I’ve seen a lot of these rods on eBay for discount prices. I’m not sure if people don’t like them, or if they just aren’t different enough from what they have to keep them. So, I bought a demo, fished it most of last year and am audacious enough to think somebody might like my 2-cents about the Winston GVX 9’ #4.
Most reviews start with how the rod casts, how it does close in, far away, in the wind, what kind of action it has, etc., etc. That’s not really where I want to start. I’m starting with, “Is this rod fun to fish?” My answer, after fishing with it a lot this last year, is not just, “Yes,” but a big-ol, “H***, yes!!” Here’s why. This rod has a wonderful suppleness that makes it feel like a shorter rod when waving it around on the stream. It feels light in the hand and right away I noticed how easy it was to mend line. It made getting a good drift seem almost effortless, automatic. The 9’ length made hook setting a simple movement of the wrist – and then, fish-on nirvana! It is so much fun to catch fish on this rod. Big fish, little fish, it will handle them all. There’s enough strength in the butt to control bigger fish (my biggest this summer was an 18” football-shaped brown), but the soft tip makes even 5-inchers fun! The rod is excellent at protecting light tippets. I got into a couple of caddis hatches that I fished by swinging emergers and cracklebacks. There were many vicious strikes on a tight line with no break-offs, even on 6x. Wonderful, supple, fun rod.
So what about performance? Well, since I’m not a great long caster, I couldn’t throw any more than 60’ with it. And I think a good strong wind will make you have to shorten up your casts considerably. This is not a gun. But, hey, I don’t fish a 4-wt to throw long lines or fight gales. At my normal fishing distances this rod casts very well – very smooth, very controllable loops at all normal distances. It has a progressive action that goes well into the butt, though it’s not a noodle – very pleasant to cast. It also excels as a roll caster. For fishing small to medium nymph rigs it was awesome. Up-lining to a DT5 makes it an even better roll caster. For dries and un-weighted rigs, it loved the SA GPX#4, which is a #4.5 weight line. It will drop a dry fly with that GPX#4 like a falling leaf. I tried a DT4 on it, but it didn’t seem to load as well as with the GPX.
All in all, this is a really fun, capable fishing tool. Everything I needed it to do, it did well. Dries, emergers, nymph rigs, small-med streamers – all good. If you want a really good 4-weight for most situations, you can’t go wrong with the GVX 9’ #4.
I am in search of a 8wt rod and this was one that was on my "check it out list". I am more on a bargain hunt than a hurry up and get one for this rod as it will be a dust collector save for one day a year.
Mr. Comeonavs - 2 yrs ago I was also on a bargain hunt for a 9' 6wt. I cast a lot of rods in my price range at the time ($200-300), then the guy at the shop slipped in a GVX in that configuration. He just said, "Here, try this," and put it in my hand. It was love at first cast. What a sweet rod - quite powerful, but so smooth! Of course, I couldn't afford it, but that experience got me to take a shot at the 9' 4wt without ever casting it. I know, I broke the try-before-you-buy rule, but it worked out. I'll bet the 8-wt will be sweet, too, although most people buy a #8 for power, not so much for sweetness. Good luck in your search.
I have the 4 and the 6 and they are two of my favorites. I have many Winston's and these two are among the sweetest. The 6 is really smooth and in my opinion casts better than a lot of 700-800 dollar rods.
I have cast one but not fished it. However, I have a friend that prefers his to the BIIIx. My understanding is the basic difference is the gvx is using the same basic taper designs with graphite instead of the Boron Graphite mix.
Mr. Timd - I agree. Great value for a no-compromise, made in the USA rod. One more comment on the action of my 4 weight: the tip is very soft. Softer than my WT. It took a little getting used to at first because one of my favorite casting faults is to give the forward cast a little "extra" snap at the finish when I deliver the fly. If I do that with my GVX, I get the dreaded tailer, where my WT is a little more forgiving. That being said, that soft tip was magic when I was fishing small pocket water in the Smokies this fall. With 5 or 10' of line out it was like throwing darts! Didn't even have to think about it.