The image above was sent around our office a couple weeks ago, with the question, “Is this covered by a Lifetime Guarantee?” it was meant as a joke and others were chiming in. I was curious about the photo and why someone would get a tattoo of one of our fly rods on their leg. I found the Instagram photo posted by someone going by @5shakes. The below story was attached to the photo. Which did a good job of helping me understand the tattoo, but I also found it to be a moving story. Here it is.
"It's Story time - I grew up with a brother and sister as my best friends. Dustin and I went to school 7th grade through 4 years of college. His younger sister Kristen and I ran near a thousand miles together in cross country. She moved to Flagstaff two years after Dustin and I did to attend NAU, and we hung out all the time. In 2006 they had an epic opportunity to travel to Nepal, and then Peru with their father doing "Doctors Without Boarders". Before Dustin left, he loaned me his personalized fly rod and told me to count how many fish I caught while he was gone. After going to base camp of Mt Everest at 20k, they went to Peru and continued exploring and mountaineering. After the father went home, they stayed and joined another climber to summit Artesonraju (Artists peak, Paramount Pictures logo) at 19,767 feet. Somewhere along the climb, one slipped and the other two were not able to set anchor and all three slid thousands of feet down into a crevasse to their death.
Their father was crushed, as he lost his only two children. He asked me to keep the fly rod, as Dustin wanted me to have it. I moved to Portland and then in 2008 my garage was broken into and 10k worth of outdoor equipment I owned was stolen. Nothing mattered except that fly rod. Today, I paid homage and kept their memory living on. 06/27/06."
Since my department has the capability of making these rods, I shared his story and we felt moved to do so. We made him the exact same model and personalized it with the original owner’s name and added the date from his tattoo to symbolize when his friends had died. I reached out to him via email and told him his story had been seen at Sage and would it be okay if we sent him something. He provided us an address and we sent him his new rod. He then posted the below image and caption.
"THE MOST INCREDIBLE thing just happened! @sageflyfish saw my tattoo post with the story of my best friends passing, and sent me an exact replication of the rod with the addition of the date they passed. I had always dreamed of buying this rod, but the price tag kept me from doing it yet". #allthefeels #sageflyfish #forlife #blessed #priceless
Before we sent him his rod, we snapped a photo of the rod and one of many of the team that worked on it. We included a card with signatures from many who worked on it also. Our Repair Center Staff was excited to do this for him.
Below is his was his response to the entire thing.
Dear Patrick & Team Sage,
That photo is amazing! The gesture that you offered me will be one of the most incredible stories in my life. I can not believe you all gathered to offer me such a generous expression. Me and my entire friend and family group were flooded with emotions of happiness upon receipt of your email acknowledging the story, let alone of making the rod for me.
I truly appreciate the gesture and will cherish the rod for the rest of my life, telling my children the story too. My fly fishing buddy Trever Bass and I immediately decided that we need to come visit you all with thanks. We will probably make a weekend out of it, coming up Friday for a tour and staying around there after.
I will also be going home to fish Oak Creek in Sedona Arizona with that rod, as that is where Dustin and I first learn to fish it.
The Sage click is the reel that Dustin had on the rod to the best of my memory. I will be buying one soon and I am so excited about it!
You can leave donations with The Dustin & Kristen Yoder Foundation who will use the investment income to provide scholarships and financial assistance to children and young adults for outdoor leadership education courses through various programs, including the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and the Parks and Recreation Management Program at Northern Arizona University.
I sure do enjoy working for a place that allows us to provide endearing experiences for our customers.
Patrick Kilby / Sage Repair Center Supervisor