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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 07:55 • #1 
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Posting a few detail photos of a two-piece 6'6" #3 Stalker I received recently. Most likely the rod was built shortly after moving to Montana due to the San Francisco decal - the tube has the Twin Bridges, Montana label. I was surprised to see how much darker the blank was than the brown Retro. Although I am sure Winston didn't go to the trouble of exactly matching the blank color, some of the color difference might have something to do with the effects of aging. Claudio's Fisher blanks tended to darken with exposure to light according to rod dealer, Jim Adams, so perhaps the same is true of the Stalker blanks.
ImageImageImageImageImageImage


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 08:05 • #2 
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Beautifull rod Duff ... aurelio


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 09:42 • #3 
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Sweet rod, Duff. How would you describe its flex/action?

Looking at your photos, I actually think your blank is a SF-era blank with MT fittings rather than a Stalker (Morgan) blank. My SF-era glass rods are a noticeably darker brown color than my MT-era rods. And my SF rods have that "tobacco" finish like your blank, whereas my MT rods have a smooth, evenly painted finish.

Plus, the inscription style as well as the tone of the red wraps and beige/white-ish tipping look more like those found on SF rods. The SF wraps were more of a candy-apple red finish while the MT wraps were more maroon-ish, iirc.

I'll pull my rods out tonight to see if my memory is correct or not. I have a photo somewhere of a SF, MT, and Retro rod next to one another.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 09:58 • #4 
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Duff wrote:
Image

By the way, showing off all that spigot ferrule gap on your vintage rod is bordering on bragging! Image


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 10:07 • #5 
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A fine one to have. Doc, I don't think it's fully assembled as that would be more gap than desirable. I wonder if it doesn't predate the actual "Stalker" line also; it may be of the type they were refined and evolved from. The great history TM wrote that is posted here someplace--I just read it over again--covers the evolution to the actual "Stalker" name as a cataloged line, but I don't recall the details as to whether it was with the transition move or afterwards. The catalog I have posted elsewhere was later than that and lists the core Stalker line.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 10:42 • #6 
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Uh-oh. Is this a good or bad thing? It certainly has the med/slow progressive action that I had imagined this length and weight Stalker rod would have. Very delicate tip. I am kind of wondered why it was marked a straight #3 rather than a #2/3.

Whrlpool, the rod is actually together properly although I certainly haven't forced it. There's quite a lot of ferule inside, but yes, I agree it looks like a lot of gap.

I'm going to have to read Mr. Morgan's discussion again.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 10:56 • #7 
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It's a sweet rod anyhow so I wouldn't be much alarmed about it--but I hope I didn't give a false alarm and didn't mean to. The term "Stalker" does get used casually to describe other Winston rods of the same time frame, but I just don't know--only wondered--in this case.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 11:03 • #8 
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Well, I've read Tom Morgan's article and am now even more confused. I found a listing of the Stalker rods that Mr. Morgan provided in a previous thread and my model isn't listed. The 6 1/2' SF rods were 5weights. Further, there doesn't seem to be a 6 1/2' Stalker in a 3WT. There's a 6' #2/3 and a 6 1/2' #4. Mine is a 6 1/2' #3 - do I have a prototype? It's not listed anywhere that I can see. It seems to be a wonderful rod but I paid Stalker prices. Dang! All thought on the rod are appreciated.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 11:24 • #9 
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Duff, The '82/'83 Winston catalog lists the Stalker series and shows a 6.5 ft. 2/3 wt rod. It also shows a 6.5 ft. 4wt rod. The lighter line weight one is listed at 1 2/3 oz vs. the slightly heavier one at 1 7/8 oz.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 11:39 • #10 
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I just found the following in a January 2009 thread:

Tom Morgan wrote:

Hello fiberglass fishers,

I would like to clear up any confusion about Winston fiberglass rods. When I bought Winston in 1973 Doug Merrick had a line of J.K. Fisher fiberglass rods in #5-#12-13 weight of various lengths. I did discontinue the #7-weight rod that Doug was making and included a new line of #7-weight rods that I thought were excellent.

