up so you can be sure it won’t wear and upset the drag system. The drag itself is smooth and has no jumping at all. The reel and spool remains balanced under pressure and fast runs.
Obviously one of the criteria for any fly reel used on big fast running fish is that it must have good capacity for backing. I managed to get around 300m of 50lb braid onto the reel with enough room to hold a 9 weight RIO Intermediate or Outbound. Plenty enough to withstand the first solid run of a tuna, sail or big GT!
The 4200 series starts at 3 weight and goes through to 10 weight – 4230, 4250, 4260, 4280 and 4210.
The good thing about Sage too is obviously their lifetime warranty and customer service, which I guess was one of the big sellers for me given how hard I work my gear when I am traveling. Knowing that if something breaks I can get it repaired or replaced no questions asked is of some comfort. So I kind of look at the seemingly extra cash you fork out for the rod and reel as part of the insurance policy. You really are getting a rod and reel for life.
By the way. I am not affiliated, sponsored or paid in any way by any rod or reel company so this is just my opinion based on my experience with the product. (Edit) This model is now superseded, but look out for second hand ones as they are a great all round reel in my opinion.