Expert Review: Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod

This review is my honest opinion of the lfy rod which I purchased with my own money in February of 2021.

A close up of the TFO Blue Ribbon 590-4.

A close up of the TFO Blue Ribbon 590-4. All photos courtesy of Danny Salinas

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the lfy rod which I purchased with my own money in February of 2021.

My take

The Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon is my favorite all-around fly rod for under $300. A lightweight, sensitive, and accurate rod with a lifetime warranty.

Fishing in the fog with the TFO Blue Ribbon.

Fishing in the fog with the TFO Blue Ribbon.

About this rod

  • Model: TFO Blue Ribbon 590-4
  • Rod Length: 9 feet
  • Rod Weight: 5 WT
  • Rod Pieces: 4 piece
  • Rod Material: Graphite

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): I’m a general all-around angler who will use nymphs, dry flies, and the occasional streamer
  • Experience: Ten years of fly fishing experience

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: February 2021
  • Reel Paired with Rod: Ross Animas
  • Line Paired Rod: Scientific Anglers Mastery Infinity Line WF5F
  • Days tested: 40
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Various rivers in Texas and Colorado
  • Species targeted with rod: Trout, Bass, Panfish

How it performs

Casting Ease
5/5
Durability
5/5
Performance
5/5
Quality
4/5
Versatility
4/5

What I was looking for

  • I was looking for a great all-around trout rod that did not break the bank. It needed to be able to handle nymphs and dry flies with ease, with the occasional streamer. Lastly I wanted a rod that was lightweight, and closer to a medium action rod than most fast-action rods that are available today.

Why I chose this gear

  • I chose this rod because it is a moderate-fast action rod that is lightweight (3.2oz) and had the sensitivity and feel I was looking for. Additionally TFO is known for their quality gear at fair prices, and one of the best warranties in the business in case I got in a fight with a grizzly, or the ceiling fan!
Fully rigged up with my Ross Animas.

Fully rigged up with my Ross Animas.

What I love about it

Quality

  • The quality of the TFO Blue Ribbon is good, there were no major chips in the cork, the wrappings and guides are nicely done, and the alignment dots are always helpful. Plus, the included rod sock and tube are a great bonus.

Versatility

  • This rod is primarily a great nymphing and dry fly rod that can handle the occasional smaller streamer.

Use Case

  • This rod is a great all-around rod, but is better suited for nymphing, dry flies, and hopper droppers in normal conditions. If you are fishing mainly streamers or super-windy conditions, this may not be the rod for you.

Action

  • Ease of casting: A great medium-fast action rod that is forgiving to beginners, and will feel right at home with more advanced anglers.
  • Recover rate: The rod recovers quickly after casting with not a lot of additional movement after casting.
  • Power: This is a medium-fast action rod that is closer to a medium action rod than a fast action but has enough backbone to cast smaller streamers and punch through some wind.
  • Line speed: Expect medium line speed, and, especially paired with the SA Mastery Infinity Line, it will be more presentation-oriented than punching through the wind with a larger streamer.
  • Ideal casting distance: This rod works best for closer distances up to 50 feet.
  • Accuracy: This rod is accurate in shorter distances and will consistently hit your target; at long distances, it will struggle.
  • Delicacy of presentation: This rod is not a true presentation rod, such as a slower action rod would be; but with the SA Mastery Infinity Line it is one of the best all-around setups that will get you some delicate presentations, but still have enough power for nymph rigs and small streamers.

Weight

  • This is a 5wt rod and is best suited for true 5wt fly lines, and this rod doesn’t not need to be overlined. This is going to be a great trout, panfish, and even small bass rod.

Literal Weight

  • The rod comes in at 3.2 oz, and will feel comfortable casting all day long.

Length

  • This is a 9-ft rod, which is a great all-around length for most trout fishing situations.

Sensitivity

  • The rod is sensitive and you are able to detect bites easier due to its medium-fast action. You are also able to feel the rod load when casting.

Grip

  • The Blue Ribbon 590-4 comes with a comfortable half-wells cork grip.

Build

  • TFO rods are all built overseas in Korea, which helps with their cost down. However, the quality control is terrific, and you get a high-quality rod at a more affordable price.

Aesthetics

  • The rod blanks are a matte chestnut brown with maroon wrappings; this rod will not stick out in the crowd, but blends right in.

Warranty

  • TFO offers a no-fault lifetime warranty and you can order replacement parts fast and easily through their website.

Issues I’ve encountered

Versatility

  • While I consider this rod a good all-around rod, it will not generate the line speed needed to cast larger streamers or handle high wind speeds. For those who are casting small wooly buggers and similar streamers, this will do just fine. Otherwise keep to nymphs, dries, hoppers, and other smaller size flies. Additionally, this rod is not made to make a 100-foot cast across the river. Don't expect this rod to handle windy conditions and larger streamers with ease as you could with a faster action rod
Rainbow on caught on the TFO Blue Ribbon.

Rainbow on caught on the TFO Blue Ribbon.

Favorite moment with this gear

I used this rod heavily this past summer in Colorado, where I was able to catch rainbows, browns, and brook trout in different rivers all with the same rod in different waters. My favorite moment was watching a big brown take a hopper while fishing the Arkansas River in Colorado, the brown ran back into an undercut bank but was able to coax it out and land it.

Value for the money vs. other options

This rod is not going to directly compete with the quality and performance of a rod three times the price, but you are hard-pressed to find a better performing rod for under $300 — or even $500.

Final verdict

The TFO Blue Ribbon 590-4 is a great all-around fly rod that excels at nymphing, dry flies, terrestrials, and small streamers at a very competitive price. It will be an excellent trout rod, but will also do great when fishing for small bass, panfish, and other similar sized species where you do not need to make super long-distance casts, or throw big chunky flies.

Selling Temple Fork Outfitters on Curated.com
Temple Fork Outfitters Blue Ribbon Fly Rod
From $269.95
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Written By
I spent 10 years chasing the music dream playing bass for Cody Johnson, Josh Ward, Clayton Gardner and others, but most recently my career has been focused on the information technology realm as an auditor and consultant. While I do not travel nearly as much as I did when I was a musician, I do stil...

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