R.L. Winston Boron IIIx 9' 5-Weight Review
The Winston Boron IIIx follows in the footsteps of it's predecessor, the BIIX. Both are light, medium/fast-action rods that not only set the standard for construction and finish, but also cast as good as they look. When Winston started designing the new B3x they intended it to be faster and more powerful than the BIIX. They succeeded.
Here's the outfit we were casting:
2 5/8 Oz.
FIT AND FINISH
About as good (classy?) as it gets. They have a nice dark green finish, quality wraps, wonderful cork with solid nickle/aluminum reel seats. Buyers also have the option of the more traditional box elder reel seat, which I prefer. The reel seat was optimally constructed with two up-locking screws (aluminum used in the 7wt and up). 7-Weights on up also have a full wells grip. The small details like the quality of the stripping guide and the materials used in the top of the cork taper are what really stand out. Handwritten identification reminds you of it's American made roots and handmade construction.
I would say that about 80 percent of my casting is of medium range of 30-50 feet. So when I picked up the BIIIX and started doing what would be my "usual" casts, I was extremely impressed. I would describe it as a "soft-fast" action. Meaning that it seemed to have plenty of power at these ranges, but also maintained its feel. Longer distances is where I felt a difference, though. A stronger double-haul was necessary to achieve longer distances in the variable wind in which I was casting. This is where the BIIIX suffered. At longer distances there was a lot more work involved and less confidence in where the fly was going to land. Putting out more than 60 feet of line resulted in bigger, less accurate loops. The BIIIX's soft tip tracked noticeably worse at longer distances than either say the Sage ONE or Hardy Zenith.
Presentations at shorter distances were very good and delicate, again even in some decent wind. I casted up into the wind with decent loops and was able to present the fly quite delicately. Smooth. With it's softer feel, dry-fly presentation is ideal with the BIIIX. Feeling the rod load was very obvious and I felt less need to time my casts as I could feel it well. Yet, this same quality might give up points when trying to fish heavier flies or multiple fly nymph rigs. Although it's butt section with it's Boron construction is stiff, the mid and tip sections are softer which makes larger rigs seem a little sloppy while casting.
FLEX AND FEEL
Swing weight felt extremely light as well. Probably one of the lightest in it's class. Although without casting it, the BIIIX's tip felt very soft, it was noticeably stiffer than the earlier BIIX.
Not many rods are great for both dry flies and nymphing, the B3x is no exception. Although the solid Boron butt section felt good for fighting larger fish, casting and controlling a nymph rig would be tougher with the BIIIX that some other options. Also setting the hook on fish might prove more difficult with it's more forgiving tip section.
Streamer weights can differ drastically and the heavier you go, the less the BIIIX could handle them. Again, it's softer tip would make it more difficult fishing larger streamers or anything bigger than bead heads.
About as good as it gets. Dry fly presentation within 50 feet was effortless and deadly accurate. This is where the soft tip of the Winston really worked well. There was very little guessing as to where the fly was going to land and the ability to navigate delicate presentations even in some wind was easy.
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Price - $795
The Winston BIIIX is one of the best rods on the market. Not only are you buying top notch American handmade craftsmanship that sets the standard for finish, you are also getting one of the best casting rods on the market too. The stiffer mid and tip sections of the rod compared to it's earlier version BIIX give the new BIIIX better capability in wind, longer distances, and somewhat heavier flies. Although that classic Winston feel has been updated to be a faster more “modern” rod, it still might not be as stiff and fast as some of it's equally price competitors. One of the best dry fly rods I've casted, the Winston B3X is a certified option when considering the lot.
- Great for dry flies
- Very impressive accuracy at short and medium ranges
- Beautiful finish
- Made in the USA.
- Suffers some at longer distances
- Lacks some of the versatility of other 5-weights in its class.