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SA XLT Testing, Ready to Pass it On...

10205 Views 66 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  speyrd
Well, I spent quite a bit of time with the XLT Bruce was kind enough to send along.

Although you can not consider this an expert report from a Simon, Dana, Tyler, etc - you can consider it a report from a fellow thrasher on the water FWIW ;)

Here's my report: (short version, will do more extensive in an article later)

Line: SA XLT 9/10 marked "Experimental", bright orange coating
Leader: 12 foot 60/20/20 recipe with yarn
Rod: Sage 10150-4 Brown, 10wt 15foot 4-pc Traditional Spey

Casts attemped:
Single Spey, both sides
Double Spey, both sides
Reverse Single, Reverse Double right side only
Snake Roll
Reverse Snake Roll

Although I am far from 'expert' in all of the list above and don't use some very often, I was very pleased to be able to cast the line fairly well with most casts provided I was able to throw enough of a kick into that l-o-n-g taper to load the rod properly into the d-loop's vee and make sure that much line was kept 180 to the forward cast, or vice-versa. That was the key to taming the huge taper, not unlike a double taper but it doesn't go flat after you hit the limit.

One standout characteristic of the extended belly is the way it loves the snake roll, which really makes casting a long line quite easy once you find the right place to "flip the egg" as Simon himself puts it. I haven't been doing the snake roll as long as say Dana or Tyler or Double Spey but I felt like I have with this line. The above comments pertaining to big sharp dee loop apply.

I found it difficult to single spey such a huge, long belly unless I reeled up to shorten it - probably a shortcoming on my casting ability. I was unable to manage the whole taper where I was standing fairly deep to avoid trees, which were a problem with the length of the dee loop needed by such lines. That being said, there was an optimum line amount for single spey casting and I was surprised that when there was enough line speed the fattest part of the belly actually shot thru the guides albeit with some effort and not like running line of course. That probably speaks to the slickness of the coating as well, which is a brilliant orange. I would like to see this line in their green color like the old Steelhead taper lines.

When the whole head was out, most of the casts I attempted were beyond my skills with the 10150-4 wading a bit too deep to avoid the trees. After spending some time trying I am even more impressed with Steve Choate and anyone whom I saw do the whole 9/10 belly in a single spey at the Spring clave.

Except for the snake roll with a very deep kick into the dee loop, many of my casts felt heavy and it was hard for me to keep the line stick from killing my cast. I felt much more comfortable reeling up a little to get back to a favorable length, when nirvana would return. So for my skill level, all that extra line would not do a heck of a lot for me unless I gradually worked up to that or perhaps found another rod that could work it better(?) I've been so happy with the 10150-4 sage that I tend to think in terms of a line for that rod instead of a rod for the line, but I could be wrong.

Shortline casting was definitely do-able with that sweet taper, although after casting the big belly it felt like there was no load on the rod the loop formed easily and it will work for tight quarters when needed.

Best casts with the combo for me: Snake Roll, double-spey(partial belly) reverse as well, single spey (partial belly)

Worst casts with the combo: Snap-T either way, left handed reverse anything (but that's my fault)

That struck me as a bit funny because my usual best cast is the Snap-T when using shorter belly lines. I think the super-long belly makes the sweep more difficult due to the increased surface tension of the amount of line in the water and the line stick kills me.

I think this is a great line for big river applications for a full dry line. I've heard that they will work if cut for tips, but I noticed that the last part of the taper is quite light and would have to see the line in action with a type IV before deciding whether it would suit my Skagit River methods or not. It will be fun finding out though!

I will not venture to compare to other lines until I try them in the same context, but would prefer to just say what was great about them as well as where I had difficulties given the limits of my skills.

In summary, the biggest plus for me was that this line made me feel like a snake roll machine. The biggest minus for me was that the whole belly seemed reserved for casters with a big "S" on their chest - a lot of hard work at that length, which is the not what Spey casting is to me. I'll reel up and get back to that sweet spot somewhere on that big continuous taper like I always did with the DT, but it's nice to know there's more where that came from for that day I shake off this kryptonite shackle. :)

Of course when everyone else tells me how easy it was to cast the whole taper I'll be the goat :rolleyes: :chuckle:

My utmost thanks to Bruce for the opportunity to try this line, and hope I get to try other lines in the future. I believe Sinktip is next in line for trying this line... Duggan please PM me your mailing address and I will get it to you.

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Being repetitive as all heck here but a reminder.

