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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:41 pm • # 1 
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Today I had the pleasure of loading up some 1 and 2 wt rods and heading down to Les's place to do some testing (and fishing!).  Les has already posted a quick report on the Finesse and that thread kind of went sideways so I'm starting a new one and adding some photos.

(Finesse 1 wt with Ross Colorado)
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Let me say up front that I've been wanting to try one of these 1 weights since they first came out but no one around here keeps the 1 wt in stock.  When Les told me the good folks at TFO were kind enough to loan us one for testing I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  I was *not* disappointed.

Today we compared the Finesse with 3 other rods but we're not calling this a shootout because of the price range of the other rods.  I took my Sage TXL 7'10" 1 wt, Orvis Trout Bum 7'6" 1 wt, and Orvis Superfine 6' 2 wt.  All three of these rods originally retailed at $575 where the Finesse sells for $179.  In fact, even used any of these three rods will probably cost you at least $100 more than the TFO.  The main reason we tested against these other rods is because of the little bit of fuss that's come up over whether the Finesse is a *true* 1 weight (and pardon me for stealing a phrase from Napoleon Dynamite--"like anyone could even know that" Image). 

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A quick bit of background.  I own or have owned the following 1 wts:
  • Orvis current 7'6" Superfine Trout Bum
  • Orvis original 7'6" (unsanded) Superfine
  • Sage TXL 7'10"
And I've had the opportunity to fish the Dan Craft 6'10" 1 wt.  So coming into this I've had some experience with 1 wt rods and definitely have some opinions, but they're just that--opinions.  At the end of the day everyone has to decide for themselves.  

So let's get right to the point and provide some photos to back it up.  Out of the 4 rods we tried today the 6' 2 wt Superfine was the fasted of the bunch and Les and I both thought it handled beautifully with WF2.  The next fastest rod, and the fastest 1wt was the TXL--easily my all-time favorite 1 wt.  The Finesse came next being a little softer than the TXL and not quite as powerful, but it's a little faster than the 7'6" Trout Bum.  In my opinion the action of the Finesse was closer to the Superfine.  I think if you cut the 7'6" Superfine down to 6'9" they might feel very close.

We tried 3 different 1 wt lines on the Finesse and neither of us had any trouble casting any of the 3 lines--a 444 SL, Orvis Silver Label, and a Rio LT.  We both thought it did best with the LT but I really liked it with the Silver Label as well.

Here are some photos:

These are Les and I both casting the Finesse (I think the line was the Silver Label).  You can see that there was no problem at all throwing nice loops with this thing. 
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With this next series I had about 10' of line out plus the leader and I pinned my line hand to my side just to see how the rod would do with a short section of line out and no help from the line hand.  As you can see it casts a short line very nicely.
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Here are a few shots of Les with the 6' 2 wt for comparison
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And Les with the TXL
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So to sum up our feelings on the line weight question--Les and I both feel like the Finesse performs beautifully with a 1 wt line.  I could easily cast anywhere from 10' out to 35'+ and Les could do just as well up close and had no trouble beating my distance.

Let me also add here that we fished a small creek all afternoon and I found that I can roll-cast the Finesse better than any 1 wt that I've fished.  I'm not a great roll-caster but I didn't have any problem popping out nice little casts with this rod.  And Les could punch beautiful roll casts.

After a *lot* of casting and even more photos we put the extra rods away and headed down into the creek.  Les fished the Finesse and I took my little 2wt 6' Superfine.  We dropped below freezing last night so the water was pretty cool today and things started off pretty slow.  We had plenty of time to play around casting in the creek at different distances, etc.  Les had a tandem rig on the Finesse and it handled it very nicely.  Even with that rig we were both able to fish in close--8' to 10', out to 25' or so which is a very long cast on that little creek.

One thing I noticed right away is that the Finesse is really a better small-creek rod than my TXL.  This creek has high banks along most of it, with a lot of growth on both sides.  The TXL feels a little too long in situations like this as does the Trout Bum being only 4" shorter than the TXL.  At 6'9" the Finesse was right at home.  Still long enough to be a good roll-caster but not so long that you're getting hung up all the time.  At an even 6' my other Superfine is a great creek rod except that I can't roll cast it very well at all.

