Sage Spectrum MAX 7/8 ReviewApril 23, 2018
- Large arbor for fast line retrieval
- Easy conversion for left- or right-hand retrieval
- Highly durable
- Easy click-control drag
- Somewhat expensive
- Not the largest diameter spool or retrieval speed
- Not made in the USA
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!
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.
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- Managing Editor & Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's Managing Editor & fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.