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R. L. Winston BIIMX Fly Rod Review
Name::R. L. Winston BIIMX Fly Rod Review
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Winston: Boron II-MX 1090-4



  • Line Size: 10 
  • Rod Length: 9’0” 
  • Section: 4 
  • Weight: 4 1/4 oz 
  • Handle: Full Wells, Saltwater grip 
  • Reel Seat: Nickel Anodized Aluminum 
  • Action: Fast 
  • Retail Price: $675.00


What’s the word…


Winston has always been known for its sweet, smooth casting
bamboo and trout fly rods. But a few years back, Winston introduced the
Boron II-X fly rod series, a fast action rod
that broke out of the typical Winston genre. After owning several of
those fly rods, I thought, “Now if Winston could just add a little more
power and a little more speed, they’d have one darn fine saltwater fly
rod”. Low and behold, the Fall of 2007 brought the Boron II-MX series.
Was I a mind reader? No, it was just Winston’s time to shine. They’ve
broken their mold, and entered into the saltwater, big game arena with
the Boron II-MX rods.

Does a fly rod manufacturer of trout fame have any business
making powerful big game fly rods? When they’ve developed the use of a
material as strong as boron, why not? The Boron II-MX is the third
Winston fly rod series to use the Boron II and, in my opinion, is the
best. But then again, I love saltwater fly fishing. I decided I’d give
the 10 weight 9-footer a go while recently tarpon fishing in the Keys.



When you first pick up the Winston Boron II-MX 1090-4, you have
to be impressed. Doing the “shop wiggle” tells you this isn’t the same
old Winston; it feels quick and powerful. Light in hand, fast off the
tip, but then again, not too fast; the Winston Boron II-MX still has
that special feel of a Winston. When I put a line on the rod, it came to
life in my hand. They call it transference of energy; I call it feel or
touch. As I increased line distance, the strength of this rod came
through. It felt like it took the same amount of energy to cast a fly
line70 feet as it did at 30 feet. Somehow, Winston was able to build a
fly rod that has the strength to battle winds, big fish, to carry large
amounts of line while providing one that loads quickly enough for
short-range casts. To put it simply, the Boron II-MX has the best of
both worlds; power with “load-ability”.

Big game fly rods need to be powerful throughout their entire
length for fish fighting ability. They also need to load quickly for
short casting conditions. This became very apparent after a week in the
Keys mired under cloud cover. It’s amazing how camouflaged a dozen
100+lbs fish can be when covered with shadows. I found after casting
this rod over several days at many pods of tarpon, the 1090-4 Boron
II-MX provided the strength to maintain all the line I dared to up in
the air, and generated the line speed for the tight loops needed to turn
over a 6 foot butt section, 4 foot leader and a 1/0 toad fly into 15
knot wind. And after hooking and landing several fish in the 80 lbs
class, I found the 1090-4 Boron II-MX provided me everything I needed
for tarpon fishing.



After several failed attempts at using boron for increasing rod
action and strength, Winston has found the right combination of
placement to give you a fly rod that is destine to be one of the great
saltwater/big game fly rod series. Gone is the floppy tip and
mid-section of the BL5 and gone is telephone pole stiffness of the XTR.
Enter another great fly rod in the modern era of lightweight, powerful
fly rods.

At a weight of 4 ¼ ounces, the Boron II-MX is significantly lighter than
the old XTR, which weighed in at 5 1/2 oz. But what is just as
important is the increased action and feel that the Boron II-MX rods
have over the beastly XTR and floppy BL5.

Fit and Finish…


No fly rod manufacturer builds a more beautiful fly rod than R.L.
Winston, period. Their soft green, sanded blanks are accented with
handwritten model and serial numbers and each section has the serial
number hand written at the ferrule. The matching green wrapping is
perfection and almost disappears under the flawless epoxy job. The
slightly smaller than average grip is of handspun Portuguese cork and
sits easily in most hands. Winston has always known how to bring out the
best of fly rod with just the right type of reel seats and the dull
finished anodized aluminum reel seat adds the final touches to this
great looking fly rod.

