Review: Sage SALT HD fly rod

Sage's latest saltwater specialist does it all
Casting the Sage SALT HD at a bonefish from the deck of a Bair's Lodge skiff (photo: Earl Harper).

When the Sage SALT HD was announced last year, it rode an enormous hype wave to the forefront of virtually any discussion about saltwater fly rods. It won"Best in Show" at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show in Orlando. And the proclamations came: it's a Scott Meridian killer, or a G. Loomis NRX killer, it's Sage's best saltwater fly rod ever and so on. Then came the naysayers, it's too heavy, the tip is too stiff, it's all marketing, ad infinitum.

Of these hills

Turkeys start gobbling, shad start running, and crappie start biting when the dogwood buds grow to the size of a squirrel’s ear
Photo: Matt Reilly

There’s a saying developed and propagated in the great state of Virginia that outshines and outperforms any watch or calendar of any make or ability—at least as far as its use in predicting the outset of the plethora of sporting traditions that burst into effect following the spring equinox. It’s a device fashioned of local knowledge by minds weathered and ecologically observant enough to do so, and it’s made truer with each passing year that it rings on time.


Mudbugs are a fixture in many of the rivers and creeks where we chase fish
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

The most humble of waters call to me. Chocolate-milk-colored seeps and tinkling rocky rivulets no wider than a long stride are the most persuasive. I know the denizens of those tiny waters, and they call as well. They whisper of a time that seems not long ago when all I wanted could be found at the end of a long dirt driveway or just beyond the next creek riffle.

I wanted crawdads.

Best fishing sunglasses for 2018-2019

Our ever-evolving picks for the best lenses to help you see the fish you're chasing
Photo: Chad Shmukler

Once again, it's been a couple of years since we last updated our picks for the best fishing sunglasses you can take with you to the water, whether that water is a sun-drenched, crystal clear freestone river, a tree-lined spring creek, a murky bass pond, a saltwater flat or the deep blue ocean.

The mountains are calling

The gobble of a wild turkey is a blend of science and magic
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

I always have to convince myself that the first gobbler I hear in the spring was really a gobbler. It wasn't a woodpecker hammering on a hickory, or a distant barking dog. It was a turkey. The mystique -- much bigger than the turkey -- engulfs the real-world science going on in the woods, and the mystique is in the gobble. It's magic. That thundering warble doesn't seem real. And it can't come from the throat of a bird, can it?