Friday, August 12, 2011

Winston GVX and Allen reels

Great looking rod and reel. I love my new setup!  I added a walnut handle to the Allen reel.  They come with a matching aluminum handle.
I recently finished my Ph.D. and got a few sweet graduation gifts.  The first was a Winston GVX 9' 5 wt rod.  It has been on my "fly rod of the moment" ever since it was released.  Now that I have had about a month to fish and cast with it, I feel like I can give a fair and balanced review.  My first impression was "wow, what a smooth rod to cast." It is billed as a fast action rod but I think it fished very well with more open loops when using two fly, or indicator rigs.  I now know what they mean by the classic Winston action.  My Ascent is a nice rod but seems to be a little rough around the edges compared to the GVX.  It has some serious gun to it also.  I could launch a cone head bugger about 60 feet without a problem.   Now, the conehead sculpzilla I got at a fly shop in Missoula was a different story.  The guy there said he could cast it without a problem with a 5wt.  All I have to say is he must have been one hell of a caster.  I, on the other hand, needed a helmet and maybe some body armor if I were going to cast that thing around with a 5.  I did get it out across the stream a few times, fearing for my life each time that thing whipped by my head.  Both decent casts got strikes when nothing else was working mid-day, but after a few near misses I had to take that beast off.  I'll stick with my 7wt for streamers.  All in all I think the GVX did everything on the stream well. The only thing that I noticed, which is likely user error, was the bottom ferrule would be loose sometimes after casting a couple hours.  Better than a sticky ferrule I guess. 

Update: 8-28-2012

I've fished my winston GVX for over a year now and I love it as much today as I did when I first got it.  What it does best: Dry flys.  This rod is a smooth casting, pinpoint accurate, dry fly casting machine.  It does everything else I have tried well too.  I can chuck a cone head bugger with a double haul into a lake about 50 feet and can toss two nymph rigs with a big heavy point fly or split shot with no problem either.  I have fished a 6 wt with cumbersome nymph rigs and that is better but to have the ability to switch to a dry dropper and toss those with the GVX is worth dealing with a slightly less than ideal wt. rod with nymphs.  What I don't like:  The handle hardware seems a little cheap for a $500 rod.  That's about it.  I love the color, the aluminum rod tube and most of all, the way it casts.
Nice female Colorado River Cutthroat

The next awesome gifts I got were two Allen trout series fly reels.  Why two? Apparently, Allen sent the wrong color on the first order and when my wife called them about it they said to keep the black one and they would send the gun metal color for free.    If that doesn't tell you that Allen has the best customer service around, then I don't know what would.  The reels are machined 6061 bar stock aluminum with a carbon disk drag and are right around $100.  I have looked around at reels for a really long time and there is absolutely no better reel for the price right now than an Allen.  In fact, the Allen trout reel is probably as good or better than any $250 reel on the market.  They also just released the Alpha II which is their big game reel and if it is anything like the equipment they sent me it will not disappoint.  Check out their fly tying hooks fly boxes too.  Sweet deals.  I also bought line from Allen and used it on my trip. They have all the usual sizes in DT and WF plus a few sinking lines all for $20.  Unfortunately, they don't have sinking rates or any specific info on the sinking line.  They were so affordable I thought I would give it a shot.  I used the 5 wt WF the most and so far it seems to float as well as other lines.  It has very low memory and came with a welded loop.  On the down side, it got hot one day and I think the line coating picked up some sand or some kind of grit to make it rough.  I'll try to clean it off and see how that goes but it started to cast with quite a bit of resistance after that incident.  I'll post a longer term review of the line after I have used it a few more times.

Update: 8-28-2012

Yeah, the line sucks.  I took it off mostly because the color was too bright for where I fish but mostly because it really wasn't that good.  For $20 maybe get one to toss in your bag for emergencies but it is not a long term line solution.  The reel, on the other hand, is still awesome for the price.  I did have one problem, I put the reel in the water and got some sand in the drag system.  I tried to take it apart to clean it but striped a screw.  I contacted Allen and heard back right away.  They said that screw is reverse wonder I stripped it.   They repaired the reel for free and upgraded the drag.  I got the reel back super fast and it has been perfect ever since.  The 3-5 reel which is now their 3-4 reel is a little small for a DT 5wt and the larger reel looks too big for a 5 wt.  I am basically running with no backing but really, will I ever see my backing on my 5 wt?  Probably not.  I do try to keep it out of the sand, but for $100?  Its awesome.  

Male Colorado river cutthroat in full spawning colors with my new Allen reel.  I hope this one wins me the photo of the week contest!


  1. Those photos are vivid. I am jealous. That new set up is incredible! I want to give that a few casts when we're fishing next. Beautiful trout, beautiful rod. I just ordered a new Ross reel I have been saving for. Can't wait to try it out. let me know when you're good to go

  2. Just read your review of the GVX. I'm glad you posted an update after you'd been fishing it for a while. I'm thinking of getting it for someone for Christmas.

    My only concern is that the tip of the rod is not very stiff. But I guess you didn't find that a problem.

  3. The tip is not very stiff, as with all but the fastest action Winston's. I mostly fish two fly rigs so a super fast action rod wouldn't be ideal. I like to cast with a little bit bigger loop. The only time I wish I had a different rod was in 30-40 mph wind gusts. Maybe should have just quit for the day anyway. It really is a great rod.

  4. Great review. I just purchased the GVX 5 wt and am going to pair it with a Lamson Litespeed. Hope to have the same results you have had. Tie One On!

  5. Great review...I picked up a GVX 6wt but have not got it out to the river
    for smallies yet....I put the Wluff Bass line hope its a great match.