Winston aficionados often speak of the “Winston feel,” a combination of gentle precision and easy casting that you might associate with a Pale Morning Dun hatch on a Paradise Valley spring creek.
Wipe those thoughts from your mind. While field-testing the newest rod from the Twin Bridges, Montana, rod company, our editorial staff nicknamed the Alpha+ “the anti-Winston” because it’s a powerhouse rod made specifically for giant flies, sinking lines, and monster-class fish, whether that’s a gluttonous brown trout or a deep-water Costa Rica tarpon. There’s nothing dainty about this top dog.
Although we’ve pigeonholed the Alpha+ into a feature on saltwater fishing, you should really think of this rod series in terms of fly size and line density, not in terms of the saline content of the water. In other words, think about the 6-weight for throwing 4- and 5-inch articulated streamers on the Yellowstone, the 7-weight for teasing a Pole Dancer through the tules on the Sacramento Delta, the 8-weight for black and red Andino Deceivers in Bolivia, and the 9-weight for figure 8 muskie maneuvers along the side of the boat.
When you take the Winston Alpha+ out of the rod sock, you can see and feel that it’s substantially thicker and heavier than other rods in its class, especially the tip section, where the rod really only tapers down to a fine point in the last few inches. The stiffer, heavier tip makes the rod ideal for lifting heavy sinking lines from the depths, and for driving excessively large flies into distant horizons. When you do take the Alpha+ into salt water it’s best suited for doll-sized shark flies, pulling amberjacks away from oil rigs, and deep tarpon holes in Belize and Cuba.
The rods have a composite boron/carbon fiber construction with chrome Nanolite stripping guides, oversized tip-tops, full wells grips, and uplocking anodized aluminum reel seats with double locking rings. $935 | winstonrods.com