Product Review: Temple Fork Outfitters Rods (TFO)
Item: Pro Walleye Series Rod
Model: WS 704-1
Other: 7′ medium-fast
Retail Price: $99
The Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) Pro Walleye Series Rod was purchased via one of the principal online retailers. I receive the rod on time, with no “Covid-19” related shipping delays.
Temple Fork Outfitters is a Dallas, Texas-based company with a core market of Bass Anglers. They had received reliable online reviews for the Bass equipment, and with the introduction of the walleye series, I thought I might give them a shot for my shiver minnow and other casting presentations.
The rod came as a split handle rod, which is my preference for this type of tactic, allowing for reduced weight. The rod had a nice balance but seemed to lack a significant backbone. I tend to prefer a stiffer rod, but a little more give is preferred for this type of fishing. I paired this with a Pflueger President Series reel with Suffix braid. The reel seat was adequate but not premium. The cork handle was genuinely nice.
The rod had nice castability when I first used it in the Cabela’s National Team Walleye Championship on Lake Winnebago in late September. I paired it with a Shiver Minnow and had about 10-20 casts with it before moving to another tactic. You know, tournament day with a quarter-million-dollar purse, throw everything at ‘em! The rod was stored and brought out for my next adventure on the Fox River in Green Bay.
As we ran over a deep hole in the river, the hole was full of walleye and whitefish, according to the Garmin locator. We quickly moved back over the pod of fish and vertically jigged the previously tied on Shiver Minnow. Almost immediately, I hooked into a fish. Within seconds the Temple Fork Pro Walleye Series rod disintegrated. The rod, about halfway up the stick, unraveled. The damage was catastrophic and resulted in a lost fish, a worthless rod, and an upset angler.
I reached out to Temple Fork Outfitters via the phone and asked to return the rod under warranty. After gathering the information, purchasing a rod tube, and shipping, I had incurred roughly an additional $35 to ship the defective rod back to the company under warranty.
About a week after the rod’s receipt by TFO, I received a call from their customer service that I needed to provide a credit card for an approximate $80 fee to replace the rod.
They had denied the warranty claim on the six-week old rod. They claimed the rod had been crushed. I disagreed. Anybody who knows me understands I take extreme care of my equipment and having a witness to the break just was not enough to have TFO replace the rod. At this point, I had spent nearly $150 (including shipping to me initially) on a $100 rod, and I wasn’t going to spend another $80 (plus shipping) to give Temple Fork Outfitters another chance to establish this rod.
Final Assessment: One-star rating out of five. While the rods had some of a premium rod’s characteristics, it does not have the company backing which one would find from St Croix, G Loomis, or other premium products. For an average angler, a $100 rod may be the best rod in their arsenal. Purchasing a rod which is only suitable for fewer than 25 casts (my experience), would not meet the criteria of most customers. Granted, I may have been the exception, but Temple Forks Outfitters customer service ultimately failed to correct the situation, providing the ultimate proof that this company is not ready for prime time yet in the walleye world. Companies must stand behind their products, and TFO could not meet this basic standard, especially when the product passes thru third-party resellers.
I have since purchased an additional Fenwick, which has performed flawlessly this fall.