Falling in Love Again, With My Winston

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"Let's Get It On"

“Let’s Get It On”

I don’t know how it happened. I have no excuse, but some how my Winston B2X 6 weight spent the last two years in the tube.

I have a lot of fly rods and I’m always getting new ones to try out, but there is still no excuse for neglecting such a great rod. I got that rod specifically to fish the Green River in Wyoming during hopper season. A trip I used to make every year. I’ve passed on the Green River trip the last couple of years for various reasons and I guess I just forgot about the Winston in the process.

I made it back to the Green this year. Only for a day and not during hopper season but it jarred my memory and I took the old green stick along. Man am I glad I did. It was like falling in love all over again. Not just for me as it turned out. Kent and I fought over that rod the whole trip. Several days, it was the only rod that got fished.

We had a pile of rods. We each brought five and added to that several that we’re sent to us to evaluate for clients. Still, the Winston carried the day and I’ll tell you why. While the B2X has been languishing in the tube, the world of fly rod design has changed. In this case, I’m not sure we can call it progress.

In recent years, rod companies have been beating cheeks to make the fastest action rod possible. In the process there have been some serious casting machines produced by some talented rod designers. But how do they fish? Often, not that well. I’m guilty of casting pond myopia myself. I’ve cast some rods at the IFTD show that I thought were the second coming, only to be seriously disappointed once I got them on the river.

It’s fun to cast a fly rod a hundred feet. It’s not so much fun to fish at a hundred feet and too often these rods are seriously lacking in their short game. You know, the kind of casting distance that usually results in catching fish. Some of these thunder sticks are so stiff that they are useless with tippet light enough to fool a trout. Where’s the fun in breaking off fish?

At some point the fly line companies started carrying the water for these new ultra fast rods. That is to say that lines have been getting heavier and tapers more aggressive. Today’s five weight is yesterday’s six. So, if you have to make a five weight line as heavy as a six weight line to load your five weight rod, isn’t the rod a six weight?

Not from a marketing standpoint, and marketing really is the devil in this scenario. That’s not to say that rod designers are evil. Neither are their marketing guys. They’re simply trying to give us what we think we want. I know a lot of these guys and if they are guilty of anything, it’s being too good at what they do.

They really believe in these ultra fast rods and they can fish them. They forget, however, that they can cast any rod. They are the best fly casters in the world. A rod that performs in their hands may not perform in ours. If you drive an Indy car to the Kroger, bad things are likely to happen.

That’s the scenario that played out for Kent and me. We were fishing the salmon fly hatch on the South Fork. The key to catching quality fish on that river is putting the fly on the bank. Not close to the bank, on it. Ideally, the fly should touch the water at the same point the water touches the stream side foliage. Every cast.

At thirty feet, an ultra fast action rod just isn’t the tool for the job. A rod that loads easily and has a good feel is a much better choice. A softer rod gives you more control. It gives the angler feedback, which is especially vital when accurate casting is involved. The Winston is just such a rod. It was beautiful.

We talked about it all week. What was I thinking, not fishing that rod for two years?

When we made it to IFTD this year, the first thing on my agenda was to cast the new Winstons. I had heard about the B3X but never held one. Let me tell you, these rods did not disappoint me.

The B3X has more Boron in the butt section than the B2X. They have the same elegant feel of the older Winstons but, when called on, the extra energy in the butt can really step on the gas. I love these rods. Especially the 9′ 5 weight B3X and the 9′ 6″ 7 weight B3XS for saltwater.

It turned out that while most rod companies have been working to make the fastest rod possible, Winston has stayed focused on just making a great rod. I’m in love again and that Winston will be spending a lot more time out of the tube.

Check out Kent’s post on how distance casting has hijacked rod design. (HERE)

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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19 thoughts on “Falling in Love Again, With My Winston

  1. Sometimes a faster rod is necessary. For me, scenarios where I’m chucking articulated streamers or saltwater fishing, I will have a faster rod in my hands. However, there is no better feeling than standing on your favorite river or stream, casting a dry/dropper rig with a rod that loads down into the grip with each cast. I just feel more relaxed and connected when I cast such a rod.

  2. I have to say that I too am in love with my Winston. This past year I was lucky enough to pro staff with them, and promote the green machines up here in Ontario. I love the BIIIx, but I will never ever shelf my BIIx. It’s just hands down a perfect trout rod for me. Funny to note that the label on my BIIx tube is peeling on the left side as well haha. From what I’m hearing, Winston has some great new things in the lineup for 2014, and I can’t wait to get my hands on em!

  3. I have a Winston (8’#4) that Tom Morgan gave me as a promo, what a wonderful rod. It is designed for short, delicate fishing and I love this rod when I’m fishing that stuff. The rod does not do well with absurdly long casts, not exactly a double hauling marvel but a fishing dream!

  4. Love my b3x 5 weight. I work and fish on the Missouri where as fast as possible rods are fished for the long casts necessary to rising fish. The Winston can do it equally as well as the Hardy’s, Sage’s, or H2’s. But the Winston has soul, which I haven’t found to be the case with the other brands.

