Winston BIII-SX: First Fishing Trip

My previous post on casting the Winston BIII-SX (see post here) came after my fist afternoon casting session in my backyard. Since then, I’ve had a chance to cast it more in the backyard; experimenting with different reels for balance; and got my first time with it on the water – using it during an Introduction to Beach Fishing Course (see post here)

I’ll say this with no hesitation: the BIII-SX 9’ 6” 6 weight is a wonderful casting rod with plenty of power, and with the fishing soul of every other Winston.

First on the choice of reel. After a bit of experimentation I decided the Galvan Torque T-6 reel was the best match. Coming in at 5.2 ounces, it gave me a balanced feel in the hand. I had tried a couple of older reels I still had and a Nautilus FW8 7/8 (4.1 ounces), but in each case the rod felt tippy in my hand. That’s not a slam on the Nautilus reels; I use them on my BIIIX and find the lighter weight a great match for lighter rods.

One point to consider is that both the Galvan and Nautilus reels were loaded with SA Mastery GPX 6-weight for the comparison; what I might have thought had I made the comparison with the line I used on the water I can’t say. I suspect the Nautilus would have been a bit better balanced given the extra volume of backing. I may test that at some point.

In terms of the line I used on the water, I went with the recommendation I got in the Introduction to Beach Fishing Course and rigged it with an Airflo Forty Plus Intermediate Fly Line. This is a great line for beach fishing; with its semi-translucent head that sinks at 1.5 inches per second, it tends to float just beneath the surface on the windy conditions of Puget Sound.

One thing I did learn in the class was that a stripping basket made all the difference in terms of line management of intermediate lines. Without it, there was too much drag from line in the water.

As far as casting the rod on the water, I found the elusive groove.

One of the challenges I’ve had since I starting fly-casting is learning to not overpower the cast. I’ve had glimmers of doing it right, but nothing consistent from cast to cast.
Even in my first session in the backyard and the first few casts on the beach with BIII-SX I was doing the same thing.

Then I started to experiment and things got much better. What I found was the rod’s obvious power allowed me to slow down my cast and let the rod do the work. I felt like I was casting better than I had before. Blake, our guide and instructor, came by twice and complimented me on the way both the back casts and forward casts were rolling out in straight lines. After that, it didn’t matter if I caught any fish– the confidence of his compliments made my day.

We had a bit of wind from the left (I’m a right-handed caster) and I had no trouble in keeping the line moving in the direction I wanted. I could vary my cast to see how the rod handled it and most casts felt easy and relaxed.

I gave the rod to Blake for a demonstration of double hauling (something I still have to learn) and he easily got the line out to some distance, showing me what this rod’s capability in the hands of a great caster.

Did it turn me into an expert caster? Of course not. I have to much to learn and need to get miles under my casting belt. But the concerns I had about whether this was a rod I could grow into were dispelled within the first hour on the water.

I can’t wait to get out with it next time I go chasing sea-run cutthroat trout.

First Casts with Winston BIII-SX

Finally, I got a nice day for a first casting session with my 9’6” 6-weight Winston BIII-SX. The rod, as the day, did not disappoint.

The day was pleasant for early March – sunny and relatively warm (high 50’s) with no wind. I could have gotten out any time in the last month after I had the rod delivered, but who wants to stand in the rain on a cold, windy day and cast across a muddy backyard?

A first experience is always what it is. But when possible it’s always better to stack the odds for success rather than failure. Most life experiences begin with excitement mixed with trepidation as the expectation turns into reality. That in itself is enough; other factors that can be avoided, should be: a flat tire on a first date; spilling coffee during an interview with a potential employer; or having rain pour down the arm through a loose cuff while casting a fly rod for the first time.

And a warm sunny day seemed to be to the ticket. Not having to deal with layers and outerwear was something worth waiting for. I managed about 20 minutes with the rod – not long as I wanted, but about all I had given the day’s schedule.

As to the rod and how it cast? It’s a Winston: different than the BIIIX, but still a Winston in looks, feel, and casting.

The components are Winston quality. They require almost no comment. This is a beautiful green stick. I’ve read some complaints about the black anodized aluminum reel seat, but I don’t what the complaints are. I thought it looked terrific – particularly with the script R.L. Winston on the seat.

This post is what I’d call initial impressions given the limited time I’d spent casting and in the condition I cast it. It won’t be called a review until I spend much more time with the rod and in more conditions..

I was using an old Orvis large-arbor reel with a similarly old SA Mastery GPX 6 weight line with an Umpqua practice leader; I keep those for casting in the backyard and keep my Nautilus reels for use on water. I didn’t check rod/reel balance this time – I was just in a hurry to get out and cast. The rod/reel combination felt comfortable and I didn’t notice any issue with balance.

My first cast was made with about 20 feet of line stripped out. I had no problem getting the line to load the tip – but the tip was all that loaded – and make a reasonable-looking pick up and lay down cast. I say reasonable to focus on any limitation being mine, not the rod.

I began to shoot line and without hauling (something I still have to pick up) was making 50-60 foot casts with little problem. The cast tracked well, with me being able to put the fly where I aimed.

I watched my back cast on every cast for this first session to know when to begin my forward cast as well as to watch the rod tip, which is something I no longer do with my BIIX. I have the feeling a bit more practice and I’ll be able to do that with the BIII-SX.

I had never cast the BIII-MX so I can’t offer any comparison. Other early reviews I’ve read suggest the BIII-SX is a smoother cast than the MX. I can only say it’s faster than the BIIIX. By how much, and how it comparatively handles wind, is something I still have to discover.

My deltoid was bit sore after I finished – much more noticeable than when casting my BIII-X 5-weight. That could be to the almost five months from when I was last out on the Yakima river, or it could be due to the stiffer feel of the rod (I’d noticed similar sensations when casting a Sage One).

My casting is a work in progress, and as my technique improves along with more casting this year, that should problem should go away.

I bought this rod for use on the beach this year, fishing for Puget Sound cutthroat trout. With a more practice to learn how the rod behaves – as well as polishing my casting skills, I should be ready.