Sage 5126-4 Z-AXIS

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Sage 5126-4 Z-AXIS Field Test Report
By: Josh Linn

One of the nice things about working at The Fly Fishing Shop, is that you have access to a lot of great gear. And anyone that knows me, knows I like gear. Last week I got a package from George Cook; a new 5126-4 Z axis rod along with some of the new Rio AFS shooting heads. Well it seemed like I should go put this stuff to the test. I contacted my good friend Eric Gunter and we headed to the Deschutes with the 5126-4. It was a cool crisp fall morning, the kind of morning that feels like you can smell steelhead. We pushed out of the boat launch in the pitch black and got to the first run about an hour before light. We brewed coffee in the boat and we hunkered down trying to keep warm while anticipating the morning's fishing. Our conversation led to steelhead and then on to tackle. The reel on the 5126-4 Z-Axis was loaded it up with a 5/6 (340-grain) AFS shooting head a new 10’  floating Rio VersiLeader. This was attached to Varivas shooting line loaded on an antique Ari Hart reel (Hey, you gotta' have a few old neat reels).  Lately I've been fishing smaller spey rods and this seemed like a good combo for Deschutes steelhead. When we could see well enough to walk, we got moving. I took the upper run and Eric moved into the lower run. This time of year I always start fishing with a skating fly because steelhead taking flies on the surface is so exciting. A Purple Muddler was "riffle-hitched" on the end of my leader.  When you are as young as I am, everyone wants to give you advice.  One of my friends seems to think I should spend more time fishing water in close to shore. I have caught many steelhead from the upper run, but never close to the bank.  But, I thought I would humor him even though he wasn’t there and started casting short and stayed on the bank. Watching a muddler wake across the top first thing in the morning has a focusing effect. I fished all the way through the run and got nothing, then walked back to the top of the run and waded out into my normal starting spot. Cast after cast, I watched the muddle groove a nice wake across the smooth surface. I was stepping, casting and got into a rhythm.  Watching  a fly skating across the water in cadence is nearly hypnotizing. As the fly skated across the bucket, I got tense with anticipation. Each cast fished well, but nothing happened. I hadn’t heard anything from Eric so I guess he was doing about as good as I was. I got out and walked back to the top of the run and changed flies, tying on a Green Butt Skunk. I waded back out to my staring spot. Stripped out the head of the fly line and made my first cast. I stripped out 3 more feet of line and made another cast. This setup was casting effortlessly especially now that I had taken off the air resistant muddler. I was getting into my rhythm Casting about 70’ cast step, cast, step. I was in the bucket again. Everything was feeling good. The fly was turning over. The swing was looking good. I was starting to get tense with anticipation again. I made another cast let it swing and the line came tight and I felt a little throb, dropped the loop and felt the line come tight again. I set the hook and drove the fly home. The fish didn’t like that and was straight into the backing. I had that 5 wt bent to the handle. This felt good. It was a heavy duty tug of war. Finally I was gaining ground on the fish. The fish never came to the surface of the water.  It felt like a bug buck steelhead giving me lots of head shakes and little runs. When the fish came parallel to me,  I was still standing mid-river and was envisioning landing it out there. I got the leader to the tip of the rod and started lifting. I wanted to see what this fish was, but couldn’t move the thing, so I clamped down on the line and kept lifting.  Finally it came to the top and looked big. Then as soon as it came close it ran off again. I got it back up to me and started getting it in closer, lifting it as hard as possible. I thought I might break the little rod. You never know the limits of a new rod especially one this little. The fish came back to the top and I could see it now, and it looked to be about 10-12lbs. & pretty bright, but it looked different. It all made sense now why I didn’t get anything on my first 2 passes. It was a male fall Chinook. I headed for the bank. I had never landed a fall Chinook on the Deschutes before, and I didn’t want to screw this up. The fish was exhausted and so was I. I bent down and firmly grabbed it by the wrist of the tail. I was in disbelief was this really happening. I was in such awe I forgot to call Eric to get a picture. Oh well.  I released the fish back to the river and just sat there for a moment, looking down at my new 5126-4 Z-axis and knew it was a rod I would fish a lot.

