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I have a 7 wt. 10-foot Sage RPL that I have used for what seems like decades. It still casts as wonderfully as it did years ago. The only disadvantage is that it is two-piece, so it seldom gets used outside of my immediate area. I also have a 10 wt. G Loomis GLX that is a superb big-fish, king-salmon fighter. It casts Versa sinktips and heavy flies very well. It is a little heavy for my wife, but my college son handles it well. We also have a 14-foot 9 wt. Loop spey rod that is nothing short of a gun. My son can cast the entire width of the Kanektok River in Alaska with it. The rod is easy to handle, and I am in the process of becoming more proficient at spey casting. I have some older Winstons, too. They cast well and they are durable but, on occasion, when I feel the need to extend a cast, they seem to be a little too flexi- ble. That same characteristic makes them a great drift boat rod. I also have a 9-foot 6 wt., an 8 wt. and a 10 wt. Winston II MX rod. These have turned into my favorite rods. The MX is a significant improvement over the previous Winstons I have owned. The MX is the best rod for fighting a fish I have used. The bottom half of the rod really works the fish well. Some rods I have used are so stiff in the tip that the fish never gets to the butt of the rod. I have seen this lead to rod breakage. Other rods are more flexible in the tip but when one has a bigger fish on, this kind of rod flexes into the handle and that makes it very hard to tire a big fish. The MX has a more flexible tip but when a big fish bends the rod it hits the powerful butt section in the middle of the rod. Last year, in Alaska, I was using the 6 wt. IIMX to catch some sockeye to take home when a fish that turned out to be an 18-pound chum hit my line. My guide told me to point my rod at the fish and break him off or the chum would break my rod. I decided to really see what the rod would do. To make a long story short, it subdued and landed the 18-pound chum. My guide was amazed. For me, personally, the IIMX fits my casting style. My father taught me to cast 50 years ago when bamboo was what was available. Consequently, I learned to handle and utilize the flex in a rod. Some of today’s very fast rods will cast a mile, but the feel is quite different from the flex of bamboo. I like the feel of the flex of the tip of the IIMX, but when I really need to cast farther there is rod left to activate. My most significant negative experience has been with a Scott 9 wt. rod. I bought it for one of my sons to take to Alaska last year for large silvers and maybe a late king. He made it through four silvers before it broke in two different places at the same time. I happened to be fishing with my son that day and I watched him fight the fish. He had the rod in perfect position: low and in front of him. It wasn’t high. The tip wasn’t behind him. He wasn’t jerking on the rod or anything like that. It just broke. Scott fixed the rod upon our return but breaking a rod is never fun. – Bryan Whiting.

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