Fly rods: Magic Elixir or Snake Oil?
By: Dick Sagara
I have been in love with fly rods for over 50 years.
In the past, I knew that if I could find just the right fly rod it would transform me into the angler of my dreams – the angler who caught the most, biggest, and wiliest fish on the planet.
I’d like to say that this happened, but it did not.
What happened is that my quest for finding the perfect fly rod brought me into the business of selling fly fishing “stuff”.
Upon starting my business, my first objective was to convince companies to let me sell their products. I happened to contact a guy by the name of Rick Pope. He was open, knowledgeable and passionate about fly fishing. He was also the founder and president of a company named Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO).
After a few conversations about numerous fly fishing topics and a trip to their home office in Dallas, Rick invited me to join TFO as their regional sales representative in the PNW. That was 18+ years ago. I was the proverbial kid in a candy store.
What Rick casually mentioned is that TFO had a series of two-piece fly rods fabricated by one of the finest rod designers/material engineers in the world. Rick and I still debate on whether there were four or six two -piece models at that time. This rod designer/manufacturer has worked with TFO continuously since TFO’s beginning, and all TFO rods are made in his factory utilizing proprietary cutting-edge materials under the highest quality control standards.
I did my best to bring shops on board as TFO retailers. It was a tough road to hoe. I was successful in getting a few retailers to test cast the rods. These retailers were very impressed with the rods’ performance. What was surprising is that they also told me that the rods were too good for their modest retail price. I was left with the strong impression that retailers felt the TFO rods would kill their high-end rod sales. I even found one dealer who ordered a few rods and proceeded to place them in the back of the shop commingled with closeout items.
Times were about to change with the arrival of a guy named Lefty Kreh. I had met Lefty at one of my first trade shows after I observed him casting TFO’s 10 weight Professional Series. Lefty was a brand ambassador at that time for one of the premier fly rod companies in the world. I was astounded that he was bringing a number of his friends to the casting platform to cast the TFO Professional Series rod. It was obvious Lefty and his friends were very impressed with the performance of the rod.
I was a bit discouraged in my lack of success in bringing on TFO fly rod retailers and I ran into Lefty while he was walking the show floor and we stopped to chat. He prophetically told me to hang in there as the TFO fly rods showed great promise. Little did I know that a few years later Lefty would join TFO and become the TFO rod designer. We still have that 10 weight Professional Series rod in our lineup.
Lefty was extremely knowledgeable at figuring out what actions of rods fit specific applications most effectively. He was an absolute genius about what optimized fly rod performance -- he was fanatical about making sure a rod tracked straight and that tip bounce was non-existent. Some assume that Lefty joined TFO simply to give the company a marketing tool. That is simply not true. I can tell you Lefty’s thumbprint is on every TFO fly rod. I witnessed Lefty’s gift for rod design firsthand over a period of 15 years.
Lefty was also transformative in bringing other gifted anglers into the TFO family as Advisors –Bob Clouser, Flip Pallot, Ed Jaworowski, Larry Dahlberg, Nick Curcione, Wanda Taylor, Blane Chocklett, Jake Jordan, and others. Each of these individuals has varying areas of expertise and their own unique insights into rod design. TFO has incorporated their on the water perspectives to design rods that fit a wide range of angling situations.
So, does a fly rod magically make you a better angler? Does driving an expensive European sports car make you a better driver? That’s for you to decide.
The focus of TFO has always been to produce an affordable high performance fly rod to maximize your enjoyment of time spent on the water. I’ll leave it at that.
Below TFO on: How it's Made