Winston Alpha+ 9' 9 Weight 990
Nina - 9 Weight - We will start with the 9 weight, which is affectionately referred to as Nina. It was the first one I picked up and it might also be my favorite. This rod has the touch of a lamb’s nuzzle, yet is a full grown silverback for sink tip work. Versatility across a multitude of line styles is required for a rod to hold a spot in my quiver for any period of time. This is a big bass weapon, and has also been my choice for fishing big water, big trout with sink tips in the north Rockies.
Notably, in hand and when fishing, this rod feels like most 7 or 8 weights. Streamer fishing can be a dawn to dusk affair so having a rod that fishes light means much less fatigue, especially if you are doing a lot of work at close range and working your fly back to the boat. The Alpha+ 9 excels at being able to load, roll cast, and deliver quickly and effortlessly with a big baitfish pattern at short range. At long range, it is no slouch and has consistently been able to launch big time casts with pin point accuracy.
Most of the new age style rods in this market are great for tight loops and small to mid size flies, i.e. typical flats fishing, often using a floating line. The Alpha+ has more to offer than just that. Nina handles a variety of line styles, but I have listed out my favorites across the dozen or so that I have messed around with.
-Steer clear of any front loaded weight forward taper unless strictly for short range pursuits (Titan Taper, Big Nasty Taper, lots of these out there). These do not allow an angler to roll cast well nor are they conducive to longer casts with accuracy. Lots of wasted effort and energy required. That being said, this rod
-350 grains is an excellent reference point for sink tips with Nina, however it can handle heavier, especially in lines with a more level taper.
-This rod is burly enough to use a more stout reel, but I would still suggest a light or mid-weight reel for balance. Try the Galvan Torque 8 or 9, or the Bauer RX 5 or 6 depending on desired backing capacity.
-Rio Elite Predator - Floating AND sink tip varieties. We love this line. Tons of power and control with a beautiful taper that makes casting big flies easy. The floating version is what we use the most on the Alpha Nina, however we love the Float/Hover/Intermediate as well.
-Rio Striper 350 grain sinking line is a perfect match on this rod for when depth is needed whether it is a big river or lake.
-Rio Direct Core Jungle - Excellent taper design in a super tough build designed for hot weather, big flies, and big fish. Available both in floating and intermediate tip, these are very useful all summer long down south.
-Rio Flats Pro is a great fit for many saltwater pursuits and allows the anglers to cast a country mile, pick up a bunch of line, and reload quick and easy.