I have seen a few comments on the current status of this company and I own two classic green sticks the 8'6" 5 IM6 & WT 8'6" 3 Wght . So surfing e bay etc are both the LT and WT lines being shut down? I loved the Winston forum but now that has changed too?
The WT and LT are still available by special order. Visit the Winston website and you can see what line weights and lengths are available in each series, and the current cost. Recently, the BIIt series was discontinued. There are still some BIIt rods that can be purchased at closeout prices, but as time goes on they are disappearing. Winston has replaced the BIIt with a new rod series called BIIILS.
The Winston Forum was closed earlier this month. Many of us who love Winston rods are very sorry to see it go. I am one of those, and I've been wondering if we could get something going on this forum to create a new place for Winston rod owners (and those interested) to discuss the rods.
There is debate over whether or not the company is changing its philosophy -- this is a point of contention among some who follow trends in fly rods and in Winston specifically. IMO there is no consensus on this question. Winston has some critics, but a host of loyal rod owners as well. I'm guessing the latter far outweighs the former.
I would recommend you stop by a Winston dealer sometime if there is one near you, and lawn cast some of their current models. You can draw your own conclusions about the new rods. But rest assured, the WTs and LTs are still available!
PS -- if you are a fan of the WT rods in lighter line weights, I saw a few of these for auction on ebay from Fishwest.
I'm a big WT fan. I own a 7'-6" three weight and love it. For the last 12-15 years I found myself in Twinn Bridges for a few days each summer. Each time I would visit Winston and test cast their rod. Invariably I would gravitate to the IM6 and WTs, they were just my favorite, and the action Winston built thir reputation on.
To me the three classic graphite actions are the Sage RPL, Scott G and Winston IM6. Three classic actions to cover all speeds.
I miss the Winston site too. It was a great place to share information with other green-stick users.
But what I find really hard to understand is why the company seems to be distancing itself from its strong traditions, which is what attracted such a loyal following in the first place. My two go-to rods are 20+ year old IM6 Winstons, an 8'6" 5-weight and 7'6: 4-weight. They are still great trout rods.
While other manufacturers -- like Orvis -- are reintroducing traditional, progressive-action rods in graphite and fiberglass, Winston seems to be going the high-speed, high-tech route. I guess that's where the sales are.... but it's hard to accept that a super-fast 8-weight that can throw the entire line with one double-haul still has the "Winston feel."
Closure of the forum was a bad move but they have offered an alternative via their Facebook page / blog. I don't agree that Winston has given up on their progressive action rods. 1) I believe you can still custom order the WT & 2) Winston continues to sell the BIIT series albeit in the new version with the ugly reel seat. The action, however is supposed to stay the same - nice progressive with good amount of 'oomph' in the butt section.
Hi Mysticm. I realize you can still custom-order a WT, which is obviously a good thing, since they are great rods.
And I certainly understand that the company -- any company -- has to adapt to change in order to survive and thrive. But Winston built its reputation and loyal following by producing finely tapered, beautifully finished hand-crafted rods with a choice of grips, reel seats, hardware etc. That's what made them different and, some would argue, better. Now it obviously is not cost-effective to offer custom options, so you get the same grip and reel seat on a 2-weight as a 6-weight. Just one example of change that doesn't favor the customer.
It's also well-chronicled that there was a falling out between management and Winston's rod designers and builders a few years back. I just think that Winston still markets its well-earned reputation as though it has simply evolved when in fact it's a very different company. Not to say they don't make good rods: I fish a 6-weight Bllx and have used the Blllx too.
The "falling out" was between the newer owner's "management" and a former owner turned employee, responsible for the gentle tapers and fine craftsmanship tailored to the customers' ideal. It was over permission to hire an apprentice for the bamboo shop and resulted in this former owner and gentleman, Glenn Bracket, departing Winston and opening "Sweetgrass" at the other end of town. Though they do not, at this time, make graphite rods, it is at Sweetgrass where you will find the "Winston" you fell in love with when you got your sweet 8 1/2'/#5 20 years ago. The new Winston STILL has not hired a rod designer of note and is trying to build rods to compete with the likes of Sage and Loomis...they can forget about it! Winston has hired a new manager and perhaps he will turn the old ship around, time will tell. I encourage you devout Winstonites to contact Glenn at Sweetgrass and encourage him to add a graphite building facility to his small business. The only other way you will get what you used to get is by ordering a rod from Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, Glenn's former partner but his output is very limited.
When Druckman left Winston, he did build graphite rods for a bit at Sweetgrass, I actually have one. He then went and founded a joint venture called "Freestone" in Colorado Fly Rods, Bamboo and Graphite Fly Fishing Rods | Freestone Rod : 905 | Freestone Rods Despite his passing, they still seem to be producing his rods which, though costly are divine. I know of no legal obstacle to prevent Sweetgrass from building graphite rods, nor any lack of expertise in improving on their former tapers from the old days. Many of those older blanks were built by J.Kennedy Fisher to Winston's specs so the tapers are not secret formulae nor particularly complex.
It remains my hope if not expectation that this historically important brand will turn itself around and return to its roots. I an unable to hold my breath that long though.
Freestone craftsmanship...no single coat glob of finish overlapping onto the blank here:
I don't have any inside knowledge of who's in and who's out at Winston, but I do know this. I picked up two B2ts at closeout prices and they are some of the sweetest rods I've ever casted. In fact, now that I've got the 8'6" 4 wt. Staff of Moses, I probably won't be fishing my 9' 4 wt IM6 too much anymore. The 7'6" 4 wt is truly impressive as well. In fact, when I made my first cast with it I was amazed.
Before the Winston Forum closed, some of us were debating what seemed like a change in direction for the company. It seemed to me that Winston is trying to offer the best of both worlds: the kind of rods they are known for with the WT and LT available on special order, while bringing in new lines of faster action rods. At the time, we didn't know if the successor to the B2t is going to truly follow in the footsteps of the B2t and the WT that preceded it, or be some kind of faster action light line rod that we wouldn't want. We discussed whether or not the company felt they needed to come out with faster action rods and a new boron material in order to remain competitive in a contemporary market where so much attention is given to fast action rods or rods with "technology" or "versatility." Whereas so many Winston owners enjoy and appreciate the niche that each rod in a series performs, the climate in the marketplace seems to be for "one rod which will do it all." We debated these issues within a community of people who love Winston rods and wishes the best for the company. Naturally, there was some clamor over the ugly reel seat on the new B3ls series that replaces the B2t series. We now know that a wood insert can be ordered on these rods. I haven't tried one, have no idea how they cast. So I won't comment on them.
S&S, I only met Mr. Bracket once. He's a great guy. He was so friendly and open to somebody who just dropped by the shop to stop and talk. He is truly a master of rod making, especially with cane. Jerry Kustich also left which is a great loss to Winston. Clearly there was a dispute, and it's clear which side you come down on. Your loyalty to these men is admirable. What I do not agree with is the assumption that because these people left Winston, that Winston isn't making any great rods anymore. I feel you're being a little too hard on the company. That's just my opinion.
From a purely selfish point of view, it's great for me that Winston discontinued the B2t series -- I wouldn't have been able to afford one if they weren't at closeout prices.