Apr 21, 2014

Winston BIIIx 590 Rod Review

Rod Review, Winston 590-4 BIIIX
I haven't bought a high end trout rod for a long time for two reasons: 1) they're expensive 2) haven't found one I liked. So, this year I upped my game and added a couple of Winston BIIIX rods to my trout quiver. So what changed my mind? Winston, of course! For some time, the trend for new fly rods has been lighter and faster. Translation: not very much fun to fish, think “broomstick.” To me, a rod should fish as well as it should cast and I think the folks at RL Winston Fly Rods agree. 

First off, I'm not a wine connoisseur but I like wine and I can tell the difference between good and not so good. What I can't do is say the wine has hints of alder or a floral...I'm the same guy with fly rods. Now, I’ve been casting a fly rod since I was eleven years old, that’s 1981, and I’m a pretty good fisherman but a tournament caster I’m not. All that said, for me a rod should first and foremost fish well. Fishing well means bending when you hook a fish, it should feel good to hook and fight a fish. Most of the trout rods I've encountered could cast a mile but sucked to fight fish on so away they go and here I sit with the old Sage DS rods.

So where am I going with all of this? Let’s back up, I’m talking about a 590, pretty much the 30-06 of trout rods, a nine footer for five weight line. The do it all utility rod has to handle fish from six inches to twenty inches and even an occasional summer steelhead. The 30-06 can make a delicate presentation with a size 24 midge out in the desert and still chuck an indicator rig through nuclear wind storms on the Deschutes.


I was shaking rods a while back at the Gorge Fly Shop when I picked up the 590 BIIIX, I knew right away I was in love. Not knowing whether this new love would last I got the 690 BIIIX as well, just in case things get rocky down the road. I called the local Airflo guy, and talked about lining these rods up for my upcoming trout season on the Deschutes. After a nice chat it was the Airflo Exceed for both rods (more on the lines next time). I had a couple of Sage Click IV reels sitting around and after some running line discrimination I was ready to go.

Rewind to last week. Eastern Oregon, Owyhee River, 21 CFS, big bruiser German browns pooled up and getting picked on. They could see me and I could see them, not good! This wasn’t my destination; it was a road to nowhere trip. I stopped at the Malheur River but it was much too low to fish and rumor had it Mann Lake was dry. So here I am with my Deschutes box and my Deschutes rod fishing the most discriminate fish I have ever seen. I mean it! These fish were cruising and feeding all day, midges, midges and more midges. Did I mention these fish average 18-20 inches? Guess what I didn’t have? You got it, no midges and here’s why that matters in this conversation. I fished every fly in the box. I fished dries, I fished indicators, I pulled buggers, I pulled bead heads and basically put the 590 through all the paces. This is the first new generation rod that I’ve liked, easy and smooth casting no matter the bug or the leader length, an absolute pleasure to fish. Now that’s not to say I didn’t booger up a few casts, my fault not the rod but it was minimal.

Yes, I caught some fish, lost some fish, broke some fish off, but this rod’s a winner. The 690 never made it out…next time.



So, my grade on this rod is A+ and here’s why:
  • Easy to cast, easy to fish, progressive, light tip
  • It cast everything in my box
  • Able to make delicate close range casts
  • Able to generate great line speeds and easily reach 60 feet straight into the wind
  • The same Winston green, unchanged
  • Great new rod case, also pretty green
  • A joy to play fish on, it flexes
  • Honestly, I can’t think of a single complaint


Sam Sickles
Steelhead Outfitters


"Fly Fish the World with Us"



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