New year, new toys
Last week we were paid an impromptu visit by friend and tackle rep Eric Neufeld who was in the shop looking to get a few lines to add to his mega arsenal for demoing Winston Rods with specialty fly shops. While we had not planned on an actual sales meeting / casting day we were lucky enough for Eric (known more simply as E) to have array of the new 2019 Winston Pure and Air Salt fly rods with him.
Eric hadn't hit the road quite yet to show shops the new sticks so he was in the process of figuring out which lines are best with which rods. The sleepy Friday afternoon was perfect for casting rods and shooting the shit about which rods like what lines. The two rods on the menu for casting analysis were the Winston Pure, a light trout series, and the Winston Air Salt, an unapologetically fast action saltwater fly rod.
Winston Pure Initial Casts
Winston Rods, as many of you know, is mostly recognized for ultra smooth action rods and as you could guess from the name the Pure fly rod was no exception. The Winston Pure is the latest in the evolution of lightweight and progressive action rods from Winston. Featuring the latest in Boron III technology adopted from the Air series, this moderate action rod line-up is best suited for those situations where stealth, presentation, and tippet protection are a must.
We sampled three Winston Pure Rods. The 7'6" 3wt, the 8'6" 4wt, and 9' 5wt.
- The 3wt - Pure is a small creek specialists dream. Ultra smooth, with a lot of feel. 6" brook trout beware! This would be a fun rod on tributaries to the St. Joe or NF Coeur d'Alene where small cutthroats roam. Easy casting and excelled at short range. A nice feature to the grip on the 3wt (and other Pure models) was that it was appropriately sized for the rod in both length and weight. Just right was the words I'd use.
- The 8'6" 4wt - Pure was an absolute blast. Easily the unanimous favorite from the staff. Incredibly smooth, like I don't even know how to describe the smoothness of this 4wt. From tip to butt, the 4wt Pure was easily the silkiest 4wt any of us had laid our hands on. Think small to medium streams and dry fly presentation like you have never experienced.
Words about the 486-4 Pure from Silver Bow guide Jake Hood:
As the only one on staff with the experience ( I'm old ok ) to speak to this, let me offer this insight on the new Pure series.
After casting the 8.5' 4 weight I stated " This is Charles Kuralt Winston ". Now some of you guys that are still on the right side of dirt know what that means . My colleagues were a little baffled.
This rod series harkens back to the day when R.L. Winston made the finest progressive action fly rods known to man.
When Charles Kuralt did their promos. When they only made so many rods a year.
Only now it's better.
It tracks like a fly rod should , straight and true. It doesn't dampen in an s curve , so your cast won't hinge beyond 35 feet. In fact , at distance it comes alive . That's right, a progressive action fly rod that casts strong for distance. This rod series epitomizes every ounce of experience and knowledge that has ever graced the floor at Winston .
Man does it show.
- The 9' 5wt - Pure was the trickiest rods to get dialed in for fly lines. It wasn't that the rod was lack luster or cast funny, it was the fact that rod was surprisingly good at the short game and finesse while still having the guts to put some muscle and speed into it for distance. After trying five different fly lines on it we ultimately settled for the Scientific Anglers Trout Taper, a perfect solution for being able to throw short and long shots. A fun 5wt rod for those that aren't into the more common fast action fly rods and want a rod that performs well at "trout distance".
Winston Air Salt Initial Casts
As said by Winston rep Eric Neufeld, "An unapologetically fast actioned fly rod". I will personally say, and I believe others will agree, Winston Rods has struggled as a competitor in the fast action arena. Either they are not fast enough, or too heavy, or too much swing weight. The Air Salt from Winston has seemed to address all of these complaints. Fast, light, ultra smooth. Currently the Scott Meridian holds the title in all of these categories, it will be interesting to see the markets reaction to the Winston Air Salt. The Air Salt is just as the name implies, light and meant for the saltwater. It is fast from tip to butt, just as a saltwater rod should be.
We sampled four Air Salt Winstons, all nine foot in length, 6wt - 9wt.
- The 9' 6wt - Air Salt is a rod that will probably cross over into multiple areas. A ultralight bonefish rod, think Belize sized bones (sub 20") and non-windy days. Would be a blast in calm water when casting to tailers. The 6wt Air Salt is light enough though it should be equally at home on a large western trout rivers tossing meaty streamers. A big dry fly rod? No, too much rod. But big sink tips and big trout, yet for sure. I'm guessing it will be a killer beach rod for sea run cutthroat or small cohos.
- The 9' 7wt - Air Salt. 7wt's are the redheaded stepchild of the rod world. Overlooked by most of the market but with so much potential. I felt that this 7wt was super light and super smooth. We were casting it with the Airflo Bomber line which is a long taper line designed for salmon fishing, which I felt was super smooth on the rod. Bo thought it sucked, but I guess we are all entitled to our opinions. I think this rod will be on my hit list for my next bonefishing excursion as the go-to stick.
- The 9' 8wt - Air Salt was an interesting rod. Interesting in a good way, cuz none of these rods are bad! At first we didn't have quite the right line on it. It was a Airflo Tropical Punch and we think it was actually a 9wt (not labeled). After switching to a Rio Flats Pro the rod frickin' jammed. Short, long, didnt' matter. A powerful and light 8wt rod.
- The 9' 9wt -Air Salt was pure money. Put the Airflo Tropical Punch on it (from the 8wt mixup) and it was game on. One of the finest 9wt's I have ever cast. Fast and smooth. Smoothly fast? I guess that would describe it. Felt like it had all the power you could ever want out of 9wt for permit, baby tarpon, cuda, or jacks. We all dug this rod.
Look for these rods to hit the Silver Bow shelves this fall. We may not stock every one of these, but we will certainly have a sampling of what feel is best.