I did bring out the Stalker fiberglass rods in #2-3 and #4-weight also in a variety of lengths. In addition, I did design an 8'3" #6-weight special streamer rod just for myself and my unique style of streamer fishing. It's a remarkable rod in its smooth casting characteristics and delicate presentation for a #6-weight rod.

All of the Fisher fiberglass rod blanks used in California and Montana were exactly the same. The only difference was towards the end of Winston making fiberglass rods the solid fiberglass ferrule stock was brown in some sizes rather than white.

Sincerely,
Tom Morgan

Now I'm talking myself into thinking that this must be a post 1973 Tom Morgan designed "Stalker-type" rod that was built while in San Francisco and traveled East with the move to Montana. It's a length and weight that doesn't seem to exist and to confuse the issue even more apparently has the Montana era fittings. Has anybody else ever seen a 6 1/2' #3 San Francisco or Montana glass rod? This is becoming, as they say, curiouser and curiouser. I am beginning to think that only Mr. Morgan can solve this mystery.


Last edited by Duff on 07 Dec 2010, 11:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 12:25 • #11 
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The rod would be well before the early '80s. The earliest catalog with Stalkers I know of here, 1977-78 is http://fiberglassflyrodde ... ku.com?topic=1043?page=1 but as usual I can't find my copy to look over the rest of it for clues like the transition year(s) from CA. You can see two 6 1/2' models listed. I think I sent DocBD a photocopy; if so, maybe he has a better filing system and can look his over. Morgan's own account might give more clues, and its one of the best posts in the whole place anyway, at least for Winston fans: http://fiberglassflyrodde ... #reply-10635 Skimming that history further, I see '77 was the first full Montana year, so that catalog probably is the first from that locale, and that rod would be from just at that time as you pointed out based on the rod/tube labels.


Last edited by whrlpool on 07 Dec 2010, 12:54, edited 1 time in total.

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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 12:31 • #12 
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Duff there was a 6'6" stalker 3wt. on eBay last year looked just like yours and went for over 1100 bucks ... aurelio


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 12:55 • #13 
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Thank you, aurelio! Image

Whrlpool, thanks too for posting that catalog - great information.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 13:42 • #14 
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I intoroduce an interesting post about comparison between SF and MT.
Key Taccata's Blog http://blog.livedoor.jp/keytaccata/archives/50386403.html


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 13:54 • #15 
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Thank you Kab. Can that blog be converted into English?


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 14:01 • #16 
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Duff - Sorry. I didn't mean to alarm you as well. Just wanted to say your rod looks like my SF rods (save the reel seat and grip). When I get home, I'll check out my stash and post a photo or two. And like you said, Tom Morgan would have the definitive word here.

Kab's linked post shows the difference in wrap color between his friend's SF and MT rods, although my memory may have it backwards as to which one is candy apple red vs. maroon. Winston may have switched thread choice though even prior to the MT move.

As for no catalog documentation of your specific model, Winston has been known to make custom configurations. Perhaps yours? I have a SF era 7'0" 4 pc rod that is either a 3 or 4 wt, that I've never seen cataloged or mentioned before. [Unfortunately, it's missing its tip section, so I'll never know what it can cast, but the taper is obviously much smaller than a 7'6" 5 wt rod I have. Incidentally, Glenn Brackett and I have been talking about making a replacement glass tip or even fitting a cane tip for it just for fun!]

Personally, if I could choose between a SF short 3wt vs. a similarly configured MT Stalker, I'd choose the SF rod as it likely would be a little crisper in action and not nearly as common from a collectibility standpoint.

Congrats either way! Nothing like a little post-purchase drama to add to the fun! Image


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 14:08 • #17 
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Duff ... very excellent looking fly rod. You sure do know how to pick them.


