Cutthroat Chronicles: 2-Weight Shootout, Part One - Winston LS

Cutthroat Chronicles: 2-Weight Shootout, Part One – Winston LS

I’m a self-proclaimed lover of small streams. I don’t care that the trout are often tiny, or that I sometimes spend more time using a bow-and-arrow cast than anything else. I love the solitude, bountiful fish, and technically challenging aspects small stream fishing presents.

It only makes sense to go into these situations with the best rod. Now, after spending time fishing two 2wt rods, I’m convinced that’s the best weight rod for streams that rarely stretch wider than 12 or so feet.

But which 2wt is the best? I was able to spend some one-on-one time with the Winston Boron III LS and the Orvis Superfine Carbon rods on recent fishing trips, and I believe these are the best 2wt rods currently on the market.

This review will look at the Winston, then the next part will look at the Orvis rod. I’ll name the “winner” of this mini-shootout at the end of the Orvis piece.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the Boron III LS 2wt.
Boron III LS 2wt
What I Liked

Crisp action

The LS, in a 7’ 2wt (4pc) size, has a surprisingly crisp action for such a light rod. Crisp doesn’t mean fast, because it’s not.

Rather, in the 2wt LS, I actually felt the Boron graphite. The blank recovers quickly, tracks straight, has some backbone (we’re talking about a 2wt, after all) and lays dry flies down like butterflies landing with sore feet.

Out past about 15 feet, though, the lower sections of the rod start to work and the LS slows down. It’s a slower, more delicate rod than the Boron IIIx, as it should be. Even fans of fast-action rods will like this Winston offering, I think.

Power

Wait, power? This is a 2wt review, right?

Yes. It is. But the 2wt LS packs a punch – for a 2wt. During one of the afternoons I spent with the LS, I faced a decent headwind. I also had to use a bigger fly than I would’ve liked, because the hoppers were everywhere and I didn’t have any 2wt-sized hoppers in my box.

The LS coped with the wind – I had to really work the rod at times to get my fly to the right spot – but I was very surprised with how it turned over a 9ft 6x leader with a size 6 hopper on the end.

Granted, a size 6 chunk of foam is hardly an ideal suitor for the LS 2wt, but it’s nice to know that when needed, this rod can help you make up for poor planning.

I fished a dry-dropper rig one evening, and the LS did just fine turning over a 16 dry with a size 20 zebra midge below it.

I didn’t nymph or cast streamers on this rod, because a) the dry fly fishing was too good to warrant anything other than a dry-dropper, and b) who buys a 2wt intending to use it for streamers or nymphs?

That said, the LS does roll cast well, is strikingly accurate when there’s not wind, and the half-moon shape it takes on when fighting even a 10-inch trout is amazing.
Catch and release fishing
Craftsmanship

Winston consistently produces the most well-built factory rods in the world. I own six Winstons now, from a pre-IM6 Fisher rolled 8’6” 4wt to the Boron IIIx, and the build quality just can’t be topped.

Winston uses their usual Nanolite stripping guide, hard-wire chrome snake guides, and top-drawer cork on the LS. The model I reviewed featured Winston’s new skeletonized aluminum reel seat – Winston green aluminum wrapped in a silver skeleton casing, much like Orvis’s Helios 2 rods.

What I Didn’t Like

Reel Seat/Grip

The blank on this rod is light. You hardly notice you have a rod in hand when holding the 2wt LS, in all honesty.

However, I paired this rod with an Orvis Battenkill I reel and Orvis Hydros 2wt WF line. That’s hardly a heavy setup, but the rod wasn’t balanced as well as it could’ve been.

That Battenkill is the lightest reel I own at 2.8oz and should have been a great fit on the LS. But this is one area in which I think Winston could improve.

The cork grip – while once again, top-drawer stuff – felt too thick and heavy for such a think blank. Likewise, the skeletonized reel seat felt as though it added weight, as opposed to Winston’s traditional nickel silver and burled wood affairs.

I’d slim the cork down, go straight to wood and nickel silver on the reel seat, and trim as much weight there as possible. An evenly-weighted rod casts noticeably different from an unweighted rod, and I suspect with either a lighter reel or a lighter reel seat, the LS 2wt would be even more fun to cast.

Mediocre against the wind and distance

Out to 30 feet, the 2wt LS is dead-accurate, lively, and fun. Past 30 feet, you really have to pay attention to your casting stroke or you’ll end up with a tailing loop. Granted, this is a 2wt, but it’s worth noting that if you pick one up you’ll need to get better at stalking trout.

It’s also not a great rod to fish against a headwind. That’s not really a knock against the rod, but against 2wt rods in general. Again, I feel like when buying a 2wt, you go into it with the assumption that you’re not going to have a line cannon, but I felt it important enough to bring up.
Boron III LS fly rod
Final Word

The 2wt LS is a great rod, and might be my favorite current Winston – edging out the 10’ 3wt Super 10 (a rod that doubles as an excellent dry fly tool). It casts with a surprisingly crisp action, would be my top pick for tight-quarters fishing, turns over bigger flies without too much work, and still retains that classic Winston feel and presentation.

Even though I didn’t like the grip and reel seat, and it’s not a great rod for wind or distance, Winston still did a great job with this rod. If you fish small streams and the Boron III LS 2wt is in your price range, you need to cast one at your local fly shop. It’s worthy of consideration and is one of the most fun rods I’ve ever fished.

Spencer is a fly fishing writer and novelist from Utah. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram @Spencer_Durrant, or on Facebook @spencerdurrantauthor.

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