I think if you do a search for Derek Brown Special you'd get quite a bit of information as those rods have been discussed fairly often on this board since they were released a few years ago. My experience is that they are great casting rods which were too heavy for my tastes. The 10/11 model is almost fifteen ounces whereas the same 10/11 five piece Thomas & Thomas is slightly over twelve, and a four piece Loop is a little over ten. The design also made the rod extremely tip heavy which meant it took a fairly heavy reel to balance the rod properly. I needed to use a reel of almost one pound empty to make the rod balance once the line and backing was added and that just added to the overall mass. Young turks probably don't find this to be much of a problem, especially since the rod does cast very nicely. Another criticism, although to me it was an advantage, was the small diameter of the handle. My small hands loved the handle and it also increased the feel of the rod while casting. When it came to a choice between keeping the db or the T&T, I chose the latter and sold the former. By the way, the db also was finished exquisitely. If you have trouble getting information doing a search, I believe Dana has a review of the rod on Speypages.
I own the Winston Derek Brown Favorite 7/8 and the 10/11. While I have not had the opportunities to use them a great deal yet my initial comments are as follows.
The 7/8 without a reel and line does feel a bit tip heavy in the hands. The 10/11 however feels perfectly balanced both with and without a reel and line on it. I set them up with Lamson LiteSpeed 4 reels which with backing and 10/11 line weights in at 14.9 ounces and feels perfect when casting. Or more accurately it doesn't feel at all, it just seems to be an extension of your arms. Likewise the same reel and 7/8 line rig on the 7/8 balances exactly as I would expect.
I am 50+ and do not have any problem casting either rig for extended periods, so I don't understand the weight comments of others. Likewise, I find the size of the cork to be perfect for my hands (medium sized I would guess) and have no problem with that area either.
The fit and finish are better than any other spey rod I have seen, though I have not seen them all. They both cast extremely well and are very powerful rods fully capable of handling a full SA XLT Spey line, though I am not yet that capable:>( On this subject I would add that the XLT line recommendations for the Winstons on the SpeyPages forum are right on.
If you are not put off by the price I believe you will be very pleased with any of this series of spey rod and will enjoy your time on the water with them. And it is the pleasure of the fishing that is the thing, now isn't it.
I have cast all of them except the 7/8. They are very powerful, medium action rods that can easily cast as far as you can fish. You do need to use a fairly heavy reel with them though to counter ballance the weight of the rod or you will end up with a rod that feels tip heavy, ehich will tire you out in the course of a day's fishing.
Two things I don't like about them are: 1) the small grip diameter because it would give me cramps in my hands and forearms if used for the extended time I typically spend astream; and 2) the price. At $895.00 U.S., this makes them close to or more than $200.00 higher than other very nicely appointed and very nice casting 2-handers.
I have an 8/9 15' Winston DBF and like it very much. I'm learning to use a RIO GrandSpey on it now and can pretty much send the whole line though the guides. I've fished it successfully on the salmon rivers in Gaspe and am thinking of getting the 7/8 for up there as well as fall Steelhead in the Great Lakes, although 15' is a bit long for those rivers.
Once you've cast it a while you really don't notice the weight. It's controlling the power and letting that rod work for you is the trick, it's easy to over do thinking you have to work the rod more because of the weight. The opposite is more true.
The 8/9 is a bit more rod than I would normally buy. I don't fear any 40+ lb fish in Gaspe with it since I've done well there with my 13' Scott 8 wt, I think the only reason to go heavier is tips and fly size. Since most of what I do in Gaspe is with 1/0 and less I'm sure the 7/8 would do well and have backbone to spare.
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