It all began almost 30 years ago on a little island nestled in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains…
Founded in 1980 by legendary rod designer Don Green, Sage was created with one idea in mind – to build the world’s finest performance fly rods. Using world-class materials and years of experience gained while working with Fenwick and Grizzly rod companies, Don revolutionized the fly fishing world.
When Sage started business on Bainbridge Island it was first known as Winslow Rod Company, and although the name quickly changed to Sage, the location on Bainbridge Island is still the same even today. Originally it had six employees and about 1,500 square feet of manufacturing space. Today it has grown to 175 employees working in a 30,000 square foot space. The following story sheds light on Sage throughout the past 21 years.
Two important threads run through the Sage story: The first is the importance of fly rod design, the second is the importance of controlled distribution.
As for fly rod design, years of fly fishing experience had taught Don that fly rods should never run out of “power.” While there might be fishing scenarios where the full power and flex of a fly rod were not utilized by the angler, the best designs were those that always held power in reserve. Hence the name Reserve Power was given to the new style of fly rod Don developed for extra long casts or for windy conditions. The name was abbreviated to the RP. This was the first major series of fly rods that Sage released in 1982 and they quickly became the most talked about fly rods in the world.
The design of Sage was set. Next came the distribution. When Sage began, Bruce Kirschner (formerly of K2 Skis) joined Don as a partner in the company, bringing with him years of specialty retailing experience. Together they set out to create a dealer network of specialty stores where anglers could always receive solid, professional help, advice and assistance. The philosophy was simple: specialty products for specialty retailers.
From the early 80s on, Sage began its two-pronged development of its core fly rod business. From the initial success of the RP and the Graphite II generation, Don quickly moved to the next generation with Graphite III RPL fly rods. By 1985 the RPLs were the high performance standard of fly anglers everywhere. Recognizing that some anglers preferred the more moderate action of traditional fly rods, Don designed the LL Series of fly rods in 2-5-weight rods for the lightline angler.
In 1986 Sage brought to the marketplace the first series of fly rods built specifically for the special challenges of the saltwater angler-the legendary RPLX fly rods. Built for line weights 8-12, these rods almost instantly became the standard of modern saltwater angling experience. Finally, working with some of the finest two-handed fly casters in the world, Sage introduced a complete line of spey and European-style double handed rods, a series that rounded out Sage’s family of fly rods. Now, anglers around the world could find a performance fly rod for whatever their needs might be.
Throughout the 80s, Sage’s business grew steadily as specialty dealers everywhere started paying heed to these performance enhancements. The brand was continually sold throughout the world with distribution in Japan, Canada, France, England, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia. Everywhere the pattern was duplicated-specialty products for specialty dealers, and by the end of the decade, Sage had secured its position as the number one fly rod company in the world.
During the early 90s, Sage continued its steady growth with the RPL, RPLX, LL, TH and DS Series. The US dealer network had grown to about 450 dealers and Sage was also being sold in about 30 export countries.
Today Sage continues to seek performance advantages through new materials and designs, marketing its products through a network of specialty dealers. From our earliest days as a small rod blank manufacturer to the comparatively large 175 employee company that we are today, Sage has continued to seek performance advantages through new materials and designs. Today, more than ever before, Sage remains focused on one goal, which is best summarized by its statement of purpose: We are passionate about our business of creating fly fishing products that continually exceed the fly angler’s expectations. Wherever in the world your fly fishing takes you, it is safe to say that Sage has the products to enhance your fly fishing experience.