Jackster, Thanks for the compliment on my writing, these forums are helping me develop this craft. You and I agree on so many things anglish, especially fly lines but our point of departure is not Winston; it is brand loyalty. A "brand" must mean more than you like their product especially when the product varies to the extent Winston's does. You like ALL Winstons? You like the Company? Some, years back, did simply due to their rural Montana location...a souvenir rod if you will. Things have changed. Unlike the old back street days, the modern Winston factory is the Gorilla of employment for better and for worse in Twin Bridges and has a very real impact on the community. As does Sage on Bainbridge Island, WA. Siem's design style represented a significant departure from traditional Sage RPL derived fast rods. I must say though, and I fished a #5 and 8 RPL for many seasons, I fished both of them straight up not over lined. XP was a big deal and huge seller...Sage hardly had to force anyone to sell and buy that rod in fact such a hue and cry went out upon its discontinuation that a massive post production run was built to satisfy demand. But Z-Axis, its replacement, was actually a substantially more sophisticated and capable rod. Its dramatically progressive taper afforded a surprisingly compliant and "delicate" tip for a Sage - long known for being fast rods - but it recovered with little undulation and the rods taper supported it with more and more power the lower down you flex the rod. Soft tip + high line speed? Yes it can be done! Oh, and it was designed around and is best rigged with straight 5-weight RIO Gold as is ONE.
I have not written about it until now but at Somerset I availed myself of the opportunity to cast several Orvis H2's. I am not one to knock Orvis for supporting their fly fishing habit by selling Georgia Fat Wood and Dog Beds. My aging terrier would dearly love a memory foam dog bed to sink his old bones into...but they cost more than a good Korean rod! Winston, unfortunately, was absent from the Show but I cast both the H2 9'/#5's, mid and tip-flex. Blind cast actually as I chose not to read the print on the blank (no, not hand written, I'll give you that) as I switched off with a certified skilled fishing friend. Tip-flex by a head we agreed when we checked, as it had that slightly softer tip but stiffened up lower down rather than the stiffer tip and softer mid section of the mid-flex which, without comparison, struck me a bit more like Winston's best trout offering the BIIIx. Just pond casting not fishing but I speculate that this H2 is a far better rod than the one it replaces. Does it best Zenith or ONE? I believe in the responsive tip - low end power progressive style, Zenith, designed by brilliant Brit, Howard Croston, is still the King of the Hill. ONE? Is in a class of its own that other rods are not compared to as no other rod strives to achieve what ONE does. I think almost any capable fly fisher would thoroughly enjoy fishing Zenith and perhaps H2 too but ONE is for a smaller audience that has application for its unique performance parameters which are more challenging to extract. Personally, the way I deal with this is I fish BOTH Zenith and ONE depending on environment and circumstances. Oh, and I have said before that I love Zenith 8 1/2'/#4 (yes, I still have my infamous, same size, BIIx in a tube near it) as my spring creek specialty rod. I do but I had the occasion to cast the Zenith one-piece 8'10"/#4; practicality aside (it would fit fine in my old VW Passat Wagon) as it would be a local drive-to river rod only, it is the best 4-weight I have ever had the privilege to cast. I will get one! While casting my way through the Show I also cast H2 9'/#8 tip-flex; this rod is great and far more interesting and exceptional than the #5 offerings (an 8 1/2'/#4 is coming but not yet available) and I cast some new company's rods too...a separate thread for them.
Hardy is struggling through growth pains and ownership issues and is producing (under very keen oversight) many new rod and reel models in Korea. Orvis is, well Orvis, and sells far more Barbour waxed cotton coats and boiled wool sweaters than fly rods. Winston, and this is the reason many get their hackle up over them, is like Scott, T&T, Loomis and Sage, a rod company only. (Yes, Sage markets reels but they only design them they do not make them.) Companies that design and build fly rods are extremely special and valuable to us fly fishers and very unusual - what other industry produces a majority of its finest product examples here in America?
In my penniless youth I built rods from J. Kennedy Fisher blanks I got on sale from Dale Clemmens and cost competed with quality by necessity. Here in our forum we have many who too must focus on rods within their means. For those of us who now posses the ability to select tackle based on it performance, build quality and its character, the designer and rod shop that fabricates it comes under intense critical scrutiny. I believe it is legitimate to take a company's community behavior into consideration though, when Winston makes the best new rod in the world, I will grit my teeth, reevaluate and consider buying one. Lets see how their newest offering fares in George Anderson's up-coming, 5-Weight Shootout.
Its been a while since I have read such impassioned responses! I absolutely love it! This just goes to prove what a great forum this is, that we feel able to vent our opinions with such emotion. I find myself agreeing with points on both sides of the issue, but the bottom line is and will continue to be: buy what you like. We don't live in North Korea or China and we have choices.
I can understand why Winston sells Asian-made rods, but also know that some people think they're getting a "Winston" for $200-$300. Back in my bike shop days, we sold Schwinns. The Schwinn badge became iconic in this country, even after Schwinn stopped making bikes here. In 1994, the FTC told Schwinn that the ultra-tiny "Made in China" paper decal was too small, and Schwinn sent us a box of decals that was maybe 3/16" tall (the first were REALLY TINY ). Most dealers peeled these paper decals off anyway, and nobody ever questioned where they were made. Trek was a small bike company in Wisconsin, and made some really nice bikes in the 80's. When they became the red-hot-gotta-have brand, they began having their bikes made in China. The made in China bikes had a large USA flag decal, with the words "Designed and Engineered in the USA" proudly displayed beneath the flag. These decals were not peeled off by dealers, as customers took that to mean "made" in the USA. To be fair, the MIC Trek bikes were much less expensive that those made in the USA, but most people thought they bought a USA Trek for $350. I know, because they came in my shop all the time.