  • Boron II technology
  • Lightweight powerful big game fly rod
  • Fast action with smooth casting, whether 30-feet or 80-feet
  • Anodized aluminum reel seat
  • Aluminum tube with a rod sock
  • Original owner lifetime warranty


Reliability and durability…


Many years back, a fly rod company introduced a no-fault full
replacement policy and the rest is history. In my humble opinion, this
“no matter how you break it” full replacement warranty has done to two
things, 1) developed angler complacency in how we treat our equipment
and 2) made the manufacturers develop stronger, abuse taking fly rods.
Modern fly rod materials can be as fragile as the fiberglass and cane of
old, and at $600+ for one rod, it’s hard when it breaks. But we asked
for smoother, lighter fly rods and the manufacturers responded. Be
careful what you ask for! Enough of the rant, Winston’s path to
lightness, smoothness, and strength was through the use of boron. Boron
has always provided strength, but with the use of Boron II technology,
Winston has been able to dramatically decrease the weight while
maintaining strength. After pulling on several large tarpon, I found the
1090-4 Boron II-MX had the power and strength needed to quickly subdue
the fish and put an end to the fight. I never once felt concerned with
breakage. Of course, I knew if I made a mistake and something did
happen; there was the original owner full warranty to back me up!

Customer Service…Company Profile


Winston is a San Francisco tradition; Winston started here, and
it grew and prospered here, so it has warm place in our hearts. The
company has passed through the hands of some great fly rod builders and
is now under the control of David Ondaatje, who intends to maintain the
deep Winston tradition of providing phenomenal casting and fishing fly
rods. Through the guise of David, the company has developed the use of
Boron II that has taken Winston to the next level in rod design.

Winston prides itself on the craftsmanship of each and every fly rod.
This pride shows through in the high level of customer care and service
they provide. From publishing contact info to providing individual
factory tours, Winston lays it all on the table for everyone to see.
They stand firmly behind each rod and will fix or replace any
manufacturing defects. If that isn’t enough, Winston provides an
original limited lifetime warranty. No matter how it breaks or dings,
Winston will replace or repair you fly rod for shipping and handling
costs. Because of the level of hand craftsmanship, Winston cannot
guarantee a turnaround time, but they make every effort to get it done
as quickly as possible.

Overall Rating…


As I previously stated, I am a fan of fast action fly rods and
the 1090-4 Winston II-MX is one fine fast action rod! Winston entered
the era with Boron II and the Boron II-MX takes them to next level in
big game/saltwater fly rods. The newest member in the modern era of fast
action, but responsive fly rods, the Boron II-MX provides all the
strength and power needed for big flies, long or short casts and
fighting large fish while giving you consistent feed back. Winston did
not just come up with the initial design for responsiveness; they have
put their touch, their Winston feel, to it!

The 1090-4 Boron II-MX fly rod easily handled everything the Florida
Keys and its migrating tarpon could throw at it. From winds in the 15
knot range to cloud cover requiring short dinky casts to big (in my
opinion) fish. It requires little energy to get the fly moving, the
extra power is there for extra long casts and strength to quickly end
the fight. Now, I’m not long distance casting champion or famous tarpon
angler, but I have spent a lot of time in the saltwater arena and I know
what works for me; the Winston Boron II-MX fly rod. I was so impressed
with the 1090-4, I’ve ordered the 8-weight and 12-weight.


I have been fly fishing the saltwater environs now for more than
15years and grew up with a fishing rod of one type or another in my
hands. I have been in the fly fishing industry for more than 10 years
and have been lucky enough to be exposed to most of the major
manufacturers of fly rods, reels, waders, clothing…I hope this review
helps you decide on which products to purchase. -Burke White

PROS – A true saltwater/big game fly rod by R.L. Winston. Easy to
cast, powerful and good-looking! Boron II has given the MX power to
battle wind and big fish. Original owner lifetime warranty.

CONS – The smaller than average grip may not suit everyone. But
it’s the Winston standard grip and it fits my hand well. At $675, this
rod is a little pricy, but right in line with other top manufacturers.

