The new Winston Saltwater Air is a big game fly rod series with extra power and strength. The fly fishing community has responded with gusto. In fact, the Salt Air won Best New Product for 2018 at EFTTEX, the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition. Does Winston’s new rod series live up to all the hype? We think so. Read on to find out why.
The Winston Saltwater Air comes in 6 through 12 weight rod models. The reel seat on the Salt Air combines a charcoal gray anodized aluminum, double locking rings, and is engraved with the Winston logo. The grip of the Air Salt is a full wells grip with a 1 ½” fighting butt for increased lifting power. The Air Salt features a new matte Winston green blank color and is made with Winston’s proprietary SuperSilica lightweight resin system. The rod is finished with hard chrome titanium colored snake guides and nanolite stripping guides. This rod is made for saltwater fishing and the fit and finish reflect that.
The Winston Saltwater Air is on the heavy side for high-performance rods. The entire rod weighs in at 4.23 ounces and has a swing weight of 97.3 gm2. The swing weight of the Salt Air is heavy compared to similarly priced saltwater rods like the Orvis Helios 3, Sage X, and Scott Meridian. Heavy swing weight isn’t always necessarily a negative thing but can wear on an angler during long days on the water. Still, it beats out the Sage Salt HD.
The Saltwater Air is like a fine wine, it gets sweeter with distance… or something like that. The Salt Air has phenomenal accuracy at longer distances. The increased line speed and fast graphite recovery rates of the Salt Air mean this rod is made for long distance casting and performs well in windy conditions. Rod strength also contributes to the Salt Air’s lifting power and fish fighting ability. We think one of the most attractive things about this rod is its performance at long distances.
The Salt Air is a fast action rod. We found the rod a bit too fast to routinely make accurate casts at 40 feet. When we moved the Salt Air back to 60 feet we felt the rod really started to perform like many of our favorite saltwater fly rods. The rod is very accurate at 60 feet and beyond.
The Salt Air has a very interestingly different flex and feel. We found ourselves slowing our casting stroke at longer distances but feeling incredible line speed and recovery rates. The Salt Air has a faster mid-section than other Winston rods which allows anglers to fire a cast into the wind or unload a large amount of fly line quickly. That being said, the rod maintains Winston feel and encourages a slower casting tempo. This rod is a great combination of classic Winston feel with some minor modifications to add strength and power at long casting distances.
We preferred the SA Amplitude Grand Slam Fly Line on the Salt Air. We also tried Rio Bonefish and it was way too light.
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Winston’s entry into the big game saltwater market has been well-received, and for good reason. Overall, the Salt Air is a powerful rod at longer casting distances and is great for shooting line quickly in windy conditions. The rod maintains classic Winston feel while encouraging beneficial traits of faster action saltwater fly rods. While the Salt Air may not be the best rod for short distances, added balance and recovery rates make it a solid option at middle and long saltwater distances. We think you’ll enjoy casting the Saltwater Air. Want one? You can buy it here.