Expert Review: Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label Fly Rod Kit

This review is my honest review of the outfit which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.

A man in a fishing vest casting a fly rod into a river.

All photos courtesy of Rylyn S.

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest review of the outfit which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.

My take

The TFO NXT Black Label Outfit is ideal for those looking for an affordable outfit that is suitable for multiple applications (small streamers, nymphs, and dry flies). This outfit is completely set up and ready to fish.

A young man holding a fly fishing reels and wearing waders.

A student who is part of a school fly fishing program that allows students to experience fly fishing for the first time

About this rod

  • Model: 2021 TFO NXT Black Label Outfit
  • Rod Length: 9’
  • Rod Weight: 5WT
  • Rod Pieces: 4-piece
  • Rod Material: Graphite

About me

  • Preferred fishing style(s): Nymphing, Streamers, Dry Flies, Euro, and Saltwater.
  • Experience: 20+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: May 2021
  • Reel Paired with Rod:TFO Black Label II (4-5WT)
  • Line Paired Rod: Fly Line is unknown with the outfit
  • Days tested: Over 50 days
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Small streams, Large rivers, and Lakes
  • Species targeted with rod: Trout and Bass

How it performs

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

What I was looking for

I was looking for an affordable outfit that would be great for beginners getting started with fly fishing. These were purchased as part of a school fly fishing program that allows students to experience fly fishing for the first time. We were needing something affordable due to the quantity being purchased.

Several TFO NXT Black Label Outfits in a case.

Classroom Rod Rack

Why I chose this gear

I chose this particular model (590-4) because this is the best fit for trout fishing here in the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas.

I did consider other options and actually purchased other brands with these, such as the Orvis Encounter Outfit. My reasoning for choosing Temple Fork Outfitters was because of their reputation for backing their lifetime warranty. With over 25 students a year using these outfits, I needed something that would withstand the abuse overtime. I also needed something that would travel well on a school bus. Each of the outfits come standard with a rod and reel case, which not only protects the gear even more, but allows my students to safely transport them from school to the river.

A student standing in a river with waders and holding a fly fishing rod.

Student using the outfit

What I love about it

  • Quality: When holding this outfit, don’t be fooled by the composite cork handle. Many beginner outfits are said to have a “better quality” cork handle. In reality, the composite cork handle that TFO has incorporated in this outfit will withstand the elements far more than a contemporary cork handle. As for the quality of the blank, I would compare the blank to the TFO Pro II. This medium-fast action rod is exactly what someone needs for getting started in fly fishing.
  • Versatility: As far as a use case, the 5WT 9’ outfit is great for anyone looking to get started in fly fishing. This would be a great kit for trout, bass, and panfish. TFO also offers the NXT Black Label Outfit in an 8WT. If you are looking to target larger species, such as salmon, steelhead, and pike, this would be a better choice.
  • Use Case: All in all, this outfit is considered to be a multi-application outfit. It is exactly that. When the trout are rising for the hatch you can throw dry flies. When the dry fly action slows down, you can easily switch over to a nymphing rig or a small to medium streamer. This outfit excels on the versatility front. The goal with purchasing this outfit was to get my students engaged in fly fishing all while giving them the necessary tools for a quality experience. That is exactly what the NXT Black Label Outfit does for anyone getting started.
  • Action:
    • Ease of casting: This rod is a little on the heavier side of most beginning outfits, but that doesn’t affect the castability. As Lefty Kreh said, “Fly fishing is the easiest form of fishing to teach a child.” He was correct in this statement and anyone can pick up this fly rod and cast it. It is as easy as picking it up and putting it down. This action is specifically designed and loads perfectly for any new fly fisher.
    • Ideal casting distance: The ideal casting distance for this rod is anywhere from 30ft - to 50ft. This is where the magic happens for this outfit and is perfect for most trout and bass fishing situations. Past the 60ft mark, this outfit starts to lose its accuracy and presentation.
    • Accuracy and Presentation: If I were to rate the accuracy of this fly rod, I would give it a 7/10. Is it the best on the market? Absolutely not, but it’s a great rod for the price. The accuracy is by far the best when it comes to what one gets for the price. This is not the rod meant for presenting the smallest of dry flies to spooky trout. This rod is meant for “getting the job done” with the best of all worlds in play.
  • Literal Weight: After a long day of fishing, my students are a little fatigued after using this rod. This is mostly due to the fact that this is something they do not do very often and they are using muscles that haven’t been used before. With time one will adjust to this outfit. This outfit isn’t meant to be a long-term outfit. This outfit gets you started with the opportunity to upgrade later.
  • Length: The 9’ length is perfect for what this outfit is intended for. This is pretty standard for length in most fly rods these days unless they are specifically designed for a technique. It has enough length to turn over indicator rigs, throw dry flies, and gives the rod enough power to throw those small to medium streams. Also, like most rod companies today, this comes as a 4 piece making it great for travel.
  • Grip: This is a composite half-wells grip. As mentioned earlier, this grip is designed to handle the elements. No, it isn’t the prettiest on the market but it will hold up longer than most beginner outfits.
  • Build: All TFO rods are manufactured in Korea. Although these are made overseas, great rod designers, such as Blane Chocklett, Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallet, and Gary Loomis were influential in designing TFO rods.
  • Aesthetics: As with most beginning outfits, the shiny upgraded components aren’t included like on better-quality outfits. The rod and thread wraps are black with a matte black real seat. Not too appealing but hey! The fish do not care what your fly rod looks like.
  • Warranty: Lifetime NO FAULT warranty
A student holding a fly fishing rod on the side of a river.

Student 3

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Quality: Do not high stick this rod, because it can easily be overloaded when setting the hook. I have had a few students break the tips of them due to getting excited when setting the hook. Also be sure to periodically check the reel, as the spool thumb screw tends to loosen throughout the day, which may cause your spool to fall out of the reel casing.
Close up of the NXT reel and rod.
Several students in a river with fishing gear.

Students

Favorite moment with this gear

This outfit has created a lot of memories for myself and my students. There is nothing like loading the school bus early in the morning with your outfit all tucked away in your case, ready to hit the water. My favorite moment with this gear is seeing my students hook up to their first trout with the quality gear needed for a quality experience.

Value for the money vs. other options

When comparing this outfit, I compared it to the Orvis Encounter and the Redington Path. The TFO Black Label Outfit comes with a rod and reel case, fully loaded, with a lifetime warranty, whereas the Orvis Encounter only comes with a rod tube (2021 model). Both imported, but great for beginners. I would say that if you are looking to compare two options, compare this to the Orvis Encounter in the 5WT 9’ option.

Final verdict

This is the perfect outfit for beginner fly fishers to get started on the right foot with quality equipment in an all-in-one package. Just tie on the fly of course and go fishing!

Selling TFO on Curated.com
TFO NXT Black Label Fly Rod Kit (590-4)
$229.95
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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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