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Tools of the Trade: TFO Blue Ribbon Series

Last year, TFO introduced three new fly rods, one of which was the Blue Ribbon series. While the series name might seem like this tool is intended for cool water trout streams, its components and moderate fast action have proven to be able an excellent choice for targeting warmwater species as well.

The Blue Ribbon’s precision and ease of casting make this rod a joy to cast and even more fun when fighting a fish. The 11-rod series has something for every freshwater angler.

TFO Fly Fishing Category Manager and designer of the Blue Ribbon series, Nick Conklin, shares a little bit more about this new series.

Briefly describe the Blue Ribbon series. What is it and who is it for? 

The Blue Ribbon was designed for the freshwater angler who needs to effectively cover water with repeated casts over the course of the day.  Think easy loading, powerful and accurate.

It is an 11-rod series from a 7’6” 2-weight to a 9-foot, 7-weight. We also offer 10-foot models in a three, four and five-weights.

In these situations, the successful angler is the one who has their fly in the water the most and can land that fly accurately and repeatedly.

It is all about efficient use of energy and casting time. We utilized some special components and finish out for the intermediate angler, who fishes for trout and warmwater species. The series spans everything from small dries and nymphs, up to multi fly rigs, (hopper-droppers) and larger articulated streamers.

Photo: Nick Conklin
Photo: Tom Wetherington
Photo: Braden Miller
Photo: Nick Conklin
Photo: Nick Conklin

How did the Blue Ribbon series come about? Is this series based off a pre-existing series? If so, what changes did you want to imply or what did you like about previous series that was carried over? 

While not based off anything in the freshwater line-up, we felt the need to offer a well thought-out freshwater/warmwater specific fly rod. Again, a rod with a moderate fast action, but also plenty of power in the butt section to carry longer lines and deliver accurate presentations. We did bring over the TFO Line weight ID system, and our built in hook keepers, (from some saltwater series). We also offer some of the 10-foot models, in a full wells grip for a more comfortable feel.

Photo: Todd Kaplan
Photo: Todd Kaplan
Photo: Todd Kaplan

Any key ambassadors or TFO staffers that helped with the prototype phases?

During the design and development phase, we utilized our vast and experienced network of guides and outfitters. We have some great, hardworking guides that spend hundreds of hours on the water and really put rods to the test. This was exactly where we envisioned the Blue Ribbon series to fit. A well-built, smooth casting tool meant to be fished hard by anglers. A functional tool that anglers of varied casting preferences and experience can pick up, quickly load, and accurately unload to a fish.

Talk about the 10’ options. Aside from having extra length for nymphing, what makes the 10’ option more advantageous compared to a 9’ model? 

The ten foot models have always been critical across the TFO line-up and it was important that we offered some “longer levers,” to help aid in line management and fly placement. The longer level makes the process of picking up and repositioning lines much more efficient.

Not only are these tools great for those tightline or high-stick nymphing, but they also enable easier and more efficient casting while in a drift boat, kayak, or while wading deeply. One of the great insights that came out of the development phase was learning about all the drift boat guides that have found many advantages for anglers with the longer rod. It’s all about efficiency and aiding in providing a great fishing experience.

Photo: Oliver Sutro
Photo: Oliver Sutro
Photo: Tom Wetherington

Do you see the Blue Ribbon lineup expanding someday? 

There is always an opportunity to expand any fly rod series. It comes down to the needs of the anglers. We take extreme care in selecting the rods we introduce in a series, but, as techniques evolve and anglers find new and fun ways and places to fish, there will be opportunities to improve models and add to a rod family.

Photo: Nick Conklin

Check out the all new Blue Ribbon series at your local TFO dealer today! Find out more about the Blue Ribbon series here.