Have three of the four XLT's and one thing is 'fore sure' I've found is if your using any of the Sage "traditional" rods you've got to snip off 4 feet of the tip to get the line to work as advertised. With a "Euro" blank leave the thing alone.

However, having said all that, Juro's comments are very much on the mark from what I've found with the lines. "Casting" over the anchor is a MUST with these lines, so timing/paying attention to your stick point (especially if you're a long leader guy) is of max. importance.

Same line on a Traditional vs. a Euro blank will add 10-20 feet easy to your cast. Assuming the extra lenght is necessary.
XLT's/Sage Traditional

I have tried two of these lines. An 8/9 (uncut) on a Sage 9150 which I find very much to my liking using either a 15 ft built up leader and single fly, or a 10ft super extra fast sinking poly leader w/5ft tippet and single fly. Of coarse the sinking poly leader is a little more difficult when I have over 75 ft of line off the reel, But it can be done. With the built up leader, I am good out to 90 to 100 ft of line (which I have marked every 10 ft betweem 50 and 100 ft) off the reel. I tend to favor Single Spey, Snake roll and Snap-T. Ether hand, rather than reverse although other hand (right for me since I am a lefty) is not as powerfull,,yet.

The other line I have is the 7/8 which I have cast on the following rods:
  1. Sage 8150-4 This is my rod so I am used to it. However being a slower action than the following two rods, requires adjusting to suit the rod somewhat, but once in the groove, is very much like the 9150 only lighter.
  2. Sage 7141-4 This seems to be a very good match. I could get to like the faster action, at least for the casting. Have not had the chance to actually fish with this rod.
  3. Loomis 14ft 8/9wt GL3 This is also a very good match as far as the casting is concerned. The GL3 is very light and will not tire you out lugging it around all day. Mending line is is different with the shorter faster sticks, but can't really say for better or worse at this point, just different.

    I like these lines. Like Fred has said, if you want to throw tandem rigged, heavily weighted flies, you must cut the tip back some. And I would imagine that doing so would also enhance the performance when using the sinking poly leaders. Even if I have to cut back 25 ft and attach loops for 15 ft sink tips, I will still have 85+ ft of fat, castable line to work with before I have to shoot and strip line.

    These lines are different than what a lot of people are used to. If you are used to short belly shooting head type lines, you may have to adjust your style some in order to obtain the full benifits these lines have to offer.

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It sails on forever!

Just bought the XLT 7/8 last week and tried it on my 8150-4. During the odd times when I hit it right this taper just kept on sailing through the air like a perfect drive off the tee. It's indeed quite a sight to behold.

The XLT makes the Mastery Spey feel like a Bass Bug WF taper :hehe: and the XLT has 20'-30' more belly than a TT.

In addition to the casting inconsistencies as a result of my own limited casting ability, I was also having trouble turning over bushy flies or flies larger than a #4 heavy wire. I was using a 15' 60/20/20 home made leader starting with 30# tapering to 10#. It's probably more to do with my skill level though.

Has anyone tried the XLT 8/9 on the 10150-4? I'm itching to pick an XLT up for my 10150-4 and I'm leaning towards a 9/10 based on Juro's review. Couldn't find the 10150-4 on Dr. Yin's XLT line/rod chart at www.flyfishusa.com.
Regarding the weight designation for the 10150 or any rod for that matter. These lines create a new question in the buy it if I don't like it put it away to cut and splice in the future. With the price set at $75 USD you want to make sure you get the right line right away.

When my elbow pain stops I want to line a 9141 and 10151 Sage. The chart shows the same line for both? can it be, typo? one caster rated one rod another rated another? I am surprised that the same line is recommended (9/10). I asked at a local shop if they knew the grain weight of the head. Reply was SA was being particularly quite. I guess I'll wait for the "demo" line to make it my way and determine which line is right at that point. Fred regarding your cutting off 4ft of the taper to "adjust" the line to suite traditional rods. Is that based on over loading the rod or being able to turn over the leader. I would doubt 4ft of that fine taper would be noticable in casting.

One other question about the chart at what distance were the designations established. At 75-95 ft the 9/10 might be the correct line with the full belly out the rod might blow up? Does anyone know? juro what was your comforatble length? if you were throwing the entire belly would you stepp down a wt?
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I would LOVE to repeat the test with the 8/9, maybe then I could put the whole belly out and find the effortless casting complement I seek with the 10150-4. To me the most important thing about Spey casting is to get into an effortless rhythm.