A little color along the creek
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Fishing was pretty slow most of the day but late afternoon it turned on for 30 minutes or so and we both caught probably a dozen.  Most weren't too big but they were pretty.

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Let me finish this up with a few stats.  The rod is listed on the TFO site at 2.4oz but it felt lighter than that to me.  When we got back to Les's house we weighed and were pleased to see it coming in at 2.1 oz.  This is a nice break from Sage who typically list their rods with a weight significantly less than what it actually weighs (this has been discussed in other threads and I weighed 5 or 6 of my Sage rods from all different eras, and every one weighed more than was listed on the rod).

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This is also a 4 pc rod which means this thing is going to fit perfectly in an 18" rod tube and will go *inside* of your carry-on luggage for those of us who fly a lot.   That beats the heck out of a 32" TXL rod tube and even makes the 26" Trout Bum tube look long.

Of course you will have to buy your own rod tube as the $179 does not include one.  I know this is a sore spot with a lot of folks.  Les and I talked about it a bit and neither of us will take a rod fishing without putting it in a tube, and no one I fish with does either.  I understand that in larger and heavier rod sizes it's common to put several rods in one big sturdy travel tube but I don't think that's the case with UL anglers.  Now having whined about it a bit I will admit that I usually have 3 or 4 empty tubes lying around but I still think it would help TFO out a bit to include one.  Do like Redington and include a cordura covered PVC tube with an integral sock.  Buying in quantity they can get them a lot cheaper than we can and I'd gladly pay $10 more for a rod with a correctly sized tube, and it would be one less thing for folks to complain about. Image

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So let me sum up this long meandering post.  If you're in the market for a 1 wt rod your choices are limited.  As of today if you're buying new at retail prices you can get a TXL-F at $625, the new Superfines at $475, or the Finesse at $179.  

Buying a used TXL or Superfine will probably still run you a $100 more than the Finesse.  You might find an older SPL or original Superfine but you'll probably still be spending more than you would on the Finesse.

Buy a Finesse, a $15-25 sale priced Silver Label line, and a used BBS I or BP Classic UL reel and you're going to have a great little 1 wt outfit complete for $275 or so.

Here's where I think the Finesse fits:
  • You like the current generation (Trout Bum) Superfines but would like something a bit faster (and cheaper)
  • You like the TXL but don't want to break the bank
  • You'd like something just a bit slower than the TXL
  • You fish mostly small water and are looking for a great little short 1 wt
  • You like fast-ish rods and want to make the jump into UL without spending a lot
  • You need a great little 1 wt car rod that's a blast to fish
And if any of the following are true you probably don't want this rod:
  • You long for the original unsanded Superfines because the new ones are too fast
  • You prefer a nice relaxed fiberglass or cane type of action
  • You're brand new to fly-fishing (I'd recommend at least a 3 wt to learn on)
I liked this rod a lot!  After all the stuff being said about it I was really expecting a heavier beefy super-fast rod.  That was not the case at all.  This thing is a lot of fun to cast and even more fun to fish.  The diameter of the grip is just right for me although I'd take some of the flair off the back.  It fits very comfortably in my hand.  It's a very pretty rod too, with a nice green blank and good looking hardware.

I definitely think it's a very good buy for the price and I'm very happy to see TFO taking the chance of putting a great little UL 1 wt on the market.

Jerry

(I have no association with TFO, Sage or Orvis, other than liking their rods... a lot)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:00 pm • # 2 
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    I am impressed..............What a great report, and good pictures too. I almost feel like I have tossed it myself.   Thanks guys................If I hadn't just bought the TXL "0" , I might be looking for a TFO finesse "1".
    It sounds like a really nice casting rod.........Don S. in SC..............................Image


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:07 pm • # 3 
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Great Report and Pictures....Looked like a fun day...I really enjoy reports like this on different rods...It is nice to have UL fisherman report on UL rods....especially some of our more experienced members who have been doing this for a while and who's opinions I can rely on....


