R.L.Winston Air 9'#6

R.L.Winston Air 9'#6

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George's Comments:

 

I am still amazed that the Air didn’t score better in our shootout, especially after coming up with perfect scores in craftsmanship and performance at 30 feet.   The thing that hurt was its poor performance at long range.  This is a soft rod, and that gives it superb feel and accuracy in close.  But then at longer distances the Air lacks the mid and butt section power of the best 6-weight rods.  If you are doing most of your fishing at shorter distances, like 20-40 feet, and you love to fish dry flies, you will love this rod.   

 

The best 6-weight rods need to have enough power and backbone to throw long and cast streamers well and this is where the Air suffers.  This contributed to a low score in the perfect 6 performance.

 

The Air is a new design that still uses a little boron in the butt, and has a nice smooth medium fast action.  The craftsmanship is typical Winston perfection.  This is a gorgeous rod.  The deep emerald green that has been a Winston trademark, sparkles in the sunlight.   The grip is a western style that Winston refers to as their cigar grip.   The reel seat is Winston’s own classy nickel-silver uplock seat with a beautiful birdseye maple burl spacer.   The guides are one SiC stripping guide and the rest hard chrome snake guides.  

 

 

George’s casting notes:   The perfect line -  S.A. MPX in WF-6-F

 

Performance at 30 feet:  20 points out of 20

Just fantastic feel and accuracy at close range.  Better than any other rod in the shootout with a perfect score here.

 

Performance at 50 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

Still good, but the best rods are much better. The Sky and Cross SX were far better, with tighter loops and better accuracy

 

Performance at 75 feet:  17.5 points out of 20

This is where the Air just runs out of gas and has a hard time

getting it done.  And if there is any wind you are in real trouble.    

 

 

 

 

R.L.Winston Air 9'#6

 

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James' Comments:

 

The Winston Air is almost the polar opposite of the Scott Meridian.   Hands down, without question the Air was the most fun rod to cast in close.  Its delightful buttery-smooth action was nothing short of a Tom Morgan or old Sage LL.  Timeless and perfect in close, feel just doesn’t get any better than this. 

 

Unfortunately that sweetness does not come without compromise.  At 50 feet the Air required some concentration and certainly a double haul.  Accuracy proved difficult to dial in.  Any wind was knocking the line off target, sometimes as much as 6 or 7 feet.  Trying to compromise by drilling it in there didn’t work well for the Air, as more than 50% of power casts resulted in a tailing loop.  75 feet really felt like a challenge. 

 

I assumed that because the Air didn’t cast well at 75 feet, that it wouldn’t cast a heavily weighted nymph rig well either.  I was wrong!  We rigged up a 7’6”#4 leader with a Thill indicator, a BB split shot, a size #8 rubberleg (wrapped with .20 lead) and added a size 16 tungsten bead pheasant tail.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the Air handled it with ease!  True, I couldn’t get a tight loop, but I couldn’t get a tight loop with the Sky or Asquith either.  If anything, the heavier weight almost helped the Air throw longer as it helped the line’s momentum continue.

 

I do wonder how well the Air would set the hook however.  I did not get a chance to fish with it but I suspect you’d really have to strike hard and keep stripping tight in order to keep fish on the line.  I also don’t think it would perform especially well with a WF-6-S 10 foot sink tip and a streamer compared to the stiffer rods. 

 

Dry fly anglers rejoice – if you are looking for a little more power than your 5, but aren’t looking to fish nymphs or streamers, the Air is a great option for an all around western fly fishing rod.  If you plan to nymph more (when you have to) and throw the occasional streamer then the BIIIx is going to be the better choice.

 

As with all Winston rods, craftsmanship is perfect a 10.  The classy burled maple wood inserts are all different, making each rod unique.  Along those lines are the individually hand scripted “Air” and serial numbers.  One nice thing about Winston’s serial numbers (aside from acting as alignment dots) they also help you keep track which pieces go with which rod, assuming you own more than one Winston rod. The winding check, epoxy work, guides are all top-notch quality.  The emerald green blank color is simply stunning. 

  

Performance at 30 feet:  20 points out of 20

 

Easily the best in the test.  Fun to cast, accuracy with true feel.  So buttery smooth it feels like a Tom Morgan.  The Air feels light in hand and put a smile on everyone’s face in close.

 

Performance at 50 feet:  18.5 points out of 20

 

Exceptionally smooth and delightful to cast.  This rod would have scored much higher had we been casting indoors with zero wind.  Unfortunately the price of making one of the sweetest in-close casting rods is the lack of power at mid and long distances.   We think most Winston fans will appreciate the Air for what it is, (or any caster who prefers impeccable feel over stiffer power).

 

Performance at 75 feet:  17 points out of 20

 

Too much feel, not enough power.  With no wind the best I would score this rod is an 18.5.  Your timing must be perfect in order to avoid a tailing loop.  Accuracy is luck, even casting 75 feet with the Air will take a strong set of casting skills.

 

 

 

Wnston Air

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Logan's Comments:

 

R.L. Winston’s “Air” is a new rod for Winston.  It is a step away from the classic Winston, but it is still a great rod.  It still has that amazing Winston green, and great craftsmanship, as expected from Winston.  This was the only rod that scored a perfect 20 at 30 feet.  It has excellent feel and is super smooth.  This rod is made for close distances.

Logan’s Casting Notes: 

Performance at 30 feet: 20 points out of 20

Short distance is where this rod was great.  The R.L. Winston Air was perfect at 30 feet.  Its smoothness and feel are what Winston is famous for and this rod didn’t disappoint.  I kept going back to it just imagining a huge spring creek brown sipping spinners 30 feet in front of me.

Performance at 50 feet: 18 points out of 20

What is great about the Air is its feel.  But being a softer rod with more feel hurt its performance scores at longer distances.  The more line you cast the harder it was to be accurate. 

Performance at 75 feet: 16 points out of 20

The R.L. Winston Air was my highest scoring rod at 30 feet but my lowest scoring rod at 75 feet.  This is not what this rod was designed for, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

 

 

Winstdon Air

 

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JG's Comments:

 

Be careful that you don't smack yourself in the face when you grab this rod for the first time because it is extremely light.  It’s got the typical aesthetic of all Winston rods, which sacrifice nothing for looks or quality.  The action is typical Winston as well.  If you want to throw heavy streamers or make the longest casts on the river this rod isn’t for you.  If you want to fish large dries or nymphs to fish that are within 50 feet and want to have a great time enjoying the cast, Winston’s first foray into nano-tech might be right up your alley.

 

 

30 Feet:   20 points out of 20

 

At thirty feet the Air is light and responsive, the rod gives the angler the utmost in feedback and feel.  Thanks to its exceptionally light tip the Air is agile and accurate and simply feels fantastic.  This is the perfect 6 for close and/or delicate work.

 

 

50 Feet:   18 points out of 20

 

The Air is still a solid contender at the mid range targets.  It isn’t quite as accurate as some of the rods with a little faster action and if the wind kicks up it loses a little punch and can be affected more than the rods that deliver the fly a little more aggressively.  When it’s calm the Air is accurate and delicate.  The Air gets some credit for being downright fun to cast or fish. 

 

 

75 Feet:  15 points out of 20

 

This just isn’t the rod for long distance work.  It wasn't designed for that purpose and it doesn't do it well.  I think Winston did a fine job of doing what they set out to do, if you want a long distance rod look elsewhere.

 

Winston Air

Winston Air

Winston Air

Winston Air

Winston Air

Winston Air

Winston Air

Winston Air

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