Product Reviews

TFO Cassette Reels

by Captain Barry Evans

I've been a big fan of cassette style reels since I used my first one about 10 years ago. They have worked well for me for about 95% of the fishing I do. So when I heard that TFO had just come out with a series of cassette reels (two sizes) I knew I'd have to check them out.

First impression as they came out of the box was this isn't a bad looking reel at all. They are finished in what appears to be a Matte Black baked Epoxy applied to an Aluminum frame and spool assembly. Both the frame and spool assembly have weight reduction holes in them. And, they come with two Graphite cassettes (saves having to buy a spare spool). They're easily converted for left or right hand wind with no tools by lifting the one way clutch off the spindle/shaft and flipping it over (rotating it 180 degrees) and replacing it on the spindle. They use an offset compression drag system. In fact, they look like TFO's Mark Series of Machined reels.

The Midge weighed a little over 3 ounces, is 2-7/8" in diameter and a 1-1/2" wide. The standard cassettes that come with the reel will hold 40 to 50 yards of 20 pound test Dacron backing with a 4 weight Orvis WF-F line. The 6 wt will hold 100 yards of backing. In fact, it looks like one would be able to use a DT line and still fill the cassette with the same amount of backing. A plus in my way of thinking.

The Mayfly weighs about 4-1/2 ounces, is 3-1/4" in diameter and 1-1/2" wide. The standard cassettes that come with the reel will hold a 100 yards of 20-pound test Dacron backing with an 8 weight SA, WF-F Headstart line.

There is a large Arbor cassette available for both of these reels that can be ordered/purchased for an extra $15. You just pop the standard cassette off and replace it with the large arbor cassette. Even though using these large arbor cassettes will help to reduce line coil memory, start-up inertia and increase line pick-up rate, it does however reduce the amount of backing that you'll be able to spool on it.

Not to shoddy for a reel that lists for under $50.00!

I decided to test the drags by dropping a loop tied into the backing over the trailer ball on my Jeep and pulling down the road to see how smooth they ran. Not exactly scientific, but it gets the job done. Both reels performed flawlessly, (as I'd come to expect from TFO products). I had my helper make 4 or 5 runs with each reel hooked up to the vehicle and not once did the drags show any sign of roughness. Not bad for a reel that won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Are these little reels in the same class as the high dollar machined works of Art that are on the market now? No, they're not. But for a reel that will cost you under $50.00 and comes with a spare cassette (saves you the cost of buying a spare spool), I'd have to say they are a great value. Especially for those of us that want to be able to purchase a reel for day in and day out use without having to put another mortgage on the farm.

If you are in the market for a well made, inexpensive reel, that'll get the job done, I'd suggest you check them out. ~ Capt. Barry Evans

About Barry:

Born and raised in South Florida and the Keys. Spent a lot of time fishing the local waters while growing up. Guided in South FL 5 years then guided out of Key West for 12 years. Built rods professionally for a number of years as well tied flies. Member and strong supporter of the CCA. Avid kayak fly fisherman in both the fresh water and the Texas coast. Retired and now living in North Texas.

Temple Fork Outfitters
8115 Sovereign Row
Dallas, Texas 75247
Phone: (800)-638-9052

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