My first true trout rod

gear bagStarted off chasing dinks, and still rolling!

I guess it’s my dirty little secret – I haven’t been trout fishing all that long. I held my first fly rod when I was maybe five or six (a bamboo something with an old Pflueger reel) and remember catching plenty of bream out of a South Florida canal that day. I was certainly “hooked”, but didn’t buy a fly rod with my own money until I was like ten – and I don’t know what ever happened to it. The bottom line is I grew up on bass and bonefish, and didn’t actually catch my first trout until I was twenty-something.

When I first took up the pursuit of Salmoninae, I purchased a Sage 6-weight DS2 after checking it out in the shop. It felt good in the hand, had a comfortable weight, and stiff action. But my tutor laughed hysterically the first time they saw me with it on this little East Coast tailwater we were fishing. “You should take that rod to the bass pond,” they noted. Up until that time all I’d ever cast was 7’s, 8’s, 9’s and 12’s, and soon after the exchange I was pulling the jaws off of 12 inch rainbows. “Maybe I need a lighter rod,” I thought.

sage-389ll-3That inkling became a Sage 389-3 LL, which I got a decent deal on (including a good price for my ‘overweighted’ trade-in).

Why did I buy this rod? I knew diddly about trout rods, but this one came highly recommended. And I think because it was so beautiful – the finish was that glossy deep blood red, and the reel seat was an excellent mahogany tint with silver hardware. I put a Lamson LP 1.5 on it, and fished almost every afternoon for an entire summer with the rig. Since that time I’ve built up my trout quiver, and this little gem sees much less use. It last saw action on the Arkansas River during the Mother’s Day caddis hatch, winding up being the perfect compliment to #18 elk hairs (as well as morning nymphs). The rod/reel couple remains together until this day, and the rig remains one of my favorites.

And why did I bring this up? Tom Chandler of Trout Underground fame has been bragging profusely about his seemingly never-ending trip to Montana, and the latest of his jaunts was to yet another untouched small stream. While reading Tom’s blow-by-blow I heard a rattling in the closet – it was the LL wanting to get out. The poor thing wants some attention, and of course Mr. Chandler immediately volunteered to assist through the freshly chartered non-profits The Underground Home for Underused Sage LL Rods and the Underground Rod Rescue (A Home for Under-appreciated fly rods).

So where does that leave me? Well…I’m about to get hauled in for rod neglect, and I’ve got other fishing folks queuing up for adoption. I better get this baby wet, and soon. So I guess I’m now frantically searching for some small Colorado streams. Please don’t call the authorities on me – provide venue advice instead.


Classic, seasoned, and pristine – needs owner that won’t leave me in the closet all the time. Loves throwing double-taper lines and #20 Adams’s. Email with pictures of habitats frequented and potential partners (reels).


The 389LL may be Sage’s finest fly rod, which is why — after abandoning the line so many years ago – a rep told a local fly shop owner Sage’s goal for their latest line of “progressive” fly rods was to replicate the much-loved LL action.

And I never “brag profusely.” I just report with great vigor.

Don’t hate me because my pictures are beautiful…

You learn something new everyday…and here I was about to toss the thing in the dumpster because I couldn’t imagine landing a ten pound brown with it 😉 .

And about those damn pictures of yours!

Every time I take a photo with my camera now, it keeps beeping back at me…”michael, you suck, michael, you suck.”

You Undergrounders are really screwing up my relationship with my gear. What’s next – my box of hoppers going on strike?!

David Harriss says:

Michael, I stumbled upon your blog while searching the internet in hopes of finding exactly what you almost got rid of. A Sage 389 LL (either the original Graphite III or Graphite IIIe). If you ever want to sell that little gem please, please, please drop me an email.

M says:

The original was a Graphite II

David – there’s a certain amount of sentimental value there, but if I come across another I will certainly let you know. Best – MG.

tom says:

I once had the Sage 389-3 LL, but sold it when I got my Sage SLT 489-5 for nearly nothing at a garage sale. Both rods are 8’9″ in length, they both weigh in at 3 1/16oz, and they both cast identical as I tested them side by side, switching the reel back and forth. I really couldn’t tell the difference between the two as I cast both rods. I realized people were paying big dollar for the Sage LL series and ended up selling it for more than what I originally payed.

Alex Dorfmann says:

I own a Sage 389-4 III Graphite and a Sage 489-4. I have fished with these rods since I bought them brand new from my our local tackle shop.

I always enjoyed fishing with them them but the thought never crossed my mind these were collector rods! To me they were only every day fly rods that I fished with, and took good care of and hope to hand them down to my grandson!

I want to thank you gentlemen for posting comments, and in particular Mr. Chandler.

Alex Berger-Dorfmann
Brixen (Sud Tirol),

You are welcome Alex. But … once I touched a Scott G2 884/4 the love affair with the LL promptly ended.

now you got me real curious! I was offered to buy a Scott G2 884/4 in mint condition for an affordable price. Instead it I traded in a Z-Axis and TCX for a new Circa 489-4. I am fishing it with both we 3 and 4 wt flylines. I would say its “one fly rod” and probably one of the most accurate rods I have ever owned. But there is some missing there that I can’t pinpoint. LL-389 Graphite III still remains number one in my book.

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