For nearly half a century, Dr. Ben Huang has been leaving footprints along the path of history. These days, you can track him on the tackle trail where his genius and patented Winn grips seem destined to change fishing rod design right at what Dr. Huang calls “the seat of control, the handle!”
In the 1960s, he worked under Wernher Von Braun to develop the Saturn V rocket that took American astronauts to the moon. He established the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Aerospace Engineering in 1964 before turning to the sports world where his advanced polymer technology led to landmark innovations in tennis, bicycling and, most notably, golf.
Can Winn impact fishing in the same way it has revolutionized golf? Only time will tell, but the “Rocket Man” anticipates that the wet world of angling will showcase the advantages of his polymers even better than the golf links.
Now he has introduced rod grips in dazzling colors and designs and varied textures, delivering a blend of eye appeal and palpable comfort and control that prompts fishermen to ask: “Why did it take so long to make the break from cork?”
Winn dove headlong into the rod grip market only a year ago, though contract ventures with Redington Fly Rods, Cabela’s and CastAway Rods had already produced breakthrough and even award-winning results. More recently, Hammer Rods adopted Winn split grips for its bass rod line-up.
But as Winn courts custom rod builders to work grips into made-to-order rod blueprints, after-market opportunity also beckons. After all, an estimated 70 percent of Winn’s business in the golf arena comes from grip replacement. Will anglers swap their cork and EVA handles on existing rods for Winn grips?
I tested the waters myself last month when I replaced the grips of six old and not-so-old rods with Winn grips.
How did I fare?
First, the grips I put on the baitcasting rods added noticeably to control. Even with my relatively small hand cupping the reel during the retrieve, the pad of my palm benefitted from the tacky grip.
Secondly, I enjoyed matching up rod blanks and thread wraps with colorful Winn grips.
- A Navy colored 8.5-inch Flare Round Butt grip from Winn matched the rich blue blank of a Quantum Smoke rod. I had thought twice about switching out the black EVA split grips with a full rear grip but noticed no difference in rod weight or balance after the retrofit. The grip served both cast and retrieve.
- My son’s White River fly rod also got an upgrade with a Western fly rod grip from Winn. The scaled deep burgundy grip is leather-like in look. The grip felt tailored to a man’s hand.
- A 10.5-inch Flare Round Butt grip in black with orange pinstripe was a no-brainer match-up for the lone bright orange E21 Carrot Stix rod in my arsenal. If I were 20 years younger, I’d probably be hunting for a pair of black and orange sneakers to match!
- A gray Winn rear grip with red and white pinstripes matched well with two other Quantum sticks: a fire-engine red Quantum Tour Rojas rods and a gray Quantum Tour Edition.
My guess? In the coming years, Skeet Reese won’t be the only bass pro with a rod to match his wardrobe!
And angling historians will see Dr. Ben Huang’s footprints in the sand!
See the current line of Winn rod grips and for more information visit WinnGripsFishing.com