I purchased a non-marked prototype Sage 9wt flyrod many months ago from a noted legend in fly fishing. It was supposed to be a prototype TCX and was a wonder to bonefish with. After that prototype Sage had caught it’s share of bonefish with me, I had some “self proclaimed outdoors celebrity” yahoo on my boat this past Spring who has some hunting show come on my boat and wrecklessly kick and break my prototype Sage flyrod while it was still in the gunnels. I purchased a production TCX afterwards and still did not feel it was the same rod… then came the Xi3… and now I think I have found what that prototype actually was. I have been bonefishing with the 9wt Sage Xi3 for the past couple of weeks. This rod does exactly what Sage claims it does. The Xi3 has the backbone to pick up line from 60ft away and enough reserve to punch it right back out into the wind without issues. For all the longer distance shots, this rod is accurate… much more so then the TCX in my opinion. The rod is finished with a sexy deep blue blank, dark blue wraps, and outfitted with tough hardware to combat the rigors of the saltwater environment. Compared to it’s predecessor (Xi2), the Xi3 is lighter, stronger, and faster. This is a whole different rod. It’s got more power then the TCX and a slightly softer tip, which makes it alright if you need to make a short shot. This rod is definitely most accurate 40ft and up. A great rod for all the elements you encounter while bonefishing. The 9wt Xi3 feels very well balanced with either a Tibor Everglades or Nautilus NV 10/11 fly reel. I threw a Monic tropical full floating fly line on the Xi3 and it was a perfect matchup for bonefishing. I am going to try putting a heavier grain line such as the Wulff Bermuda Triangle taper line on there to see if it will help load the rod quicker and increase accuracy at sub-40ft casts. This rod definitely has the reserve to handle a heavier grained line when called for. At a premium price, you truley get what you pay for.
It has been several months since I have started fishing the Xi3. I have been fishing the Airflo Ridge 9wt Flyline on my Sage Xi3 as of late for tailing bonefish and low light situations where a colored fly line is an advantage over the clear line. The Ridge Airflo line matches perfectly with this rod. Recovery on this rod isn’t as easy as with the G Loomis Crosscurrent GLX series rods. There is a smaller window for error with the Xi3. But with an above amatuer casting stroke, this rod is a bomb and can truley pick up lots of line from far and punch it out without the need for another back cast. A fantastic windy day and bonefish rod in my opinon.
Visit www.rajeffsports.com for more info on the Airflo Ridge fly line.
There are many formulas that people use to build leaders for saltwater fishing. A leader is the monofilament line that is attached to the fly line. The leader is attached to the fly line using either a nail knot, a jam knot (Billy Pate= kinda a slim beauty) or a loop to loop. Though I like the jam knot a lot, I think that the loop to loop connection does not get stuck in the guides as much as the two other connections.
A leader should be tapered. This means that it needs to have a butt section of higher diameter than the following section. To the extreme, for trout fishing, each section is sometimes of similar length (though the diameter decreases as you move towards the tippet). This is good for very delicate presentations and it matches well with DT or long belly fly lines. I would call these leaders “smoothly tapered”. However, for saltwater fishing, you want something more “agressively tapered”. I like Lefty’s formula that you can find in his book “Presenting the fly” (to me his best). I like also the one found in Lou Tabory’s book. However, I have decided to develop my own leader formula because I wanted one that would be easy to build from scratch in the field. I am kinda lazy and indeed never have pre-made leaders with me.
The idea is to make a leader built with sections that decrease in length in a very predictable way… without the need of a meter stick. My rule is very simple: each section of thinner diameter is half the length ot the previous thicker one. There is no need to measure the length of the following section: just fold the previous section in half and use that half-length as a template for the next section… and so on.
Example: Line 7-8 (bonefish)
6′of 40#; 3′ of 30#; 1.5′of 20#; 0.75′ of 16#; 4′ of tippet (8 to 16# test Fluorocarbon) =(6; 6/2; 6/2/2; 6/2/2/2)
For lines 6-7, I use a 30# butt section, for 7-8 I use a 40# butt section, for 9 and above, I use a 50# butt section.
Note, that when you go up in line weight, the butt has a thicker butt section, and, as such, you will need to decrease the initial length of the butt section (or you will end with a very long leader).
I build my leaders using Mason Hard Mono. I like it a lot. It is very stiff and helps turning over bulky flies when it is windy… the drawback is that it is quite hard to knot and on calm days, it can actually open a bit too abruptly. Lefty Kreh prefers to use softer butt section made out of monofilament that matches the overall stiffness of the fly line. He like to use Suffix Tritanium PLUS. Most of the guides in South Florida use Mason Hard mono, even for the tippet. Mason hard has aslo a great abrasion resistance and is a must for those who fish coral environments.
The connections between each piece of nylon is made using a nail knot to nail knot loop. I find that this is a slim and neat connection. It is not a strong connection, but the different sections of mono are stronger than the class tippet.