BOTTOM LINE – The Boron II-MX 1090-4 is a wonderfully casting,
powerful fly rod that stands up to the rigors of saltwater fly fishing
and big fish.

Want the ultimate 10 weight fly rod? Check out the Loop Cross S1 1090-4 Fly Rod.

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Abel Super 5N Fly Reel Review
Name::Abel Super 5N Fly Reel Review
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• Weight: 5.7 ounces
• Spool diameter: 3.500 inches
• Spool width: .750 inches
• Capacity: Standard WF 5 line plus 125 yards of 20 lb. Dacron backing or WF 6 plus 100 yards of backing
• Material: Spool, frame and foot machined from 6061-T6 cold finished
aluminum bar stock
• Drag system: Draw bar actuated cork disk
• Finish: Corrosion-resistant anodized
• Colors: High gloss black coral or non-reflective matte black, other custom colors available at an additional charge

A little history…

So, what’s this?? A beefy, brawny saltwater tough guy posing as a trout reel? Isn’t that a bit …well, overkill?
After all, in fly fishing, unlike conventional spinning or bait casting, we don’t actually use the reel to make the cast. In the old genteel days of trout fishing, the reel simply stored line until we’re lucky enough to hook something that took out more line than we had in our hand. I grew up using a stamped, Japanese import, then a stamped Pflueger Medalist, and finally graduated to a variety of die cast Hardy reels, the gold standard of trout reels in the early 1980’s. I treasured all of them in their time. Maybe it was the insistent buzz made by the clicker as a trout peeled off line, or maybe I felt the reel was my fishing companion, sharing in each new adventure.

Fast forward to 2007. Our “genteel” art has become, on many fronts, a slugfest. No longer are we satisfied plying our trade in bucolic settings fishing for small trout. Today, many of us travel the world seeking larger trout in New Zealand, Patagonia, and Chile. We fish the salt water flats for species such as bonefish and permit that swim much faster and pull much harder than their similarly sized freshwater cousins. Consequently, we’re harder on our tackle and have come to expect greater performance from our fly reels.

You’d think it wouldn’t take rocket science to come up with a little metal wheel with a brake that was dependable. But I’ve seen just about every brand of reel fail at one time or another. Whether it’s grit or grime, extreme heat or cold, component wear, or impact from a hard fall, if there’s a weakness, we usually find out about it exactly at the wrong time.

Enter Steve Abel. Although not a rocket scientist, he is an experienced aerospace machinist, who started selling his fly fishing reels in 1987. His motto then, and the company’s motto today is “to design and build the best, most dependable gear in the world and give world class customer service.” In the ensuing twenty years, Abel Quality Products has succeeded in carving out a niche in the increasingly competitive arena of high quality fly fishing reels and built a devoted following of end users. The latest offering from Abel is the Super 5 Narrow Large Arbor, a trout sized reel that boasts a robustness usually found only in its larger, saltwater brethren.


The Abel Super 5N Fly Fishing Reel is the newest addition to the Abel Super Series, which have a large arbor design for faster line retrieve, reduced line coiling, and better drag continuity. The 5N spool, frame, and foot are cut from a solid block of 6061-T6 cold finished high molecular density aluminum. The spool and frame are aggressively ported (ventilated) to reduce weight, while maintaining great strength and rigidity. The draw bar, main shaft, pawls, and screws are machined 303 stainless steel. The drag is comprised of a large surface area, cork composite covered drag plate tightened against the inside of the aluminum spool by the draw bar. All aluminum surfaces are protected against corrosion by Abel’s proprietary hard anodizing process. The 5N is convertible to left or right hand retrieve. At 5.7 ounces, it’s relatively light considering its bombproof strength. The drag system is silky smooth, with low start up inertia, and based on a simple design that has proven itself over two decades. The spool capacity is suitable for 5 or 6 weight lines, making it ideal for large trout and small steelhead. Substituting smaller diameter gel spun backing in place of Dacron, one could pump up the backing capacity to over 150 yards for medium steelies, smaller bonefish, specks and reds. Overall, a nearly flawless, extremely rugged and reliable fly fishing reel for taking fresh and smaller saltwater species on light tackle.

