R.L. Winston Nimbus 9′ 5-wt ReviewFebruary 15, 2018
- Good fish-on performance
- Excellent fit and finish
- Made in the USA
- Somewhat expensive
- Not ideal for multiple weighted nymph rigs
- Not the longest casting with multiple flies
The Winston Nimbus represents a slight change in direction for the R.L. Winston Rod Co. The Montana-based rod maker has long focused using boron-based composites in its performance rods (the icon brand also still hand-makes classic split-bamboo rods). But the boron materials are more expensive than pure carbon fiber components, so by building a new rod series from carbon, Winston can offer their designs and tapers at a lower price—albeit still on the pricey end of the spectrum for carbon.
The Nimbus rods proved to be true fast-action sticks with powerful casting performance. The rod extended casts to 60+ feet routinely when required, and still placed flies within a couple feet of the target. And when casting in closer than 30 feet, the Nimbus placed dry flies right where needed.
Weight, balance & general feel
The Winston Nimbus — featuring a deep blue finish to set it apart from the classic Winston green of the Boron rods — fits perfectly in hand. Every tester I handed the rod off to loved the fit and feel of the rod in hand. The balance of the slim wand was nearly perfect, giving it a low swing weight so it could be cast all day without arm fatigue.
The Nimbus fell to second in both casting accuracy and casting distance, behind the Orvis H3F in both categories. The only limitation for the Nimbus was in casting multiple fly rigs. These tended to drag and come up a little short in casts. This rod handled long casts with dry flies nearly perfectly.
The Nimbus feels light throughout its casting motion (i.e. low swing weight), which allowed for some impressive line-speed at times, make it possible to shoot line greater distances with little effort. Winston rod designers have a well-earned reputation for engineering rod tapers that encourage power with accuracy, and the Nimbus upholds that reputation beautifully.
The Nimbus proved highly efficient in windy conditions, too, powering lines and flies through stiff gusts without strain or undue effort.
The Nimbus proved highly capable of throwing big dries out into distant feeding lanes with accuracy, yet it also had the ability to drop small dries into small pockets holding rising trout with a feather touch. Many times, the Nimbus was able to present flies in water that seemed impossible to reach without spooking the feeding fish, yet time-and-again, the casts came off perfectly and the flies dropped in like natural spinners descending to the water to lay eggs.
The Nimbus’ light tip section offers excellent feedback from the water, letting anglers know what their fly is doing. Even when dead-drifting small nymphs, it was easy to feel the subtle takes of fish slurping up the tiny flies underwater.
After the hookset, the Nimbus offers an excellent blend of power and finesse. The rod had the spine strength needed to lift the head of diving, fighting trout, helping to keep them out of river bottom rocks and obstructions. Yet it also has the soft feel and finesse needed to let the fish move and struggle without breaking off fine tippets.
The Nimbus’ fish-on performance was exceptional — right alongside that of the Best in Class H3F — and helped net fish that would have been lost with other rods.
Using the Nimbus, I cast lines and caught fish in high alpine lakes, tiny feeder streams, and big western rivers. I threw tiny midges, and gaudy 6-inch streamers. That said, the Nimbus struggled with multiple weighted nymphs — the multiple swing points on the leader could cause issues in casting distance and accuracy, largely because of the soft tip section.
The Nimbus wasn’t always the best in each situation, but it was never far from that top spot. All it all, the Nimbus is a rod that any serious trout angler would appreciate having it their quiver of available sticks.
Dan Nelson- Managing Editor & Fly Fishing Editor
Dan Nelson is GearInstitute.com's Managing Editor & fly fishing editor. He is based in the Pacific Northwest.