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:14 pm • # 4 
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Another excellent review of this rod! Thanks Jerry!
(I also really appreciate the Napolean Dynamite reference, it really brought it home for me.)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:32 pm • # 5 
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thanks Jerry.  great report.  

i almost got a Finesse before i decided on the Trout Bum.
sounds like it would have been a good choice.

douglas



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:37 pm • # 6 
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All,
I think Jerry really nailed it on how the rod's action is more like the Superfine. I mentioned in my earlier report that I felt it was closer to TXL but faster than an unsanded Superfine. To address the rod's weight, I must admit I never had placed it on a scale until today nor had paired it with any reel besides my Ross Colorado 0, so the lighter-than-advertised 2.1 ounces came as a complete surprise. As a quick test, Jerry mounted one of his lighter weight Sage clicks on the TFO- this alone changed the balance point to make the rod & reel feel more in harmony. My reel weighs 3.3 ounces empty- so it is a bit but heavy.

Next week I'll be sending this rod up to Jeremy to test. There is no question in my mind that this rod may fit the bill for a budget conscious angler, and for others like me, it's definitely a go to rod for small creek action.

Les


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:16 pm • # 7 
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Good Job ! That was a very good test/review


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:45 pm • # 8 
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Thanks guys, Les and I had a good time, and in what is a first for me, I got to test a rod without actually buying it! :-) Of course in this case I'd be more than happy to own one of these. If I see a used one floating around I'll be all over it.

Jerry


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:39 am • # 9 
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Great report. You can make a very nice pvc tube with a glued in flat bottom and a removable cap for about 5.00. You'll have enough pvc left to make a second tube for an additional 1.25.
Thanks to TFO for giving us some quality less expensive UL options.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:38 am • # 10 
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OUTSTANDING !!! you guys really go the extra mile, fantastic pics. I have seen magazines that didnt do the first rate job you did on this one..thank you again ...Paul


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:03 am • # 11 
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You guys suck!  Thx a lot.  Now there is another fly rod I would like to have.  It sounds like a better fly rod than my ugly Cabelas PT+ 662.  The PT+ is likely softer and a useful fly rod for tiny flies but the TFO sounds like a nice rod for other applications I fish such as larger flies(size 18's thru 14's) on small/medium streams.  I really don't have the money for this....I'm going to be banished from this site by my wife who is at her wits end with this addiction I have.

Thx a lot!

Dave


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:53 am • # 12 
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Dave,

I couldn't help but look up the blank and find that it's only $89.95.