• Large arbor, narrow spool design for quick line pick up

• Machined from 6061-T6 cold finished aluminum bar stock

• Impact resistant spool rim and frame

• Smooth, reliable cork-draw bar drag system

• Durable, hard anodized finish

• Custom colors, handles, and engraving available at additional charge

Materials, Fit, and Finish

Fly fishing reels machined from a solid bar of metal have the greatest rigidity and strength per weight, but in the long run, are more costly to produce than stamped, or die cast reels. Over thirty years ago, American companies such as Seamaster and Fin Nor pioneered the construction of machined fly reels, primarily for a small following of hard core salmon and saltwater fly enthusiasts. The increased popularity of fly fishing, coupled with political and economic expansion of the Far East in recent years, has led to an influx of many reasonable quality, less expensive machined imports primarily targeting entry and mid level customers. Many U.S. makers of good reels have folded under this pressure, and the majority that have remained, like Abel and Tibor, have done so by directing there efforts at top of the line products.

Although you may find some custom $2000-$10,000 titanium reel models on the Internet, aluminum is the choice for mere mortals. Abel uses 6061-T6 cold finished bar stock in all of their reels, which is the strongest, densest, most corrosion resistant aluminum for this purpose. The spool, frame and foot of the 5N Super are cut from this, and the mainshaft and drawbar from 303 stainless steel, on Computer Numerical Control lathes and mills. In fact, every machinable part in the reel is made in the Abel factory to insure utmost quality control, right down to the stainless steel screws. The only non-metal parts are the cork drag washer, a neoprene o-ring, and the laminated, sealed wood handle.

The overall weight of the reel is significantly reduced, while retaining structural integrity, by precise, aggressive porting throughout the spool and frame. All parts are hand de-burred, hand polished, cleaned and inspected and aluminum parts are protected from wear and corrosion (and colored) by Abel’s unique hard anodizing process, which penetrates and bonds to the metal. Two sealed waterproof ball bearings on the spool and one on the drag plate provide near frictionless rotation.

Abel currently employs 28 production workers and 7 support staff in their Camarillo, California facility. They offer a lifetime warranty on manufacturing defects for all their reels. Although you’re not likely to need that warranty, it’s nice to know that Abel, due to their success, will probably be around to back it up if you do.

What a drag

In a nutshell, there are two basic types of fly reel drags; the classic spring and pawl, popularized by Hardy Brothers of England well over a century ago, or one of many variations of the more modern disk drag. Most anglers, and manufacturers today overlook the click pawl, unfairly in my opinion, in favor of disks for all fly fishing. Actually, the click pawl, if well constructed, is very reliable for smaller trout and is the lightest, simplest, and least expensive to build. And as it works, it creates that sweet sound that many of us find synonymous with fly fishing.

As we seek fish that pull harder and faster and fight longer, our fly reels are progressively subjected to greater amounts of what most often kills them; heat. A disc drag slows the spool by friction, applying pressure between two or more discs, usually one on the spool and one on the frame, or within a hub mounted on the frame. A great number of variations of this seemingly simple concept are available today, each one claiming superior performance.

However, the big game fly reels that have been the most successful in landing fish over 100 pounds, and, therefore, operate smoothly and survive the greatest amounts of stress, have draw bar drags. This simple system has two center mounted disk shaped brake surfaces that meet when the spool is attached, and drag is increased as the draw bar tightens the frame against the spool through the central shaft.

Although most newer disk drag systems use synthetics such as Rulon, Delrin or carbon fiber, as the brake material, natural cork (ground and mixed with a polymer), is still considered by many to offer the best balance of durability, low start up inertia, stopping power, and adjustability. This cork composite, unlike the synthetics, is compressible, providing for its smoothness. The Abel 5N Super has the largest drag of this type of any 5 or 6 weight reel I’ve seen, and the “open” design dissipates heat rapidly into the rear of the spool and throughout the reel frame. “Closed” or completely sealed drag systems offer the advantage of low maintenance, but generally can not cool as effectively.

