Winston Alpha Plus Review - The Most Powerful Fly Rod
That's right, I said it. For those of us who miss the old Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson: "POWWWWWWAAAAA!!!"
The Winston Alpha Plus is all about power, and it delivers. The big guns for big game. I challenge you to find a more powerful fly rod on the market today. Simply massive amounts of power, and doesn't feel like a pig the way some overly stiff fly rods do. I have personally owned a 7wt Alpha forever, and I fish it as an 8wt in saltwater.
When you need to muscle a fish away from banks or docks or similar situations, you can basically just drag them out with this rod, which I ordinarily would never do with most other fly rods. This rod plus a Shilton reel makes for a tow truck you can fly fish with.
You need to be sure to overline this rod, always. Do not put 8wt Bonefish line on an 8wt Winston Alpha, it will not work well. Put on a 9wt Bonefish or Permit line, however, and that 8wt will kick ass. Nobody will even remember the G. Loomis NRX+ once they try a Winston Alpha. Outgunned and outclassed.
Did I mention this is a gorgeous fly rod? It is. Winston has always reminded me of Aston Martin or Bentley, I can see taking my Winston rods out of the back of one of those at my country estate. These are simply beautiful, head to head with the best Thomas & Thomas fly rods for nicest looking fly rods ever made. Aston Martin's motto is "Power, Beauty, Soul" and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Back to fly line choices - This rod is an absolute weapon for big trout (5wt-7wt sizes), Bass (most bass fly lines are two full sizes heavy), Golden Dorado, Peacock Bass, Bonefish (*only in very windy situations, otherwise use the Winston Air Salt for more finesse), Snook, Permit and Redfish, and even Pike or Musky with the largest rods in this series. Alpha is all about the big game, the aggressive predators of the fly fishing world. And this rod packs a punch.
I often explain to people that there are rods that look great on the shelf at the fly shop, maybe even cast very nicely on the lawn, but when it comes time to fight a fish you start to see the flaws. Not this rod. You would be shocked at how light it is given the amount of power behind it when you cast. I would still give an edge on lightness to the Sage R8 series which is also tremendously powerful (with even less effort needed) but they are still very different fly rod concepts. This Winston rod is about brute force but still has plenty of precision (my 7wt is phenomenal, I can put out candles with it).
Don't believe me? Cast one. But choose your fly lines wisely. Any questions about that, feel free to ask me. Long story short, go up a size or use something that is very heavy within the stated size range - for example, Rio Outbound Short or Rio Predator / Warmwater Predator are already very heavy at their stated size so there is no need to go up a size.
The ONLY real "con" is more about what your needs are as a fisherman. Do you need that much power or is another fly rod option more suited to your casting style and general approach? Are you fishing for 6-pound Bonefish on a calm day? Probably no need for this rod. Dry flies? Definitely not. Giant streamers? YES.