When Winston Rod Co. move from San Fansisco to Twin Bridges, MT two young men came with it. Tom Morgan and Glenn Brackett owned and designed Winston rods together out of a back street "shack". When they sold to the current owner Tom Morgan started his own Tom Morgan Rodsmiths with his wife and Glenn Brackett stayed on to run the Bamboo shop in the old building as modern Winston moved into their new factory south of town. Ultimatly, circumstances led to Glenn, Jerry Kustach and the "Boo Boys" to depart Winston and start "Sweetgrass Rods". Sweetgrass is a cane rod building operation continuing in the original Winston tradition but also expanding into new and experimental tapers and configurations. Winston's graphite designer of note, Sam Druckman, left the new Winston to work with the much revered, Brackett, adding a graphite and glass line to the Sweetgrss brand. Now, having departed Sweetgrass, Druckman is entering into a new rodmaking venture with three other noteworthy rod men called "Freestone" and their web site should be up and running in the near future I am told. They will design and hand-build cane and carbon rods using state-of-the-art technology and artistic craftsmanship (in the USA of course).
Who has taken over for Druckman at the much revered and classic Winston? is it possible they don't have a Rod Designer and are simply mutating tapers and technologies introduced by previous creative minds? Have many of you noted that their once vaunted tread wraps have deteriorated to "industry standard" with a single glop of viscus finish overlaping onto the blank rather than Morgan/Brackett like multiple coats of finish carefully applied to perfectly wrapped thread? Winston has a great history, great facility and a great shade of green but seems unable to hold on to their best people.
We fly fishers can not afford to loose any of our great fly rod companies. T&T has been recesitated and their original staff re-hired with new products being offered shortly. Hardy has reinvented itself with a powerfull North American presence. Orvis is building their best-ever rods, Helios. Sage and G.Loomis continue in their leadership rolls. New start-ups like Druckman's promis beautiful, great casting rods in the near future... What is happening in Twin Bridges
Many of us knew about the Winston personnel changes back in '05 when Brackett and crew left and in '08 when Druckman left. What surprised me about your post is what you stated about the wraps. I scoured the Winston board for talk about issues like that and coudn't find any posts relating to that but admit I didn't look way back in history for any. That board is unique in that it is one of the few forums from a rod manufacturer not afraid to have a public forum. In my experience with the site (and I admit to not viewing it much as of late) you have to be pretty darned brazen to have a post yanked. Generally if an issue arises Kevin or whoever is aware of it will post a response right out there in broad daylight for all to see, not just Winston owners. You might try posting your poor wrap findings there unless you're just sort of kicking the bear a bit here.
My latest Winstons are all at least a couple years old. The newest, a BIIt is as smooth and flawless as the other older Winstons. Since they are indeed hand wrapped by local residents in the area, I guess it's possible bad wraps slip by but it's a bit shocking that the finisher and QC would both let less than ideal green sticks get out. I hope this isn't the case anyhow but mere mortals are heavily involved in building these rods.
Jackster, I have no knowlege of a "Winston Board" is this connected with their web site? I'll look. My notion for this tread eminated from the previous thread in this forum concerning a not particularly relevant comparison between a Winston and T&T rod model. Please note my "wrap" remark was not addressing the tread work, which remains fine but rather the coating of the tread wraps. The short cut of applying a single coat of relativly viscous polymer to the rotating rod as opposed to applying multiple coats of thin finish is obviously a time, craftsmansip and, hence, money saver. Most factory rods from both the US and abroad utilize this technique. Fine cane rod makers, from whom our fundimental aesthetic is derived (perhaps yet another thread topic) mostly do not do this. Regarding Winston, who like you, I have been familiar with for a long time, I test cast a brand new #5 BIIIx this past spring and noted the bulbus globs of epoxy (or whatever) finish. I pulled from my own quiver an infrequently fished, several year old BIIx #4 and an earler still WT3 model and noted that the finish was not as thick but still of a one-coat overlapping onto the blank style. Look at a Tom Morgan Rodsmith rod, a T&T and I even checked out an Orvis Western circa 1986 and the finish is glossy but flat and stops where the thread stops as it should.
