Winston Pre IM6, IM6, & WT Reference

cooutlaw

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This Post was inspired by Lewis and others that requested I start a thread to share some of my experience with, and show, some "vintage" Winston rods.

I am by no means a Winston historian or expert, and my knowledge and experience come's strictly from my personal interaction with earlier Winston Staff and research along the way as I've enjoyed fishing and collecting some of their products.

In 1979, as still a teenager, I saved for and purchased my first Winston rod, which replaced the Heddon Bamboo and Shakespeare Wonder rod that I learned to fly fish with.

In 1985, around a long story involving a woman (girlfriend) and not being pulled up from AAA Baseball, my dog and I loaded up the truck with everything I owned and ventured to MT to become a fly fishing and bird hunting guide. It was at this time, that I sought out Tom Morgan and began to understand the history and people around the rod I fished. For the next couple years I interacted regularly on a social and friendship level with the Winston Staff as I worked in a guiding capacity around the greater MT geography.

During this period I began to acquire additional Winston rods and have continued to collect models of interest over the years.

I have recorded information that I have garnered through conversation and research to aid myself in time-lining periods of history and assist in my own personal collecting. The information I will share below has proven itself to be accurate to the best of my knowledge, but certainly not guaranteed, as my notes have come from many sources over the years.

The information pertains to Pre-IM6, IM6, and WT models of Winston...and the corresponding timelines and serial numbers of those specific rods. Myself having been most interested in Pre-IM6 and IM6 models, I am not providing information here to other models and it's important to note that serial #'s were not always sequential or intertwined within other models of rods. IE: a WT and BIIT made back to back didn't share sequential serial numbers. Also of note, much of my information has come from verbal and noted records that; I inquired about, heard from, or received in some form from Tom Morgan, Gerri his significant other, Glenn or Annette at Winston, and in most cases, these insights were from many, many, years ago.

Additionally, Winston had a forum for enthusiasts for many years, with some members being extremely knowledgeable- more so than I by far, and a forum Historian that kept records, if anyone here was a member of that forum, has data that conflicts with my records, or has additional knowledge, please do not hesitate to offer corrections or additional records.

I will also, time allowing, add to this post with requested pictures of some of my more obscure rods falling into these categories.

I know this is terribly long....but I hope this will be of benefit to the forum.

____________________________________________________________________

Timelines:

Tom Morgan purchased the company from Merrick in 1973, and a year later took on a partner to assist him with bamboo operations as he concentrated on the company’s fiberglass and initial graphite efforts.

In 1975, Winston offered a new line of 2 -piece graphite rods that met with great success.

In 1976, the decision was made to move the company from San Francisco to Twin Bridges, Montana and their original facility in order to be near the world-class trout fishing of the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Jefferson rivers .

A year later in 1977 2 & 3 piece rods were offered.

In 1991, Winston was bought by David Ondaatje who, over the next several years, worked closely with Tom Morgan to learn about Winston rod building and design.

In 1994, the company began rolling its own blanks, and a year later, moved to a new rod facility in Twin Bridges specifically designed for rod building and outfitted with state of the art equipment. Following the move, Winston introduced a number of industry-leading rod designs, including LT 5-piece trout rods and the first two series based on boron/graphite composite: BL5 and XTR.
__________________________________________________________________

Rod Era's:

Pre - late 1973 Winston San Fran offered Bamboo and Glass rods only

Late 1973-1974-Winston San Fran “ERA” rods (Leonard Blanks) Pre-Fisher (San Francisco era) graphite blanks were gray colored with green rod wrappings and yellow stripping on the butt section, which were furnished to Winston by H. L. Leonard (Central Valley, NY). These were **** and brittle and broke easily-not many left around…they fixed this need by moving to Fisher blanks.

