Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Great Folks at Sage

Mrs. Fading Angler and I took a quick weekend getaway trip to the Seattle area in October last year.  No real purpose, just a chance to get away for a few days.  We did have a few items on the "might do" list:

  • Visit Red's Fly Shop, a 2 hour drive from Seattle, east to Ellensburg then a few more miles south along the Yakima River.  The idea was to scout for future fishing water, and see if they might have any wading boots for her to try on.
  • Lunch and beverages at the Pyramid brewpub across the street from Safeco Field.
  • A ferry ride out to Bainbridge Island for a quick visit with some folks at Sage.

After lunch, a flight of beer samples, and a pint of the selected barley juice, we waited in line to board the ferry out to Bainbridge.   We've taken probably 20 ferry rides around Puget Sound.  So far, the novelty has not faded.  We arrived in short order at the Sage (Far Bank Enterprises) HQ and hoped that we'd get the same hospitality as we received on our first visit and factory tour in 2012.  We were not disappointed.

Item one was making sure that all of our rods' serial numbers were properly registered in their system.  Part of what you pay for when buying a Sage rod, beyond the outstanding American craftsmanship, is the warranty.  The lady who greeted us also took care of the serial numbers, making sure that our daughter's Sage Grace is registered to her for her lifetime, not ours.

For part two, we were handed off to a different gentlemen, who was literally caught on his way out of the office.  He graciously stuck around and spent at least 30 more minutes with us, making us feel at home and never hurried.  I think has name was Larry, but I apologize if I'm wrong.  A little Google-ing yields the likelihood that this was Larry Barrett, Director of Operations and Technology.  Um... COOL!  Anyway, part two: is there or is there not an actual serial number on my wife's Sage ONE Elite?  There's a clearly-written "220/400" or something like that, but we couldn't see a serial number.  Larry walked us back to someone else and told him our story.  He grinned and agreed that the serial number is nearly impossible to see on that rod without direct sunlight.  He produced a sample butt-section and rolled it around in the light to demonstrate how to locate the near-invisible dwarven runes.  Check!

Item 3 was a special request.  When we visited in 2012, Mrs. Fading Angler asked if they would ever consider producing another pink rod.  I don't remember exactly the response we received from the person conducting our tour, but essentially he'd forward the request up the chain.  Six months later, I found a product announcement for this on Sage's web site:

I really had no choice but to purchase a pair: one for the Mrs. and another for my daughter's 10th birthday.  We've enjoyed these rods, and it's not just the girls who like them.  One question I asked while on this visit was if this rod is patterned after or related to any other offering, because I had found one source, a dealer, who claimed that it was an 8' 6" VXP.  The person answering the question paused, grinned, and told us that the Grace most closely resembles the now-retired VXP.  That's all I could get.

Back to the backstory.  A couple years later, Sage began offering the Grace rod as an outfit instead of the standalone.

It now comes with a gorgeous rod AND reel tube, a pink line, and a pink reel.  I was delighted to find that the pink line is a Rio Gold and is sold independently in 5, 6, and 8 weights.  (We now have 2 Pink Rio Gold lines in 5 weight.)  If you could have watched her reaction when she learned that the complementary pink Sage reel was not being sold separately, you would have thought someone just crashed into her convertible Mustang.  So, she logged her inquiry: is there any way someone who had already purchased a pre-outfit Grace rod could purchase one of the pink reels offered only in the outfit?  Glances were exchanged between Larry and the other gentleman (who's name completely escapes me, my apologies.)  Their response was that we were not the first to ask, but they weren't currently set up to be able to offer it as a standalone item.  But, they would bring it up at their next team meeting.  Three months later, Mrs. Fading Angler got an email from Sage.  They would indeed begin selling a limited quantity of the pink reels sometime in mid-2016.

It's difficult to imagine what was already going on behind the scenes when she asked about the pink rod and then the pink reel.  Regardless, I can't say enough about Sage's hospitality and responsiveness to customers.  I once needed a new tip built for my Z-Axis after an unfortunate encounter with an overhanging tree while floating the Blackfoot River.  My rod, including perfectly-matched new tip section, was returned to me faster than I imagined.  (I've seen their repair queuing area twice.  They are busy!)

This last bit is really cool.  During one of the numerous conversations around the factory, Larry set his shoulder bag down for a few minutes.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something peculiar: there appeared to be 3 or 4 small sections of fly rod in his bag.  My defective brain did a little calculating, and a question emerged:  Are those pens?  

I walked out of the building, happy as a clam about my new hand-crafted Sage MOD.  

No comments:

Post a Comment