Big deal? Here is why I care: I am a fan of the old and new generations of rod designers and the technological advances they have utilized from Tonkin Cane (developed for the furniture building industry) to Nano Silica and carbon fiber compression (developed for the military and jumbo commercial jet industry). As rod blanks become smaller in diameter, thinner and more uniform wall thicknes and overall lighter in weight, the more impact the combined mass of guides, thread and wrap finish have on their designed action. Contemporary designers are using smaller guides made of thinner, lighter alloys to counteract their impact on the blanks flex.
I do not like miniscule snake guides because of their negative effect on feeding slack into a downstream, dry fly, extended dead drift. I want our most modern rods to use a little bigger, light weight set of guides whoes slight mass increase is counteracted by thinner, shorter, less bulky finish rather than mass increasing-to-no-benifit-whatsoever, hard and flex inhibiting globs of guck to seal otherwise carefully and snugly wraped tread.
S&S, this statement has me wondering: a one-coat overlapping onto the blank style.
I only started using better rods since the early '80's but having the guide coating overlap the thread and guides was something I watched a gent I respected as very knowledgeable look for as an assset and must-haves.
He told me at the time that without that overlap water, salt and ice can more freely get entrapped under the wraps and wreak havok. That made a lot of sense to me and is something I've looked for as a sign of a quality build ever since.
Now bamboo, being so heavy to start with needs all of the help it can get so minimal coating thickness makes sense !
Perhaps modern 'boo makers kept a tradition or copied the style needed when all the earlier makers had to work with was varnish to cover the thread wraps. In seeing very many older bamboo rods that need rewrapping could it be that their technique wasn't exactly the best and over time it was learned that a different technique and coating material was needed to protect the wraps not only from the eleiments but from the wear constant casting caused on the coating and hence the wraps?
Thanks for getting me thinking so early in the weekend. I needed a jump-start!
Craftsmanship is often a matter of ballance; neat and clean yet stong and durable. The thread wraps must be full sealed for durability and longevity and the gap where the tread rises up over the guide foot needs to be fully sealed to prevent intrusion of corrosive salt or abrasive particulates. Cane builders generally use thin refined varnish that eventually cracks requiring refinishing. Glass and graphite rod makers utilize epoxy or polyester polymers in keeping with the Plastic nature of our modern rods which should last the life of the rod. By the way, often used rods' polymer matrix does break down with micro fracturing of the bond between fiber and polymer. A repeatedly flexed, daily used guide's rod feels softer campared to a brand new same-model version after a couple of seasons of hard use. Not to digress...seal the thread and guide gap, yes; have even the slightest bulge form in a wrap finish means excess polymer was applied adding useless mass and stiffness - bad craftsmanship.
PS: I went to the Winston Board and found narry a negative comment about anything Winston. To paraphrase the dead comedian, George Carlan: "I'm not too prejudiced against Winston, I can find something critical to say about all graphite rod companies".
Not to belabor this, but I'm willing to bet that if a better material was available for covering old bamboo thread wraps the makers back then would have used it. They very well may have tried making a bit of buildup to protect the wraps but ran out of time and patience after several coats.
If I were a builder today I would most certainly opt for the faster yet more durable materials that most premium plastic rod builders use presently.
I wonder too if it isn't the customer who demands the sort of look that present builders use. I know I don't mind it and that I find it cosmetically appealing.
Despite having four or more ferrules and usually a finish coat on the blank, I find todays modern fly rods cast and feel just fine and definately better than those of 70-80 years ago. Even the older rods I have that supposedly broke down and lost their quickness still feel fantastic to cast and fish with.
Jackster, I know somewhat less about and fish less with cane rods than contemporary graphite but I am under the impression that cane rod builders do, today, use sophisticated modern adhesives rather than "rabbit skin glue" and, probably, more flexabile and durable finishes as well. This has made "hollow-built" cane rods stronger, lighter and more responsive than some traditional works of a generation ago.
I have postulated that, as Ed Payne worked in bamboo and his famous son, Jim Payne built rods of denser fibered Tonkin cane but did not have a son...if he did, I have suggested, he likely would be designing rods using high-modulus graphite today! Maybe he would be working in Twin Bridges, I don't know, but that is more the question of this thread than wrap coating techniques which only came up a an indicator of possible trouble in Paradise.