5126-4 round-2
My Friday was fast approaching and all I could think about was putting my 5126-4 Z-AXIS to another test. It was fun catching that Chinook on it last week but I wanted a hot steelhead. I wanted to see what this rod could really do. I wanted a second chance.......So my gal Marcy and I were off to the Deschutes for a couple of days. It had been raining and seemed very promising. The leaves were starting to change colors and a little snow had fallen, fall was upon us. We headed over late at night and slept in the back of the truck. The early bird catches the worm or in our case the Steelhead. We were up early. We were on a mission. We ate breakfast at our first fishing spot while waiting in the dark. The longer we waited the more the anticipation built. It was cool and overcast with no wind. By the time it was starting to get light I had finished off the whole pot of coffee. Marcy and I split up. I went up river and she went down. As soon as I stepped into the water I could tell it river level was up. The water was up and wading out to the normal starting spot was difficult. I was envisioning being swept away. It was the beginning of October and I had seen plenty of October Caddis around so I put on a Steelhead Caddis and tied a riffle hitch behind the head, the started to work out some line. Casting the little rod with a large wind resistant fly was Not the easiest thing to do. I could never really get into a rhythm and I had drank too much coffee. I couldn’t pay attention to where the fly was and kept losing track of it. Soon came the reality that I was totally screwing this up so I switched flies and gears. Out came the Fly Dejour. This one I had tied on an silver Alec Jackson Spey hook in size 7. I moved back to the top of the run and started over. Starting all over I stripped out some fly line and made a cast. Little flies are always easier to cast. I stripped out another couple of feet of line and made another cast. I was getting into the zone and was starting to relax. More line and another cast. This was getting easy. More line another cast. I continued this till I was casting about 70’ feet of line. This time the 5126-4 was loading with a 6/7 AFS (400-grain) line.  This little rocket equipped with a new 10’ floating Rio Versi Leader. It was smooth...step cast, step cast... I was really starting to wonder off into space and all of a sudden I felt it...just a faint pull that took the loop. I set the hook. Nothing happened. It must be running at me I was sure I had it so I started stripping in line.  Finally it came tight on it and just kept stripping it in. It was a little trout. That didn’t seem right.... fortunately I didn’t reel in any  of the line. I got situated and made another cast. The fly swung down to where it had left off and I felt a pull again. The loop slipped from between my fingers, then came a little throb and I set the hook towards the bank, driving the hook home.  The fish jumped from the water about 50’ from where it had taken the fly.  It was off and running. the reel was screaming.  This was the fish I had been looking for. It was landed; a beautiful hen about 8 pounds and chrome bright. I reeled up to go check on Marcy and see how she was doing. She said she had hooked a fish also. It had jumped out of the water and made a scorching run but had come off. I asked her if she wanted to take over where I had left off. She declined and said she wanted another shot at that fish. I headed back to where I had left off. I stepped back in at the head of the run and repeated the process all over again and was off in lala land dreaming of that fish when all of a sudden I felt it just a little pull. I gave it the loop and felt it again. I set the hook the rod got heavy and it was on. That 5126 was getting a workout this morning. I held my ground and fought this fish mid-river. I finally got it in. It was about the same size as the last one but a bit darker, but what a beautiful fish. I finally fished all the way through the run without getting a grab. I reeled up and headed back to the boat and to check on Marcy. She was done fishing and was drinking some coffee. She hadn’t touched another fish. We pulled anchor and headed off down river. I slid the drift boat into the next spot. It was deep and bouldery. I offered Marcy to go first but she declined. I made my first cast let it swing. I made another and then another, till I got out a good casting distance of about 60’. Then I worked my way down the run. It was deep and slow going. About 40’ below me there was a boulder that was partially submerged and my line started to hang up on it. I gave it a little flip to pull it off and keep the swing going. Another step and another cast. The line hung up on the rock again I gave it a little tug and then I felt that unmistakeable surge, that throb that feels like nothing else. I set the hook. I could feel that my line was still hung up on the rock out there. I started pulling trying to get the fish to come around the rock and to get my line to come with it. The fish just held it’s ground. I just kept pulling. Finally it moved and the fight was on. Marcy was watching from the boat and stood up to take some pictures. The fish jumped part way out of the water. It looked big. I started looking for somewhere to land this thing. I made my move towards the bank bringing the fish with me. As it got closer I could see it was a big fish and asked Marcy to come down here to get a picture of it. This little rod was sure getting. Finally I got the fish slid up to a rock so I could tail it.

5126-4 Z-AXIS

Length: 12' 6"     Line: 5     Pieces: 4

Summer steelhead, grilse and larger trout rod .  Will throw both floating and sinking tip lines.  Fishes well with both 5/6 Windcutter and 6/7 AFS lines.
Rod weight: 6 1/8 Ounces
Line Wt
Action Handle Price To Top
6126-4 Z-AXIS 6 Fast D $740


Fly Tying In The Bright Spot

A guy that camps along a roadless river for ten days at a time might run out of a favorite fly pattern or might want to tie something new to try.  Or maybe tying flies is simply therapy. What ever the reason for tying flies in camp at night, it is much easier with a well aimed head lamp like the Black Diamond Spot. After two full seasons and many hours of use the Spot helps keep everything in sight; from the boat very early in the morning, to the call of nature in the middle of the night, to tying flies for the next day.  It really helps when you can see what you are doing.  The Spot's the best.

