Fly Rod Review: Winston Boron III Plus
8-weights aren’t easy. Saltwater 8-weights even less so: they have a considerably elevated set of performance hurdles to clear than your average 5-weight. Consider that, and the vision RL Winston tasked their rod maker with when developing the Boron III Plus line of performance fly rods. The general message seems to have been: Go big. Big flies. Big wind. Big fish. Develop a rod that will address the most challenging fishing situations (probably the easy part), and give it that classic Winston feel (the hard part).
From my conversations with rod makers, I’ve learned that banging out a stout fly rod isn’t that big of a challenge, these days. Developments in materials and process technologies have greatly assisted them in that endeavor. The difficulty lies in making a big-water rod that communicates its abilities to the angler, letting him/her know what can be accomplished, as well as what’s left in the gas tank. That’s a large part of a rod’s “feel.”
I spent 10 days testing the BIII+ and came away impressed on several fronts. I like variety, and will happily fish several rods in one long afternoon. That said, I was content fishing only the 8-weight BIII+ for ten days straight. Any rod that makes you want to fish it is a notable rod. These are the reasons I felt this way:
Luxurious swing weight. It’s an element that the majority of fly rods can’t quite pin down. A rod can be many (good) things: light in hand, quick-loading and able to send a fly a long way, but still manage to feel not-quite-right – awkward, even. That’s because rod designers haven’t attained the optimal materials weight distribution along the length of the blank. Materials and taper designs come into delicate play (even before the addition of hardware), and this is the area top-tier rod makers excel at. Casting the #8 BIII+ is not only smooth, but the rod’s swing weight will actually help limiting casting fatigue, even when delivering that heavily weighted crab pattern over and over again.
Fish-playing flexibility. BIII+ tapers are fine-tuned so that playing a 3lb. pompano is every bit as enjoyable as wrangling a trophy snook. This is the rod’s finest attribute, and one that shouldn’t be glossed over. I think that the BIII+ line of rods will surprise even the most seasoned anglers, considering the rod’s smooth flex characteristics and sensitivity. At times it leaves you wondering where that ample power reserve comes from. Generating high line speed and playing energetic, stubborn fish: check.
The Boron III Plus rods are fitted with ultra-hard-coated shooting (snake) guides to minimize friction. The guides are finished with the highest Rockwell hardness rating in the industry and use weather- and salt-resistant stainless steel wire with a chrome finish. Of particular interest: they are shaped with a more open, circular loop, thereby allowing fly lines to pass with minimal contact (they also have a low profile which holds the line closer to the rod). These may seem like small details, but they’ll add more oomph to your cast, something particularly appreciated in any saltwater environment.
Finally, also note that the Boron III Plus will deliver pretty fluid casts at close range.