TFO Fly/Spin Rod Review

     Last summer I picked up a new ultralight rod for trout and panfishing.  I had recently started using a new to me technique called threadlining.  Threadlining was developed by angler Joe Robinson down in the great state of Texas.  Joe Robinson was a fly fisherman for many years before he made the switch to a spinning rod.  He took the ideas of light weight fly fishing and combined them with the advantages and casting accuracy of an ultralight spinning rod.  More specifically he had custom spinning rods built from 2 and 3 weight fly rod blanks.  He shared all of his ideas in his book, Piscatorial Absurdities—A Fly Fisherman’s Guide to Radical Freshwater Ultralight Spin Fishing.
     Fast forward a few years and this ultralight technique started to grow a following which caught the eyes of TFO.  They decided to offer a rod based on his build specs so other anglers could experience this amazing technique without the need to have a custom rod built.
     So first off let me say that this was my first time to purchase a TFO rod.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the packaging.  My first thoughts were that this rod is extremely well built.  The wraps were well done and the eyelets were straight.  Below is a spec sheet laying out the TFO Fly/Spin rod.

  • 6 foot Graphite Blank
  • Premium Cork Handle w/sliding reel seat
  • 2 piece rod blank
  • 2.7 oz. weight
  • Line weight 2-6 pounds
  • Lure weight 1/32-3/8 oz.
     I originally paired this rod with a 500 size Daiwa spinning reel.  Following the setup laid out in Joe's book I loaded the reel up with an entire spool or Orvis Mirage 7x tippet.  As I said before this is a rod designed for extreme ultralight spin fishing.  The use of tippet as the mainline as opposed to you standard 4 pound test fishing line let me know that I was going to be fishing with extremely small lures.
     My first outing with this rod was last summer.  I decided to take it to a local pond in search of some bluegills.  The first cast was a mess to say the least.  This rod has a medium action so the parabolic bend runs from the tip to the handle.  It really took some adjustments in my casting stroke to have any semblance of accuracy.  After a few minutes I got it under control and soon enough I was on the fish.  As I landed the little bluegill I was blown away by how much fun fighting the fish was.  This rod was the first ultralight that I've owned purpose built for fighting smaller species.  It was a true fight, not just me reeling in a fish on light line.  I used the rod on and off during the summer and really enjoyed it for the panfish in the Madison area.  However, I wondered if it would be a capable performer out on the driftless creeks in pursuit of trout.
        In the past I've always used a 5 weight fly rod when chasing trout on creeks.  Recently I got the chance due to a sore back to get out on the driftless with the TFO Fly/Spin rod in tow.  Casting on small creeks is entirely different than casting into urban ponds.  Precision is the name of the game and this rod didn't disappoint.  I was able to place my small spoon in every riffle, seam, and pool that we encountered.  The sensitivity of this rod is amazing and I was able to feel the difference between each rock, stick, and gravel strewn section.  Most importantly I could feel the lightest take.  This rod is a casting rocket with small lures and I could cast well upstream of the pool and bring my lure back under control.  It really performs well as long as you use it for its intended purpose.
      Being that this is a review I feel compelled to tell you about some of the things that bothered me about this rod.  First off this is a technique specific ultralight rod.  It throws light lures with light line very well.  It doesn't throw bobbers and live minnows well.  The rod just isn't designed to be an all around rod.  So if you are looking for a do all ultralight to add to your quiver of rods look elsewhere.  The TFO Fly/Spin rod is designed for threadlining.  It shows it's design focus when you ask it to do anything else.  Another thing that bothers me is related to build quality.  The rod features alignment dots to help you when assembling it.  The dots on my rod are not lined up correctly.  This means that when I put the rod together the line guides don't line up.  It's easy enough to fix by sighting down the rod, but it's annoying.  The other build thing that I'm not a fan of is that the sliding reel seat constantly comes loose.  On more than one occasion I've had the reel fall off of the rod while casting.  One time while I was trying to release a fish the reel just came loose and fell off the rod handle.  At that point the reel became encased in mud and wouldn't work correctly till it was cleaned.  That immediately ended my fishing trip for the day and made me very angry.  It's something that I was able to fix by putting a little grip tape on the reel itself, but you should be aware of this issue if you're considering purchasing this rod.

     All in all I would recommend the TFO Fly/Spin rod to any angler looking to get into threadlining.  It is designed to excel in this area and it doesn't disappoint.  You can cast a 1/16th oz. spoon or size 00 inline spinner a mile.  It also changes the game when it comes to delicately fighting larger fish on extremely light fishing line.  I wouldn't recommend this rod to the angler looking to get into general ultralight fishing.  You can get an ultralight rod for far less that would allow you to just get out and experience light line angling.  If you're an experienced ultralight angler looking to take your fishing game to the next level than this the rod for you.
     Tight Lines.

Comments

  1. I have the same rod and enjoy it for both 3 wt fly and UL spin. One correction though. The rod's lure weight range is 1/32 - 3/16 oz.

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