Late 1974-1975 Winston San Fran pre-IM6- standard graphite rods (Fisher blanks)- # 0- roughly #1600 -GOLD trophy cup logo on rod- this is when they introduced the first “green” pre-IM6 graphite rods, which were produced by J. Kennedy Fisher and furnished to Winston until late 1987-1988

1976-1987 Winston Montana pre-IM6-standard graphite rods (Fisher blanks)- #1600- roughly #12,000 (#11,9XX)- GOLD Trophy cup-roughly #1600-#1900…..SILVER trophy cup logo on rod (#1900 started 1981 production) this is when the standard pre-IM6 trophy cup rods were made in Montana

1987-1988/89 Winston early IM6 w/Trophy cup logo (Loomis blanks) #12,000- roughly #15,000 (#14,7XX) – both IM6 and Trophy cup logo on rod- Next, Winston introduced rods made from the IM6 graphite composite, which were produced by G. Loomis until Winston began “rolling” their own blanks in late 1994. During the first Loomis IM6 production, they still labeled the rods with both IM6 and the Trophy cup- trying to win customers with new technology and please the old customers not wanting to lose their trophy cup status.

1989-1994/95 Winston IM6 (Loomis blanks) roughly #15,000 –roughly #43,500- IM6 on the rod- were all Loomis made blanks. All rods inscribed as IM6 beginning with serial # of approx 43500 were actually made at Winston and not at Loomis….however, the first 1200-1500 rods after #43,500 were from Loomis’s remaining Winston material and resins, then after that from the new WT graphite composite (just another almost identical blend of IM6 w/ same exact tapers (Winston Purchased Loomis’s equipment and all remaining material to start making their own), but then added their own “new” resin after that stock was depleated ) and came off Winston’s production line in early 1995 and beyond. Winston’s lifetime warranty also began with serial #43500. Winston did not change the “IM6″ moniker on the rods until 2001 when they officially introduced the new WT product line name.

1995-2001 Winston IM6 (own blanks) roughly #43,500- +/- #80,000 - IM6 on the rod- while producing rods from their new “house rolled” WT graphite composite, Winston also produced rods from the remaining inventory of random weight Loomis IM6 blanks left over that they had in stock. Because of this, some Loomis made blanks of various model configurations can be found with serial numbers as late as # 75,000 or even higher in more obscure sizes- many of these, to avoid confusion and know which blank was used for any warranty issues later, weren’t labeled at all (they had no IM6 and no WT on the rod-just the length and weight) I actually have one of these in a 7’ 2wt-3pc.

2001+ Winston WT (own blanks) roughly Serial #80,000 + WT on the rod
 

trout stalker

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Thank you for this information. Winston happens to be my rod of choice. In 1989 Tom Morgan created the TMF and only made 300 at the time. I am lucky enough to own one of the original 300 that has never been fished. A dear friend of mine had bought it and then sold it to me.
 
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sweetandsalt

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Those Leonard "Graphtec" rods snapped like twigs. A friend had his, unassembled, roll out of the trunk of his car at a fishing access site...and it broke. Leonard replaced it with Golden Shadow, a handsome rod with a blank by Diamondback in Vermont.
 

cooutlaw

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Trout Stalker - My pleasure. I am familiar with the original TMF run.....What serial number series is your 1989 run rod? Would you mind posting a picture of it for this Post?
 

planettrout

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Those Leonard "Graphtec" rods snapped like twigs. A friend had his, unassembled, roll out of the trunk of his car at a fishing access site...and it broke. Leonard replaced it with Golden Shadow, a handsome rod with a blank by Diamondback in Vermont.
I purchased a Leonard Graftek fly rod in 1975. It was a 8 1/2', 5-6wt. I got a lot of good use out of it before it suffered "catastrophic failure" and literally exploded at the ferrule on a large Brown in Robinson Creek in the Eastern Sierra in the early 80's...



This photo, with the SA System Reel and Arctic Creel was taken on the Lower Owens River in 1975...

That being said, the old Winston Forum was a resource of great information before Winston decided to remove it and go to a social platform on Facebook.


PT/TB
 

Redbrook

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I totally agree that the old Winston Forum was a source of great information and had many knowledgeable people who participated. To this day I am still puzzled by their decision to eliminate it. The Facebook page is a poor substitute at best which I never even bother to look at.
 

timd

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I was a member for many years along with some others here and also own way too many Winston rods. My collection starts around 1990 to present day and have my favorites and others that just were not quite as good. Some of the lesser known and less expensive models have ended up being favorites. My early IM6 models in 4 and 5 weights will always be classics and used when they fit the water and type of fishing I’m doing. Each series has its winners and losers and the trick has always been to find that rod that fits your casting style and fishing conditions. Winston as a company has always done a first class job building rod and taking care of their customers.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

NCAndy

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Interesting compilation. My TMF has a serial number of 17112. I bought it new in the late 80s though I can no longer remember the exact year. It is still the rod I treasure most, maybe because it was my first real trout rod, maybe because it has a touch of Winston magic in it.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thank you very much, cooutlaw, I'm sure that will be a great point of reference for many in the future.