Black Diamond Head Lamp, Spot Model

Focus your attention on what's ahead with the new Spot. The only batteries-in-front headlamp available with a one-watt HyperBright Bulb and three SuperBright LEDs, the Spot's compact exterior disguises its powerful punch, providing far-reaching illumination for climbers, skiers and backcountry travelers. We've refined our reflector to increase the HyperBright Bulb's spotlight beam and clustered it with three SuperBright LEDs for bright proximity lighting. Powered by three AAA batteries and with a tiltable housing, the sleek Spot has intelligent circuitry that gives three brightness settings and includes strobe illumination in either mode. The Spot is a lightweight, dependable and powerful option for serious users when success is on the line.
  • Batteries-in-front design
  • Improved reflector for better spotlight capability
  • Intelligent circuitry for 3 brightness settings & strobe
  • Item Description Model Price To Top
    620586P Black Diamond Head Lamp Spot, Pearl $42.95

    620586T Black Diamond Head Lamp Spot, Titanium $42.95


    Fly Fishing for Fall Chinook
    By: Dean Finnerty - Part 3 of 3

    In the first part of this series we discussed the “where” of locating active salmon that are easily enticed into taking various fly patterns. In the second installment we covered the “when” part of the equation at being successful fly fishers for fall Chinook.  We also discussed appropriate tackle selection for rods, reels, lines and leaders. In this, the final part of the series we’ll cover the “nuts and bolts” of fly-fishing for fall Chinook, the techniques that work and the patterns the fish love to eat! As previously stated, fly tackle is ideally suited to presenting many of the baitfish

    imitations salmon find irresistible when presented in those areas where the salmon are still actively feeding or had been just days prior.  Usually the best areas for the fly fishermen are the shallow water areas (less than 10 feet in depth) that the salmon are using to make the transition between saltwater and fresh. Depending upon current speed, which in turn is dictated by the flow of the river entering the bay or estuary, and by the effects of tides, the angler makes his line choice.  This is usually a shooting head with intermediate “slime line” if using a single hand (conventional) fly rod. 

    The presentation used most frequently is the proven wet fly swing.  Care must be taken to position yourself far enough upstream of the suspected salmon lies to prevent dragging line, leader or fly across the backs of schooling salmon and to prevent “flossing” them.  This is especially true in low flows, either caused by a lack of rain or minus low tides.  When hundreds of large salmon get “stacked like cordwood” in these areas, it is difficult to present the fly without foul hooking them and all efforts should

    a be made to avoid this obvious un-sportsman like conduct.  I always like to start short and gradually lengthen my casts until I’m covering the water from bank to bank, or I have out an amount of line I can comfortable cast all day.  Once I’ve reached this distance, and I’m able to step down through the run, I begin making a cast or two and taking a step, repeated by a cast or two and another step.  When the fly reaches the end of its drift near the shore I’m fishing from, I retrieve my fly line with a series of short, erratic retrieves of the fly.  I try to imagine what a wounded baitfish would look like, swimming near shore and mimic that with my retrieves.  Often times a salmon will annihilate the fly with an arm-jarring grab! 

    When current speeds are nearly non-existent which occurs routinely in the lower tidewater reaches of these rivers during the slack tides, it becomes necessary to impart action to your fly during the whole cast.  This is some of my favorite fishing time.  The salmon are on the prowl, actively seeking that final, tasty little morsel of herring, anchovy or sardine before heading upriver to spawn.  I simply make my cast towards the area I want to cover with my fly pattern.  Once the fly is out on a straight, tight line, I begin retrieving using a series of erratic, short pulls of various speeds, always trying to mimic a fleeing or injured baitfish.  The salmon will sometimes nip and peck at the fly like a small trout, other times they’ll nearly rip the rod from your grip when they attack the fly!   Its important that you manage your retrieved line in an orderly fashion so that it can easily shoot back through the guides going the other way when a salmon is hooked.  Failing to manage your line will usually cause a hooked fish to leave with disastrous results, especially if your tippet is 20-pound maxima.  A lot of damage will occur to your rod, or at least the guides before the tippet parts if it tangles. 

    My favorite patterns are herring, anchovy and sardine patterns of various lengths and shades of olive, blue, purple, chartreuse, and black.  Synthetic materials added to layers of various colors of long, died bucktail makes very realistic and appealing patterns.  They vary in length from 2” to over 5”.  There are two characteristics I incorporate into all of my baitfish imitations.  One, they all have a light color on the bottom or belly of the fly with a dark color on the top or back of the fly.  Two, they all have some type of “eye” incorporated into the head of the fly.  These features I feel are very important to any pattern I design for use as a saltwater or salmon fly.  Without these features, I’m just not fishing with confidence. 

    Other patterns that have proven successful for me over the years are Clouser Minnows in black/chartreuse, blue/white, purple/white and green/white.  Purple dredgers and a variety of small shrimp and crab “spawn” patterns round out the bulk of my fly patterns. 

    If you haven’t tried fall Chinook on a fly yet, make this the year your give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed; in fact, you may even be a little surprised at how effective a tool your fly rod can be on these magnificent game fish!

    Anyone with questions or comments, or wanting to book a trip with Dean are encouraged to contact him through his website located at         

    November 3, 2007

    Northwest Fly Tiers Rendezvous
    Mt. Hood Community Collage, Gresham, OR
    9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

    This show features 40-50 premium fly tiers as well as more elaborate show & demonstrations.  In addition there will be displays by the area's most prominent fly shops.
    Of course The Fly Fishing Shop will be attending with
    a display & programs!

    The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

    1(800) 266-3971

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    Fish long & prosper,
    Mark & Patty

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