Gear test: Sage SALT HD

When I first started saltwater fly fishing, I was generally clueless as to the role solid fly rods played in the success of anglers pursuing fish that didn't have banks or rapids or waterfalls to stop their runs. Not until I went to the Bahamas for the second time did I come to understand that a fast-action rod was important, particularly on windy days, but also for quick and accurate casting. 

Now, I take great care in packing for a trip to the salt. Faster rods. Saltwater-specific lines. Even saltwater leaders and tippets. 

On a spring trip to the southern Yucatan, I was fortunate enough to get to test the new SALT HD from Sage. Simply put, this saltwater-specific fly rod checks all the boxes. It's fast, it's accurate, and it handled dozens of spunky bonefish on the flats where Mexico meets Belize. 

I fished the 8-weight version of the SALT HD, which is perfect for cutting the wind and chasing both bonefish and permit. I likely stressed the rod beyond its intended capabilities when I hooked a huge jack off the jetty in the tiny fishing village of Xcalak—the rod didn't let me down, my clumsy tippet knot did. 

Each SALT HD rod is crafted for various conditions and for various fish, ranging from bones and permit to tarpon and big pelagics. Each one incorporates Sage's KonneticHD technology, which helps with rod speed, but also helps with things like quick pick-ups and quick recasting–something every saltwater angler understands as an important feature. First shots at a permit or a bone are one thing. But the second shot? Vital.

The SALT HD is a substantial rod—you'll notice the feel the second you put your hands on it. It oozes power—indeed, it's a damn rocket launcher, and in the hands of a competent angler, it won't disappoint.

It's not cheap, coming in just under $1,000, but it won't let you down, and it comes with Sage's stellar warranty. If you're in the market for a rod that will take you to the flats for years to come, this rod is a worthwhile investment. 

— Chris Hunt

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