May I ask, how sure are you of the ''late 1973'' attribution for the Leonard graphite blanks?
To the best of my knowledge, Fenwick introduced the first built, graphite rods (HMG) to the market in 1973, but only in spin and baitcasting models. The HMG fly models were introduced the following year, '74, and these are often mentioned as the first carbon fibre fly rods sold to the public.
This doesn't preclude Leonard's producing blanks in '73 of course, several companies were prototyping at this time, but if Winston were selling built-graphite in late 1973 it would suggest that they pipped Fenwick to the post!

Also, I'm unclear about a couple of things:

Late 1973-1974-Winston San Fran “ERA” rods (Leonard Blanks) Pre-Fisher (San Francisco era) graphite blanks
I'm reading this as possibly saying that a) the Winston/Leonards, built in San Fran, had the model name ''ERA'' or, more likely, ''Winston/Leonard Rods [of the] (San Francisco era), Pre-Fisher (San Francisco era) ....."
While I doubt 'a)' I'd like to be sure of 'b)'. :)

And;

1976-1987 Winston Montana pre-IM6-standard graphite rods (Fisher blanks)- #1600- roughly #12,000 (#11,9XX)- GOLD Trophy cup-roughly #1600-#1900…..SILVER trophy cup logo on rod (#1900 started 1981 production) this is when the standard pre-IM6 trophy cup rods were made in Montana
Other than indicating batches, was there a qualitative difference between 'Gold Trophy Cup' and 'Silver Trophy Cup' logo'd rods (different composite, superior fittings, etc.)?
Thanks again.

Edit: In the hope that cooutlaw and others might be able to add something, I thought I'd offer a link to a thread on early Phenix fly rods. Like Winston's IM6, Phenix's IM6/Boron blanks were made by G.Loomis to their own specs. Any info about this maker welcome.
 
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moucheur2003

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In 1994, the company began rolling its own blanks, and a year later, moved to a new rod facility in Twin Bridges specifically designed for rod building and outfitted with state of the art equipment. ...

All rods inscribed as IM6 beginning with serial # of approx 43500 were actually made at Winston and not at Loomis….however, the first 1200-1500 rods after #43,500 were from Loomis’s remaining Winston material and resins, then after that from the new WT graphite composite (just another almost identical blend of IM6 w/ same exact tapers (Winston Purchased Loomis’s equipment and all remaining material to start making their own), but then added their own “new” resin after that stock was depleated ) and came off Winston’s production line in early 1995 and beyond. Winston’s lifetime warranty also began with serial #43500. Winston did not change the “IM6″ moniker on the rods until 2001 when they officially introduced the new WT product line name.

1995-2001 Winston IM6 (own blanks) roughly #43,500- +/- #80,000 - IM6 on the rod- while producing rods from their new “house rolled” WT graphite composite, Winston also produced rods from the remaining inventory of random weight Loomis IM6 blanks left over that they had in stock. Because of this, some Loomis made blanks of various model configurations can be found with serial numbers as late as # 75,000 or even higher in more obscure sizes- many of these, to avoid confusion and know which blank was used for any warranty issues later, weren’t labeled at all (they had no IM6 and no WT on the rod-just the length and weight) I actually have one of these in a 7’ 2wt-3pc.