Andre, as far as testing the line: we'll definitely send along the 9/10 to you. I will ask Bruce if it would be too much of an imposition to get a test line in 8/9. In any case the 9/10 will be sent your way by one of the others and you can try it out for your own stroke and rods, particularly your Burkheimer. :)

I cast the Burkie with the XLT once or twice at Sandy, which was what Steve Choate was using. It was well matched and threw the XLT very well. I'll have to ping him on the exact setup.

In any case, I will definitely buy the line when I find the one to match the rods I've already invested in. I hope it's the 8/9.

Has anyone else tried the 9/10 on the 10150-4 beside me? Did you also find it a workout casting the whole belly like I did?
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No line will cure what a good lesson will. The proto line that you cast is far from what the real 9/10 line will be. As for the length of belly out you are really missing out if you cant lift the whole thing, cuz if you can do this it pulls like a freight train and some interesting distances can be acheived. Regarding trying the 8/9 in place of the 9/10 and lifting the whole thing I really dont think it will help that much but you should buy one and try it anyways!
It seems to me that most everyone that has thrown the XLT (whether they liked it or not) has agreed that it takes alot of effort to move that much belly and get it do what you want it to...

I thought one of the main ideas behind fishing the Spey/Two-Handed rod was the fact that one can cover water in much more energy efficent (sp?) manner than a single-handed rod...so the question is...why does everyone love this line so much...even those that admit they have trouble castint it???

I threw the 7/8 XLT on the DB Favorite 7/8 and noticed the wonderful turnover...other then that I am not going to report on what I liked/disliked about the line as I am not a proficent enough of a caster to give a useful report.

So what makes this line so wonderful eventhough so many that sing its praises cant make the line singe?? If it is the great turnover of the line...does it really it matter in the end if one must cut back the line back and way back to get it to turnover in so many of our typical steelheading conditions??

And until someone can convince me that the XLT is a much better line then the Accelerator and the average caster can make the line work for them, I will sell the Accelerator...

And for my own fishing, I will stick to the MidSpey's & Triangle Taper belly length lines.

Just playing the Devil's Advocate... :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil:
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Fisshman -

I've been fishing quite comfortably with Spey rods for several years now, and putting all modesty aside have landed my share of fish the way I am doing it currently. Yet if you honestly feel there's a lesson I could take to lift that huge belly on my 10150-4 without working harder than I would enjoy I am all ears!

While testing this line, I was casting more than far enough for the steelhead I've caught over the last 24 years, but that wasn't the point I was trying to make. The point was, I was comfortable working short of the whole belly and felt as if casting the whole 9/10 belly with the 10150-4 was more work than I care to invest in a day of fishing.

As far as your suggestion to buy an off-weight line while at the same time saying that it will not help... are you talking me into it or out of it??

I am no expert but I have cast combinations that were amazingly matched. Smooth as silk, effortless. I could cast through an Alaskan midnight sun with some setups and not feel any worse for wear. I was hoping by coming down a little in grain weight, I could find that in this wonderful taper the XLT offers. As I maintained all along, it's a matter of matching things up.

If that proto is not what it is going to be, can you elaborate on what it will be?

fisshman26 said:
No line will cure what a good lesson will. The proto line that you cast is far from what the real 9/10 line will be. As for the length of belly out you are really missing out if you cant lift the whole thing, cuz if you can do this it pulls like a freight train and some interesting distances can be acheived. Regarding trying the 8/9 in place of the 9/10 and lifting the whole thing I really dont think it will help that much but you should buy one and try it anyways!
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I was just stating the obvious that if your technique is not up to lifting the proto that you had, which has a overlly light tip, that you would not be able to lift the 8/9, and it wasnt a sugesstion about going to the 8/9 but rather that you BUY one:devil:

I could easly throw the entire belly of the line and rod combo that Steve brought to the clave (single spey). The question is the best line for my rods and feel I like? I appreciate the effort that Steve and Way have gone through creating the chart. However can one disagree, if the chart was developed with 250 grains or 25ft ( numbers I pulled from the air) of belly wrapped around the reel. The optimal line might be one line wt lighter?

Or am I completely wrong in my logic?

Just looking for answers to honest question.

It's not a question of buying the lines its which ones?

Ryan, Lift any real long belly line will require some effort. however when the taper is right lifting is much easier. Hey do you have any suggestions for the 9141? I'm thinking the elbow will be good in the next week to two. Re Dennis I'll get the B&W up there in the next couple weeks.

