Winston Boron III+ Fly Rods
The saltwater rods in this series are standouts, but they are unconventional for Winston and highly individualistic in action. Please read carefully for each model’s distinctions.
Model-by-Model Review by John Duncan and Richard Post, Telluride Angler
John Duncan: This rod feels more “tippy” than the fighting butt version, much more what I like and expect from a 9’ 5-weight labeled “fast action.” Casting with a Rio Gold, it loads evenly and casts naturally up to about 50’. The loop shape is excellent to this point, but the rod lacks that next gear to cast beyond 50’ with line speed and command. Many anglers will find this rod to fish great within this range, but others may expect more power from the company’s fastest action 5-weight. I like the Wells grip on this rod and particularly like the casting and fishing characteristics inside of 40’. Also, I would characterize the rod as medium fast rather than “fast” action. It will handle a range of lines, including the SA Amplitude Infinity for open loop nymphing.
Rich Post: Like all Winston rods, this stick is stunning. The Boron III Plus rods also feature a slightly more vibrant green than the new AIR rods, which sport a subtler shade of the timeless Winston color. Winston makes this 5-weight in two choices of uplocking reel seat, a burled maple or a green anodized version with a small fighting butt. I preferred the casting action of the wood version. I think the lower balance point works best with the taper of the fly rod. I cast the Rio Gold WF5F on this rod and thought it made a good pairing. The Boron III Plus 9’ 5-weight is a fine 5-weight, but a shade heavy in the hand and doesn’t have the power that its competitors possess. It is a smooth caster and an excellent choice for a trout rod. For a little more touch, check out the PURE 9’ 5-weight. For a little more power, check out the AIR 9’ 5-weight. For something in between the two, stay with the Boron III Plus.
John Duncan: This rod is functional, but, in my opinion, not lovable. Most fighting butt versions of trout rods were designed without the fighting butt. To install a butt, the rod maker must slide the whole blank further beyond the grip so the fighting butt may affix to the protruding portion. This can change the feel of the whole rod because an inch of the flexing part has disappeared below the grip. Sometimes the effect is undiscernable. In most cases, however, the difference is quite noticeable. This model feels heavier and casts less smoothly than the same rod made with the maple reel seat and no fighting butt. I found it sluggish from 0-30 feet and beyond 50 feet, where it had a hard time holding loop shape. I really only liked it from 30-45 feet.
Rich Post: Another gorgeous fly rod, but I don’t feel like this is a saltwater class 5-weight. I liked the casting action of the version with the wood reel seat better. This version throws a slightly more open loop that I believe comes from moving the reel seat up the blank with the fighting butt. This is a good fly rod and a fine 5-weight, but Winston makes 5-weights that I prefer to this rod.
John Duncan: This medium-fast 6-weight will meet the expectations of Winston fans who seek a rod for nymphing or light streamers. It casts intuitively up to about 60 feet, but line speed and stability are only fair. It’s flexes quite naturally, so it’s easier on the angler than some ultra-fast action 6-weight, but some anglers will seek a rod with more command for streamers and heavy nymphs. Long headed lines work best on this model, including the Rio Gold for dry flies and the SA Amplitude Infinity for nymphs and streamers.
Rich Post: The Boron III Plus 9’ 6-weight casts tight in close with a Rio Gold and struggled forming loops until you had about 25 feet of line out. I would fish a half size heavy line on this rod to bring it to life in close. With the Rio Gold WF6F and about 30 feet of line, the rod cast very well and threw nice parallel loops. Line speed is not extreme, but it is adequate, even and predictable. It doesn’t feel light in the hand or through the cast like the AIR rods, but I believe that has a lot to do with the taper and components of this rod. This rod reminded me of some of the more classic Boron series rods from the past. Choose this rod for a classic Winston feel, a very good nymphy dry dropper action and heft to turn big fish.
John Duncan: This is one of the best 8-weights I’ve ever cast. Although heavier than a Scott Meridian and less powerful than a Sage Salt HD, this rod does the work automatically in the ideal range: 30-70 feet. Paired with an SA Bonefish taper, the casting rhythm is intuitive and loop shape dominating. It is perfectly paired with this fly line. Almost anyone would pick up the rod and make a great cast on first effort. Lightness is relative to the effort required to get the fly where it belongs. This is one of the easiest casting saltwater 8-weights on the market. The action of the B III+ 8-weight is unique from the #9 and #10 in the series. This model flexes more deeply, offering great command with the middle part of the rod. The 9 and 10-weights are much stiffer through the middle, casting purely off the tip.
Rich Post: This is an outstanding 8-weight, right up there with the best rods in this respective line weight and length. You can tip-toe this rod and make easy, accurate and delicate casts, and you can flat out stand on this thing and dump the fly line. I really enjoyed casting this rod, smooth, stable loops, great control over line speed and the “fun factor” while casting left a wonderful impression. Fish it with a Rio Bonefish or SA Bonefish taper. The rod didn’t make me think it was a sink tip lifter, but it certainly did make me want to take it to the flats. This is a top five 9’ 8-weight flats rod.
John Duncan: This is a lightweight, modern, tip-action, powerful saltwater rod. It strikes me as a Loomis Asquith dressed from the Winston wardrobe. Is that a bad thing? I think not. The Boron III+ 9-weight meets the expectations of demanding saltwater casters. Unlike the Air 9-weight, the mass of which is spread more evenly from tip to butt, this is a classic light-tipped stick that fires missiles off of its stiff mid and butt sections. It feels lighter than the Air because the mass is closer to the casting hand. It casts with tighter loops and for greater distance than the comparable Air, but is more twitchy on timing and loop shape. It casts more like a Sage Salt HD or Loomis than any other member of the Winston family. This rod requires a much quicker casting rhythm than the Air 9’ 9-weight, so the angler may easily distinguish which rod best fits his or her casting style. Use a conventional SA or Rio Bonefish line (or comparable tapers) rather than the long-headed Winston Energy saltwater lines, the bulk of which will feel sluggish in this load-and-shoot style rod.
Rich Post: This rod is more of my speed in a 9-weight. Line speed is instant, and the loops are tight and flat. The rod is light in the hand and through the cast. Distance is good, but slightly limited. Performance with the Boron III Plus 9-weight is best from 20 to 75 feet with a Rio Permit line. Out past 75 feet, the caster has to be pretty perfect to push this rod the last 25 feet. The rod has the backbone to do it, but the timing and power applied need to be just right. This is my favorite Winston 9-weight.
John Duncan: The 10-weight casts very similar to the 9-weight: light in the hand, fast-loading in the tip and quite stiff through the lower 2/3 of the rod. This is a powerful 10-weight for anglers who prefer this classic saltwater style. Distance and line speed are greater than the Air Salt 10-weight, but a quick and precise casting stroke are required. I was surprised and impressed that this rod handles a wide range of 10-weight lines, including both the SA Tarpon Taper and Rio Permit Line, which have very different tapers.
Rich Post: This is a ten weight for the seasoned Permit fisherman looking to add another Winston to their tactical flats quiver. The rod requires precise timing and application of energy from the caster, but it delivers when you do. I cast the Rio Permit WF10F on this rod and it was decent, but there is a better line for the rod. I would throw a Rio Tarpon taper on it and believe it would be a spot on match for the taper and line speed capabilities. Line speed is the preeminent feature of this rod. A very light in the hand and gorgeously appointed fly rod, this 10-weight feels like an 8-weight while casting inside 50 feet.