2001+ Winston WT (own blanks) roughly Serial #80,000 + WT on the rod
If I am hearing you right, I think you are agreeing with Winston's claim (and disagreeing with some WT scoffers) that there should be no real difference between the IM6 and the WT versions of the same taper. Although the earlier ones were rolled under contract by Loomis and the later ones in-house by Winston, both versions were rolled on the same equipment, to the same specs, using virtually the same material. Is that correct? Or were the differences in the older and newer batches of carbon fiber and resin significant enough to distinguish the Loomis blanks from the Winston ones in any meaningful way?
 

cooutlaw

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Lewis, in this instance "ERA" or "era" is meant to be designating a period of time- The San Fran manufacturing Leonard period and Fisher period. Leonard being pre-Fisher. I am quite sure the original Leonard blanks were sourced and they began rod production late 1973...my notes indicate their arrival late Sept of that year, I have the notes because it was an area of great Angst, and a first large mistake and learning curve experience for Tom Morgan as the new owner of the company-he held nothing back of it being...an inherited "sore spot" for him if you will. By early 1974 the issues were apparent and by mid 1974 the Fisher solution was well underway. The Green Color appeared on the new rods with Fisher blanks...to insure there was absolutely no mistaking them for the previous Leonard rods and separate Winston from affiliation entirely moving forward. As to whether or not they entered market with the Leonard blanks ahead of anyone like Fenwick, I do not know....and am not familiar with any of timing around who entered when other than Winston. Tom was not the kind of guy that would care about being first to market with anything...he loved technology, but, more so, was in continuous, perpetual, pursuit of process improvement and quality of product....a visionary and inventor of sorts, he would have thought first to market was simply a rush to bake the cake. There were no differences in the gold cup vs silver cup logo rods in the Fisher blanks....gold cup was a carry-over from San Fran manufacturing and Silver Cup became the standard once situated in Montana....you will also note the "cup" logo was transitioned to the ongoing Winston Logo which remained silver.
 

cooutlaw

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If I am hearing you right, I think you are agreeing with Winston's claim (and disagreeing with some WT scoffers) that there should be no real difference between the IM6 and the WT versions of the same taper. Although the earlier ones were rolled under contract by Loomis and the later ones in-house by Winston, both versions were rolled on the same equipment, to the same specs, using virtually the same material. Is that correct? Or were the differences in the older and newer batches of carbon fiber and resin significant enough to distinguish the Loomis blanks from the Winston ones in any meaningful way?
The equipment was purchased and brought in house....the tapers are indeed proven to be identical, however, once they ran out of Loomis material and resin, they used their supplier to obtain both fiber cloth and resin, the resin was new, I have no idea how identical the graphite was, I believe the previous resin used was changed by all makers around this same timeframe- Loomis included.(so maybe the original Loomis blank resin maker was acquired or went defunct or maybe the new resin was better- I do not know)....I know some debate the "identical" nature of IM6 vs WT, because of the blank change of Loomis rolled vs in house rolled, I think there are likely some small differences, but probably more from the material updates than the roller of the blanks, as the taper rods used were the originals. The other aspect, is that the IM6's are mostly now aged and "seasoned" and may be getting compared against a new less used WT. My personal believe, for what it's worth, is the resin/material change made the rods ever so slightly a bit less deep flexing, which in certain models may have actually helped to stabilize them, on other models maybe took away just a touch of the Loomis blanked magic. Not all IM6 models were great rods, changing resin, didn't fix that, and the WT version wasn't great either. But the GREAT IM6 models, still remained great in the WT. That said, I have a couple WT's that are the same configurations as my IM6's and casting them side by side and back to back...if you did not look at the rod, it would be extremely difficult to tell which is which by feel. I will say, the older and lower the serial number IM6, the more likely it is to feel a difference vs WT....is this just age or blank difference or resin? I truly don't know. There was also the variable of staff.....not the same folks building the WT's as built the Cups and IM6's....that could also be a piece of the puzzle. Fisher vs Loomis, Loomis vs WT, they all had their own personalities if you will.
 

sweetandsalt

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I'm a bit hesitant to post here as I do believe outlaw to be far more intimate with the Winston company than am I. I know there is a substantive difference between who rolls the blank as well as from what. Loomis was not much of a blank taper designer (the great G.Loomis rods starting with IMX are Steve Rajeff rods) but he was/may still be a pioneering blank fabricator that few, including modern Winston can emulate. The guy at the rolling table is right up there with the person who designs that tapers.

