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TFO Lefty Krey Signature Fly Rod 5wt - A Review

Updated on September 13, 2013

A Popular Fly Rod and for Good Reason

The Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) Lefty Krey Signature Series Fly Rod is a very common fly rod. Its general utility will meet the needs of most fly fishers. This review is for the 5wt, nine foot fly rod. It is available from Bass Pro and Cabela's as well as other distributors and local fly shops. Recently, it has been upgraded to a Series II model, so the original will likely fade from the shelves or even offer a discount for the discontinued model. I've read the specifications on the Series II and see very little difference from the original.

What Makes This Fly Rod Appealing?

For most fly fishers, it is the price and positive reviews. It is tough to beat a lifetime warranty for a fly rod selling at $120.00. Does the rod deliver at such a low price? Having my 5wt since 2007 and fishing it on average three times a month, year around (I live in Florida), I give it a definite yes! The performance and durability are noteworthy.

The Performance

TFO states that it is a medium-fast action rod. A fast action rod is one that is stiffer and allows the fly fisher to cast tight loops for distance casting. A slow action rod is softer, bends more, and allows wide loops for greater accuracy at the expense of distance. As the name implies, a medium-fast action rod combines both features to yield respectable distance and accurate placement of the fly. My 5wt does just that. Casts up to 55 feet are fairly easy. The fly rod loads the line quickly allowing for short, accurate casts as well. I overloaded the rod with a front taper, 6wt floating line (Lefty Krey Signature from Scientific Anglers). The rod handles the line with ease. I also fish with a 5wt, sink tip fly line. I find sink tip fly lines a challenge in and of themselves, the rod handles the line respectably.

About 70% of my fishing outings I am targeting bass and larger panfish. For this application, the fly rod excels. Bass have a tough mouth and setting the hook is a two part process. The first process is pulling the line and lifting the rod to initially set the hook. The second is once the fish gives good resistance, to pull the rod tip up to further drive the hook in deeper. The rod has enough backbone to drive the hook into the mouth of the bass. Also, despite being only a 5wt, it can handle fairly large bass flies. Conversely, the rod has enough flexibility that landing panfish is exciting as well.

I have placed four different reels on this fly rod and all fit snugly on the reel seat. The double, uplocking rings have always held the reel solidly in place.

My hands are about average size for a man's. The half well grips are adequate for gripping.


Having fished the rod frequently since 2007, I must admit that the durability is what impresses me the most. The cork handle, while darkened, has very little wear. The epoxy on the thread wraps is solid with no cracks or chips. The rod finish shows no sign of wear. Much of my fishing is from a kayak and generally everything gets wet. I also store the rod in my garage where temperatures and humidity are high much of the summer and fall. There is no rust on the reels seat. In fact, the black finish is still intact.

TFO Signature Series showing the handle and reel seat.
TFO Signature Series showing the handle and reel seat.

When Not To Consider This Fly Rod

TFO has designed a solid, all around fly rod. If you are looking for more of a specialty fly rod, this is not it. For small fish, I would probably get a fly rod with slower action. Perhaps the smaller TFO Left Krey signature rods have more flexibility that the 5wt, but I have my doubts. Conversely, if you are casting small flies great distances, a faster action rod would be the way to go.

If you want a nice case with the fly rod, be prepared to purchase one from somewhere else. The fly rod only comes with the rod sock. The rod sock has held up very well. I generally don't put the rod in a case, rather just throw the rod and rod sock in the car.

The Signature only comes in two pieces. I am old school and figure the fewer the ferrule fittings, the better the action. Still, if compactness is important, this is not your fly rod.

Rod sock
Rod sock

Some General Things Not To Like

If you like fly rods with an artistic flair, this is not your rod. The dull green blank and dark green thread wraps are practically indistinguishable. The black reel seat blends in with the rest of the rod. If this fly rod were a car, it would be Volvo - nothing to look at, but the quality and function being the trademark.

The fly rod is a bit heavy. The 5wt is 3.7 oz. Coupled with the rod weight, I use an inexpensive, large arbor, fly reel. I can fatigue my casting arm with the combination. If I am fly fishing for much of the day and in the kayak (which requires an elevated casting arm to begin with) I strongly consider taking my lighter and smaller Orvis fly rod. Fly rods have that strange axiom of you pay more for less (weight). If having a light fly rod is important, be prepared to pay much more than the TFO Signature.


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