A couple days ago I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Sage flyrod factory from my friend Larry Barrett who recently started working there. "Factory" is a bit of a misnomer, it should more likely be called a workshop because every step in the process of building a flyrod seems to be a labor-intenstive process. I've owned (too) many flyrods over the years and never really thought too much about how they are made. There were 12 or so stations in the Sage facility and each of the was staffed with obviously skilled craftsmen who seemed to be taking a lot of pride in their work. I'd guess that each rod takes at least a full day's worth of the combined efforts of these rod builders. If you've ever thought that two different rods of the same model casted a bit differently, you may have been right. Because these rods are hand made, they are bound to have slight differences. Sage's Quality Assurance checks guarantees that they are all defect free, but each rod is obviously unique.
One thing that really stood out was the amount of effort that goes into matching the different sections of a rod. Several steps in the process are dedicated to making sure that the pieces are paired up properly and that the seems in the blanks are correctly aligned. This care to detail carries on to warranty repairs. The Sage craftsmen don't just replace a broken section with a random off-the-shelf part, they meticulously recreate the missing piece.
Before I saw how these rods are made, I wondered how a Sage TCR rod could be worth over $700. I came away from the tour wondering how Sage could possibly build the Launch rod for only $175. Sage doesn't take any shortcuts, and they utilize local labor on Bainbridge Island as much as possible — even the rod sleeves (which I assumed were probably made in Asia) are sewn in their own facilities. When you buy a Sage rod, you're not just paying for a high quality product, but you are also supporting a strong employer of U.S. workers. Sage should emphasize the craftsmanship that goes into their products; I came away from the tour a much more loyal customer.Posted by Bruce on February 15, 2006 11:40 AM