Expert Review: Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly RodPublished on 09/16/2022 · 4 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the fly fishing rod, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2022.
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.
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.
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
- Preferred fishing style(s): Dry Fly, streamer, and saltwater
- Experience: 16 years of fly fishing
- 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
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.