Solitude Fly Company was founded in 1995 by Ray Chang and John Bonk.
Ray has over 15 years of experience in the fly fishing industry and another ten years experience in wholesale clothing and design. John brings to Solitude years of managerial skills and is the better fisherman 'cause Ray runs the business and John goes fishing. Both live in South Pasadena, California and claim the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers as their home club. John is old and is a former board member of California Trout. Ray is young, but aging fast with two young boys to raise, Myles and Kyle.
How did we meet? How did Solitude get started?
Ray attended a fly casting seminar where John was one of the instructors for the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers. One hundred students and John gets Ray. The rest is history. Ray lives in South Pasadena, John lives in South Pasadena. Ray joins the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers and for the next two years goes to Mammoth fly fishing with John.
First fishing trip, Ray goes into the fly store and John tells him he needs four of these flies in three sizes (large, medium and small), two of those flies in two colors each, another six of these funny looking flies, that big yellow one over there looks like a killer, and six of those tiny flies, leaders, tippet, blah, blah, blah. The guy behind the fly counter gleefully tells Ray he owes him $80.49. Ray passes out. John pays for it on his credit card.
Next stop, Hot Creek. Old John is putting on his waders and consuming his third beer. The younger, unsupervised Ray runs off to the stream and opens his new fly box with all his small, new furry toys. Well, of course, the wind blows all of Ray's flies into the stream and for a brief moment in the sunshine, it is Christmas in July for the trout. No more flies, all gone. Ray passes out. When he comes to, he says, "This fly fishing is expensive. I can make some money in this business." We head back to the fly shop for more flies for Ray and more beer for John. The rest is history.
Now here we are, twelve years later. While there are many large fly dealers in the business, we at Solitude are a small, but growing, company who will never make the Fortune 500, but have been blessed with an opportunity to participate and share with you what we all love, the sport of fly fishing. We are known and pride ourselves for providing our customers with quality flies, clothing and accessories at competitive prices and fast and friendly service.
When you call Solitude, Ray will answer the phone. John is out fishing, remember? And then there is our dedicated, hard working staff...Bettina (Ray's wife), Michelle, Mitsu, and Xiomara.
Why fish? Why chase trout, steelhead and salmon with Solitude flies? The late Robert Traver sums it up best:
"I fish because I love to, because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant - and not nearly so much fun."
See you on the stream. Don't forget the beer.