  5. “Fast Tip” action rods seem to be a fashion fad with rod manufacturers these days and we must all own one, or more, we’re not up-to-date if we don’t. It’s really a question of “horses for courses”. Right type of rod for any given situation. The “out of fashion” softer action rod is unquestionably suited to the requirements of say a small trout stream requiring short and delicate presentations. This point is more than adequately demonstrated in this article.

    However, besides the obvious “horses for courses” scenario there’s the “different strokes for different folks” scenario. Some individuals casting style is suited to “fast tip”, others to “medium” and “softer” action rods. This personal dynamic should also be taken into consideration when purchasing a rod and selecting a rod for a given fishing situation.

  6. As Louis wrote and Rob agreed, difference in rod action should match the way of fishing (e.g. early spring nymphs with stronger and stiffer #4 or #5, mid-summer dries with moderate or slow #3 for browns and graylings) and situation on the water. The true point is in successive rising of rod class in time, a probably unwilling consequence that follows speed-up of rods. That might already make a confusion, or even a mess for older rods’ owners when they are to buy a new line. Or we all already have new and modern rods?

  7. How does the Scott Radian compare to the winston? I normally fish a winston wt and love it, but i have herd some high praise for the new scott. Maybe they have solved the riddle of fast rods with feel.

  8. Can’t say enough good things about my 8′ 4 wt B2x. Two of my fishing buddies have bought the exact same rod after casting mine. It’s a magic wand on small spring creeks.

  9. So true. I have a “poor man’s Winston,” a Diamondback Classic Trout 8’6″ 4/5 weight and while it never wins when casting in the parking lot, it is always the rod I go back to while on stream. It does “fishing” so well – all the little things that are not evident on the casting pond: tippet protection, mending, delicate presentations, feeling the fight of fish, and yes…. soul. Most of the ultra fast rods coming out today, totally miss these aspects.

  10. Love my BIIIx 9ft 5 wt. For “some reason” I break off far fewer fish with this 5 wt than my faster rods…Oh, and my BIIx 6wt (RIP) presumably lies on the bottom of the Arkansas River, slightly above where it was last seen…I still miss it…

  11. I have fished a Winston WT and Scott G for years now. It’s hard for me to find a rod that performs as well as those. I do wonder if Scott has truly figured out how to make a fast rod with feel. The Radian does intrigue me. Anyone try it yet?

  12. Jeez… What has Jerry Siem and Steve Rajeff been doing to us the past 10years? Making us open our wallets for those ultra fast parking lot rods.

    I stopped buying stiff rods some 5-6 years ago simply because they are no fun fishing. The moderate to moderate-fast rods like the Orvis Superfine, Scott G2, Sage LL, Sage SP and Loomis IMX are simply great casting yet amazing FISHING rods.

    Yeah, let the guys buy those Sage Methods cast on the parking lots and let me catch the fish… 🙂

  13. I strictly fish BIIx’s w/ my clients: a #7 and a #8, both 9’6″. They’re magical. Strangely the #7 isn’t as good on the salt as the #8 (built for something different I guess) but the #8 is just about the best bonefish rod in the world. Period. Wading, skiff poling, doesn’t matter. It’s so good I tend not to fish it much myself. I feel like I’m cheating, but when the wind gets up and it’s visibility is poor and those shots are coming 30-40 ft out I get out the old “Jolly Roger” and catch a few of the big girls… well, hook a few anyways.

    PS Couldn’t agree more about the folly of contemporary rod design.

  14. Louis,
    I’m new to your blog, and just now read the piece on your Winston Biix 6-weight. I have that rod also, custom made by a rod-building buddy from a blank (we added a fighting butt). I also love this rod. I live in Alaska, and early June trout fishing in Bristol Bay is like my pilgrimage to Mecca. The Biix is perfect for throwing size 10 salmon fry imitations (Thunder Creek), nymphs, or the occasional dry fly. I also bring a Sage TCR 691-4 that is a dedicated heavy streamer rod, for heavily weighted streamers and leeches, when the fry “hatch” isn’t happening. Anyway, enjoyed the piece.

  15. How does the B3x compare to the B2x? Does the B3x fish as well as the B2x? I’ve read that the two rods have a similar design, but they beefed up the B3x in the lower and mid section for more power. Did they sacrifice feel when they did that?

  16. Wow! Talk about getting into someone’s head. I too have allowed my 9′ B2X 6 wt. to languish in the tube, preferring my 4 wt for this past year’s spring/summer/fall fishing. I guess we all tend to be creatures of habit, no matter how many rods we have in the closet, garage, fishing bag. I will give the B2X a shot again, this winter fishing the surf for barred perch. Again, a rod which can cast 60 to 80 feet is needed to get over the wave chop, but not break off a 2 pound surf perch who thinks he’s 6 pounds. I’ve use my 8 wt. for surf so long that I forgot the B2X #6. Thanks for reminding me why I bought the B2x over the B2MX.

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