If you divided fly rods into a class of eight to ten weights for saltwater & warmwater, there would be two valedictorians – the Sage X and the Scott Meridian. So we decided to compare the two. This is the Yankees vs. the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, this is the battle of the titans, this is KonneticHD vs. ReAct technology.
Aesthetically, each rod is a masterpiece in its own right and makes for a beautiful prop in your hero shots. From the top of the cork down to the fighting butt, there is a similar theme. Both have high-quality cork full-wells grips and a matte black aluminum reel seat with up-locking rings and line weight engravings for quick identification. Noteworthy differences are the hidden hook-keepers in the X’s reel seat and a subtle, ergonomically pleasing, bump where your thumb and index finger go on the Meridian’s grip. The X’s fighting butt is your classically comfortable EVA foam butt, while the Meridian’s has been revamped to reduce angles so it can shed a caught fly line more easily. Both rods are designed with guides that will stand up to and perform well in harsh saltwater environments. The X with Fuji stripping guides and hard chromed snake guides. The Meridian with stripping guides that feature SiC rings inside titanium frames and nickel titanium snake guides. In traditional Scott style, the graphite loop on the Meridian’s blank is left unsanded, which is said to preserve some the rod’s strength. The X wears Sage’s new Black Spruce color which looks black indoors, but with a little sunlight it turns into a spectacular dark olive.
Performance-wise, you may have already read about how each rod’s technology has produced a super lightweight, fast-action rod that quickly generates line speed and efficiently transfers energy for more accurate casts. Now that’s all good and dandy, but how does the angler making the decision choose the ideal rod for his or her casting style & typical fishing situation? We put the sticks in our FFF certified casting instructor Gene Geppert’s hands and asked him to evaluate each rod then give an analysis at the end. Gene, who has been certified since 2011, jumped at the opportunity. He tested each rod for its performance on distance casts, accuracy on 40′ casts, and subjective “feel” on fishing casts. Both rods were the 9′ 8 weight model and were strapped with a Tibor Back Country Wide with RIO Bonefish WF8F fly line. Check out the video below to see Gene in action.
As you can imagine, both rods performed very well. Gene liked the Meridian for distance and the X for accuracy. It’s important to note that no two casters are exactly the same. Out of necessity, many saltwater anglers’ casts have evolved to become more aggressive with faster hand speed. Gene came to the conclusion that the Meridian is more suited for those with a laid-back, slower cast and the X excels in the hands of those with a fast, aggressive cast. So based on Gene’s evaluation – the effortless power of the Meridian may make it the instrument of choice for casting larger flies as well as for covering a lot of water. Beach fishing, pounding mangrove shorelines, and fishing for bonefish, redfish or permit in deeper water can all fall under the Scott Meridian‘s territory. The Sage X‘s feel on short to medium-range shots and its ability to quickly present a fly with pin-point accuracy may provide the advantage when casting to weary bonefish, permit or redfish in skinny water as well as when sneaking flies into lights around docks.
We’ve had the opportunity to pull on fish with these rods and the fighting power of each is exceptional. Both have incredible strength that stems from the butt section and wears out powerful saltwater fish before they know what hit them. All in all, these are two top-of-the-line fly rods that offer the highest level of performance. The slight differences between them can be used to help decide which one will help you reach your full potential.