Head to Head: Wave v. Maverick
The introduction of the Scott Wave prompts a comparison to the Sage Maverick, a proven performer in the mid-priced saltwater category. With great interest, we spooled up lines that we felt most suitable to each rod class and cast them side-by-side. Four casters worked through the lineup and contributed their findings to this article: Parker Thompson, Jack Healy, Richard Post and John Duncan. The article is presented by John Duncan but includes input from all four Telluride Angler staff on each rod comparison. Duncan paraphrases much of the feedback but has attempted to present rod descriptions using the words of the casters.
Lines cast on each rod/line weight
9’ 6-weights: Rio Elite Bonefish, Rio Elite Flats Pro
9’ 7-weights: Rio Elite Bonefish, Rio Elite Flats Pro
9’ 8-weights: Rio Elite Bonefish, Rio Redfish
9’ 9-weights: Rio Elite Permit, Rio Elite Flats Pro
9’ 10-weights: Rio Elite Permit, Rio Elite Flats Pro
9’ 11-weights: Rio Elite Tarpon, Rio Elite Flats Pro
9’ 12-weights: Rio Elite Tarpon, Rio Elite GT
- Wave rods are lighter and easier to cast.
- The Mavericks are heavier, potentially stronger for the fight and lean toward being overbuilt for their purposes, especially in the lighter line weights. Time will prove if they are more durable. This difference highlights a fundamental design strategy of Scott and Sage saltwater fly rods, born out in other rod comparisons over the decades.
- Sage components are heavier duty. In particular, the guide sets and reel seats are more substantial. This will be a confidence builder for some anglers. The relatively lightweight Scott components may not prove a liability, but for some anglers, this may tip the choice in the higher line weights.
- Scott grips are smaller and more contoured, a higher quality and more thoughtful grip choice. We prefer them in all line weights, but especially #6-9.
- As a group of casters, we generally preferred the Scotts in line weight 7-9, but the Sage in 10-12 where fish fighting and raw muscle are higher priorities than sweetness and casting ease. Below, we attempt to describe each rod objectively so you may determine which suits your fishing scenarios and casting style. In some cases, a rod becomes preferred only with a specific line pairing.
- We are impressed with both the Wave and Maverick series. Anglers seeking a mid-priced saltwater rod that fishes above its price will no doubt smile years later when recalling their choice. Good job, Scott and Sage. These are awesome rods.
We cast these rods with a Rio Elite Bonefish line, which seemed to bring the best out of both sticks. Both rods swing nice and light with pleasing crispness and stability. The Maverick feels a bit more “trouty,” with a smoothness at short distance reminiscent of our favorite freshwater rods. The Scott is a little more programmed to throw tight loops with a small bonefish fly. In this way, the 6 and 7-weight models in each series are opposite from each other. For freshwater/saltwater crossover, we would prefer the Maverick 690-4 but the Scott 907-4. The Maverick 690-4 would be our choice for trout streamers and bass fishing. The Scott throws tighter loops with a bonefish taper, but the Maverick will handle a wider variety of freshwater and saltwater fly lines.
Both of these 6-weights cast natural loops right out of hand and are well-tuned to the purposes of the 6-weight line class. The Scott finishes the cast with a bit more authority but also requires a little more finesse in the casting stroke. Like many Scott rods, it is more responsive to the nuances of the caster’s input than the Sage. We all felt that the Sage grip is a little big and chunky for a 6-weight, which creates a slight feeling of detachment from the rod. The Scott grip is well contoured and appropriately scaled, which contributes to the rod’s feel.
Here we have two excellent fly rods that classically represent the ethos of Sage and Scott. The Maverick 790-4 is one of the best rods in its series. It has a short flex window near the top of the rod, so it throws laser loops but requires a short, crisp, powerful stroke from the caster. You can whack this rod in the wind and it’s hard to overpower. The Maverick derives its power from stiffness in the butt and mid sections, the Scott from springiness and loop shape. It flexes more evenly and intuitively for the first-time caster. It is more line tolerant and offers better loop control, but can be overpowered more easily than the Sage. The Scott is more versatile and will make a better crossover rod to freshwater. The Sage is a more pure saltwater stick, designed with classic “tip action” for casting in the wind. All of our casters liked both rods and had something interesting to say about their distinctions:
Parker Thompson: Both rods are good at all distances. The Maverick wants to throw daggers while the Scott can be manipulated to produce different loop shapes.
Jack Healy: Some rods have that magic from the first cast, like the Scott. Others, you have to work into, like the Sage. They do the same things, but in different ways. Choosing between these rods gets down to casting style.
John Duncan: The Sage is a nail driver. The Scott will be appreciated by advanced anglers who vary their casting stroke.
Rich: The Maverick 790-4 is a great rod, really impressive, a serious saltwater stick all the way. It throws those V-shape loops no matter what. The Scott casts a shade heavier and has more load in the lower 1/3 of the rod.
