We should have probably dropped this longer Finesse from our Shootout as the shorter 7’9” Finesse performed so much better. The action of these two rods is very different. The 7’9” rod has a nice medium fast action, while this 8’ 9” model is far slower – much more of a medium action rod. It also has one of the heaviest swing weights in our Shootout. Only the Loop Q was worse. Slower action rods with a heavy swing weight are not much fun to cast and as you’ll see the performance figures for this rod are dismal. It also sits dead last in our Fun to Fish category. The 7’9” model was far better and a lot more fun to cast and fish.
The cosmetics and components of this rod are similar to its shorter brother. The blank is olive green with matching olive wraps that are trimmed in gold on the two lower sections. The epoxy coatings on the guides are pretty good but a little heavy in spots. A half wells handle is used and the quality of the cork is only fair to good compared to the best rods. The reel seat is a single uplocking skeleton seat in anodized gray that has a very attractive burled wood insert. The locking ring was fairly large and easy to grip and tighten but didn’t have a plastic ring like some that allow them to lock up more securely.
The guides start with a hook keeper, and then one huge SiC stripping guide that seems way too big, followed with hard chrome snake guides.
The perfect line: SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity in WF-4-F
George’s casting notes:
Performance at 25 feet: 16.5 points out of 20
For sure, one of the worst in our Shootout. Very little feel or accuracy. The 7’9” TFO Finesse was far better.
Performance at 40 feet: 18.0 points out of 20
I can sure notice the heavy swing weight and this is not a very pleasant rod to cast. Both feel and accuracy are poor.
Performance at 60 feet: 7.0 points out of 10
Tough for me to hit the longest distance, and if there was any breeze I couldn’t hit within ten feet of where I need the fly to go!
The 8’9” TFO Finesse wasn’t nearly as fun to cast as its little brother. This was mostly due its heavier swing weight and its slower/stiffer tip.
For a better and less expensive all-around rod, go with the Fenwick Aetos. If you like fishing smaller, tight quarters mountain streams, consider the shorter 7’9” TFO Finesse, which performed a lot better than this longer rod.
James’ casting notes:
Heavier and slower than TFO 7’9”#4 with a deeper action load. Not nearly as accurate or as much fun to cast as the 7’9” Finesse. Huge stripping guide. Decent cork for the money, the wood insert looks great but the rest of the reel seat hardware looks cheap. Large chrome snake guides. Alignment dots are a nice touch.
Performance at 25 feet: 17 points out of 20
The heavy swing weight led to poor feel and accuracy when compared to the Fenwick Aetos or St. Croix Imperial.
Performance at 40 feet: 17 points out of 20
Heavy in hand, not as much feel as better inexpensive rods.
Performance at 60 feet: 7 points out of 10
Underwhelming performance, simply too heavy and slow to perform well at 60 feet.
Logan’s Comments: 41 out of 50
This longer TFO Finesse Trout 8’9” rod was one 4-weight I wasn’t crazy about. It didn’t perform nearly as well as most other inexpensive rods in our Shootout. I think that TFO could really make a great 4-weight if they make a few minor changes to the overall rod design. I think it needs a faster action and softer tip. The 7’9” Finesse is a much better rod.
Performance at 25 feet: 16.5 out of 20
The overall accuracy at 25 feet wasn’t very good with this rod. The slower action hurt here.
Performance at 40 feet: 17.5 out of 20
The TFO Finesse 8’9” rod was best at 40 feet but still can’t compare to the accuracy I was getting with the Imperial or Aetos.
Performance at 60 feet: 7 out of 10
At 60 feet I wasn’t able to accurately come close to the plate. I had to work hard to get a decent cast with this rod.
I have the TFO Finesse 8’9” at the end of my rankings, and it belongs there. To me this rod was just clunky and “hingy” compared to the others that we tested. It wasn’t as smooth or as accurate other rods either. The huge stripping guide seems out of place. The snake guides seemed too large too. The 7’9” Finesse was a much more pleasant rod to cast.
Performance at 25 feet: 16.5/20
The Finesse 8’9″ fell well short in the touch and sensitivity I was getting with the top contenders.
Performance at 40 feet: 17/20
At 40’ the Finesse 8’9″ still felt heavy and unresponsive. Not nearly as accurate or as pleasant as the Finesse 7’9”.
Performance at 60 feet: 7/10
The Finesse 8’9″ didn’t have power or the line control needed to cast well at 60 feet.
I really enjoyed casting the 7’9’’ version of this rod, but the 8’9’’ felt a little out of whack. The action of this rod was slower and not as smooth as its shorter brother. If you like these TFO rods, I’d go with the 7’9’’.
Performance at 25 feet: 15 out of 20
The tip on this rod felt too stiff and the midsection too soft to make accurate and delicate casts.
Performance at 40 feet: 15.5 out of 20
The soft midsection makes casting this rod at longer distances harder than most other rods.
Performance at 60 feet: 6 out of 10
Again, the softer midsection and stiffer tip made for a funky action that made timing with lots of line out much more difficult.