Expert Review: Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod

This review is my honest opinion of the fly fishing rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2022.

The Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod.

All photos courtesy of Marshall McDougal

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the fly fishing rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2022.

My take

I firmly believe the Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon is one of the best all-around trout sticks that TFO has to offer. The moderate action is great for throwing dry flies while the butt section is stiff enough to handle larger streamers.

The Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod lying on some rocks with a fishing net lying next to it.

About this rod

  • Model: TFO Blue Ribbon 04 86 BR
  • Rod Length: 8’6”
  • Rod Weight: 4
  • Rod Pieces: Four pieces
  • Rod Material: Carbon fiber

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Dry Fly, streamer, and saltwater
  • Experience: 16 years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: April 2022
  • Reel Paired with Rod: TFO NTR I
  • Line Paired Rod: Monic Precision Dry WF-4-F
  • Days tested: 21
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Piedra River, CO; Bitterroot River, MT; Crane Creek, MO, Animas River and Gunnison River
  • Species targeted with rod: Trout

How it performs

Casting Ease

What I was looking for

When I was looking for a 4 wt rod, I was looking for a dry fly or die stick. For me, this rod should be fast, accurate, and make a delicate presentation.

Why I chose this gear

I wanted to outfit my family for a trout-fishing trip and try some TFO rods. I knew TFO offered trout-specific rods that were geared toward dry fly fishing. I decided upon the Blue Ribbon because it was a moderately fast action rod that was offered in a 4 wt, 8’6” version, which I believe is one of the best dry fly rod weights and lengths on the market. I also considered buying the LK Legacy, which is a fast action but after casting the two side by side, I loved the feel of the Blue Ribbon for dry fly applications.

Several fishing rods in the back of a truck. One is the Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod.

What I love about it

  • Quality: The rod is built with high-quality material and attention to detail. The fully anodized reel seat keeps the metal from rusting after many years of use. The handle is made of high quality cork and the carbon fiber rod has a beautiful matte-gray finish.
  • Use Case: I fished dry flies from size 8-18 with this rod on small to medium rivers. The delicate presentation of the 4wt 8’-6” model is phenomenal.
  • Action:
    • Ease of casting: Intermediate casting ease with some forgiveness; an experienced angler would cast with lots of ease.
    • Recover rate: A high recovery rate and response.
    • Power: Medium power.
    • Line speed: Fast line speed.
    • Ideal casting distance: 20-40ft.
    • Accuracy: Very accurate.
    • Delicacy of presentation: Soft presentation for dry flies.
    • Weight: 4 wt rod paired with 4 wt line–126 grains. This specific size and weight is best suited for trout and panfish.
  • Literal Weight: 2.9 oz bare and 8.6 oz with the reel and line—it’s easy to cast all day with no arm fatigue.
  • Length: At 8’ 6”** **long, this rod is the perfect length for a dry fly trout rod.
  • Sensitivity: This rod is a smooth-casting, delicate-landing, dry fly rod that is not only powerful but responsive to the angler.
  • Grip: Flor-grade cork, halfwells with no fighting butt, easy to hold and grip while casting and fighting fish. This cork, when sealed correctly, will last a lifetime.
  • Build: Intermediate modulus carbon fiber construction allows this rod to withstand any fish hooked into. Excellent craftmanship on the reel seat and insert as well as high-quality cork to round out a well-built stick.
  • Aesthetics: Chestnut-brown finish with white logo and weight/length denotations makes this rod look sleek on the water. The anodized reel seat and braided insert is a nice touch to add to the rods aesthetics
  • Warranty: Temple Fork Outfitters offers a no-fault lifetime warranty on this rod.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Versatility: Although extremely versatile for trout fishing—with offerings from a 2wt 7’6” to an 7wt 9’0”—this is not something I would use when targeting freshwater predator fish or would take on a saltwater trip.
A man standing in a river. He is holding a trout out of a fishing net.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this rod was landing a couple of really nice rainbow trout on the San Juan River in Pagosa springs. This rod let me throw hopper dropper rigs with ease and most of the trout caught that day were coming up to slurp on the hopper.

Value for the money vs. other options

This rod offers excellent quality for the money, especially when compared to other rods in the $200-$300 on the market. Coming in at $259.95, this rod is relatively cheap compared to other manufacturers’ premium and mid level rods, such as from Sage, Thomas & Thomas, and Winston. The quality and performance of the Blue Ribbon does not disappoint when put up against a similar-priced rod from a company like Redington or Orvis. I felt like I was getting a higher end rod at a lower price point.

Final verdict

The Blue Ribbon is a must-have rod for every trout angler looking for a quality yet inexpensive rod. Not only is this rod aesthetically pleasing, but the performance is exceptional.

Selling Temple Fork Outfitters on
Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod
From $269.95
Like this article?
Share it with your network

Written By
I picked up a fly rod at the age of 10 and have never been able to put it down. Fly tying started shortly after and I have chased fish all over the US and Mexico. I now own a small fly tying company as well as run guided trips. My favorite area to fish is the Bitteroot River in Missoula, MT and my f...

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Read Next

New and Noteworthy