With the help of legendary rod designer, Gary Loomis, TFO introduced a new conventional rod series this year… simply called Signature Series. The Loomis name is synonymous with the best engineered and highest quality fishing tackle for more than a pretty penny. The TFO name is synonymous with high performance fishing tackle at affordable prices. In the case of the new Signature Series, anglers benefit from the best of both worlds… the best engineering matched with high quality materials without a hefty price tag. Only TFO can combine a Gary Loomis rod with an affordable price. Is it worth a look? Absolutely.
When I received the two test rods my attention was immediately drawn to the handles… ergonomically designed and comfortable, but different. It was also hard not to notice just how little they weighed, yet the diameter of the blank gave the impression of strength. I put them to the test the only way I knew how… I stuck them on the boat for my clients to use for the next month of guided fishing trips. The rods were exposed to a spectrum of weather and fishing conditions… from extremely hot afternoons to thirty degree morning runs and from live baiting large Grouper to casting quarter ounce jig heads for small Drum species. The rods caught fish, lots of fish and my clients enjoyed putting them to the test. However, for me, the clue that spoke volumes was my clients’ preference at the end of each fishing day. Undoubtedly, they would start each day using the G. Loomis GL3’s ($200 - $300 Rods), but by the end of the day the TFO’s saw more usage. Some cited the comfortable handles and other cited the fighting strength… I was impressed.
After the month of beatings, I was able to sneak away for some testing myself. I put both rods to the test. First, the 7’0” Medium Light… in a direct comparison with my favorite GL3, I found the TFO casted equally as good and the tip is just as sensitive. It was a tad heavier than the GL3, but lighter than most other brands. I have to admit the handle is more comfortable… for casting and fighting fish. However, the most impressive aspect was the fighting strength of the rod… TFO somehow packed some serious backbone into an ultra light sightcasting rod. Again, I was impressed.
Lastly, I tested the 7’6” Medium Heavy TFO. As to be expected from a rod this size, much of the sensitivity in the tip was lost from the previous smaller version, but the strength increased. I tested this rod on the Everglades two most worthy adversaries… Tarpon and Grouper. Fortunately, the Grouper were hungry that day and the rod performed as TFO promises… even the largest Grouper of the day at 13 lbs was beaten fairly easily. There is enough sensitivity in the tip to feel a strike and more than enough backbone to pull him out of the rocks. The only Tarpon bite that day was from a solid 80 lb fish… initially, as in most Tarpon battles, the first few minutes were spent holding on for dear life. Once the battle turned to a tug of war, I made short work of the hefty fish. Serious backbone is simply an understatement for this rod… I could see it’s usage for larger offshore species as well. You guessed it, I was impressed.
The testing period encompassed 23 guided trips and easily over 600 caught fish on each rod… roughly the equivalent of the average recreational anglers’ annual usage. Aside from the occasional hardened scale and some of the powder coated paint chipping slightly on some of the guides, the rods look as they did when they arrived… ready for another round of fish punishment. With a price point just under $100, you simply can’t beat it. I have and will continue to highly recommend the TFO Signature Series rods to recreational and pro fisherman alike.