It's not a deep dark secret that I'm personally fond of those magical green rods from Twin Bridges, Montana. Ever since picking out my first Winston LT 8'9" 5wt., Winston Fly Rods have always suited my casting style quite nicely. It's hard to describe the feeling of fishing a Winston, but mine seamlessly become an extension of my casting thoughts. They are technically perfect while still retaining the love and soul of a classic creation. When using any piece of sporting equipment if you have to think about the equipment you are not focused on the job at hand. The cast or the fish you are targeting should be your only thought. The rod just translates those thoughts into the perfect presentation. That's a Winston.
Winston's current line-up includes the very popular Boron IIIx, Boron III Plus and Boron III LS. For this review I will be focusing on the BIIIx as the Plus is a brand new model (replacing the SX) and I have not yet spent enough time with the LS to form an opinion. Hopefully I can add to this review soon after a little more time with each of those two models. I will also leave out the Winston LT model, but only because it has been in the line-up for many years and is currently only offered by special order. I do own four LTs, the 8'3" 4wt. being my favorite and try to keep a selection of these rods always in stock.
The Boron IIIx however is a relatively new rod that I have used extensively and feel qualified to provide my opinion here. While choosing a fly rod is a lot like choosing a toothbrush, we all have our own preferences, the BIIIx does seem to appeal to a wide range of casters. With the Boron III fibers reinforcing the high modulus graphite, BIIIx rods are light in the hand, load easy and track perfectly towards your target. For a fast action rod they are not harsh, but transmit their energy with that recognizable Winston smoothness that Twin Bridges is so famous for.
In a line of rods there is always going to be a few models that stand out from the rest. It could be said that in the old BIIx line-up the 9' 6wt. was one of the best fly rods ever made. In the current BIIIx configuration you'd be hard pressed to find a rod that you didn't like, but the 9' 5wt. stands out as a rod that will remain in your collection for a long, long time. I'm also pretty sure that the 9'6" 7wt. would be another rod you'd want to keep in the quiver.
As a shop owner, customer service is an important part of the fly rod package and in this area Winston excels. I once had to return a rod for a customer that had been trampled into bits by a pack mule up in Oregon's high country. I mailed the pieces to Winston's service department in a padded 8.5 x 11 envelope. In a few weeks a brand new rod sporting the original serial number was back in my customer's hands. He was happy, I was happy, but that mule still has an attitude. Knowing that a company stands behind their product and will be there making sure that my customers are happy makes it easy to be a Winston dealer and a proud Winston owner.
While rod design is proprietary among all makers, graphite materials are not. Choosing the right materials and blending them together to craft some of the best fly rods made is what sets Winston apart. Their design, quality and detail is evident from your first cast until you hand it down to the next generation of Winston lovers.