Great job as always guys!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:10 pm • # 13 
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Excellent report, fellas. Thanks for that and the pictures, too. Looks like I'll be getting the JStockard kit after Christmas.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:28 am • # 14 
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Dark Waters wrote:
I couldn't help but look up the blank and find that it's only $89.95.
I'm contemplating buying the blank and building it up with a small Orvis type of grip--cork reel seat with slide rings.  You could easily get it down under 2 oz.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:27 pm • # 15 
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I have this rod with a BPS Classic reel and bargain Orvis Silver Label line. I have fished this rod for two seasons now and caught a fair share of panfish on it. It fits the budget nicely and fishes as described. I was feeling sorry that I missed the closeouts on the TXL's, but after reading the review I feel that I have all the rod I need for my lightest weight fishing.
Thanks for the extensive review!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:47 pm • # 16 
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Chi Town Tom wrote:
I have this rod with a BPS Classic reel and bargain Orvis Silver Label line. I have fished this rod for two seasons now and caught a fair share of panfish on it. It fits the budget nicely and fishes as described. I was feeling sorry that I missed the closeouts on the TXL's, but after reading the review I feel that I have all the rod I need for my lightest weight fishing.
Thanks for the extensive review!
Thanks for the feedback!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:52 pm • # 17 
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This topic has been pretty interesting.  Having reviewed the rod I'd like to sum it up with a few observations:
  • The review I did with Les was not meant to change the mind of anyone who has cast or fished the TFO 1 wt.  Like all the other reviews I've done here it was simply to give folks an idea of the characteristics of the rod as we saw them so those who haven't had a chance to try one can gain some kind of idea of what it might be like.
  • This is the first time we've actually taken pics of the rod/line/loops while casting.  Usually we just do static rod pics but in this case because there was so much diverging opinion we wanted to back up our *opinions* with some shots of the rod in action to make it clear we were accurately reporting what we were experiencing with this rod.
  • I like fast rods.  No secret there for those of you who hang out here regularly so it was really no surprise that I didn't feel the TFO 1 wt, with a 1 wt line, was particularly fast.  What was surprising to me is that Les felt the same way about the rod.  Les has a huge variety of rods from fast graphites to very slow 'glass and he likes them all and casts them all very well, so Les doesn't have the same bias towards fast actions that I do.
  • I can take every med/fast to fast action rod I own and overline it by 2 line weights and cast and fish it with no trouble.  But the reverse does not hold true.  If you take a fast 3 wt and try to fish it with a 1 wt line you're going to have some difficulty.   I bring this up because it's common to fish a med/fast or fast action rod with a heavier line but doing so does not mean the rod is rated incorrectly.  If the TFO was really a 3 wt rod I don't believe Les and I would have been able to cast it so easily (no hauling) with three different 1 wt lines and then fish it on a small creek with a dropper rig.
  • For this review we took two very well known 1 wt rods to use in the comparison.  We both felt that the action of the TFO fell somewhere between the Superfine Trout Bum 1 wt and the TXL 1 wt.  On non-UL forums I've seen several comments about the ought weight TXL's really being 2 or 3 wts but you don't see that on this forum because there are so many guys fishing them at the rated line wt.  I know we have had several guys on the forum who felt like the TXLs are *too* fast and have converted to SPLs or SLTs.  Each time I see this though, the comments seems to be that they were just looking for a softer rod and *not* that the TXLs were rated incorrectly.
  • It's been over two years since I fished anything heavier than a 3 wt.  I typically make it out around 100+ times a year and I use a 1 wt or lighter probably 80% of the time.  Most of the other 20% is spent with a 2 wt and occasionally I'll break out the *heavy* 3 wts.  I also go through tons of gear.  I know you regulars have noticed the alarming rate at which I buy and sell gear.  I love trying new rods and take every opportunity I can.  This means there are few 1 wt and lighter rods that I haven't owned.  This doesn't make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination but it does give me the ability to compare a *lot* of UL rods.
  • Les is a very experienced angler who regularly fishes a wider variety of rod actions and line weights than I do.  It's a lot of fun to hand Les two entirely different rods and watch him take a few minutes to figure each one out and start cranking out beautiful casts.  Last week I handed Les the fast little Superfine 6' 2 wt and watch him immediately start cranking out tight loops and short, medium, and long casts.  Then I handed him the Hardy Aln 5' 2 wt.  Pretty much the extreme opposite in action--slow.  Within about 3 casts Les was casting that rod expertly as well.
I tell you all of this just so you know where we're coming from when we do these reviews.  Neither Les, J, nor I make any money or get free gear from the rod companies.  We have no reason to push one brand over another other than our honest opinions.   I'm not sure about Les and J but I do the reviews just because I love trying new rods and like sharing as much info as I can.  That's why you'll often see comments in our reviews that will warn you away from a given rod if you like a certain type of action. 

For some reason the TFO 1 wt has generated more comments than any review we've done.  It's a little surprising to me after having tested it.  I've reviewed several rods that were faster and could be overlined more easily (the Hardy 6' 2 wt Classic is a faster rod given its line rating) but perhaps fewer people have been exposed to those.  Another reason might be because of the low price anglers who don't typically fish UL have picked up the TFO to try it out.   It has been very interesting whatever the reason.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:08 pm • # 18 
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Thanks for your observations. It has been "interesting" to try to keep straight all the information in the however-many different threads going about this rod. This last post really helps (me, at least).


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:18 am • # 19 
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Well, we will have my review of this rod too when I get it in few days. For the record, I have never really cared for the TFO rods that I've cast, but I'm always fair and honest in my assessments. I'm lucky in the fact that I write for FFO and we don't have to sugarcoat anything like magazines or sponsored websites or blogs do. We don't get advertising dollars, nor do we get paid, so we always tell it like it is. That's what I'll do when I get this rod.


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