Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) Impact Fly Rod First Impressions Review - By Andy van der Werff


Reviews are such a subjective thing and therein lies the danger.

Yet it gives perspective to someone interested in its purchase, that may be unsure of his or her decision or give guidance to someone who has multiple options available. So it's like a second opinion if you like. And we all know what they say about opinions…

So the question is: why am I qualified to write this review? The short answer is because I can cast, or rather (like most people), I think I can. The more detailed answer to this question is, well, I'd like to believe that because I hold a qualification in fly casting instruction I have the knowledge and ability to adapt my casting in optimising the action and features of any rod at hand, thereby providing a more balanced and accurate view, and then I also cast more line and rod combinations than most people do.

Not that I need to defend my qualification as this is only my opinion, and yes, you know what they say about opinions.…

The rod arrived in a durable and practical triangular rod tube. I like that because it does not roll around in the back of your truck and if you do need to do an emergency breaking manoeuvre, as tend to happen from time to time in Joburg's traffic, the soft nylon tube cover protects the tube and your load bin from being dinged and scratched. It also comes with a handy carry strap and D ring allowing you to latch it to a boat or other carry items when you lug all your stuff to the water’s edge. We fly fishers love the minimalistic approach to our sport but always seem to end up with enough gear to stock a fly shop, so a carry strap tends to come in handy more often than not. Inside the tube is a durable and protective looking and feeling rod sock for a 4 piece rod, in this case the TFO Impact 5 weight, 9 foot, 4 piece rod. The first thing I noticed while removing the rod was the cork grip. It looked different to what I was expecting and it felt different too. The pattern is eye catching and looks quite funky and it feels, well, grippy, more so than the conventional cork grip.

All sections of the rod are marked with dots that help you line up the guides without the need to judge it by "looking down the barrel" every time you assemble a piece, making it quite an easy and a quick process. Don't know about you but for some reason I'm always in a rush when I'm on my way fishing. I drive faster than normal, walk with determination and am just eager to get on the water a.s.a.p, but for some reason my fishing mates always beat me to the water? Could it be that their minimalistic approach is more refined than mine? Could it be that I assemble and carry just too much paraphernalia? My wife tells me it's because I faff to much, but what does she know about fly fishing anyway? The point is these little dots will help in assembling the rod a bit quicker, and yes I checked it: lining up the dots does in fact line up the guides. You may think this is obvious but I had a rod where this was not the case, it drove me nuts!

The reel seat has a lovely rosewood insert and a solid, functional and robust locking ring. The rod finish is matte black "which I also like" with a tinge of green over the first ferrule and guide wrappings.

Wiggling the rod indoors (like we all do at the fly shop) it feels "softer" than the fast action rods that I have become accustomed to and learned to like. Rigged up with reel and line I quickly realised that it actually just loads deeper into the butt of the rod.

Short to medium range casts was very accurate as a result and the cast felt effortless.

This rod came with a reel and line supplied which was a pleasant surprise. Normally one would only get the rod and one would then match the rod according to a line you have available, which in this case would be a 5 weight and preferably a weight forward floating line to match this rod.

If I was a rod manufacturer I would make sure that I supply the rod with a line which I have tested to be the optimally matching line for my new rod and not leave this decision up to chance. Can you imagine spending all that time and money into a rod's development and then give it to someone to write a first impressions review and he or she just smacks any old available line on my new rod. What sorts of first impression will you get? And we all know what they say about first impressions...

It's almost like a motor manufacturer inviting you to give your opinion on their latest and greatest sports car in their range and instead of setting the test drive up at a race track and having a qualified racing driver speeding you through the corners they drop the car off at your office and leave the rest up to you. You might just end up having your granny drive you home in peak rush hour traffic. Not the correct way to do a review, never mind creating the right first impression! Okay, I know I am exaggerating but you get my drift.

I don't know if TFO planned the supply of the fly line to that extent but it did seem to be a good fit.

Regarding distance casts I struggled at first. The rod seemed to collapse or rather overload when I forced it a bit. I even underlined the rod with my grannies 4 weight line, thinking it would allow me to carry more line in the air and assist me in throwing a full fly line easier. I quickly realised that this rod does not like to be worked as I would normally do for distance casts with fast action or let me rather say stiffer rods. “Working” a fast action or stiff rod helps me load these (stiff butt section) rods a bit deeper.

The Impact rod already loads deep with less effort and as soon as I stopped forcing the cast the energy transfer from this rod made a longer cast with much more ease.

It's not the rod I will take along to a distance casting competition but it is capable of throwing a long line. I was actually surprised how comfortable it is to cast this rod through different distances and how little effort is needed in doing so. Spending a long day on the water with this rod will help you to exert less energy and cast more gracefully throughout the day. Accuracy and presentation is where the Impact shines and in most local fishing situations I will take accuracy over distance any day.

Lefty Kreh once said that most fly rods can cast better than their owners do and I think that it also holds true for this rod.

I just can't help myself wondering how this rod will throw a double taper line? Maybe I should go and scratch in granddad’s tackle box for one, I might be pleasantly surprised!

Editors note: The fly line supplied with the rod was a Rio Gold 5 Weight


The Fly Casting Coach - Andre van der Werff

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South Africa

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