Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) is a brand name that is synonymous with affordability. Although TFO has some higher end, more moderately-priced offerings within their massive lineup, they still offer a healthy number of rods (and reels!) with very friendly price tags. Over the years, I've heard folks say that fly fishing is only for the "elite" or the "rich," but TFO has helped squash that stereotype by allowing more people to access good equipment.
Picking up where the Pro II left off, the new Pro III series offers upgraded guides, ferrules, materials, cosmetics, and the addition of a rod tube. I know the previous gen was a hit among value-oriented anglers, plus it had been a long while since I've fished a TFO, so I was eager to experience the 5-weight Pro III for myself!
Rated Action: Moderate
Line Weight: 5
Measured Weight: Approx 3.19 ounces
Stripping Guides: (2) Stainless w/ SiC inserts
Snake Guides: Double-Foot
Reel Seat: Aluminum w/ Graphite Insert
Rod Tube/Sock: Yes/Yes
The reverse half-wells grip on the 5-weight has a nice trim profile, giving it appropriate proportions for the rod while remaining very comfortable to hold. Quality-wise, the cork is decent but gets the job done. On each end of the handle, there's EVA foam trim which adds contrast and prevents cork damage in these spots.
Moving down to the reel seat, this one is built from aluminum with a dark blue carbon spacer, all of which match the rod nicely. The double up-locking rings hold a reel securely, and there's a guide line indicating exactly where the reel foot slides in.
I love rods that aren't glossy, so the Pro III's satin black hits the mark for me. The two SiC stripping guides and all snake guides are secured to the rod with dark blue wraps, and there's some silver trim around the hook keeper and stripping guides. Not to be forgotten, easy-to-see white alignment dots make ferrule attachment a snap. Overall, the subtle cosmetics work well and offer a look that's simple without being too plain.
It's always kind of amusing (and most certainly disappointing) when I inspect an ultra-premium rod and find some type of visual or construction imperfection. It's even more amusing (and certainly not disappointing) when I inspect an affordably priced rod and find excellent workmanship. As you might be able to infer, my Pro III tester sports a clean build along with tight ferrules and components...two thumbs up!
All fishing and testing was done with a RIO Elite Gold WF5F fly line. With a 30-foot head weight of 146 grains, this places the line at the uppermost end of AFFTA's 5-weight fly line grain ratings. TFO rates this rod as having a "moderate" action, so I felt a line like this that's not built overweight would work best.
Like the old Pro II's, every Pro III rod is rated with a moderate action. With this in mind, I was expecting a soft, somewhat noodly rod that would respond to a slower casting stroke and not be too great at distance casting. Well, in my hands, the Pro III 5-weight's action feels like it skews faster than what the rating suggests.
At very short ranges, the rod offers enough feedback to remain pleasant and accurate. A softer action or heavier line would make it even better here, but the rod is far from numb or dead-feeling in close. I would have no issues using this rod for some delicate, close-quarters dry fly fishing.
At "typical" fishing distances of around 40 feet, I'd rate the casting performance as above average. I REALLY like how the rod feels casting here, and the accuracy doesn't disappoint. The blank feels like it still has power on tap, and I'm able to easily achieve tight loops without having to uncomfortably alter my casting style. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't have quite that ultra-refined feel of a top-dollar stick, but casting at these medium distances is supremely enjoyable.
The Pro III truly delighted me how well it could shoot an entire 100-foot fly line. It's definitely not the typical stiff, ultra-fast rod I'd typically gravitate to for such glory casting, but it's entirely capable of showing off a bit. While casting such extreme lengths (especially with a 5 weight) is seldom needed, I can't resist testing a rod's limits on the grass.
Regarding swing weight, this isn't the lightest 5-weight fly rod I've experienced, but it's surely not a clunker. I wouldn't have any issues casting it for a full day.
The TFO Pro III 5-weight fly rod offers anglers an affordably-priced option that performs admirably and is backed by an incredible full lifetime warranty. If you need an all-around rod with a faster action, this stick is capable of handling everything including nymphing, dries, and small streamers.
Single and double-handed models are available from 3–10 weight, and each rod includes a sock and tube. Prices range from $229.95 to $359.95 depending on line weight and length.
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