Temple Fork Outfitters have gained a reputation as makers of outstanding fly rods at very affordable prices. If you take the time to go through their lines of fly rods, you will quickly notice that their lineup is just as complete as it is impressive: you can find rods in line weights 0,5 (!) to an ultra-heavy single-handed rod that will cast an impressive 1000 grain sinking lines out yonder to behemoths of the seven seas and fight those beasts accordingly, once hooked. As an angler, you will be hard pressed not to find what you are looking for in a fly rod in TFO’s lineup. So when a new rod series from TFO pops up, you start wondering what the heck the people around Temple Fork’s president Rick Pope have come up with this time.
I have had the great pleasure of attending the 2015 edition of the iFFF conclave in Bend, Oregon, and was able to test cast through some of the new Impact fly rods. Advertised as something completely new, the rods veer away from conventional TFO thinking as they combine a very pleasing yet very fast action with a slim, strong and very lightweight blank, unlike anything you could have found in TFO fly rods up until now.
The first casts with an Impact 6-weight rod reminded me of very, very similar “nano”-something products (offered by the competition and costing quite a bit more!): the rod has a somewhat similar action with a softer, fast loading tip yet with loads of reserve power in the middle of the blank. The nervous tip section makes the rod track like crazy, translating into incredible feel during the cast, giving outstanding accuracy at all distances. According to Rick Pope, the blanks are NOT “nano”, yet they utilize quite high-modulus graphite material.
It then took some time to receive a loaner rod from our friends at TOF Belgium who distribute TFO products in these parts of the world. I was now eager to give the same rod a thorough test drive to see what was behind the hype building up behind the rod series in the US: they are getting rave reviews, also from some noteworthy female anglers.
On a recent trip to a very pretty local fishery with big, strong and hard-fighting trout, I was to figure out the rod with several different lines: the rod simply shines with true 6-weight lines, be they floaters, intermediate or sinking lines. By true 6-weight lines I am referring to the usual grain weight AFTMA-standard. Heavier lines work well, too, like the ones devised for modern, stiffer-action rods but they seem to slightly take the “magic” from the Impact rod, which is a bit unusual as generally speaking, TFO rods usually work very well with heavier-labeled lines but going back to “true” 6-weight lines in floating and intermediate persuasion, the rod simply shines. The lightweight and fast blank loads with just a few feet of line out and will keep tracking, even on the longest casts, for outstanding loop control and accuracy. The rods will take a very pleasant deep bend when fighting a decent fish, allowing full control all the way to the bank or the boat.
I can see great potential in this rod series as especially the heavier models should make for outstanding saltwater workhorse rods with flats species in mind. Pike anglers in search for a new 8 to 10-weight rod should also look no further…
Lighter line weight TFO Impact models come with an upscale aluminum-and wood spacer reel seat while rods in line 6 (also available with a trout reel seat) come with a skeletonized and saltwater-proof aluminum reel seat and a fighting butt. Noteworthy is the slightly rough burl handle that offers outstanding grip, which should be supremely useful when sweat, sunscreen and fish slime make for a slippery combination on your fingers. Fit and finish is quite good with clean wraps on the guides and very solid, proprietary stripping guides. The new TFO Impact rod series are definitely worth a closer look or a test cast at one of the upcoming fishing shows.