I couldn't tell you all the details on Golden Wing rods, but as I recall, the first many rods we had from the series had a very glossy finish. Later on, the rods had a matte finish, similar to the couple HMG rods we had. I couldn't tell you anything about the technical differences when this changed occurred, if any. I personally think the glossy ones look amazing and the matte ones are a bit run of the mill. They are wonderful rods in my opinion, though obviously they have a lot of sentimental value to me. It's been some time since my father passed away, but I kept all our Golden Wing/Techna AV rods and they still perform well on the rare occasions they come out of storage to play. I have everything from UL spinning rods to the telescopic flipping stick. I don't own a ton of modern rods in that price range, but of the few I own or have owned, I'd say that Golden Wings feel about middle of the pack. The standout rods in that price range absolutely out perform them, but the oldies are just as good if not better feeling than a lot of stuff as well.