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Reels – TFO 375

Temple Fork Outfitter 375 reels

The TFO 375 has always been on of our all time favorite mid-priced reels, especially for trout switch and trout spey rods.  For a 9’#8 weight, there are lighter reels on the market.  For the longer trout switch and spey rods that have heavier swing weights, the TFO 375 helps balance the rod in your hand, eliminating more strain on your forearm muscles, especially when swinging.

One of the things I love about the TFO is that it spins like a skateboard wheel.  The reel utilizes 3 sealed ball bearings that are amazingly smooth and allow the spool to spin better than any other fly reel I can think of.  (If you can think of a better one please let me know)!   In our 8-weight reel shootout, the TFO took top honors as far as  “free spooling” reels go.  

The TFO 375 is burly and durable to boot.  I’ve owned these reels for nearly a decade now and trust their bullet proof nature.  JG accidently dropped one and ran over part of it in his Dodge truck and it was fine.   It is one of the toughest reels on the planet, (along with Abel, Tibor, and Nautilus), shoud you accidently take a digger and smash your reel into the rocks. 

The only problem with this reel is that TFO has now discontinued it!  Luckily when we heard rummors of this reel going away TFO had some left and we cleaned them out.  Since we love this reel so much we are not selling it on sale, and they will only be available when purchasing it an outfit.  We still have a few red and gold reels left, but most of these are black.  We hope TFO considers re-adding this reel back into their lineup.

tfo 375

Since most “spey casts” are water loaded casts, we couldn’t cast these rods on the grass, which meant it was far more difficult to judge each rods performance compared to other rods in the same side-by-side fashion we use with single handed rods.  True, we could have tied up some lawn leaders by leaving long bloodknot tags but it didn’t seem the same as casting them in the water.  Being able to pick one rod up, get a feel for it, and pick up another is a huge advantage when comparing rods.  In this case, we had to be happy with fishing with a rod for 5 minutes and then grabbing a different rod.  In doing so we were able to tell which rods we liked better, especially the extremes, but it was harder to tell the small nuances between similar rods.  

Excerpts from the 2014 8-weigth Reel Shootout:

GA:  Here is a very good reel at half the price of the best reels!   I know this reel well as I’ve used it as a backup on many bonefish trips and it has performed wonderfully.  So good in fact that I’ve had to leave it as a tip with a lot of the Caribbean guides since they wanted it so badly after using it.  This reel has an impressive design.  The spool runs on two ball bearings just like a Tibor or an Abel, and it has another ball bearing running the carbon fiber drag plate.  They are using carbon fiber rather than cork, but it provides a very smooth drag.  This is not a sealed drag reel so you do have to be a little more careful as you do with a Tibor standard series or and Abel. With this 375, you just clean up the drag surface, you do not lubricate it.  The one thing I like best is the size.  This reel has a good wide spool and will hold a lot of backing, a good 250 yd. of 20 lb. Dacron and still have plenty of room for your 8-weight line.  With the wide spool I’ve never gotten jammed up when retrieving line.  With the spool running on all these ball bearings, the retrieve is about as smooth as it gets with very little resistance.  About my only gripe is the almost total lack of drag sound.  That and the fact that TFO doesn’t even give you a reel case with this reel.  What gives there?  This is crazy since they give you a pretty good case with their cheaper BVK III.  Current colors are Black, Red, or Gold.

JA:  TFO’s Large Arbor reels are some of my favorite reels on the planet (at any cost) due to their unique zero-friction, lightning fast method of line retrieval.  Their reels utilize three sealed ball bearings to allow them to spin as smooth as silk.   While no angler, (other than perhaps a centerpinner) wants a free spooling reel going out, it can be a huge advantage to have a reel that will free spool while REELING IN.  With the flick of the wrist I can create enough torque on the reel handle to get the spool to revolve about 12-15 times empty, or with line on the spool, about 7 or 8 times.  With Spey running line, about 10 revolutions – without having to touch the reel again!  Do that twice and you have over 20 feet of running line in.  This is a huge advantage over other reels, which require me to reel them in normally, which not only takes longer but also more concentration.  With the TFO Large Arbor Reels, I can either flick the handle or smack the face of the spool with my hand, and retrieve a lot of line while completely focusing on getting all that slack line on the reel in a hurry and then playing the fish. The Loop OPTI Speedrunner 7-8-9 was the second best at “free spooling” line in, followed by the Nautilus NV.  I don’t know how we messed this up in the retrieval resistance category but we did.  The TFO375 would have been the only true 20, the Loop a 19, and the Nautilus NV an 18.  Everything else would have scored a 16 or less. 

I have noticed in highly humid conditions, like the NW coast where it raining half the time,  sometimes this reel will squeak when I’m pulling line off.  It doesn’t affect performance, but the squeak sound can get old.  Perhaps TFO has a remedy for this?

Spey anglers, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out this durable and affordable reel. You will love how easy it is to reel in your running line or backing.  But you’ll want to buy it it in the larger 425 size, for an extra $25.00. 

Show up at the dock: with one of my all time favorites.