Guts. Glory. Sage Disc Drag Reels.
Fly reels, like many other things, are not created equal. So what makes one brand of fly reels substantially better than another? One word: reliability! Fly reels are all pretty simple devices, but many are not very reliable. In many cases, reliability takes a long time to prove, or disprove. This is especially true where the driving force in a marketplace is perceived to be "on the cutting edge."
I have had several reels that seemed to work fine for a couple of years, only to fall apart at the most inopportune times. The biggest problem with disc drag type reels is that water and internal drag parts don't mix very well. Water dissipates lubricants and even fresh water is corrosive. That is because water contains oxygen, which is an element that easily mixes with other elements and makes oxides, like rust. The easy solution is to encapsulate all of those fragile drag parts inside a waterproof container, and keep them dry. Seems easy enough. We build submarines that dive thousands of feet deep and withstand tons of water pressure. But even some of the best builders that advertise their reels to be waterproof have had a miserable track record in the field. One of the problems is that there is a vast difference in price between a submarine drive shaft seal and the one that keeps the guts of your reel dry.
Many customers want to get cutting edge technology cheap. They expect that reels with waterproof drags should cost no more than reels that don't have that feature. There are some reel builders that have been more than happy to fulfill that fantasy. Reliability always suffers in that kind of marketplace. Sage didn't get caught up in that approach and consequently, they haven't done well in the marketplace.
To put it straight, they put reliability first. But some customers didn't respond, because they didn't have the experience to tell the difference. Like I said, "Reliability takes time to prove."
The first Sage disc drag reel I owned was a 3600D, circa approximately 2005. Designed by Jack Charlton, it was built like a tank, but was also pretty expensive. Proven to be amazingly tough and reliable, I still have it. After many years of hard use, it has now been retired to my collection.
3000D series reels were slow to catch on, and Sage discontinued them just when they were becoming popular. You may wonder why that happened.
At the time, Sage was by far the best known builder of fine fly graphite rods. They had the market share that every other rod maker wanted. It just seemed reasonable that they would have customers who would also want their new reels. Their reel design was excellent for reliability and performance. Our Sage reel sales were pretty solid for what was a new product, and then they were discontinued. The biggest problem was that Sage 3000D series reels were complex to change from left to right hand drive, and many Sage dealers didn't invest in the special tool that was needed, and weren't smart enough to get the job done when they had the tool.
When the 3000D series went out of production, I sold my 3400D for way more than retail, but have regretted it ever since. 3400Ds are worth mega to some collectors. Mine was perfect. We still get calls about 3000D series reels.
The next Sage disc drag reel was the 6000 series. They were built like more refined tanks. They were really beautiful and utterly reliable. But the whims of the marketplace are fickle. Sage 6000 reels never caught on either, even though they were the best reels of the era. Then Sage brought out the Evoke, an avant-garde, super controllable fishing machine built around the 6000 series drag and spool retainer. It had to be a home run. But nope, it wasn't. Once again, it was too far ahead of its time, and was perceived as too expensive, even though it is less expensive than some inferior designs.
So you say, "You've just told me that you love reels that are losers, at least as far as public opinion is concerned?"
Actually, I'm saying, "Every Sage disc drag reel in the current line-up is a very well thought-out, very practical, absolutely trouble free, joy-to-own fishing machine.” Our competition and the general public just hasn't caught on yet. Last season, three models of Sage Reels really took off and we sold mountains of them. They were the 2200 series, 3200 series, and 4200 series. They are all built around the waterproof tri-pod disc drag system that has been so reliable in the higher priced reels. That's right! That totally reliable, no-maintenance drag system is now more affordable.
It’s the drag system that makes
Sage reels so different from the competition. Sage has been able to crack the
waterproof barrier. I own eight Sage reels. Most have been subjected to a lot
of wear and tear. All have been subjected to much trial by water and not one
has ever leaked or changed internal temperament in any way. They are waterproof,
and they just work perfectly every time I need them. Another strong feature of
the Sage drag system is that regardless of the price of the reel, each drag is
numbered and detented. When you set your reel to a certain number, that number
is predictable and repeatable. As with any spring-loaded drag, we recommend
loosening the drag tension between fishing trips. This will help maintain the
drag integrity. But if your drag setting was most useful at a certain number,
return your drag setting to that same number and you will get exactly the same
amount of friction. There is just nothing better than proven predictability and
In the age of computers and
ever-expanding technology, wouldn't it be nice to have
something that never wore out, something you could always rely on to perform its
duty? Sage has done it. No annoying upgrades, pop-ups or security issues to
deal with. Don't you just wish Sage would get into the cell phone industry?
In the end, consumers always get things the way
they want them, and here they are: Sage Disc Drag Reels at a lower price. Each
of the reel series above has been on the market long enough to be proven on the
water. Each is an outstanding reel at each specific price point. They really
have no competition. No other manufacturer can produce this kind of reliability
at these low prices. Check them out:
2200 Series, 3200 Series, 4200 Series
Now the executive class 6200 Sage reel is also less money (and less weight). They cost $439 - $499, about
$100 less than an Evoke and $200 less than a 6000. In their first five months
of production they have proven to be the most popular reel in their price
range. I've been using one since August, and it has been true to form: totally
reliable. And remember the Evoke Series that was slow to catch on? They are not slow any longer. The Evoke has become the "IN" reel for Spey and Saltwater anglers.