Solitude Fly Company was founded in 1995 by Ray Chang and John Bonk.
Year 23. Where does the time go? We are approaching our 25th anniversary. It was just yesterday when Ray, his black Lab, Ebony, and I were float tubing Crowley Lake with guide Fred Rowe, some 28 plus years ago. I remember the day just like it was yesterday. Ray’s dog jumping in the water wanting to swim out to Ray in his float tube with Fred the Guide constantly bellowing until he went hoarse “Bad dog! Bad dog!”
It was a memorable day etched in what’s left of my 72 year old mind. And no, on that day, we didn’t catch a damn trout ‘cause Solitude Fly Company wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes back then. We were just a couple of friends and a dog on a fishing trip. We would have caught a lot of trout that day if we had a time machine and access to Hale Bopp Leeches from Solitude Fly Company (Segue into the sale of new Solitude flies. You knew it was coming, huh?).
Well here we are many years later. Still taking care of business. Take a look at the creative, fish catching, flies we at Solitude Fly Company are strutting out for your perusal this year—24 new patterns, quality flies tied with the finest materials while we continue to maintain the highest delivery standard within the industry. At least that is what we have been told. And that has been our mission statement from the day we tied our first fly, a few years after chasing trout in the Sierra with Ebony.
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."
Again, as in the last 22 years, we thank you for your business. And if you are
a new fly shop owner, give us a try. As old as we are, and believe us we are
getting old, we haven’t forgotten that it is YOU, the fly shop mogul who’s our
boss and number one customer, regardless if you are a big or small mogul.
As always, we continue to welcome your comments and ideas (and business!)
in order to serve you better. Until next year, great health and financial
prosperity to all.
Finally, a few classic words re: the passage of time: “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden John, Ray, Bettina, Myles and Kyle
Solitude Fly Company