IT ALL BEGAN OVER 35 YEARS AGO ON A LITTLE ISLAND NESTLED IN THE SHADOW OF THE OLYMPIC MOUNTAINS…
Founded in 1980 by renowned rod designer Don Green and quickly joined by Bruce Kirschner (formerly of K2 Skis), Sage was created with one idea in mind - to build the world's finest performance fly fishing equipment. Using innovative, 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, WA it was first known as Winslow Rod Company, named after the small town on Bainbridge Island. Although the name quickly changed to Sage, the location on Bainbridge Island is still the same today. Starting with just six employees and about 1,500 square feet dedicated to manufacturing, today Sage has grown to 175 employees working in a 30,000 square foot space. The following story sheds light on Sage throughout the past 4 decades.
First, it’s important to understand the ethos that has been constant at Sage since the beginning: Perfecting Performance and the emphasis on design and function. The philosophy was simply: specialty product for specialty anglers.
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 using graphite to create high line speed for extra-long casts or windy conditions. The name was abbreviated to the RP. Released in 1983, this was the first major fly rod series released by Sage, and the RP family, built with Sage’s Graphite II Technology, quickly became the most talked about fly rods in the world.
Recognizing that different fishing scenarios require different rod actions, in 1987 Don designed the now legendary LL Series of moderate action fly rods in 2-5-weight rods for the light-line angler.
The initial success of the Graphite II Technology and the RP and LL didn’t stall the innovation. Don continued to tinker, introducing Graphite III Technology and the RPL series in 1989. By the early 90s, the RPL was the high performance standard of fly anglers everywhere.
Also in 1989, Sage brought to the marketplace the first series of fly rods built specifically for the unique challenges of the saltwater angler. The RPLX fly rods, built for line weights 8-12, 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-hand 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.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Sage continued lead the industry in fly rod material innovation and design. The challenge became not what could be put in a rod, but what could be taken out. The innovation continued with the Graphite IIIe Technology XP in 2000, the Generation 5 Technology Z-Axis in 2007, the Konnetic Technology ONE in 2012, and the KonneticHD Technology X in 2017. Through the decades, Sage remained focused on the specific needs of the specialty angler, introducing ultra-fast action rods like the TCX and METHOD, light line rods like the TXL and Little ONE, slow and moderate action rods like the CIRCA and MOD, species-specific rods like the BASS, PIKE, and MUSKY, and technique-specific rods like the ESN. The focus has always been the experience, and creating the right performance rod for every situation.
While overshadowed by Sage’s rod innovation and expertise, Sage has designed and manufactured reels since the introduction of the 500 Series in 1984. The same meticulous design, attention to detail, and “form follows function” mantra from Sage’s rod design and manufacturing drives Sage’s reel innovation.
For over three decades, Sage has been an industry leader in reel design. In the early years, Sage partnered with world-class reel manufacturers including Hardy and Dannielsson, as well as ownership of Lamson in the mid-1990s. But the noticeable leap came in 2001 with the introduction of the 3000 Drag Series. Featuring a Sealed Carbon System Drag (SCS) using exclusive high-grade USA carbon, the 3000 Drag was a game changer for Sage and the angler looking for a high performance drag system. Sage pioneered the use of carbon in a drag system, a far superior material that is durable, consistent, lightweight, and reliable.
SCS Drag was the first of many reel innovations Sage has introduced to the reel category. One Revolution Drag knobs, carbon fiber spools with stable resins, unique quick release spool mechanisms, ultra-light click reel systems and now industry-standard features like large and concave arbors are a few examples of Sage’s contribution to reel design. Sage’s material, design, and manufacturing expertise combine with continued partnerships with the world’s finest component suppliers and manufacturers to achieve Sage’s ultimate goal of Precise Control.
Today, Sage continues to seek performance advantages through new materials and designs. Since Sage handcrafted our first rod in 1980, Perfecting Performance has been the ethos. It steers Sage’s never-ending pursuit of new material technologies, innovation of rod actions, and engineering of reel designs. It’s reflected in Sage’s lifetime warranty and customer service experience. It fuels Sage’s stewardship of the watersheds we enjoy and the engagement with the fly fishing community. It inspires the Sage team to share ideas, push boundaries, and find beauty in the details. And drives Sage’s commitment to US craftsmanship, and the shared passion for the art of fly fishing.