Monday, December 23, 2013

Fly Product: TLTFF Review of the Sage EVOKE

When I was setup with Sage and found out I was receiving their new EVOKE reel for review, I wasn't quite sure what was in store. The only Sage product I had ever used was my Motive rod, which didn't give me the slightest bit of insight into how their reels performed. The EVOKE came around the same time as the Redington Vapen Red but didn't make it to Jane's Island due to it making its way onto my doorstep about 8 hours after we had departed for the CCA Red Trout Tournament weekend. When I got home and found it sitting on the counter, I couldn't help but open it up and give it a feel before even attempting to unload the car from the long weekend.

My initial impression was mixed, I really didn't know what I thought since the EVOKE was unlike any other reel I'd ever held or used. The EVOKE is just one of the newest additions to the Sage reel family and is one of the most innovative and unique. When you initially lay eyes on the EVOKE and get a feel for it, you immediately know its not "just a fly reel".

The EVOKE recently won EFTTEX's "Best New Fly Reel" award and was said to be a "leap into uncharted waters" and that it "pushes the boundaries of fly reel design". We loved hearing good things about it but we decided to give the EVOKE a go and give it our own opinion. So here we go...

Lets start the review off by giving you the specs and features of the EVOKE per Sage...

"We asked ourselves what many of the most hardcore fly fishers who take on big anadromous fish and powerful saltwater species want in a fly reel. The answer, like our innovative solution, was simple: more control. You wanted to add extra fingertip or palm pressure to actively engage the fish, so we looked at existing reel designs and decided to open things up a bit. Literally. Featuring a unique modified full frame with exposed dual palming rim, the EVOKE lets you add fingertip or palm pressure from either side of the reel as you feel exactly how much it will take to turn that fish. But it’s not all up to you; the EVOKE utilizes the same proven fish-stopping carbon drag design as our 6000 series, with an intuitive drag knob with detents from 1 to 39 so you have twice the finesse when tuning-in desired drag resistance. Stainless steel dowel pins give the reel its staunch rigidity, and also help form a full frame line guard that eliminates any errant line mishaps. Plus, the pins help your fingers to index the exposed palming area for applying added pressure without taking your eyes of the fish. This one looks different, fights different, and is sure to be the difference maker during your next brawl."


  • Large arbor
  • Fully machined modified full frame with palming access
  • One revolution numbered drag knob
  • Large, easy-to-grab drag knob
  • Sealed Carbon System drag
  • 2 configurations—left or right hand specific frames
  • Reel retrieve direction is not convertible
  • Neoprene case
  • Colors for 2014: Stealth/Platinum, Bronze/Platinum, Stealth/Blaze

The EVOKE comes in two sizes, 8 and 10. Size 8 is rated for 7-8wt lines and size 10 is for 9-10wt lines. Sage went even further, based on design, and has the reel made in left and right hand retrieve (we will get into the details as to why later on). We reviewed the EVOKE 8 LEFT in Stealth/Platinum. Right out of the box, after the initial look over and impression, the EVOKE was rigged up with RIO Striper line. It had its first go on the Chesapeake Bay after some Striped Bass and Bluefish and man did it impress. This time of year is called "trophy season" (we're on the tail end of it now) on the Chesapeake due to the extremely large, spawned-out and hungry females, moving their way out of our waters and back into the ocean to join in on the migration. Catching a 42" fish around here this time of year is considered normal. With hopes of hooking into one of those beasts on the fly and giving the EVOKE a good burn, I set out for a few hours on the water off Kent Island. With numerous hookups thanks to letting my line sink down deeper (most of the fish sit deep this time of years). One such hookup did put the burn to the reel but after a brief fight, the fish broke me off...but not until after I had the chance to test a few of the EVOKE's features.

One of the coolest and definitely most innovative features of the EVOKE is it's modified full frame that has what Sage calls, "palming access". There is an open section on the bottom of the reel that allows you to have total control of your fish with your palm, allowing you to set your own drag. Although we've all palmed our reel at some point, and understand why we do it, there has never been a reel that its specifically configured for this function. The design of the EVOKE, with the palming access allows this reel to really put fish on the end of the line to the test by literally being able to change your drag tension as fast as your muscles can readjust to needed resistance. I only tested the palming access with my 12wt WORKwt gloves on, and I imagine you don't want to palm the reel without gloves.

Another great feature of the EVOKE is it's numbered drag dial. Not only is it conveniently built to make for easy gripping and smooth turning, but its numbers allow the reel to be that much more customizable by selecting your own preferred drag number (almost like a Sleep Number haha...I'm a 42). The numbers run from 1-39 so you have an amazing range to find exactly what fits for you and the species your targeting. The drag of the EVOKE is the same carbon drag design as the Sage 6000 reel, amazing stopping power, proven through numerous Sage products.

The frame of the reel is unique not only in its design but also in its build. The stainless steel dowel pins that hold it together make it ideal for saltwater applications (especially in conjunction with its sealed drag), and ideal to have a grip for your fingertips to apply the palm pressure needed for the fish your trying to prevent from spooling you. The frame is precision cut with the spool so they fit together perfectly, like NASA perfect. This prevents any line slips between your frame and spool causing you to not only potentially lose the fish of a lifetime, but your $70 fly line.

The only negative we found from this entire reel, is that the reel retrieve direction is not convertible. We gave this great thought and came to the conclusion that, this really isn't a negative. I don't know anyone (there is probably one person out there) who has switched their retrieve. Its nice if your fishing with someone who fishes right when your left or vise versa, to be able to convert directions so they can give it a whirl (of course this even is not ideal, more of something you would do at camp after a day on the water with all of the tools you carry around to switch retrieves on reels...). In fact, this is more of a positive, in a way, it makes the reel all that much more customized, an ideal setup for YOU.

On the bow with the EVOKE, the lightweight design prevents fatigue while sight-fishing

Having a little fun with some good old palm-draggin'

The EVOKE reel comes in at $575 for the EVOKE 8 and $595 for the EVOKE 10. A bit outside of our price point, but price does resemble quality in this case. Sage has put the EVOKE amongst the crowd of the Hatch Plus', Abel Supers, Nautilus NVs, Orvis Mirages, etc.

This reel is the combination of all of Sage's favorite features. Essentially, it is the lovechild of all their reels, making it their greatest creation to date. And because of that, as well as the above-mentioned review, we fell in love with the new Sage EVOKE reel.

This reel hit a home run in our books, putting the brakes on some mean fish and having a huge "wow" factor based on a new revolutionary design. With all of that said and taken into consideration, we gave the Sage EVOKE 5 out of 5 stars. We debated for awhile as to if we should take a half star off but couldn't bring ourselves to do it. There are many of you out there that will buy this reel and have no guilt over dropping almost $600 on it. Although it won't find its way into our arsenal anytime soon (I am a paramedic and ER Tech ya know), we will dream about it for a good while...who knows, maybe santa will be good this year (wink wink).

A huge thanks goes out to Kara from Backbone Media for setting up this review and to Sage for making one of the best reels we've had the privilege of playing with to date.

Be sure to check out Sage on their site and through their social media outlets of FacebookTwitter, and Vimeo for more updates, photos, and promos.

*This review was completely unbiased and this reel was lent to us for review purposes only. This review, as with all of our reviews, was completely fair with no intentions coming into it of giving it a "good" or "bad" rating. We do our best to keep all reviews as fair as possible with biases being thrown out the door.


No comments:

Post a Comment