Expert Review: Temple Fork Outfitters NTR Reel

This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.

A man in waders standing in a river with a fishing rod.

All photos courtesy of Rylyn Small

Published on

About the Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.

My take

The Temple Fork Outfitters NTR “No Tools Required” fly reel is an affordable, fully machined fly reel designed for both fresh and saltwater. This reel is great for anyone looking for a high-quality machined aluminum reel, at a friendly price.

About the reel

  • Model: TFR NTR II CG
  • Reel Size: ¾ WT
  • Backing Capacity:100 yds/20 lb. backing
  • Arbor Size: Large arbor
  • Construction: Machine
  • Drag System: Disc drag

About me

  • Preferred fishing styles: I like it all! From dry fly fishing spring creeks in Missouri to chasing Redfish in Louisiana.
  • Experience: 20+ years of fly fishing with the last 6 years being a fly fishing instructor and guide.

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: November 2021
  • Rod Paired with Reel: TFO Blue Ribbon 3wt 8’0” and the TFO 3WT Stealth 10’6”
  • Line Paired with Reel: Rio Euro Fips and the WF3F Monic Precision Dry Fly Line
  • Days tested: 30+ days
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Freshwater, specifically in spring creeks and medium-sized rivers in the Missouri Ozarks
  • Species targeted with reel: Trout

How it performs

Durability
5/5
Performance
5/5
Quality
4/5
Versatility
4/5

What I was looking for

When I bought this reel, I was looking for a lightweight reel that would pair well with the TFO 3wt 8’0” Blue Ribbon fly rod. I really wanted something that was extremely durable for the conditions of hiking into the remote locations of the Ozarks.

Why I chose this gear

I think of reels differently than most people due to the fact that I do not need a fancy, robust drag system for the situations I fish. This reel is only used to hold the fly line and needs to be durable enough to last in the conditions. This reel just so happens to be not only affordable, but machined and flashy at the same time. It was a no brainer for me.

A man in waders standing in a river holding a fishing rod.

What I love about it

  • Quality: When pulling this reel out of its neoprene pouch, you immediately get the feeling that this is going to be a great reel for any application. TFO claims them as being great for saltwater as well, a statement with which I am in agreement. I have fished this reel hard for the last 7 months and have swapped the spool numerous times for different applications and it looks and operates just as it did on my first trip.
  • Durability: You can’t find another more durable fly reel for the price, and especially not a machined one. TFO knew what they were doing when they launched this series of fly reels and I foresee encountering these on the water in all applications for years to come. The price is comparable with a lot of cast reels out there which is odd considering it is fully machined.
  • Use Case : I used this reel specifically for Czech nymphing with a 3wt 8’0” TFO Blue Ribbon and euro nymphing with a 3wt 10’6” TFO Stealth. This is the best reel in the lineup for these rods as they balance for the given application.
  • Size: There is a range of sizes from 3wt all the way to 10wt. I went with the NTR I as it is suitable for the 3wt rods that I was using.
  • Drag System: This is a fully sealed drag system and I have not encountered any problems to date. The drag knob on the side of the reel can be turned from off to full drag with just 2 spins.
  • Build: I personally prefer cast fly reels over machined mostly due to their durability. I have other TFO reels and they perform as they should for their price point. These are made overseas but that does not take away from the usability and functionality of these models.
  • Aesthetics: I chose to go with both the Black Gold (BG) and the Clear Gold (CG) mostly because I could not make up my mind. Both look great but I prefer the black gold model as it is stealthier and doesn’t spook the fish from its reflection on the water. The gold accents of these reels are super flashy and look great even on other companies’ rods.
  • Features: Spool changes are a breeze with the NTR. Simply unscrew the spool thumb screw to release the spool, attach the new spool and adjust the thumb screw. I also really like the openness of the spool as it gets rid of the water quickly all while not detracting from its build and durability.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Performance:: This reel is quite wide compared to the BVK SD and the NXT Black Label fly reel. The NXT Black label is 0.98” in width whereas the NTR is 1.06” in width. Maybe this is just a personal preference but I feel as if this takes away from the performance of the entire setup due to the reel being much wider. I prefer a larger arbored reel with the least amount of width as possible without taking away from the spool capacity. However, this has to be one of the smoothest reels I have ever used; the large arbor allows for an increased retrieve rate of the fly line.
  • Versatility: This is not a major issue if you are not a euro nymphing type of fisherman. As an all-around rugged reel, this is the reel everyone needs. It is not a good euro nymphing reel as the small-diameter fly line and leader often get caught in the reel casing due to the reel not being fully caged. I do my best to stick with the same manufacturer for my rod and reel, as I am not fond of mixing and matching companies’ gear. With that said, this is really not a fault of the company but rather my own gear decision, and the drag system on this reel can handle just about anything on the end of the line.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this reel is watching my students use this reel, to catch a fish of a lifetime. We used this fly reel for euro nymphing techniques on the river here in the Ozarks and enjoyed every minute of it. Nothing like a student lighting up, especially when trying on a new technique.

Value for the money vs. other options

No complaints at all with the value for the money! You cannot find a better quality reel for the price. From an affordability standpoint, I have been extremely pleased with the NTR Fly Reel.

Final verdict

Temple Fork Outfitters has a reputation for producing lifetime warrantied affordably dependable gear for years. The TFO NTR is no exception to that as the money was well spent for a solid, durable, and versatile reel that can be added to anyone's quiver.

Selling Temple Fork Outfitters on Curated.com
Temple Fork Outfitters NTR Fly Reel
From $169.95
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Written By
Hey There! My name is Rylyn Small. I am a High School Agriculture and FFA/Outdoor Teacher that teaches fly-fishing, angler education, hunter education, veterinary science, agricultural welding, and woodworking. I am also thankful to be the Coach for the EPHS Bass Fishing Team where we compete in the...

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