If I see him at Edson I will ask Ted Simroe about when Leonard introduced Graftek, I though it was about 1975 and am fairly confident Fenwick HMG was first. Simreo may know more about working with Boron than any rod designer and while not first was surly the pioneering developer with Rodon. His view evolved to deciding Boron filaments area a poor rod building material which are abrasive and heavy and can cut adjacent carbon fibers...I've long wondered out loud why, starting with Sam Druckman under new Winston ownership, Boron was used to reinforce the butt setons of new series rather than design itself. It is my opinion that there are two Winston's (leaving SF aside) Morgan/Brackett and David O. and not even the green color is the same. My wife has a post Morgan WT3 8 1/2'/#6 that is a rod she likes and I have a BIIx I detest. I've tried many through BIIIx some of which are OK none great and now, with a new man in Twin, AIR and Pure. I'm holding out optimism but they have a hill to climb that has been surmounted already by others. Not to mention they have to loose that globular, awful thread finish that Morgan/Brackett would hardly have tolerated.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Thanks, cooutlaw. I'm clear about the 'era' and logos now. :)

I am quite sure the original Leonard blanks were sourced and they began rod production late 1973...my notes indicate their arrival late Sept of that year,
Well, that's fascinating and re-writes the history books regarding graphite fly rods! You should record your notes for posterity, Sir.


Forgive me, please, as I don't mean to be argumentative, just to understand better. You say:
(from the op) ..... which were furnished to Winston by H. L. Leonard (Central Valley, NY). These were **** and brittle and broke easily-not many left around…they fixed this need by moving to Fisher blanks.
and
I have the notes because it was an area of great Angst, and a first large mistake and learning curve experience for Tom Morgan as the new owner of the company - he held nothing back of it being...an inherited "sore spot" for him if you will. By early 1974 the issues were apparent and by mid 1974 the Fisher solution was well underway..... Tom was not the kind of guy that would care about being first to market with anything...he loved technology, but, more so, was in continuous, perpetual, pursuit of process improvement and quality of product....a visionary and inventor of sorts, he would have thought first to market was simply a rush to bake the cake.
So, did Mr. Morgan inherit the Leonard graphite blank contract from the previous owners, Merrick, and then find them problematic? Or did he initiate the order himself only to find the rods too fragile once actually in use?
It's perhaps worth mentioning that the first HMGs had a bad reputation for breaking, too, in those early days. As Gary Loomis said of his '74 Lamiglas rods, ''I wasn't trying to sell rods .... I was trying to sell Graphite!", it's initial reputation was so poor.
 

cooutlaw

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Lewis, it is my understanding, from conversations of the past, That Merrick had contact with Leonard and were in "discussion" about the new material being worked on....(I do not know whether Leonard had pitched Merrick or Merrick had sought Leonard, and I doubt there is anyone left alive that could answer that for us) and as Tom Morgan was acquiring the company the source was passed into his ownership as a potential next step....which he obviously pursued and was then very disappointed with the outcome, which caused a rather frantic search for a solution. I believe, as Loomis noted, Leonard was also trying to sell Graphite, and probably rushed to market with graphite being laid up like fiberglass had historically been, only to discover the manufacturing process required a different expertise. Again, I can only say, as stated in the beginning post, my notes are, to only the best of my knowledge, factual and derived from many sources over a great many years...it is quite possible that bits were lost in the translations or timelines skewed, but I have not to this point in time had any conflicting facts or details arrive contradicting the gatherings I have. I would certainly welcome them if anyone would have any contrary data available.
 

Ard

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This thread looks to be one that should be 'Stuck' atop the Fly Rods sub forum for easy access when not active. I'll do that soon as I post. I have only 2 Winston rods and both are fairly old. Both are 15 foot rods, one a 10/11 and the other a 7/8 that uses a 600 grain line. The 15 foot DBS 7/8 has stood the test of time and people still look for them. They are a couple ounces heavier that the latest offerings but are still enjoyable to use.

That's the extent of my Winston experience but now the thread is stuck :)
 

cooutlaw

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I'm a bit hesitant to post here as I do believe outlaw to be far more intimate with the Winston company than am I. I know there is a substantive difference between who rolls the blank as well as from what. Loomis was not much of a blank taper designer (the great G.Loomis rods starting with IMX are Steve Rajeff rods) but he was/may still be a pioneering blank fabricator that few, including modern Winston can emulate. The guy at the rolling table is right up there with the person who designs that tapers.