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Andre, not sure how comparable the following may be ..

but the 7/8 is a great match for the Sage 9140-4, the 8/9 for the 9150-4 rods. The ligher 14 appears to be over-grained by the 8/9, but perfecto stepping down one line size. The longer/stiffer 15 footer booms the 8/9.

A quick segway to Ryan's comment about snipping of a bit of the line. This is just normal 'tweeking' we all go through with a line to get it to match up with our casting style, and the type of terminal gear we use. I'm sure a better caster could leave the 'extra' 4 foot on when 'dry lining' very long leaders and two weighted flys, but not me. The 4' 'snip' shortens up the tip (as Goldielox would say) "just right" for my combination of skill and terminal tackle choice. (Workin' good this morning .... landed three lost a fourth, all in the 7-10# range. Our 'summer fish' so far are running as big as our average winter fish.)
Brian and myself played around with some differnt lines on the rod...

I first started fishing the 9/10/11 WC on the rod and liked it at first because I had no problem chucking 60ft but anything beyond that and the rod seemed overloaded.

Next I decided to try the 8/9 MidSpey based upon the fact that the 9/10/11 WC overloaded the rod...well the 8/9 was too much for the rod...seemed like that it was way too much for the rod.

Next...Brian let me line up the rod with his 8/9 Triangle Taper. WOW!!...a perfect match for the rod.

When I first picked up that rod I was thinking 9140-3 type lines as this was its replacement and a couple people I talked to said the the 9140-3 and the 9141-4 were very very similar...not true.

It seems as though the 9141 and my brownie 9140-4 load in the same manner with the same lines eventhough both are two totally differnt actions.

I am sure Brian could give you a much better and detailed description on how each line reacts to the rod...

And like I said Andre, take your time with the rod as I really dont have any use for it at the moment as my #7/8 Derek Brown Favorite should be here very soon!! :devil:
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With all of the hype and hoola-ballou I too was eagerly awaiting the line to hit the market. Now that I had the pre-conceived idea that this line was going to be better than sliced bread I hurriedly strung it up and ran out to the local casting ditch.

Purchased the 6/7 after reading that it was 'highly' reccomended for the Sage 6126 and figured it too would work on the Burk 7137.

After about 20 minutes of flogging the water I had had enough. The tip would not turn over, the grains were too heavy for either rod, WAY TOO MUCH WORK. Much easier to strip and shoot a Midspey. Easily get the same distance with a lot less energy applied- more bang for the buck.

A few days later I thought I would at least give the line another go on the Burk 7137. Did much better with it but still felt it weighed too much. Required too much input.

A few more days later...I decided to finally break out the tape measure and find out how long the belly is. Supposed to be 85', it is approx. 92' before the back taper starts. Overall length is 117'. I measured 3 times just to be sure. From this point I put a big old (3" long) black mark at 90', a 1/2" mark at 100' and 110'.

Now armed and ready I strung the line up on my 8139 Burk. Figured that it would not overload this rod. While the line still carries some heft, it did feel much better. From my earlier testing, where I was able to hit one or two casts out of 20, deep down I wanted to believe user error was at fault. If so, how was that critical timing going to be pulled off waist deep with a swirling wind under actual fishing conditions?

I took one more shot at it today. Threw the line on the Burk 7137 and 8139 along with the Sage 6126. For whatever reason it all came together!!! While I have become fairly proficient throwing DT lines at this distance I could not find the timing with the XLT until this afternoon. I found that the line is too light for the 8139 Burk and that it does throw quite magically on the 7137 and Sage 6126.

Once the trick was found on how to get the line started it became the easiest line on the planet to throw. While I could not consistantly handle the 90' mark at the rod tip, it did cast perfectly with the 90' mark at my hands (Also casts very nice as you go shorter too). Hit the cast right and all 117' of line is gone (But that defeats the purpose of throwing that much belly to leave running line in the rod tip). I still can not get over how easy it is to lift that much line, if done correctly the line does not overload the rod and just fires out at any distance with lazer tight loops. I am still shaking my head in dis-belief. GOODBYE to short belly lines forever, especially with this taper design and how well it throws short (I think Fisshman26 brought this point up months ago- dead on by the way) , long, and in the wind. The 7/8 XLT should be on its way Monday morning to round out my requirements!!!

In 10 day's time I have run the full gamut of wanting to sell the line to now being a HUGE, HUGE fan. I think a monster KUDOS is in order for the guys (Way and Steve) who did the leg work and for SA in stepping up to produce such an animal. Can't wait for fall's arrival to air out some line.
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inland said:

Once the trick was found on how to get the line started it became the easiest line on the planet to throw.

