Gear Review: Sage Launch 690-4 LCH

The Launch is Sage’s introductory fly rod. The version that I bought and am reviewing is the 690-4 meaning a six weight, 9′ (foot), four piece rod. The price is $235.00 for the rod which comes with a case and Sage’s unconditional lifetime warranty.

Pick up your Sage Launch fly rod at

I fish the rod with an Orvis Battenkill Mid-Arbor (Size IV, Gold) and a RIO Grand line. The rod is an unusual color that almost defies description but pleases me and when paired with the gold anodized reel is a handsome set up. The cork is high quality, the grip is comfortable, the eyes are of good quality, the hardware is nice and the seat is attractive enough and functional. The only problem with the craftsmanship is that the epoxy on the wraps could be cleaner, there are some bubbles in the epoxy that were not removed during manufacturing process. The fish haven’t noticed though I have.

Here’s what Sage has to say about the Launch:

Launch Series & Outfits

Developing G5 Technology clearly demonstrated that the key to better casting is the ability to feel the rod load. With our Launch Series rods, we applied what we’ve learned to create a smooth, progressive power curve and an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio. This means Launch Series rods provide exceptional line connection or feel, allowing anglers to cast better and more easily.

Purchasing a fly rod is an exercise in compromise even for those of us with unlimited funds since no rod does everything pefectly. There are also the matters of personal preference, what the rod is going to be used for and what attributes the caster is looking for. When I was looking for a new rod, I wanted something that would have the backbone to punch a fly into a stiff breeze on our big rivers but also wanted it to provide some cushioning when a large fish strikes. I like to swing traditional soft hackles and their variants during the summer and several times a season large wild trout seperate my fly from my tippet striking under tension in a heavy current. I wanted that to stop. I also wanted to pay my mortgage and put gas in the truck. I am a fan of Sage products and it seemed like my best options were the Sage Fli and the Launch. I tried both out in the parking lot and preferred the Launch despite the fact that it was a bit cheaper.

The Sage Lauch is a medium-fast action rod and as advertised is quite progressive. I learned to cast on a fast action rod but now I find that I actually prefer something a little slower. The Launch is easy to cast and for me it just feels right. As advertised it has a fantastic line feel–you really feel the line loading. It is slightly slower than the Fli but that is what I was looking for–something a fish can put a decent bend in before reaching the backbone. The rod excels casting dry flies in the range of thirty to fifty feet (where most of my fishing takes place). Its performance suffers a little when casting heavy two nymph set-ups. It isn’t the ideal chuck and duck rod and is definitely not a steelhead piece but it casts heavy nymphs well enough for me. You also need about five to seven feet of fly line out before the rod starts casting sweetly.

The bottom line is that the Sage Launch is a very good trout rod at a excellent price that catches fish. Our grandfathers just might have killed for a rod this good. For those of you on a budget (like me) or who just love a good deal, the Sage Launch is worthy of your consideration. I took this photo on the rods first trip to the river and before I bought the new reel. This is what it is all about:

Upper Willamette Rainbow

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9 Responses to Gear Review: Sage Launch 690-4 LCH

  1. I just bought an 8wt sage launch and fished for 10-15lb red salmon on the kenai in alaska and it man handled the fish. the backbone is great i think it will be a great steelhead rod this fall.

  2. John Hunt says:

    I have fished the 4 wt 4 piece launch, in Andorra, Spain, France , Scotland ,Uk, Ireland, and USA , in 3 years of travel its still going strong.
    I highly recommend the rod

  3. casey wise says:

    i have the 9 ft. 6 weight launch and its the best under 200 dollar rod line ever had.

  4. JRM says:

    Was thinking about buying this rod to fish for atlantic salmon, any opinions as to if this rod is suitable?

  5. james clark says:

    I am on vacation in Montana and my Sage Launch splintered on one of the sections. I have 3 weeks left on my trip and no pole…where can I exchange it?

  6. james clark says:

    ps. Up until this happened, which must be a fluke, I love this rod. I get comments on how nice it is and envious looks from my friends and family. Pleae help me as I need something fast…

  7. Chris Burke says:

    Try Sweetwaters flyshop in Billings if you are anywhere near there.Also have a Launch and love it.

  8. This absolutely is a great steelhead rod in an 8 wt. We fish the olympic rain forest for them in January and the rod handled a 12 pounder with grace. These fish are incredibly aggressive and it ripped the reel out out of my hands twice, but the rod held up beautifully- putting just enough bend in the rod while protecting a fairly light tippet.

    I also fish a 5 wt. launch for trout. can cast any distance. My favorite is my son’s 4 wt. 8 footer. it fishes more like a winston. – a bit slower action but you can place the fly on a postage stamp from 30 ft. away with that rod. It’s very accurate. He is a beginner and you can see with a double-taper line that he is developing a beautiful casting style- thanks to that rod.

  9. gary takemoto says:

    Bought my 6wt launch several pink seasons ago here in the pacific northwest as an emergency replacement. Coupled with the ambush line it turned out to be a versatile fish catching machine. After catching several hundred pink salmon in the salt, I took it to the river to fish sea run cutts. Ended up landing an 18lb steelhead. Midway into a 45 minute battle my arm was screaming for a fighting butt. Other wise I’m amazed
    at the strength and distance casting of this rod. I’m a two hander caster yet I was able to throw 90ft consistently right off the bat. I credit a lot of
    that to the ambush line. It finally did break, oddly on a back cast, sent it in to sage, hope I get it back in time for this years pink season, but the fly shop said its a two month wait at sage. Didn’t expect that, but I couldn’t have asked more fun from a rod that would would have cost four times as much.

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