The Winston Fly Rod Company is beloved at Stillwater Fly Shop. Their great fly rods are used regularly by the staff here for trout, steelhead and saltwater fishing. That is why there was a bit of apprehension on our parts when R.L. Winston jumped into the mid-range rod market a few years ago with the Nexus Fly Rod family. After trying this great graphite rod in the lawn and then on the water we kicked ourselves for having any doubts. The Nexus performed like, well a Winston.
On the Grass
The first thing that we noticed about the Nexus was the departure from Winston’s trademark deep green blank. Dark, black and mysterious, the black rod blank invites the angler to hold either the Cigar or Full Wells grip depending on the rod weight. The chrome guides add a unique accent to the rod that gives the Nexus aesthetic a powerful look that made us want to cast it immediately. A classic burled wood reel seat on the 5wt. gives this sleek, fast-action Winston a modern look with a classic touch.
The first line we strung onto the Nexus was a 5wt.Rio Specialty Series Lightline Double Taper. Loading the Nexus with this line was fairly difficult at close range because of its fast action. By forcing the casting stroke through the middle of both the back cast and forward cast we could generate enough line speed to compensate for the rod’s stiffness. This didn’t make for the best casting experience and was more difficult for a couple of our less experienced casters. When we over-lined it with a 6wt. Lightline fly line it loaded almost perfectly at close range and was extremely easy to cast at 50’+. Accuracy was exceptional with this line on the Nexus and there was enough touch that the presentation was adequate for most situations.
On the Stream
Anticipating how well this Winston Rod would perform with a line with a shorter, more dense head forced us to ro-sham-bo for who got to cast the rod with the Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Ultimate Trout Fly Line first. This line made the Nexus feel like a “Winston”. The shorter, heavier taper loaded the rod with ease. Initiating the cast was smooth and somewhat effortless with great tip control. The lower third of the rod has a powerful feel that gave our beginning fly caster confidence in launching casts further than she ever had done in the past. The sleek tapered rod generated great line speed with very good recovery that rivals the Winston BIIIx.
When I fished the fly rod, I truly fell in love with the Nexus. It is a roll casting machine that can turnover an indicator with two large nymphs just by the fisherman thinking about it. Ok, a tad bit of an exaggeration, but it roll casts so easily that I never had to really “punch” the end of the cast. It threw the double bug setup as easily as it was to zip a dry fly out to 60’ or more. Hitting the targeted seam or behind-the-rock spot with this nifty 100% graphite rod took little effort with the Sharkwave Line that has the shorter, heavier taper. My only issue with the rod was that the tip is a little stiffer than I was accustomed. I had to make mending and hook setting adjustments in my personal fishing style early on. However by the end of the day I was convinced that Winston had struck gold with the 5 wt. Nexus because of its adaptability as a fun, multi-use fly rod.
On the Lake
We lined the rod with a Rio Intouch Outbound Short Fly Line next to head out to one of our local lakes to throw some streamers. The Nexus cast this line so easily with a large streamer that on my first cast there was no line left on the spool. Initiating the cast took very little tip movement. Loading a rod with a short back stroke is what I look for when I fish on still water. The Nexus was all that and more, transmitting so much power on the back cast that a very slight haul on the forward stroke launched almost every cast with the ease of higher priced streamer specific rods. I loved the rod’s capabilities in the wind, particularly its recovery and the feel of the bottom end of the rod when power was needed to complete the cast.
The feel of the rod was good when stripping the fly. Once again, I had to adapt a tiny bit when I hooked and fought fish because the tip wasn’t super forgiving at first. But after realizing this(yeah, I broke my first fish off), I had no issues and enjoyed how the rod fished. My biggest surprise was how much touch the rod seemed to have when the fish got closer to the boat. This can be the tell-all for rods in lakesbecause of the sudden “spaz” attacks that most fish have when they see the boat for the first time. The tip of the rod responded nicely with sudden, high leverage head jerks and runs that many faster action rods don’t handle well at all.
The Winston Nexus and Its Bang for the Buck
As a mid-level priced rod the Nexus is not just satisfactory – it is a Winston. Great to look at and fun to fish in many different environments, this little gem from the rod company in Twin Bridges, Montana carries on their tradition of finely crafted fly rods. It is one of the Stillwater Fly Shop crew’s first choices as a multi-use rod that can be used by beginning and expert anglers alike. Whether on the stream or lake the Winston Nexus can’t be ignored as one of the most utilitarian graphite rods available for the price today.