Expert Review: Temple Fork Outfitters Finesse Trout Fly Rod

Published on 07/13/2022 · 7 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the fly rod, which I bought with my own money in May 2020.
Rylyn S., Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Rylyn S.

Photo by Rylyn Small

About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the fly rod, which I bought with my own money in May 2020.

My take

The Temple Fork Outfitters Finesse Trout fly rod is geared for those who want to master their skills in delicate dry fly presentations in smaller stream situations. This rod is not a beginner rod, it is designed for technical anglers looking to take on the challenge of catching wild stream-bred trout or smallmouth.

About this rod

  • Model: 2020 TFO 05 89 4 FT
  • Rod Length: 8’9”
  • Rod Weight: 5WT
  • Rod Pieces: 4-Piece
  • Rod Material: Graphite

About me

  • Preferred fishing styles: Dry Fly and Nymphing
  • Experience: 10+ years

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: May 2020
  • Reel Paired with Rod: TFO BVK SD 1
  • Line Paired with Rod: Scientific Anglers WF5W Trout MPX
  • Days tested: 135
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Missouri Ozarks, Missouri Blue Ribbon streams, and Arkansas Ozark rivers.
  • Species targeted with the rod: Trout

How it performs

Casting Ease

What I was looking for

I was looking for a rod that I could use for smaller trout in the Missouri Ozarks. I needed a shorter rod that could make 40ft delicate casts to wild stream-bred spooky trout.

Why I chose this gear

I highly considered going with a fiberglass rod to give me a slower action and presentation, but after picking up this rod I couldn’t pass it up. It is always in my vehicle because of its performance and ability to make accurate casts in small spaces. It’s a great rod to pack into smaller streams and its overall performance makes for a great day on the water.

Photo by Rylyn Small

Photo by Rylyn Small

What I love about it

  • Quality: When I look for a rod, I want a quality cork for the handle and the Finesse Trout fits that bill. It is lightweight, durable, and comes with a lifetime no-fault warranty. This rod can take a beating and scratches easily but that does not take away from its performance. This is a rod that can be kept in the back of the truck to hit those smaller streams during travel.
  • Action:
    • Ease of casting: Very forgiving and easy to cast.
    • Recover rate: Easy Recovery. The soft tips of the rod allow the user to feel the rod load with as little as 5’ of fly line outside the tiptop; at the same time, the rod turns over long leaders easily.
    • Ideal casting distance: 10’ - 40’, but no more than that.
    • Accuracy: It is very accurate, specifically when casting under trees, brush, and into tight riffles between longs where trout like to hide. I can stay downstream from the trout and hit them right on the nose with this rod. I could not fish the MO Blue Ribbon streams without this rod for the smaller size wild trout that those streams produce. With wild trout, anglers typically get one shot or they spook. This rod did exactly that for me! However, I must position myself to make overhead casts as it is not great for roll casting.
    • Delicacy of presentation: Extremely delicate if matched with small flies and fine tippets. I suggest throwing flies smaller than a size 10 and stick with longer leaders in a size 5x-6x. Although, it is not delicate when roll casting.
  • Weight: The rod is very light in weight due to its graphite construction and can easily be used all day without fatigue.
  • Literal Weight: This is a rod I would turn to for long days on the smaller streams. It’s very reliable and I have used this rod on 15-hour day fishing trips.
  • Length: The length of the rod is great for smaller streams with heavy brush and tree canopies. The accuracy really helps with making those tight casts under bushes and trees. However, it is not great for making long casts.
  • Sensitivity: Bites are easily detected due to the rod’s sensitivity. When nymphing I often pair up with the New Zealand style indicators for a more delicate presentation. If I am tightline-nymphing the sensitivity really allows me to feel the strike of those wild finicky trout who are quick strikers. The rod is great for dry flies and smaller nymphing but not so much for fishing streamers.
  • Grip: No fighting butt with a higher quality cork. I can get two different handle choices depending on preference. The grip in my option is comfortable, effective, and of higher quality compared to other rods in its class. But I must dry it off after each trip or it will swell.
  • Aesthetics: I love the sleek design and the dots for lining up each section. This allows me to quickly set up my rod for the day without having to worry about all the eyes lining up. TFO really did a great job with this simple yet very convenient innovation.
  • Warranty: Lifetime, no-fault warranty, but owners of this rod will have to pay for shipping and a fee for repairs.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Durability: Since this rod is made for delicate applications, that comes with a cost. If not careful, the tip section of the rod can snap easily on a tree, bush, or obstacle. It's durable but not bombproof – this is where that lifetime warranty comes in handy.
  • Versatility: I would say this is very versatile for dry flies and smaller nymphs. It works for tight line nymphing, skating dry flies, and nymphing under a lightweight indicator. This is a small stream rod and works extremely well for those applications. But overall, its only use is for dry flies and smaller nymphs. It doesn’t cast indicators very well unless using New Zealand-style indicators.
  • Use Case: The Finesse Trout Fly Rod is only suitable for small streams that are wadable. This is not a rod to be used while floating down the river in a drift boat. It gets its name for good reason. This rod is specifically designed for finesse situations. It is not a catch-all-trout rod. Also, I do not recommend this rod for those who are wanting a rod for streamers and larger nymphs because delicacy is the key factor for this rod.
  • Action:
    • Power: The Finesse Trout is a slow-action, medium power rod. This means it is not great for using heavy indicators.
    • Line speed: The line speed of the rod is slow to medium, so it is not great for targeting traveling fish because it is not fast enough.
  • Build: It is important to carry this rod in a case. It does come with a lifetime warranty and is built extremely durable considering how much it was used. I had to replace the tip section because of how delicate they are and they sent one to me in two days!

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this rod was when I completed the Missouri Trout Slam using only this rod. I used this rod to fish nine of the most technical streams in Missouri that were home to wild stream-bred trout. This rod was perfect for catching these technical trout in a technical stream.

Value for the money vs. other options

This is the best investment I have ever made on a rod. This rod compares to many higher-priced slower action rods. If I were to go back and have the opportunity to buy other options, the TFO Finesse Trout would still be in my hands. Great value for the quality. There are not really many options that I could compare this rod to other than the Redington Classic Trout. This rod is in a class of its own!

Final verdict

Overall the Finesse Trout is great for technical trout fishing in smaller stream situations. This is a rod specifically for wading in secluded streams to catch spooky trout that are picky eaters. For those looking for a rod specifically for that, this is it!

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