This summer I sold some old fly rods and purchased some new ones. I bought a 9 ft. Winston Air 2, a Winston Pure 9ft 5wt, and an Epic 7ft 6 inch 4wt fly rod which I review below (along with my new waders).
When Winston announced a 20% knocked off on their high end fly rods I knew I had to check it out!
Winston Air 2
The Air 2 is a completely different rod from the original Air. The original air was definitely a fast rod that worked nicely if you were fishing a flat wide location and the fish were on the other side of the river.
The Air 2 is a rod that will do just about anything you want it to. I caught nice rainbows in Oregon swinging heavy large wet flies. I also used it casting a size 12 bead head woolly bugger into heavy structure where I actually thought I was snagged on a log until the trout pulled back! My 6x tippet held strong. It turned out to be an 18 inch brown trout!
The Air 2 works well on the AuSable casting small dry flies into a foam line catching small Brook trout.
In my opinion, if you can afford the $1000+ price tag give it a look. There also some Air 2 rods listed on the two Winston fly rod pages on Facebook. (These pages have nothing to do with the Winston Fly Rod Company.) Both are pages where people buy and sell Winston Fly Rods. I have sold 4 Winston fly rods on those pages, all my experiences were positive there.
If you are used to fishing fast fly rods you will need to grow into the Winston Pure. I bought a 9ft 5wt.
The Pure is significantly slower than the Air 2. It is not as slow as a full flex rod. The Pure is a dry fly and small nymph rod.
When casting the Pure you will immediately find yourself wanting to cast it like a stiffer fly rod. You will push too hard and crash a couple casts until you can catch the rhythm of the fly rod.
The Pure is capable of putting a dry fly into feeding lanes without any trouble.
(I like using AirFlo lines for they worked without any surprises.)
Unfortunately this trout season has not been the most successful for me. I have yet to catch a fish with my Winston Pure. Overall the 2023 season has been a tough one due to health problems and what seems like more people fishing.
The Epic 7ft. 6.inch is fiberglass (or fast glass as Epic calls it). This fly rod was named one of Field and Stream magazine’s rods of the year.
The Epic is a two piece rod that casts like the old Orvis Far and Fine. I have not used the rod very much yet because neither the time nor conditions were on my side.
The Epic is a slow rod. I look forward to catching a Brookie this fall with it.
In review of the Epic brand customer service is fantastic. The company is located in New Zealand, but shipping times are no worse than a rod coming from somewhere in the USA by normal mail. There were no surprise fees (duties or taxes) to pay either.
My rod was pre-built, however Epic’s forte is in fly rod blanks and building kits. A kit from Epic comes with everything needed to build the rod and the box is designed to be used as the stand for building and drying the fly rod. If you are going to build a fly rod Epic is worth a look. I also bought a set of Epic’s fly tying tools — the nicest I own.
Add In The Waders
Lastly, after wearing out my Orvis lightweight waders on a trip, I decided to buy a pair of front zips. My criteria was weight and comfort. Shopping at Fin and Fire fly shop in Bend Oregon, I tried on many brands.
Wader weight is very important because of the ease it is to hit the 50 or 55 pounds mark when traveling by air. Though I am only 6ft 4in tall, it seems like my clothes are significantly heavier somehow.
I own a pair of the Simms G4 waders, and find them heavy, despite being Goretex. They are also hot in the summer
The Simms and Grundens waders use actual Goretex. Patagonia and Skwala use the same brand of breathable fabric though not Goretex and the price does not differ even though they are not labeled Goretex.
All four brands offer waders in a long size range. Simms and Grundens offer waders for those vertically challenged.
I bought the the Grundens waders for the lighter weight. They are not as heavy as the Simms, however the features are very similar. Patagonia has what they call a zipper garage at the top of the track that will prevent snagging and they also offer removable pads for the knees.
The only concern with the Grundens waders are the gravel guards made from a stretchy fabric instead of neoprene like the Simms.