These two rods are really distinct. We cast them with a Rio Elite Bonefish and a Rio Redfish taper, the latter of which is one full line class heavy in the head. The Scott feels lighter and casts lighter. It is awesome with the Bonefish taper, airy and nimble, casting with huge line speed and wonderful accuracy. It is almost as capable with the Redfish taper, but you can feel that head weight pulling the tip around just a touch. From a fishing standpoint, it will handle either fly line and their quarry. From a casting standpoint, it is truly special with a Bonefish taper but just decent with the Redfish line.
The Maverick 890-4 is a much heavier rod that excels with the heavy-headed Redfish taper, but earns much lower marks with a Bonefish line. Until you overline this rod, it casts medium-tight loops with little feel and unremarkable line speed. With a Redfish line, however, it becomes a truly outstanding “8.5-weight.” In fact, two of our casters thought that the Maverick with a Redfish line was the best rod/line combo that we compared. The Maverick will also cast and fish great with other heavy lines, including the Rio Elite Flats Pro and SA Amplitude Grand Slam, but it requires a heavy-headed line to come to life.
All of our casters noted that the Scott is significantly lighter in hand, lighter on the swing and generates more line speed with both a Rio Elite Permit and Rio Elite Flats Pro line. The Maverick 990-4 lacks nothing for power and overall capability, but any angler would find it heavy compared with the Scott. It delivers the fly with confidence and accuracy from 30 feet to at least 80 feet. Line speed is adequate and the rod possesses plenty of lifting power for fighting fish or picking up line for a second shot, but we recommend the Maverick only for anglers who want a 9-weight that fishes more like a 10-weight. It casts the Rio Elite Permit line very well, but not with the touch of the Scott. It should be noted that the large grip and heavier duty hardware could be a plus for some anglers in this line class.
The Wave 990-4 earns highest marks in every category: lightness, line speed, casting range (both short and long), ease of casting, loop control and line pickup. Everything you do with the Wave 909-4 feels easier and quicker than the Maverick. The Maverick’s reel seat and guide quality may be superior, but we would still reach for the Wave in typical 9-weight fishing situations.
These are two excellent fly rods, but the Sage is notably more powerful and stable. Both rods excelled with a Rio Elite Permit and Rio Elite Flats Pro, which will be common choices on the water. The Sage feels like a “big game 10-weight,” whereas the Scott is more a pure caster’s rod, ideal for the lighter purposes of the 10-weight fishing world. For example, we would recommend the Wave 9010-4 for permit and false albacore, but the Maverick for tarpon and roosterfish. The Maverick throws tighter loops with any fly line but the Scott has that characteristic “ease of casting” that endears us to that brand. Rich Post notes, “You have to push the Maverick 10-weight, but it has better capabilities for what I want out of my 10-weight fly rod.” We continue to favor the Scott grip over the Sage, but Sage’s higher quality reel seat and guides start to make a difference at the 10-weight level.
We are so impressed with these mid-priced 11-weights. Both are ready for the full measure of tarpon fishing, heavy roosters, etc. We were ready to anoint the Wave until we cast the Maverick 1190-4, which might be the best rod in the whole series. In all lower line categories, Scott Waves feel notably lighter than Sage Mavericks. This levels off at the 11-weight, where the Maverick not only matches the Scott for lightness but seems to possess all of the casting and fish fighting capabilities of high end tarpon rods. Some anglers will find the Wave 9011-4 easier casting and a shade lighter in the swing, but overall command is superior in the Maverick.
We cast both rods with a Rio Elite Tarpon and Rio Elite Flats Pro line. By degrees, we prefer the Tarpon taper on the Wave and the Flats Pro on the Maverick, which makes sense because the Flats Pro has a slightly heavier head that digs that power out of the Maverick. These lines are easily handled by both rods, but we find that the Maverick is more finely tuned to its line weight and delivers the fly with more pop, especially at distance.
This may prove to be a cosmetic non-factor, but we find the Maverick’s beefier reel seat and heavier guide set to be a confidence builder, as well. We still prefer the Scott grip, but the Maverick grip no longer feels categorically too big in this line class.
The rodmakers have approached their mid-priced 12-weights from different angles. Scott has designed a 12-weight that is easy to cast, especially with the fly in hand on short and mid shots. It’s butt section seems plenty strong for large tarpon, but the Wave 9012-4 wants to flex into the mid section on every cast, regardless of length. You can’t pop this rod off the tip, but it does a lot of the work for you, especially within the mid range. Everything about the Scott is easier to cast, lighter, more accessible and sweeter, but everything about the Sage looks and feels more up-to-the task for 12-weight fishing. We cast both rods with a Rio Elite Tarpon and Rio Elite GT line. Both rods cast these lines naturally, but the Sage has an extra gear and greater command at distance. The Sage requires 30-35 feet of line before it really engages, but then it becomes an impressive 12-weight. We found ourselves asking, “Who chooses a 12-weight over an 11-weight?” The answer is, “Someone who isn’t messing around.” Here again, Sage’s hardware influences our preference.