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Freshwater Rods

Winston PURE Fly Rod

When Winston decides to be Winston, it works.
February 5, 2024
Winston | PURE Fly Rod
product description
“The ability of these medium-action rods to present flies in a delicate and accurate manner is unmatched, making them perfect for technical waters like the Henry’s Fork, spring creeks and backcountry beaver ponds filled with wary brookies. The 2 and 3-weights are perfect for small streams, while the 4 and 5-weights are ideal for larger rivers and fish that still require a light touch.” – R.L. Winston
company ethos
“BENT is the end purpose of every Winston. BENT under the weight and power of a good trout, tarpon, or big striped bass. For over 90 years, BENT has also been the end purpose of our company. For we have always been BENT on craftsmanship, BENT on creating unparalleled fly rods that empower anglers to make perfect casts and presentations: rods that have the mojo to get the job done.” – R.L. Winston

Winston fly rods are often considered the “prettiest,” “classiest” rods on the market today. The company also has deep roots and a strong pedigree when it comes to rod design. But, at the end of the day, it’s that alluring green paint job that makes the difference. Many people just aspire to own a Winston because of how they look. 

But, just like you cannot judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge every Winston rod on looks alone. I’m fond of some Winston models, going back to the IM6, and I’m less fond of others.

Product story

I very much like the Winston Pure because it’s the kind of rod with a distinctive action and feel that matches up with the aesthetics. It’s an elegant casting rod. It’s creative. Not dainty, but not a power horse, not even close.

It’s a dry-fly rod. And it’s a small stream rod. It’s a very easy-to-feel, medium-action rod that flexes toward the middle. The largest model in the Pure lineup is a 5-weight–with good reason.

Performance

I’ve fished that 9-foot 5-weight and a 7-foot 6-inch 3-weight–the 5-weight mostly in the Rockies and the 3-weight mostly in Michigan. I like them both equally. There’s a 6-foot 6-inch 3-weight version that I borrowed from a friend for a day, and didn’t like as much. That rod would be fine in willow-choked small creeks, but in those places, I prefer fiberglass rods.

The first thing you’ll notice if you pick up a Winston Pure is that the grip is smaller (shorter) than most rods. At first I wasn’t sure. The more casts I made, however, the more I realized that the grip on this rod is focused on a precise spot that forced me to get “in touch” with the action as I made casts. I think this is a huge asset, though I’m sure others feel completely different.

Versatility

The more I fished the Pure, the more I found myself narrowing down on specific situations where I thought it shined. It’s a bit odd, because many rods, especially 5-weights, I value for their versatility–it’s a luxury to be able to fish streamers, or nymphs, or dries, dry-dropper rigs, etc., with the same rod. But I find that I like the Winston Pure for its specificity. I’ve found some places, some situations, namely hatches, where there are few, if any, rods I’d prefer to have. When the gray drakes fall in Michigan, Mother’s Day caddis in Colorado, and so on. 

It all depends on the angler. If you’re a generalist, Pure probably isn’t for you. If you’re a dry-fly specialist who wants a really interpretive casting action, I think Winston has something worth serious consideration.

Most importantly, I think, with Pure, Winston reclaimed a bit of its soul. I think Pure is the rod that allows Winston to be WInston again.

Pros

This is one of the prettiest rods you might ever aspire to own.

It’s a dry-fly rod, and probably more specifically, a mayfly/caddis dry-fly rod.

The grip–you might not like it at first, but it actually puts you in touch with the right feel of the casting stroke.

Cons

Lack of versatility, if that matters to you.

You must be selective about which fly lines to pair with this line of rods–the average, slightly-overweighted, high-floating, weight-forward is typically not the best choice.

I broke the tip off my 5-weight Pure six months ago, sent it in for repair (under warranty) and haven’t heard back from Winston. We understand every company can improve their customer service, but this feels like a larger lift.

Pricing

It’s a premium rod costing just under $1000. You definitely get your money’s worth on looks, feel and performance. It’s the few hundred dollars baked into the price for warranty that I’m questioning.

Craftsmanship 

High-end, distinctive, classic design–one of the more handsome fly rods you’ll ever own.

Durability

Winston fly rods have a long history of above-average durability.

  • Price: $995
  • Dimensions: 9-foot 5-weight, 7-foot-6-inch 3-weight, 4-piece fly rods
  • Weight: 4.25 ounces, 3.2 ounces 
  • Construction/Materials: Advanced Boron III
  • Guides: Chrome nanolite stripper guide/chrome plated, light wire snake guides
  • Rod action: Medium
  • Rod tracking: Slight wobble
  • Rod recovery: Fast
  • Warranty information: Winston warranty

More about the Winston PURE fly rods:

Winston warranty.

“The Winston Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee covers every new Winston boron/graphite and graphite fly rod and blank against breakage or manufacturer’s defects. This warranty is available only to the original owner of products purchased from an authorized Winston Dealer. This warranty covers, at Winston’s option, the repair of the original rod or the replacement of the rod with an equivalent rod only. The warranty does not cover lost rods, lost rod sections, intentional breakage, misuse, neglect, cosmetic wear or scratches. Warranty coverage for Winston blanks is limited to the blank only.”

Likely buyers

The Winston-phile, of course, who can’t get enough of that pretty green paint. The dry-fly aficionado. The small stream specialist. The blue line explorer. And the angler who has a grand to drop on a fly rod that has a pretty limited range of operation.

But if you find that niche in your own fishing world, and you match it up with a WInston Pure, odds are, you’ll be more than satisfied.

What others say

“If you’re looking to throw smaller dries to big, spring creek browns, the 9-foot 5-weight is a superior fishing tool–it has the reach, finesse and reserves to control long leaders, provide forgiving hook-ups and turn a larger fish, if necessary. Is there a “perfect” western dry-fly rod? This comes pretty close.” – Andrew Steketee 

Conclusion

If you already have a few rods, and you want one specifically made for dry-fly fishing on small streams, the Winston Pure is a very compelling option, at least among graphite rods. It has a true medium action, but of course, a lot of how that transposes to casting depends on the line you’re using. I definitely would not “over-line” a Pure. In fact, a double-taper fly line is a good option, especially on a smaller, lighter rod like a 3-weight. A “presentation” taper line meant for shorter, more delicate casts on small streams is also a good option.

winston pure fly rod lifestyle image
winston pure fly rod lifestyle image
winston pure fly rod lifestyle image
winston pure fly rod lifestyle image
winston pure fly rod lifestyle image
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