My belief is that it was Tom Morgan with input from bamboo guru Glenn Bracket that designed the WT's. These rods slowly and carefully evolved during the process of having blanks custom fabricated by quality suppliers until Winston eventually started rolling their own. These are the rods, especially in 8'/#4 and 8 1/2'/#5&6, that made many a trout angler fall in love with carefully crafted, modest actioned, rich green rods made in a tin shack on a back ally in Twin Bridges. Contemporary Winston, wisely, continues to build WT models and the real thing is still made by Tom Morgan Rodsmiths. Whenever I see Glenn, and I hope I will in a couple weeks from now, I try to encourage him to add a graphite rod building addition to Sweetgrass...he resounds with his wise, gentle smile and encourages me to order a cane rod from him.
From what I can tell that's accurate. On the Holy Water of the Ausable the 8 1/2' WT rods in 4-5-6 are pretty much considered all you'd ever need and I agree. They are GREAT small stream rods and as good as anything in their class for that type of inside 40' presentations. And the IM6 blank rods are lusted after to this day.
The B IIx in 9-6 was a great dry fly rod. It just couldn't do anything else. but the B IIx's were definitely a step up in performance in the 9' plus rods over the WT's. And the 4-5-6 BIIx in the 9 were nice rods, but they still couldn't lift enough for their size. But I had a friend who had a the 9-8 BIIx (I owned one myself for a short time) and claimed it was a great "calm day" bonefish rod. All I could thing of was What is this calm day bonefish thing?
I threw a B IIIx 9-5 at the MI fly show and it folded past 60' for my casting stroke. Which in fairness is a long cast for fishing with a 9-5, but it didn't have near the reserve of the Zenith, Z-Axis, or Radian.
And I concur with Burk's evaluations. I'll add two points: 1. The maker of those beloved Winston IM6 blanks was G.Loomis. Though they are a techno-step or two ahead material-wise and they are not green, today's Loomis StreamDance GLX rods offer a lot of what those earlier Morgan IM6 rods had with the addition of reserve power they famously lacked. The 8 1/2'/#4 StreamDance is a heck of a fine rod...even if Moses did not pick it on the Mount. 2. Sam Druckman was not a saltwater fly fisher. After splitting from Winston (his idea) he briefly worked at the other end of town with the boo boys at Sweetgrass making Sweetgrass branded graphite rods. For fun, he built me a prototype #8 bonefish rod. It incorporated several clever bonefish related ideas in titanium reel seat, a blend of guide types and featured Sweetgrass-grade finish work in a class far exceeding anything Winston has done for decades now. I immediately whisked it off to Acklins Island in the southern Bahamas where we all admired its understated, high quality beauty and its super smooth flexing action. And it threw a nice line too as long as there was no wind...no wind at all. A relative absence of low end reserve power precluded this rod from driving line, oh, it could cast line but not accelerate it into a breeze and windless days on the saltwater flats are just not common occurrences.
Like this 9'/#8, a 9'/#5 is often called upon to make a gentle presentation at 35'. Also like an 8-weight, a #5 sometimes is called upon to generated a tight looped 65' presentation across a current to a riser on the far bank. It never occurred to me that a responsive tipped, enjoyable to cast rod like the Zenith or Z-Axis mentioned in Burk's post above were in anyway handicapped by also possessing ample reserve power in their lower tapers. But my BIIx #4 and many of the fist generation Helios rods, among others were handicapped intolerably by not possessing it.
Fantastic series. I own Winston IM6 8'6"5 wght two piece that is by several opinions one of 10 celebrate rods in trout fishing. By serial number it is GLoomis IM6 rolled blank. I recently obtained from The Feathered Hook in Coburn Pa three rods from estate of late Bill Frank who fondly is remembered as rod builder, metal craftsman , for LLBean , and others. All three rods are GLoomis IM6 blanks. The 8'6" 5 two piece is similar to Winston in swing weight but is a sibling with more butt strength . Slightly stiffer but still medium fast. I bet taper is more aligned with the GLoomis Streamdance GLX . Need to get my friend Mike Mcfarland to Mike the two blanks. The Bill Frank 's rods are all handcrafted metal slide bands or unlocking reel seat with amazing aesthetics . Not. meant to hijacking .