Sage and Redington are owned by the same company, but Sage doesn't put its name on Asian-made rods. They were smart enough to buy Redington, as it was already a fairly well-known brand. That allowed Far Banks to sell overseas rods, and make a nice profit in the lower price range market. It's not every day that a company can do that, however. To Winston's credit, they don't use the "Winston Green" color on the MIC rods, but I can guarantee you that lots of customers think they're getting a Winston cheap. I don't recall seeing a label stating where the MIC Winstons were made, but do know that I bought a MIC Orvis rod around 2000. The shop was peeling the little paper "Made in China" decals of the butt cap, and I returned it the next day.
I like Ross reels, but I'm not too happy about the Ross Worldwide stuff. Sage puts their name on Korean-made reels, and I'm not reel keen on that either. I bought a Sage reel because my wife liked the way it looked, but mailed it back within an hour of its arrival. I already knew it was made overseas, but didn't think a reel could be that bad: barely fit a WF 4wt line with just enough backing (10 feet) to hold it to the spool, difficult to adjust drag knob, and a jump in drag settings that was WAY too far apart. This was a brand new 4500 series reel, but Sage was never known for making great reels. The older Sage reels that people like were made in England, and stamped "Sage".
Frank, We have several off-shore reels that are great reels; my old, British-built CFO's, Ari't Hart's idiosyncratic works of art built by him in his home in Holland and my wife loves her dark green, German-made Vosseler she uses with her Winston WT. She also wades toward a rising fish in a tough lye muttering under her breath,"You gotta have a Gatti", referring to her favorite Italian made rod. These tackle items are all lovingly and expertly designed and built by FLY FISHERMEN. The subtle design traits that make a rod or reel a fine piece of tackle are incorporated during the product development stage by people determining angling merits of the feature. Thoughtless backing capacity for a reel designated for a given line size, non-linear, course adjusting drag settings (common on Chinese built reels; I have experienced the same trait on a Chinese-Hydros), tapers ripped off by micing a good rod but not grasping what the taper does for a fishing rod because the team producing the rod as inexpensively as possible for brand labeling has never fished a fly rod and lives where the streams are too polluted by industrial waste to support a trout anyway. Sure, with thorough design and material specifications and cooperative oversight a quality shop in Asia can produce first class results - the Zenith and Hardy Ultralite DD reels made in Korea by quality oriented shops are prime examples. But one can buy a made in USA rod that bears little actual knowlegable angling DNA, that is all but as formulamatic as the Chinese version.
But one can buy a made in USA rod that bears little actual knowlegable angling DNA, that is as formulamatic as the Chinese version.
OUCH! Right to the heart. I was looking at a BIIIX over the weekend (in a catalog), so that's all the reason I need to save $785.
There are products that I buy "overseas". My classical guitars are made in Spain only. The Euro has made them much more expensive to buy, but that's the price you pay. Bikes and components made in Italy are dandy, and while I've never been one to insist everything come from Italy, I had a lot of customers that did. I've owned a few Made in England Orvis reels, and see nothing wrong with that. Even made in South Korea is fine: they pay workers a real wage, and it's not far from what Americans make (not saying much there, however). There's no way I'm going to pay hundreds for a product made in China, unless it's a must-have item, and I can't get one made somewhere else...TV's, etc.
In this day-and-age it is hard for some people to know that there are companies out there that arean't merely investment mechanisms.
Campy, Winston, Scott and a few other are in it to make a buck but they also have that passion and pride and fire in the belly that somehow sets them apart from the mass production, cookie cutter companies.
My Campy components actually improved with age but on my older rides they rode on loose ball bearings of extremely tight tolerances that polished the bearing races with use. I've always wondered why people these days will spend $600.00 on a saddle yet ride something that has drag built into every bearing on the bike.
Ooops! Back to rods.
As long as you smile when you use them or in the best case scenario feel so comfortable with it that you forget it is even in your hand during use we are all correct in our own ways.
It's a zen thing too I reckon.
I don't own one but I have lawn cast some BIIIx rods with friends and they are nice rods. I go way back liking the green look and I am not at odds with the green carbon spacer either. The 9'/#5 is better than BIIx but its improvements seem more of a fix in response to criticism rather than an actual new design inspiration. Cast side-by-side with the equivalent Z-Axis and Zenith and possibly the newest H2, one would really need to love the green color to select this rod over the better performing competition.
Read more carefully, Fly Guy. Above a few posts I refer to some 1st rate rods like Albright EXS, ECHO3, Rise Level Series all out of quality Korean rod shops via fine American designers and all very mid-priced. It is the green $700+ rod I am questioning the value of. Any way, it is like Jackster says, it is not the rod per say but the feeling you get on stream that all is right with the world and what you paid for your gear is what you can afford. In many anglers' hand the difference in performance is less than the difference in price of most rods.
Kinda makes a guy feel he has to have an 800 dollar rod to be a 'real' fly fisherman.
No need at all to feel that way. I was in a casting competition and in our team we had one gent with his reel duct taped to the rod and another who paid something like $25.00 for the rod and reel. The line was given us for the contest. We did quite well and I wasn't even using a green stick. It was dull gray with a gray carbon spacer.
I will tell you that if and when you ever feel like you want a $700.00 rod and get one you can fish with what many consider the worlds finest and if you take care of it sell it for a good amount if need be.
I can't tell you how many times has worked out for me where I used the best and they at most cost me a few pennies a week in depreciation or just lost value. It isn't as bad as it can appear, especially if what you do besides work is fly fish.
Another way to look at it is there are no green fee's and no 3rd. degree sunburns from reflections off of the metalflake deck of something that needs constant feeding of gas to make it work.