I have a rod made from one of their older blank models. It is an IM6 2 handed, probably model AF140B910, although it might be the slower model. It was a very nice rod when it came out. A bit more power than the original brown Sage 9140, which it was supposedly designed to emulate. I have no regrets having used it for the last 5 or 6 years.
I don't know about their other blanks, nor who makes them, as there are several rod manufacturers in Woodland, WA, where AW is located.
AW has been stongly connected to Lamie since they opened their doors. Nothing wrong with that as they build a good product. At one time you could even get a 'custom' rod from them; all of them were very well built and I still use most today.
And the note that 'half' of the graf. rod builders in the US are within a couple of miles of AW is correct (Woodland, Wa.)
I've built two spey rods on their IM6 blanks. One, built for a friend, was the AF140B9S (for slow). This 9-weight 14-footer has a butt of just .495" and proved to be unable to support a DT9 line. I wanted to test it with lighter lines, but the rod subsequently failed at one ferrule. This is the only downright bad spey rod I've ever experienced. And it's still available: beware!
I also built myself a rod from a discontinued 15-foot blank for 10/11 lines from this same series. It's a little softer in the tip than I like, but it's a not-bad faster-action rod.
Did you get credit for the bad rod? I've always found AW service to be very good. On one particularly bad screwup--completely my fault--they sold me replacement parts at wholesale instead of catalog price. When I broke the tip of a rod with a bad cast and a heavy fly hit the tip, they gave me a new tip (blank, since that's what I bought), at no charge. No complaints here. Have to hit them up to be forum sponsor if/when I next order something or go to the shop.
I checked back and my rod is not the slower one. It's similar to a current blank but not exactly the same. I'm shocked, but my rod is now 8 years old and still going strong. It only gets about 15-20 long days of use per year, though.
These blanks are made by another one of the companies that Gary Loomis was instrumental in getting started when his partners in Lamiglas wanted him to move into boron rod blank development. Gary wanted nothing to do with boron, instead prefering to work with the new graphites that were coming out at that time (around 1979 or 1980).
Gary then got himself bought out by the other 6 partners in Lamiglas and started LCI (Loomis Composites, Inc.), which is now known as Talon. After about 5 years with LCI, Gary wanted out because his partners were making blanks for other manufacturers and he wanted to only work on his own; hence, G.Loomis came into being making blanks only for the first 2 years.
Anyhow, the Angler's Workshop private label blanks are made by Talon, as are all of the Pac Bay blanks (which are identical to AW's private label blanks). Talon also makes blanks for several manfacturers the names of which would be a surprise to most fly fhishermen to the specs of the manufacturer.
As Nooksack Mac has said, the faster 2-handers are not bad rods, the slow ones are very slow, even more noodly than the Sage 9140-4 or Sage 7136-4, and the slow ones also lack butt strength or power. They are such poor designs that I'm surprised they are still being made; but I guess there are enough people who buy them thinking slow is better that there is a market for them.
Slightly off topic, but I will say that their single-handed blanks--saltstalker (steelhead and up) and streamstalker (trout) are terrific. Light, powerful, but not too stiff. Was always wondering about the spey blanks, now I know.
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