The new Winston Rod Company Air TH Spey Series
Winston just released a full lineup of two handed rods in their Air series and I had the chance to cast these exceptional rods with Winston Rep Eric Neufeld and the guys at the shop recently. Below are some of my thoughts about specific models in the lineup and the place I see them fitting into your spey quiver.
We started off with the 12’ 5 weight. My first question to Eric: “Was this rod designed as a trout spey or designed to be a 5 weight steelhead spey rod?” Eric replied that it was designed for steelhead but he would love to take it to Alaska. Think Rogue, Klamath, and Trinity steelhead. This rod is compact in hand, ridiculously light weight, and powerful for a 5 weight. It is on the heavy end of what I would consider a 5 weight but that is what I want for a small steelhead spey rod. We cast a 360 grain Scandi on it. It throws 60 feet of line effortlessly and provides enough line speed to push casts out to 100 feet. Mending at these longer distances was difficult for the shorter stick to do but that is to be expected from a 5 weight. This is by the far the most fun 5 weight spey rod I’ve ever cast.
The new 13’3” 6 weight is the star of the show. I heard rumors about this rod from various Winston staff over the past year and had built my own expectations about what it would feel like, what the flex pattern would be, and how light in hand it could be. My expectations were completely exceeded in every way. It is lighter than I expected, eats a 390 grain Scandi head for breakfast, and has amazing tip recovery for a longer rod. I cannot truly describe to you this thing other than it is amazing. After we were all done playing with this rod, we UNANIMOUSLY decided that if you don’t buy this rod, you don’t like spey casting. It is really that simple.
My favorite part of the Winston Air TH series is that it was designed for serious fisherman. Think about a tool box. You can’t just have a couple end wrenches, a screwdriver, and a hammer. You need socket sets, five different types of screwdrivers, ball pin hammers, punches, and some power tools. You get the point. The Winston Air TH series provides anglers the complete tool kit to fish with confidence in any situation. The hammer in the series is the 13’3” 7 weight. Let the hammer do the work and nails will fear you. This is the easiest casting spey rod I have ever had in my hands. My personal favorite line on this rod was the Airflo Skandi Long in 480 grains. But a 510 Airflo Skagit Compact was lights out and efficiently put out 80 feet of line. It flexes deeply to a powerful bottom end that provides the gusto so you don’t have to. A word of caution with this stick; don’t overpower it or overline it. It is a true 7 weight. 510 grains is as heavy as I would go.
I also really loved the 12’3” 7 weight. Most rods in this length tend to be fairly fast action but it is medium-fast action. It bends deeply, like its longer brother, and uses the torque from the bottom half of the rod to properly deliver heavy sink tips and flies. It was almost certainly designed by Brian Silvey to cast Skagit lines. The short length loads quickly and will excel in tight spaces making it the perfect companion in the winter time on those smaller coastal rivers. But don’t let me mislead you, this rod has the power to “huck mega” when told to. It is so ridiculously light weight that it feels like a 12’6” 6 weight in hand. I liked the Airflo 480 grain Skagit Compact G2 on it.
The Winston Air TH series of spey rods is one of the most well thought out and produced series I have ever seen. We were unable to cast the 11’6” or 12’6” 6 weights or any of the 8 weights but I will be excited to get my hands on them. If they are anything like the rest of the series, they will find a place in my tool box right next to the beer.
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