Hi Inland!

What was the "trick" you discovered?
Dana (et all),

I am not innovative enough to create a new trick, or move, just tried a couple of things to see if they worked.

While I do tinker with the snake roll, spiral spey, and snap T, I pretty much stick to a single and double spey. Only right handed as my left side is pretty much worthless. Out of neccessity I have to reverse these casts when wind conditions dictate.

While throwing the 6/7 XLT on the Burk 8139 I found that if I REALLY backed off the stroke, both back and forward, the line would perform well enough but would not develop energy to shoot line very far. I reasoned applying the same principle to the 7137 could work.

I found that using a very high rod lift, not shotgun style but as in starting a switch cast as written word for word in "Fine and Far Off", I could get enough line off of the water to start the pull without overloading the rod. This was the first step in not over-powering which is the kiss of death with this line.

I could then execute a switch with consistent favorable results or go into a traditional single spey (best results were the same as Fred's- keep your anchor set so the line casts over itself a little). The key was not over powering the back stroke, use as little movement and energy as possible through the lift- let the rod do the work for you. Swing the D loop to 180 from where the cast is going while waiting the split second where the rod loads and GENTLY kiss it out there.

For those that might not already know, there is a simple ratio that sets a guage for difficulty factor. Take the line outside the rod tip and divide by the rod length. The rule of thumb here (The lower the number the easier.) is that any number approaching 5.5 is getting really difficult to consistantly cast. Looking at a windcutter 7/8/9 (54' head) on a 14' rod the loop/rod length ratio is 3.9. Take the same 14' rod and put an accelerator (75' head) on it and the ratio jumps to 5.4. Add in waded to your waist and Ed Ward is very correct is stating 100' casts (and 20# steelhead) are being over-exaggerated. Now apply that ratio to the XLT. The 7137 Burk and 92' of head comes out to 6.8, shorten the head by stripping 12' and it comes out to 5.9 (Much more managable while being able to develop enough inertia to shoot line into another county). Obviously the rod taper, line weight and its taper configuration all affect the validity of this ratio to the caster.

These XLT lines, when balanced to the rod and individual, are going to make anybody a better caster when they find comfortable timing. And for those guys out there who can consistantly throw the heavier XLT's with 110' out of the rod tip (using a 15' rod this ratio is 7.3!!!), they are truly awesome casters on par with anybody in the world- especially if they do this while fishing and not casting practice.

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So... let me get this straight... you're saying the grain weight in the tip is a factor in lifting a line, but not a lighter belly. Funny, I would have thought the grain weight in the tip was about turnover when finishing the cast, not how the rod lifts the whole belly.

As far as the rest of your advice... I hope you're not in sales :devil:

fisshman26 said:
I was just stating the obvious that if your technique is not up to lifting the proto that you had, which has a overlly light tip, that you would not be able to lift the 8/9, and it wasnt a sugesstion about going to the 8/9 but rather that you BUY one:devil:
Overall grain weight does make a difference but when you lift you are lifting the belly and not the tip. When I said that the proto has a light tip I ment that it is light in taper, I would say that taper has more to do with turnover than grn wght in the tip. I dont believe that I gave any advice other than BUYING a line rather than BEGGING for one.
I Agree!

Hey Juro et al,

Have found that the XLT the 8/9wt (with most of the 'head' out :devil: ) worked very well for me on a relatively strong 15' 10wt traditional action spey rod. This rod is probably a bit stronger than the 15' 10wt 4piece Sage, so I think you're right on in wanting to *try* a lighter line. Others have made this observation.

Fis26 - if Juro's guilty of begging, then so are many of the rest of us since he didn't do it to 'Own' the line himself but to Share it with the rest of the Forum Speycasters. Now we'll all have a chance to actually try this wonderful line we've all HEARD so much about for the last few months.

Actually using the line is a much better way of telling whether you want to invest $75 than just hearing other's subjective opinions . . . don't you think??

my .02

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Thanks Doublespey, now THAT kind of feedback would give even the most frugal angler confidence in buying a line.

Fisshman -

When this resource, made possible by the hard work of some, serves some purpose for others - getting a proto line (however unfinished it may be, to your point) to serve another purpose seems proper and fitting to me.

To let an unlimited number of people make a better buying decision without having to weed thru such rhetoric is a bonus in my book. I'd work to keep the site going for that purpose alone! Glad you enjoy the free site.

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