I wish I knew what I'm doing wrong. I have a few BIIx's in different line weights and they just plain work for me.
Maybe I should ruin the action of them by using a crutch line that is overweight then I can witness first-hand the softness and propensity to fold that others have mentioned.
Or maybe I should use the force needed to make stiff rods behave and act like fly rods but really, with my easy casting stroke I get 100' out of a plain old 9', 5wt. BIIx. On the other hand when using very light tippet for small flies and big fish I can land the fish rather quickly without losing them to straightened hooks or busted tippet. That's the kind of range the old Loomis GLX classics had that were my go-to rods for years.
The first BIIx I got was a 9', 6 wt. and as I do with every rod I test I tried it with the line I would like to use and at normal every day fishing distances. It felt so good at 20-30' right away I thought it had no starch and couldn't possibly handle a long cast. 2 or 3 hauls later the entire line was draped across the road with backing knots clicking through the guides. That was something that was pretty much unheard of back in the day when most rods were one-dimensional in their abilities. You got either fast rods and slowed them down with crutch lines or softer rods that couldn't hold up to the heat of a long cast. Winston (whoever the heck designed them) hit it right with the BIIx and now most every big name maker has rangy rods. I feel the secret to making the BIIx work is to tip cast for short casts then work your way down the blank to where the meat is for throwing distance. When doing so the tip simply gets out of the way and like a good 8 speed, dual clutch transmission it seamlessly shifts as more power is needed.
Horsing these rods brings about all sorts of issues such as tails or collapsed casts. I find myself doing that sometimes when I really try to push the rod past its and my comfort zone. When I relax and let the tool do its job it works and works quite well.
I can name at least 4 people who bought 8.5’, 4 weight BIIx’s after trying mine, true story. Maybe those rods should have come with a re-education program to wean people of the habit of using brute force to get the job done. Even back when the BIIx was fresh and were part of a very popular 5 weight shoot-out I read the revues thinking those doing the testing had their own expectations of what a good fly rod should do. For them, they were right in their choices but I’m not so sure one-size-fits-all when it comes to desirable fly rod characteristics.
I will say this though, when you do find the rod that becomes an extension of your arm it's a wonderful thing indeed. I think 'Oh what a feeling' has been taken but it applies here too.
My experience is simular to Jackster. The Bllx 6 for me is it! I have fished just about everything out there and currently own a ton of great rods but this rod for my casting stroke is perfect. The key thing here is " for my casting stroke" . The closest to this rod is the 6 GVX IMHO. I have learned over 50 years of this stuff to let the rod do the work not my shoulder. I believe in the Bllx line of rods like all others there are winners and losers. The 6 is a winner for me. Didn't care for some of the others, like the 5, which other people love. I believe we all need to work more on our casting stroke and find the rods that work best with that style of casting.
I have a few BIIx's in different line weights and they just plain work for me.
Same here. My B2x 6-weight does everything well; big and small dries, tandem nymphs and streamers. I seldom need to cast more than 50 feet or so anyway so I probably never miss the lack of "reserve power." My main trout rods are older IM6 4- and 5-weight Winstons, and I find the B2x 6-weight to be the perfect complement when I need extra reach or power to handle wind and bigger flies.
I have since my last post fallen in love with a 7' 3wt WT. Find it to be my go to rod almost every time I fish. all of mine are 3 year or newer Winston rods, still out of all rods I own I like my WT's
I love my 7 1/2' three weight WT, and it cast surprisingly far for a three weight in zero wind, but I use it primarily on small water situations. I have the equally sweet 9' four weight Scott G for bigger water - bigger fish.
I wish, when I had the opportunity to choose, that I had selected the much revered BIIx #6 instead of the #4 which disappoints me so. It is true that within a given model series there can be standouts and also rans. Just yesterday morning I met a knowledgeable man on the river that was not fishing it...it was windy and the water was high so he had his Sage...but showed me his preferred BIIx 9'/#6 in his truck (I was not in my critic mode but fishing so I smiled and complimented its color). I had my trusty old Gary Loomis IMX 9 1/2'/#6 rigged; a fine streamer rod still with plenty of low end grunt.
Jackster, if you have an old GLX (original) 8 1/2'/#4 still in your possession, dig it out, string it up with a straight #4 Expert Distance Taper and compare it to the same size BIIx...then let us know what you think.