Winston’s chief rod designer/VP of Operations Annette McLean and the company’s owner David Ondaatje collaborated on a new rod which was announced at IFTD. They also made a series of positive moves for the company. First and foremost, the Asian experiment is over. Winston has gone back to its roots with all-Montana made rods. This of course leaves a gap at the lower end of their pricing spectrum, hence the new “Nexus.”
I threw the nine foot five weight (pictured above) and was very favorably impressed. This rod has all the classic Winston accoutrements, including a hand-written label, but it is painted a glossy black. Indoors the difference wasn’t overly noticeable but I expect the rod to look extremely hi def outside.
Casting-wise, I think this is a very strong design. I’ve always liked Winston’s rods, especially the faster versions of their classic designs. This one strongly reminded me of the late 1990s era LTX, a fast-action progressive taper which was a contemporary of the Sage XP. I maxed a couple casts out just to see if the rod collapsed and it did not; this stick has plenty of bottom for all practical fishing situations including bank banging with streamers.
At $475 but entirely made in America with a classic Winston look, I really expect the Nexus to be a strong seller. This is an interesting space right now. Mid-market rods have largely returned to the United States as Asian production costs have increased and Asian-made rods have proliferated. In an effort to separate themselves from the pack, manufacturers like Winston have allocated some of their American production back to the sub-$500 class of rods. In these cases we get nice American touches like hand scribing and US-manufactured (non-cloned) blanks, but costs are cut on things like grip cork, reel seats, and rod tubes. I like this space. The cork on the Nexus a is still excellent and the reel seats simply look like the standard ones from ten years ago.
Be sure to test-cast this rod if you’re considering even a high end rod purchase in the next year.