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 14:26 • #18 
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Thanks, for that link, Kab. That is a very interesting site. From the photos, my rod has every defining characteristic of the San Francisco rod but the winding check, and reel seat fitments. I just noticed that my decal even has a gold cast rather than silver. It seems like Mr. Tecatta is calling them both "Stalker" so that's encouraging. I do understand that a lot of people tend to call some SF rods Stalkers when they are not, but those rods are almost always #5 and up rods. That's what makes a 6 1/2' #3 so confusing to me. I wonder if Winston used some of those same Montana era nickle silver fitting to some of the last "Stalkers"(or whatever they are called) that they made in San Francisco?

It's probably strange, but I must admit that I really get a kick out of researching this kind of stuff and getting other people's opinions. To me that's half the fun of this fiberglass fly rod collecting. Thanks to all for your help.

Update: The seller, who has been an outstanding individual to deal with, assured me that it is indeed a Stalker and was purchased as such directly from Winston. It was the last of three Stalkers he had ordered. Case closed in my mind as to what it is - it's a Stalker. What I am still curious about is the unusual mix of build styles, almost an amalgam of the San Francisco and Twin Bridges glass rods. I'd love to see some photos of other 2,3 and 4 weight Winstons from this late SF early Montana period.


Last edited by Duff on 07 Dec 2010, 16:38, edited 1 time in total.

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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 16:34 • #19 
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I grabbed them all out just to see if there truly are some consistent differences or not.

Conclusions:

*SF labels came in silver and gold; MT labels were silver and also "champagne" (far right)
*SF and MT blanks both were tobacco/mottled; the Retros had an opaque smooth painted finish (4th from right)
*Hard to say if one era had a lighter or darker brown blank than the other (except for Retros)
*The white tipping and spiral wraps of the signature wraps tend to be more prominent on the SF rods.
*Candy apple red vs. maroon wraps? Maybe, maybe not.
*A couple of my likely very early SF rods have "drop ring" hook keepers.
*SF inscripts. have "length, line wt., oz.";all MT rods include metric measurement inscriptions ("xxx cm, yy g.")
*Serial nos. present on a couple of MT rods.

Image


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 16:47 • #20 
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Doc, I really appreciate that group photo. I know it must have been a hassle to line them up like that and I can appreciate the logistics of putting them all back into the right cases - thank you. Interesting that the blank colors seem to be similar except for the Retro.

By the way, that sure is an incredible collection of Winstons you have there - WOW!


Last edited by Duff on 07 Dec 2010, 16:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 17:11 • #21 
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I forgot that Morgan wrote in the past that SF and MT blanks were the same Fisher blanks except for the brown spigot variation (which I've never seen before.) Looking at the blanks on my rods, I'd say that they are the same blanks (with the usual small amounts of variation in the manufacture process). The "build" though does appear to differ a bit between eras (e.g. hardware, cork grip styles, inscriptions, etc.).

There was a somewhat similar topic over at Clark's regarding what exactly is a Winston "Leetle Feller," as people tended to refer to any short 3 or 4 wt Winston from the SF/early MT days as one. It can get confusing.

Anyway, the minutiae can be fun but not more so than actually fishing that rod of yours. Congrats again!

[Ha, Duff! I was just scratching my head thinking what a pain it will be to get these rods back in the right cases! Image]


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 18:06 • #22 
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Hello Duff and others,

Cameron asked me to see if I could shed some light on the history of this rod.

First, it definitely is a Stalker from Montana designed by me. I designed all the Stalker rods when I was in San Francisco. Prior to buying Winston in 1973 Doug Merrick was making some 7 1/2' #4-weight rods but I thought they were rather stiff because they were on mandrels that were too big in diameter. There definitely were not any #3-weight rods. I developed the #3 & #4 Stalker rods based on a slightly slower taper mandrel that allowed for greater wall thickness and a greater latitude in making the lighter line size rods. We produced quite a few of these rods in San Francisco but the bulk of them were made after we moved to Montana. They all used Hexcel fiberglass fabric with colored phenolic resin that was essentially the same color in each batch. There may have been some very slight color variation but certainly not much. One thing that does happen over time is rod color will change by sun bleaching out the color. One thing you can see on this rod is just above the grip there are some light spots. These come from sanding too deep into the blank to remove the snakeskin finish caused by the cellophane tape during the curing process. The blank does seem to be lighter in this area than towards the tip but it could also be the lighting.

