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Fly Rod Review

Testing Scott's portable SAS854/5 Fly Rod in Colorado's back country streams


Date: 12/12/02
Tackle type: Fly Rod
Manufacturer: Scott
Reviewer: Buzz

Total Score: 8.00

Scott SAS854/5 Fly Rod for Browns in Colorado back country

Fly-fishing for native trout in the back county can lead to one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. Getting off the beaten path to find finicky fish in untouched waters is what the pioneers of the sport truly intended. The proper clothing, equipment, and conditions can help you make the absolute most of your adventure. For instance, having a quality fly-rod rod that is multi-piece will help you on your journey directly from the car or plane to the smallest backcountry stream. This review will take an in depth look at Scott’s Alpha Series 4 weight, 5 piece fly rod in a travel application.

Scott SAS854/5 Specifications

Length 8'6"
Line Wt. 4
Pieces 5
Rod Weight 3.3 oz.
Materials High Performance Graphite with cork grip + walnut wood reel seat
MSRP $375.00 ($205.00 Blank)

Upon first glance at the SAS 854/5 I noticed that Scott did not waste much time on meaningless cosmetic appeal. The rod is for the most part bare looking with a sanded Charcoal and satin waxed blank finish. This gives the rod its stealthy gun-barrel grey finish.  Aside from the Walnut reel seat, and blue stripes, the rod looks relatively plain for the most part. 

The Scott SAS854/5 comes in 5 sections and features a very straight narrow design thanks to a slim sleeve ferrule design

After taking a closer look, I noticed the Stainless steel stripping guides & ultra slim sleeve ferrules. These detailed features demonstrate that the engineers of this rod dedicated a great deal of time to the function of the rod, rather than its cosmetic appeal. At a full break down of 5 pieces, this rod will fit into most backpacks comfortably allowing you to trek farther into the back country without the headache of carrying a cumbersome 2 piece rod.

The rod's portability makes it perfect for hiking long distances to small pristine waters

The Tests: This rod was field tested in the back country streams of Colorado. Accessibility of the best fishing portions of these streams require anglers to hike deep into the wilderness. Having a portable rod allows you to move quicker and easier over longer distances, a real plus when weather conditions were close to freezing, as in the case of this recent trip.

The Scott rod is perfect for casting even the smallest flies with ease

The Feel: The SAS 854/5 has a very nice balanced feel to it.  It is a very smooth medium action fly rod. It casts effortlessly at ranges of 25-35 feet. Casting distances of 60 feet and more require excellent casting mechanics.  A 4 weight 5 piece rod is specifically designed to be taken into smaller backcountry streams where the majority of casting is done short to medium range with light tippets and tiny flies.  The majority of fish found in these areas will be anywhere from 10 to 16 inches.

The Rod features a strong butt which makes it easier to quickly land fish

Sensitivity: The sensitive tip of the SAS 854 makes for excellent feel while nymphing or dry fly fishing. It also allows for strong hook sets on light tippets without breaking off. (A big plus if you have an itchy trigger finger) When fishing the tiny size 22 flies it really helps to have a sensitive rod of Scott's caliber in your hand. Being able to set quickly on even the most subtle of strikes can make the difference between landing a fish or losing a golden opportunity. Overall the SAS854 was above average in terms of sensitivity. A lot of this can be attributed to the Scott sleeve over ferrules making each section of this 5 piece rod connect seamlessly, and in turn transfer vibration through each portion of the rod with ease.  

Fishing for long periods with a light rod can really produce, even in cold and harsh conditions

The Strength: The butt of the rod is quite strong which allows you to put constant tension on the fish to land them quickly, and ultimately release them safely. The strong butt section of the rod helped me a great deal when I surprisingly hooked into a fish in the 18” class, and was able to land him, and put him back into the stream....all in a matter of minutes.  At the beginning of the fight the tip shook and pulsed violently as the fish ran downstream.  However, as time endured and I got the fish into slower water, the strong backbone of the rod allowed me to maximize the pressure on the fish and get him into the net quickly and safely.

Buzz's fishing buddy, Mike Sloan, was able to land this larger then expected Brown with the Scott SAS's strong butt

Complimentary components to the Rod:  To achieve the most of this rod you will want to be sure to match it up with a  #4 or  #5 line that is Weight Forward.  Scientific Anglers and Cortland are 2 manufacturers that you should consider.  As far as the reel, I used a Bauer M1 which balanced perfectly on this rod.  However, many companies such as Ross and Lamson manufacture reels that will also pair up well. The key thing in considering a reel for this rod and its application is the ability to provide reliability in small and lightweight form factor! If you prefer a drag then find the lightest one you can, but many anglers prefer to go with drag-free reels for light rods since the drag is rarely used and adds considerable weight to the reel.  If you do choose a reel with a drag you will notice the relationship between price and weight. Simply put, in most cases the more expensive the reel, the lighter it tends to be.

Native Browns will give a good fight that translates into pure excitement with a rod as light and sensitive as the Scott SAS854/5

A note on Whirling Disease in Colorado: One thing we did notice in all the tests that all the fish that were caught were all Browns, and yet these waters had once held plenty of native rainbows, where had all the fish gone? Sadly Colorado streams and rivers are also home to a water borne parasite (Myxobolus Cerebralis), better known as "Whirling Disease," which may not directly kill trout but can deform or cause trout to exhibit an erratic tail chasing behavior. Unfortunately Native Rainbows do not have the natural defenses to fight the disease and are especially prone to the parasite. The disease was accidentally introduced to Colorado in the 1980's through imported trout from an infected private hatchery. This disease is primarily blamed for the major decline of wild rainbows in many Colorado rivers and streams. While agencies search for a cure a careful management program has helped minimize the spread of the disease. Fly Anglers can help by not moving from stream to stream without first washing off all gear and equipment, not transporting fish from one body of water to another, and being careful not to dispose fish entrails into any waters...all this will help prevent spores from spreading.


Scott SAS854/5 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Good Construction and Good Quality. The time was spent where it really mattered on guides, ferrules, and blank.  Not a lot of cosmetic touches. 8
Performance The rod performed exceptionally well under adverse conditions.  Sometimes difficult to cast far, but this is not what rod is primarily intended for. 9
Price At an MSRP of $375 it is quite expensive for a 4 weight rod.  However you are willing to pay for the capacity to breakdown into 5 pieces this may well be worth the investment.  If this is not necessary, you might want to consider SAS 804/3 a 3 piece for $280. 7
Features Excellent blank, ultra slim ferrules, high quality cork grip, Supper hard chrome snake guides, Stainless steel Hialoy insert stripping guides, high quality Cordura PVC case, with a built in liner. Oh, did I forget unconditional lifetime warranty for breakage for life of original owner! 9
Design (Ergonomics)

Quite comfortable for extended casting of the smallest flies thanks to lightweight design

Application Not the most versatile of rods, but rather it was specifically intended for use on smaller streams with smaller flies. 7

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good construction L Best fit for one application
J Good feel and weight L Price is slightly high
J Great ferrule design L Plain cosmetics may not appeal to all anglers
J 5 pieces, great for travel  

If you are considering getting a second or third rod for small streams than the SAS854/5 is a rod you must consider.  It has all of the components that any fisherman would judge any rod by.  You can expect excellent short to mid range casting, & great response while playing the fish, and best of all the 5 piece is great for packing long distances. If the rod is not in your targeted budget than you might consider its sister, the 804/3 three piece. 

Keep Fishing - Buzz










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