#10-tie R.L. Winston BIIIx 9 foot #8 $895.00
After casting the BIII Plus at ICAST I really felt that this new rod was going to be the best 8-weight for Winston. But in casting these two rods heads up in our shootout, the big difference was the much lighter swing weight of the BIIIx. This made it a much more pleasant rod to cast. But the Plus is definitely better at longer distances so for many anglers, especially anglers with bonefish in mind, the stiffer Plus will be a better choice.
The Winston rods are perhaps the most beautiful rods in our Shootout, finished in a gorgeous emerald green. The craftsmanship is really almost as good as Scott and Orvis. The one thing that I noticed and downgraded Winston on was the coating over the wraps. These are too heavy and need improvement. The coatings on the lowly Mystic Reaper are better. I’d also like to see them ditch the hard chrome snake guides and go with the more expensive unbreakable nickel/titanium snake guides that are used by Scott, Orvis and Loomis. Winston's cork handles have always been superb. A full wells grip is used. The reel seat is a stout silver anodized aluminum double uplocking seat with easy to grip rings.
The guides are two SiC strippers followed by the hard chrome snake guides.
George’s casting notes:
Performance at 35 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
Surprisingly the heavier BIII Plus was more accurate in close. The BIIIx's lighter swing weight felt a lot better though.
Performance at 60 feet: 18.5 points out of 20
OK, but could use a little more punch and power, again the Plus edged it out.
Performance at 80 feet: 18 points out of 20
Just OK but nothing to write home about. Many other rods were much better at long range.
Performance at 100 feet: 17 points out of 20
I’m going to say no for most casters. A maybe if you have a good tail wind.
#9 R.L. Winston BIIIx 9’#8 $845 71.5/80
This rod would actually be a great rod for someone who wants to take it easy, has a shoulder injury, or just enjoys a softer rod for sight fishing in close. For aggressive anglers who want to push the limits, the BIII Plus is clearly the better rod. Still, the BIIIx has amazing feel and is very fun to fish in close, much like the H2. The craftsmanship and fit and finish are as good as it gets, I can’t think of a more beautiful rod (other than the BIII Plus).
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 points out of 20 This rod feels amazing at 35 feet. I’m able to deliver with delicacy, making this a great weapon for spooky fish. Although this rod felt as good as any, I thought the Meridian and H2 had the slightest edge in terms of accuracy.
Performance at 60 feet: 19 points out of 20 Again this rod has great feel! It has ample power to hit 60 feet and feels nice and light while doing it.
Performance at 80 feet: 17 points out of 20 The BIIIx doesn’t quite have enough power to hang with the big dogs at 80 feet. Dito in the wind.
Hit the Hun? 16 points out of 20 I was trying hard but really struggled with this rod to hit 100 feet. Even if I got close accuracy was out the window.
Capt. Jamie Allen:
#13 (tie) R.L. Winston Boron IIIx
Both the Echo and LTS felt a little clunky compared to the BIIIx. The LTS looks like some of the fiberglass rods that are making a comeback. The cork on the Echo felt really fat in my hand. The rods reached out to 80’ pretty easy but lost accuracy. The hardware for the Echo and LTS are just so-so for salt water. The Winston winning out in that department. The Winston BIIIx's action is just a little too soft for aggresive casting, but might make a good rod for learning salt water anglers as it is easy to feel.
Capt. Skip Zink:
#6 (tie) R.L. Winston Boron IIIx 56.5 /60