R.L Winston GVX Fly Rods Review

R.L Winston has released a new award winning rod for the 2012 season, the GVX. G=Graphite, V=Versatile and X=Fast Action.  It is an all graphite fly rod, that looks, feels, and casts like a $750 fly rod.  The surprising part about the GVX series is that Winston is only asking $495 for the entire series 3-8 weight (they’re not producing the rod in a 7 wt.)

The rods are built in the company’s factory in Twin Bridges, Montana, so if buying American is your thing, you can be proud to own this rod.  The rods are beautiful, they are the same Winston green color as you would expect from any other high end Winston rod.  The 3-6 weights are equipped with nickel-silver uplocking reel seats and maple wood inserts, and cigar grip premium corks.  The 8 weight model comes with a full wells premium cork and an aluminum reel seat, as well as a full cork fighting butt.  The blanks are rolled on the same mandrels as the boron series of rods that Winston produces, so they have the same tapers that the boron series of rods do.  The rods come in the green aluminum rod tube that we are all used to.  They spared no expense in designing these rods, however they do have that significantly better price tag.

When it comes to casting, we tested the 9 foot 4 weight and the 9 foot 6 weight.  Both of the rods were very smooth, and powerful.  More power than we had expected to be perfectly honest.  The 4 weight excelled at presenting small dries on the spring creeks, with great accuracy and was good for delicate presentations.  We had the 6 weight out on the Yellowstone fishing Salmon Fly imitations, on a windy day, and it handled the conditions and big flies very well. The 6 weight mended line very well out of the boat as well, which on a day that is blowing over 20 mph is very important.

In the end, Winston has produced a very fine fishing tool, at a reasonable price, something moderately rare in today’s high end rod market.  If you have any questions or would like to see them in person stop in or call Sweetwater Fly Shop at 406-222-9393, and we would be happy to help you out!

Patagonia Rock Grip Boot – Aluminum Bar – Review

I’ve been wearing Patagonia’s new Rock Grip wading boots with aluminum bars for a couple of months now. If you haven’t seen them yet, they look like something Frankenstein might wear, were he a fly fisherman. Patagonia has taken a pair of rubber-soled boots and screwed 5 rather large aluminum bars into the soles. According to Patagonia, these metal bars provide superior traction on slippery rocks. Being a rather clumsy wader with a propensity to take unplanned swims, I decided that I’m just the one to test that claim.

My first outing with the boots was to the Gallatin River, with its deadly bowling-ball rocks. I have also waded a number of times in the Yellowstone, where the stream bottom is composed of smaller, silt-covered rocks, as well as in the Boulder and a few other spots. What’s the verdict? I’m very impressed with the traction and comfort of the boots. Not one slip during any of my forays. You read that right; I haven’t fallen once due to footing-related issues (I’ve tripped a couple of times, but the boots can’t be blamed for that). The soles really do securely grab on to the rocks, even when I’m somewhat off-balance. They feel at least as stable as felt soles, and easily best the rubber-soled boots that I normally wear. Given that they should be easier to rid of invasive critters than felt soles, the Patagonia Rock Grip boots with aluminum bars may be the answer for eco-aware anglers who are tired of amusing their companions with impromptu dances and plunges.

The boots sport a grey synthetic leather upper, which is easy to clean and which doesn’t stiffen up when it dries. A full-coverage rubber rand and rubber toe bumper keep the sharp rocks at bay. The fit of the boots (a 1/2 size larger than my usual shoe size) is good and comfortable, even with extra-thick socks. There is just a little heel slip when I’m walking to the stream. The toe box is plenty big to allow me to wiggle my piggies and fight off toe-numbness for a few extra minutes. Walking is not as awkward as it might appear, though I wouldn’t want to do any extended hiking. The soles did collect some snow during my early-season trips, but not the inch-thick ice clumps that you tend to get with felt soles in the winter. Patagonia claims that the aluminum bars are more boat-friendly than traditional cleats; that said, I sure wouldn’t let anyone scrape around my boat with these on their feet.

Overall, Patagonia’s Rock Grip Boots with aluminum bars are a legitimate option for anglers who want to remain upright on slippery rocks. Whether they’ll supplant felt soles as the go-to choice remains to be seen. One word of caution – be careful not to step on your fly line; the aluminum bars will leave quite a divot. I learned this the hard way.

Fish Armstrong’s Spring Creek!

We’ve got two rods on Armstrong’s Spring Creek for this Sunday, July 8th. We’re giving them away on our Facebook page. Just go to our page, “like” it (if you haven’t already) and tell us why you deserve to fish one of the country’s legendary waters. Leave your reason in a comment to the contest post. The person with the most compelling and creative reason will win the prize. Entries must be in by 5 p.m. this Friday. Good luck!