We would sometimes make custom rods so that may be the reason it only says 6 1/2' #3 on it. We weren't always consistent at that time about what was written on the rods. The writing is mine.

When we first moved to Montana we didn't have any Montana rod decals so still used the San Francisco ones for a while. Don't remember how long. We had the Montana tube labels made before we had the rod labels made. To my knowledge we always used the same thread color from when I purchased until we quit making fiberglass rods. We bought the thread in 1/4 pound spools and directly from Gudebrod in large amounts so all the thread came from the same dye lot. This particular rod would have been made a few years after moving to Montana because it has nickel silver fittings that I made in Montana. I had to order a substantial amount of nickel silver tubing which took a while to get. Then I machined the parts on a South Bend turret lathe and we buffed the parts in house. The hoods we punched out of tubing using a die I made in a hydraulic punch die unit made by Al Talbot.

I don't know that I would agree with Jim Adams about the Claudio rod color although Jim may have seen some I haven't. Ferd and I were friends and I was very familiar with his rods. In fact, he gave me one. He had Fisher purchase special cloth that they rolled his blanks out of. The were a very light brown color from the beginning. It is possible that he had different fabric but all I ever saw were light ones.

I am going to mention a rod that I'm going to sell on E-Bay in the next week or so. If I were keeping the proceeds I wouldn't mention it but I'm selling it for a friend and the money will be donated entirely to a Montana Conservation Organization. His wife died recently and she was a strong supporter of the Five Valley Land Trust that does a lot of work around Missoula, Montana. It's one of my most favorite rods from my days at Winston and, in my opinion, one of the greatest rod models Winston ever made. I designed it when I was in San Francisco: it's an 8 1/2' #7-weight rod that I have always called "The Unity with the Universe Rod" because of it's wonderful smoothness. The rod was given to me but I don't feel comfortable keeping it and will sell it for the donation. This rod is almost like new. I actually was thrilled to get it and used it to cast against my current design to develop my new 8 1/2' #7-weight rod.

I hope this posting has clarified Duff's rod and added to everyone's knowledge about Winston's Stalker rods. I will watch this thread for a while and will some comments if I feel it's appropriate.

Best regards,
Tom Morgan


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 18:31 • #23 
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Hello Doc & others,

I read Doc's comments just after writing my letter. Here are my comments:

I guarantee all labels were silver when they started out and the color variations come from the coating material which was either varnish or later epoxy which turned yellow over the years from sunlight or age.

Yes, all the original Stalkers used Hexcel color resin fabric that varied somewhat but more with age than anything.

Different wrappers did different variations on the decal wraps. Almost all the rods from San Francisco were wrapped by Ken Adachi although the last year his son Steve also did some.

Yes, Doug used the hook keepers like the bamboo rods whereas we used regular ones.

I did change to the length, line size & weight in both English and metric in Montana but after we had been there a few years. In fact, Toby Hinoue, who sold a lot of Winston rods in Japan asked me to make the change. As a coincidence he was visiting me this week from Japan.

We did put serial numbers on after a few years in Montana but not for a few years.

Tom Morgan


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 18:32 • #24 
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Mr. Morgan, I can't thank you enough for your detailed discussion of my new rod. Yes, the difference in color was only due to the lighting - the entire blank is the same color. (Perhaps you could hear my jaw dropping all the way out there in Montana. Image ) I, and I'm sure most of us, will certainly be following your "Unity with the Universe Rod" on eBay . Thanks again, Duff


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Winston "Stalker"
Post 07 Dec 2010, 18:57 • #25 
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Mr. Morgan, thanks so much for the great info to several questions I've had for some time.

The use of varnish vs. epoxy makes a lot of sense now as I think about the different hues of the wraps and the decals.

And I especially appreciate the fact that you personally inscribed specs on some of these great rods.


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