If I see him at Edson I will ask Ted Simroe about when Leonard introduced Graftek, I though it was about 1975 and am fairly confident Fenwick HMG was first. Simreo may know more about working with Boron than any rod designer and while not first was surly the pioneering developer with Rodon. His view evolved to deciding Boron filaments area a poor rod building material which are abrasive and heavy and can cut adjacent carbon fibers...I've long wondered out loud why, starting with Sam Druckman under new Winston ownership, Boron was used to reinforce the butt setons of new series rather than design itself. It is my opinion that there are two Winston's (leaving SF aside) Morgan/Brackett and David O. and not even the green color is the same. My wife has a post Morgan WT3 8 1/2'/#6 that is a rod she likes and I have a BIIx I detest. I've tried many through BIIIx some of which are OK none great and now, with a new man in Twin, AIR and Pure. I'm holding out optimism but they have a hill to climb that has been surmounted already by others. Not to mention they have to loose that globular, awful thread finish that Morgan/Brackett would hardly have tolerated.
Ted Simroe will likely be a great source S&S, If not mistaken, I believe he began serial # ing Leonard Bamboo in about 1969 +/-..... somewhere around the fire timeline?. It would be nice to know for sure, but it is my understanding that Leonard's graphite operations sold blanks to other makers first, and then marketed their own line....using others as the guinea pigs and then allocating the proceeds from the blank sales to launch their own series....which obviously kind of backfired on everyone along the way.....I'd love to know the inside scoop on that if Ted knows.

And, I believe you are spot on about the variance of craftsman creating the blank being a substantial contributing factor to differences as much as anything else....resin changes and thickness of application, matting/fiber/weave material variance, and even finish quality- thicker wraps- coating changing rod flex- combination of any of these in multiples only amplifies the change. I've always been told building fly rod's is 20% design, 20% materials, 20% craftsmanship, 20% art form, and 20% Luck. That is probably more accurate than we'd suspect.
 
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Lewis Chessman

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That's all invaluable, cooutlaw. It's often the little details which best illuminate the greater picture. Honestly, it's a privilege to be able to discuss them with someone who experienced these events first hand - and your provisos are happily accepted.

It would be fantastic if sweet&salt could talk to Ted Simroe on our behalf. From a draft of a thread on Rodon rods I've been working on ....

Ted Simroe had previously been part-owner and Vice President of H. L. Leonard Co., where he was Chief Rod Designer and Production Manager (Sept. 1967 – April 1976)
That covers this very period perfectly! Here's hoping ....

Perhaps s&s could also ask him where I might obtain a #4 Borkast line, too? ;)
 

Lewis Chessman

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This thread looks to be one that should be 'Stuck' atop the Fly Rods sub forum for easy access when not active.
Ard, may I suggest that the new 'Vintage Tackle Discussion' forum would benefit from this thread's presence? It would be good to see as the first sticky there and would help make that forum a focal point for 'classic carbon' discussion. The CFR forum forbid 'plastic chat' no matter what the quality and the FFRF are helpful but it's not really their bag. It would be great if the NAFFF's 'Vintage Tackle Discussion' forum could become the web's primary resource for early carbon rod information - as well as other ''vintage tackle'', of course. There really isn't anywhere better at present but the new forum could use some bolstering, I feel, and this thread is ideal.
 

cooutlaw

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Lewis, I just went through my notes again at length...for your end 1973 question, just to be doubly sure.....and it does, again, show to be accurate - I cross referenced the following known events and by calendar dating it shows to be accurate....as you say....often the devil is in the details......Known events....Winston moved into Twin May 1976 from San Fran.... Leonard Blanks were used in San Fran for 8-9 months 2 versions, both showing failure... Fisher Blanks replaced them and were used in San Fran for roughly 20 months of production without incident before the move....This means at or about Jan/Feb 1974 Winston production with Leonard blanks was in swing in San Fran....which aligns almost perfectly with the record of first blanks arriving end of Sept 1973...Winston Leonard production over 8-9 months and then Fisher production #'s over 20 months in San Fran along with the timeline of the move to Twin in May 1976....again, confirms by calendar dating, it really couldn't have been any other way. Unless someone has contrary information to this....I do believe it to be factual and accurate. Otherwise we wouldn't see the great San Fran Fisher blank produced rods we have today and Winston would have had to have started those in MT..... after the 8-9 month Leonard flop. There simply weren't enough years in between to be otherwise.
 
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