Sage Spectrum 5/6 ReviewFebruary 1, 2018
- Lightest in class
- Large arbor for fast line retrieval
- Easy conversion for left- or right-hand retrieval
- Highly durable
- More expensive than some in class
- Limited color/design options
The Sage Spectrum ticks off all the marks for a top-notch reel: It’s lightweight, it has fast, efficient line retrieval, it sports a smooth, secure drag system, and it is tough and durable. The Spectrum’s body is machined from 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum for optimal strength with minimal weight. Once shaped, the aluminum is hard-anodized for great strength and durability.
During fishing excursions up the North Fork Clearwater River, my team and I tested the Spectrum by casting everything from tiny dry flies to big streamers. We hooked into native westslope cutthroat and feisty kokanee on their spawning run from the Dworshak Reservoir. I also fished the Spectrum in Alpine Lakes in the Cascade Range, and on repeated outings on the Yakima. In every situation, the Spectrum provided exceptional performance.
Weight & Balance
The Spectrum has the lowest weight in this class – a full 33 percent lighter than the heaviest reel in the category (the Cheeky Limitless). Though that is, in actually, just a few ounces, at the end of a long day of endless casting, that weight saving was apparent in reduced arm fatigue.
Regardless of which rod I mounted the Spectrum to, it felt well balanced and comfortable.
Spool Size and Line Retrieval
Only the Cheeky reel offers a bigger reel diameter, and the Spectrum takes full advantage of that spool size on line pickup. The Spectrum gobbles up line efficiently and easily. The reel can be converted quickly from left-hand to right-hand retrieval (or vice-versa) and the drag is fully functional regardless of orientation.
Durability and Drag Performance
Sage’s sealed carbon drag system proved to be very effective. The large control knob was easy to adjust with the push of a finger, and I liked the numbered scale so I could easily lock in on a remembered previous setting.
When considering durability, I found the the Spectrum took abuse that would have crippled lessor reels. Indeed, this was one of the most durable models I’ve ever tested. One of my test team members – a fishing guide from Oregon – dropped the Spectrum reel off a bridge onto a concrete boat launch apron below. The reel was scuffed, but still undamaged in terms of operation and performance. The reel sports a huge easy-to-access drag control knob and the drag system works flawlessly, with no slippage or tension-creep during use. And despite that performance and durability, it was the lightest of all the reels we tested.
Fit and Finish
The design of the Spectrum offers modest styling with a classic feel. Some of my team felt the design was a bit too simple – they like a bit of flare in their premium gear. The hard-anodization on the machined aluminum body provides great surface protection, as well as an attractive finish.
The Sage Spectrum is a clean, attractive reel that performs exceptionally well. That’s the hallmark of a Best in Class Winner.
Dan Nelson- Managing Editor & Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's Managing Editor & fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.