The first two casts I made with a 9-foot 5-weight R8 Core fly rod resulted in tailing loops. I didn’t blame the rod. Tailing loops (when the line crosses itself during the cast, effectively crushing any hope for distance and accuracy, and often resulting in tangles) are truly caused by only one thing–a bad cast. But those loops did tell me something about how the flex and taper of this rod combine to generate line speed: a lot of it. I’m not really a bad caster, but I am an abrupt starter and stopper of the casting stroke. So I had to ease off the throttle a bit, and find the stroke that worked with this rod. Once I did, I started throwing really compact, laser-like loops–the kind that bust through wind and cover water. It was pretty exhilarating, actually.
Sage says of their 9-foot 5-weight R8 Core:
“Our most versatile and most popular rod model. The 590-4 handles trout flies of nearly any size, lines of varying densities and does so with superb feel, accuracy and line control. Elongated energy transfer shifts the sweet spot closer to the hand creating a more natural extension of your arm for greater range, quicker reactivity and less wasted effort.”
I only fished the 9-foot 5-weight, though the company professes that each R8 model has its own personality. I rigged the rod with a RIO Gold line. (Had I put a RIO Grand line on, the 5-weight would have become a 6-weight.) I fished mostly on larger rivers (too wide to cast across) and lakes. There were situations when I felt invincible and absolutely loved the action, cast with little effort and dropped flies on feeding fish with surprisingly little commotion for a fast-action rod. It definitely has a softer side–but, usually, this was when fishing a single fly or tandem dries. Because I tend to form compact casting loops with the R8 Core, it isn’t my favorite rod for dry-dropper rigs. But tossing a Woolly Bugger? Great. Chuck-and-duck with a weighted nymph rig? Perfect. It’s a good mending rod. And there’s definitely a better-than-average level of feel transferred through the rod well into the mid-section of the grip when fighting fish. Make friends with this rod, and you can take it anywhere, and not just freshwater.