Sage 4650 ReviewOctober 26, 2012
- A lightweight large-arbor reel
- Efficient, fast line pick-up (retrieval)
- Smooth, trouble-free drag system
- Simple friction-release spool change-out
- Looks and feels oversized to some testers, especially when used on mid-sized rivers with modest-sized fish
- Most expensive reel we tested
The Sage 4650, and its cousins in the 4600 series, are some of the most technologically advanced reels we’ve seen. A sealed graphic design virtually ensures a problem-free drag system, the frame is about as light as we could imagine for a reel this size, and it is built with the best and most durable material. The only downside (rated for 5- and 6-weight lines) is its overall size and price.
Though some reviewers thought the 4650 was too large for average trout stream use, everyone loved the speed and ease of line retrieval, thanks to the large arbor. At nearly 4 inches the 4650 was larger than any other reel we tested, but was still in the middle of the pack in terms of weight. It also ran near the top in all ratings of function and performance.
Size and Weight
The 4650 reel measures 3-and-15/16-inches in diameter, but weighs just 4.75 ounces. So while some anglers thought the reel made their rods look unbalanced, everyone ultimately agreed they weren’t actually butt-heavy. In fact, in use, the reel feels like a perfect balance on most fast-action rods.
The open-frame design looks very modern and high-tech, which appeals to a lot of anglers. Even more appealing, the sealed graphite-component drag system works smoothly and efficiently. Indeed, the 3-to-1 drag ratio means the disk drag system can be kept small and lightweight. A larger click-knob lets you easily adjust the drag tension, and the numerals etched on the dial ensure you can quickly reset the drag to your standard preferences after you adjust it for specific uses.
The large arbor design retrieves line quickly, and a fully exposed spool rim means you can use your palm effectively as a secondary drag to slow fast-running fish.
After use and abuse on several freestone rivers and gritty salt-water strands of Puget Sound, we found that the open frame design of the 4650 kept the reel working smoothly. Water and debris sloughs right through instead of catching in cracks and corners.
Style and Design
The 4650 looks like something designed by aerospace engineers. The open-frame design features exposed sprocket teeth on the inner edge of the spool. Those teeth roll through another cog on the drag system to link the drag to the large-diameter spool. The system works flawlessly and looks very modern and stylish.
Testers used a selection of salt-water reels fitted with 8-wt lines in a variety of conditions. The reels were used in pursuit of bonefish and permits in Belize, Mahi Mahi and assorted reef fish in Hawaii, and salmon, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat in Puget Sound. We loaded the reels with 30-pound backing and fished both weight-forward floating lines and sink-tip lines.
Dan Nelson- Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.