Barry Beck

I grew up with a father who would drive anything as long as it was a Chevy. When I was old enough to drive I took a different path and fell in love with Land Rovers which I still drive to this day. I will shoot any camera as long as it is a Nikon. Fly any airline as long as it is Delta and I’ll fish any fly rod as long as it is Sage. Sound stubborn? Maybe, but there is something to be said about being loyal to a brand and the older I get the more I appreciate quality in workmanship, in performance, and in pride of ownership.

Board a Delta jet and watch CEO Richard Anderson on the monitor describe his airline to you. This is a guy who is obviously proud of his company and his people and the job they do. Anderson makes you feel safe and welcome to be aboard and I have felt safe for the past million miles that I have flown with Delta. Land Rover ads have forever taken us into the deepest parts of Africa and beyond. I’m talking about Land Rovers not Range Rovers – the trucks that have a mystic and personality about them. Tank-like and just plain ugly to some, others like me fell into a cult-like love affair with the darn things. When it comes to cameras my Nikons have rarely let me down even when I have unfortunately abused them. There is a certain feel and ruggedness about my Nikon SLRs and an distinct love-that-sound when you click the shutter. As Paul Simon once sang – Give me a Nikon camera I love to take a photograph….well, enough said.

Watch any of the Sage videos with rod designer Jerry Siem and you immediately know that this guy loves what he does. Siem is totally into it, ask him about any of the Sage models and we enter Jerry’s world of rod tapers, exotic materials and rod actions. Cast a Sage and you know in your hand you have the state-of-the-art in fly rod design and it is totally Siem. When I did my first Sage factory tour, I was overwhelmed by the amount of hands-on attention required to finish a fly rod. Certainly there is automation but the bottom line is a well-organized team of individuals who are as committed as Jerry is to producing the finest graphite fly rods in the world.

Last year my wife Cathy and I were hosting a group of anglers on the Bighorn River in Montana. We had arrived at the Billings airport three hours ahead of our group so we sat in the airport arrival area. Across from us a young man and his father were waiting for their checked bags to come out and I noticed that the boy had a Sage ONE rod tube across his lap. Cathy and I have worked for Sage for over twenty years and we fall loosely under the Marketing Department which means that we get paid to promote Sage. I know – not a bad gig. Our job includes saying thank you to customers that we meet and who like us are Sage fans, so I got up and walked over, introduced myself to the father and son and said thanks for buying the Sage rod.

The young boy’s father told me a story that eventually morphed into this blog. His son decided that he was going to buy his first fly rod. He had been using a hand me down from his grandfather that turned out to be an old Sage RP. After visiting the Sage web site and then a trip to his local fly shop he decided on a Sage ONE . His dilemma was the price, he was a senior in high school and had a part-time job after school but funds were short and the price was high so the fly shop clerk suggested another brand that he said would work just as well as the Sage and was much more affordable.

The boy said no thank you it was going to be the Sage or nothing at all, so he took a second part time job on weekends and in time saved enough money to buy the ONE. This was his first trip to Montana, a graduation gift from his parents, and it was also the maiden voyage for his new rod. The look on his face told the whole story, the excitement of the trip and the pride in the fly rod that he held across his lap. I went back to my bag and pulled out two Sage hats, a couple of decals, and a few extra flies to use with his new rod. I gave them to the young man and thanked him once again for his support and watched them walk away to collect the luggage.

This was not the first time that I’ve seen this kind of loyalty, but at the moment it made me think of my own life and my commitment to a brand. I think it simply boils down to the pride we have in owning and using a product that really means something to us. Maybe something that we’ve sacrificed and waited for, for no other reason than we wanted the best. Knowing that behind the brand there is also a commitment from the manufacturer to provide us with the best of the best. So I will continue to drive Land Rovers, shoot Nikons, fly Delta and of course fish Sage. Still sounds stubborn doesn’t it? Maybe. But I think not.