Sage Spectrum MAX 7/8 Review

April 23, 2018
Sage Spectrum MAX 7/8
Sage Spectrum MAX 7/8 Sage-Spectrum-max-2
Spool Size
Drag Performance
Fit & Finish

The Good

  • Large arbor for fast line retrieval
  • Easy conversion for left- or right-hand retrieval
  • Highly durable
  • Easy click-control drag

The Bad

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Not the largest diameter spool or retrieval speed
  • Not made in the USA
The Sage Spectrum Max earned top scores from every tester in this year’s class. The Spectrum MAX offers great performance, with unmatched durability. The spool size is large enough to keep it near the top of the line-retrieval ratings, and the Spectrum MAXs weight is one of the lowest in the class. In short, Sage has designed a reel that’s light, efficient, durable and easy to use. The price is significant, but it’s not the most expensive. The result is a Best in Class winner.

The Sage Spectrum MAX earned rave reviews from our test team, with testers calling it out for its overall performance, as well as its durability, it’s weight and balance, and it’s sharp stylings. “Big, beautiful, and impressively functional,” wrote one tester. The Spectrum MAX drew praise across the board from the team of testers, landing as the number one pick of everyone on the team, making it a clear choice for Best in Class Honors!

Like the other models in the Spectrum family (the Spectrum LT and the Spectrum), the Spectrum MAX’s body is machined from 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum for optimal strength with minimal weight. After machining, and polishing, the aluminum is then hard-anodized to further improve strength and durability.

Weight & Balance

At just 7.6 ounces for a reel design for 7- and 8-weight lines, the Spectrum MAX is one of the lightest reels in the class. It is also well balanced for smooth, easy operation. A concave arbor on the medium-large arbor spool allows for a good amount of backing (200+/- yards of 20lb line) with a standard 8-wt weight-forward floating line.

Spool size and line retrieval

The spool diameter — 4.1 inches — is a bit smaller than some of the other reels in the class, but a concave arbor allows for a surprisingly large volume of backing behind an 8-wt line. The line pick-up speed is more than adequate if not the fastest in the class. Thanks in part to its well-balanced design and comfort reel handle, the Spectrum MAX was able to gobble up line efficiently.


When considering durability, the Spectrum MAX shone brightly. Testers abused this reel mercilessly, showing that it is truly one of the most durable reels our team has ever tested. Testers toted the reel, attached to various rods, through sandy beaches and saltwater flats. It was dropped, booted, and stepped on aboard boats. The reel showed no signs of abuse. Indeed,  after weeks of heavy use, it was hard to tell that the test sample wasn’t a show model!

Drag performance

Sage’s sealed carbon drag system proved to be very effective. The large control knob was easy to adjust with a simple push of a finger, and testers praised the numbered scale — which is also indented for touch-control — so locking in on a prior setting is easy.

Fit and finish

The design of the Spectrum MAX offers modest styling with a bit of classic feel. One feature all testers notes as the broad rim of the reel’s spool. This wide face made palming the reel during hard runs easy and efficient (i.e., using your palm as a braking device to slow a hard-charging fish on the run).

All things considered, Sage Spectrum MAX is a clean, attractive reel that performs exceptionally well.

*Your purchase helps to support the work of Gear Institute.

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.



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