HOWEVER, the last connection is made with either a bimini twist (when a bite tippet is requiered)… or a lefty Kreh loop (for bonefishing). With a bite tippet, the last section of the leader has a double bimini twist at both ends (= class ; generally 16# mason hard mono).
- With a bite monofilament tippet: I connect the 16# section (loop of bimini twist) to the thick mono using a slim beauty knot (e.g. tarpon leader)
- With a wire tippet: I connect the 16# section (loop of bimini twist) to the wire with an Albright knot (e.g. shark leader)
- with no class tippet: I connect the 16# section (loop of Lefty Kreh knot) with a double loop to loop (lefty kreh loops at both ends; e.g. bonefish leader)
Note that either the Lefty Kreh and the Bimini twist knots are 100% knot strength. However, the Bimini twist has a superior shock absorbance, and as such, it is better to built a leader for tarpon fishing.
The overall length of my leader is different depending on the conditions (and the line I cast), but in general, I use:
- 14-18′ long for calm conditions
- 12-14′ for all around situations
- 10′ windy conditions (20 knot).
I tend to favor Seaguar Fluorocarbon for my bite tippet for tarpons and bonefish. For bonefish, I espcially am found of Seaguar Gmax which has the highest strength to diameter ratio.
If any questions, please advise.
Here is a diagram of my leader. On top is a bonefish type (works also for redfish) leader, and on the bottom a modified one for tarpon fishing.
Not that the nail to nail knots to connect the different pieces of mono is optional. A surgeon’s knot or a blood knot would work too. I just like the nail to nail knot, because it cannot slips.. since, if one tag end slips, the whole knot still closes. Trim the tag ends of the nail to nail knot as close to the knot as possible.
For the knots, you can search the internet or try this link http://home.cfl.rr.com/floridafishing/knot.htm
Bermuda Triangle Taper (TT) floating 9wt
Taper type: Triangle taper
What’s in the box? Line, sticker, storage wheel, instruction notice
MSRP: US $ 60-65
Joan and Lee Wulff are master fly casters and both have achieved great things with just 6 feet bamboo rods! As fly casting experts, they came with one of the neatest design in fly line making: “The triangle taper” (patented). On their web site, they say:
“the Triangle Taper offers the greatest delicacy of any fly line. [It] is a continuous forward taper in the head of the line […]. This provides the most efficient transfer of casting energy as it unrolls because the heavier line is constantly turning over lighter line. This design also gives you a more delicate presentation because the weight is away from the fly. It is also the finest roll casting line for up to 60′ casts. The combination of a long weighted section and a light running line make the Triangle Taper cast like a shooting head for distance. The tip end can be customized by cutting it back for the desired performance level.”
I was well aware of Royal Wulff products, as I used their fly lines in the past in freshwater for trout fishing, but I only thought about using their lines in Florida saltwater in 2002, when a friend of mine, a certified FFF fly caster, told me they were awesome. They indeed are great and do everything Royal Wulff says.
This line is probably the most versatile of all and is easy to cast at any level. It is very forgivable because of the progressive triangle taper so that you cannot really mess up your timing. Beginners will surely appreciate this, as well as the short head, easier to handle and to load the rod. Advanced fly casters will also like how it casts: short, fast cast to a moving target? No problem! Casting into a stiff wind? No problem! Roll casting? Easy! Casting light to heavy flies? Using long tapers? No problem. That line just does it all and fairly well.
The presentations are very delicate, still because of the very progressive taper that should be matched with a leader tapered similarly. Bonefishing is all about presentation after all. There are some situations, when I thought the line could be slightly outperformed by others: slick calm days (because of the fat head= the first 30 feet of line is heavier than the recommended by the AFTM) and accuracy at long distance (though the line was very accurate for its short head). Short heads indeed do not help the fairly inexperienced caster to judge about the right distance when casts over 50-60’ are required… but, on the other side, a short head is easier to handle than a long one.
Other than casting, the line is very resilient. I used mine for two seasons until a friend of mine borrowed it and fed it to its trolling motor (with the rod tip chopped in 4 pieces). The line was just a bit cut in some areas, leaving the braided mono core exposed. After I patched the holes with Goop, the line is still quite useable, though the tip does not float as well as it used to.
I never felt that I needed to lubricate the line. It still shoots well today though the small ribs on the coating got smoothened out. The line floats fairly well and is easy to pick up to be recast. In 2006, Royal Wulff comes with a new lubricant “J3” integrated into the coating: the line shoots better, floats higher, repels water better. I cannot attest it, but this sounds good!
The line has moderate stretch, which preserve light tippets. The memory out of the box is acceptable, but, once stretched, the line lies flat on the deck, is easy to manage, especially while clearing the line and rarely tangles. I found the light blue color is relatively easy to track in the air and on the water.
If you are looking for a versatile tropical line, and good bonefish line, the Royal Wulff TT Bermuda is surely one of them.