Cork must be lubricated occasionally to replenish its natural moisture, usually with pure neatsfoot oil. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions, as petroleum products or solvents may harm the cork, and back off the drag tension when not in use. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of the draw bar drag is that it does not allow for quick change spools, as some disassembly is required. Choose another design if this is a priority for you.

According to the International Game Fish Association, Abel reels where used in setting the greatest number of new world records for 2006. Though you may not land a world record, you will at some point encounter that fish of a lifetime. The Abel 5N Super Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel, with its impeccably machined strength and superb drag, is as likely as any to get the job done. 


Rugged, beautifully machined and finished trout-size reel with a very smooth and reliable drag system usually found only in larger, saltwater fly reels.


At $550, the Abel 5N Super is much more expensive than some other very serviceable trout reels and is an ounce or more heavier than others with lighter drag designs and frames. The draw bar does not allow for the convenience of quick-change spools. Open design requires occasional cleaning and lubrication.

Bottom Line

The Abel 5N Super, compared to other reels of its size, is most likely to withstand extreme conditions, and the one you’ll probably hand down to your grandchildren.

Reviewer. . .

Having been in the fly fishing industry for over 25 years as a professional guide, fly fishing school director, writer, and manufacturers sales representative, I’ve been fortunate to fish with a wide array of equipment from almost all of the top makers.

Check out the Abel Super 5N Fly Reel

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Waterworks-Lamson Konic Fly Fishing Reel Review
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leland on lamson konic fly fishing reels

Question: Is there such a thing as a quality fly fishing reel priced in the low to mid-100 dollar range?
Answer: There is now! Leave it to the foremost innovators of fly fishing reel design, Waterworks/Lamson to come up with the perfect solution; the Lamson Konic fly reel series. As with all Waterworks/Lamson fly reels, the Konic carries with it a tradition of the cutting edge design technology of the Waterworks engineers. The new Konic reels carry the drag type and inner working design found in fly reels five times their price. And these reels carry the Lamson Conditional Lifetime Warranty.

the new Konic is a die-cast series. But it’s not the same as other
die-cast aluminum fly reels. Waterworks does nothing like any other fly
reel manufacturer. They utilize only the best materials and engineering
to bring you a quality fly reel at a quality price. By utilizing highest grade aluminum alloy and a special pressure molten casting, Waterworks/Lamson brings you the Lamson Konic Fly Reel Series.

We know you work hard for
your money, and there’s no reason you should expect to spend it on a
fly reel that simply isn’t worth its weight! At Waterworks/Lamson, they
realize this and as result, bring you the Konic Fly Fishing Reel. These
fly reels are die-cast with a special method of Pressure Casting with molten ALDC12 aluminum alloy. This pressure casting method, verses the standard gravity die-casting, ensures consistent, smooth and extra strong parts with a much
lower porosity. Because pressure casting produces stronger parts, it
allows for the frame and spool to each be a solid piece. Each piece is
then anodized and coated with 100% solid polyurethane to give you one
strong fly fishing reel. The drag and bearing system of these reels are
machined with the same fully-sealed conical drag system and
stainless steel roller clutch used in Waterworks/Lamson high-end reels.
No scrimping here! To ensure value for the consumer, Waterworks is
offering the Konic in four sizes; Konic 1.5 for 3-to 4-weights, Konic 2
for 5- to 6-weights, Konic 3.5 for 7- to 8-weights and Konic 4 for 9- to
10-weights. Keeping in line with the ultra-lightweight tradition of all
Waterworks fly fishing reels, the Konics weigh in at a range of 4.4 to
8.0 ounces. All Konic fly reels are saltwater safe and saltwater proven.
If you are on a budget, need a quality backup, or are just looking for
the biggest bang for your buck, give the Lamson Konic fly reel series a
serious look.

• Pressure die cast with ALDC12 aluminum alloy
• 100% solid polyurethane coating
• Sealed conical drag system
• Stainless steel roller clutch
• 4 reels ranging from 3/4-weight through 9/10-weight
• weights from 4.4oz to 8.0oz

• Saltwater safe

Return to Fly Fishing Gear Review.

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