Temple Fork Outfitters The Clouser Rod
($249.99, 4-piece, 8’9”, 5.6 oz., www.templeforkflyrods.com) Perhaps as a result of the comparably shorter length, the Clouser is comparably more difficult to cast past 60-65’. Alternatively the rod has a thick tip, allowing for easy casting of your heaviest flies. The Clouser is also the only rod that does not come with a rod tube. Bottom Line: If you use heavy, weighted flies with sinking lines the Clouser will help you toss them without wearing out your arm on the first morning.
Temple Fork Outfitters Prism Cast Large Arbor 9/11 Reel
($99.95, 4.25”, 8.7 oz., www.templeforkflyrods.com)
The budget-priced Prism reel easily ate 225 yards of backing and one of the simplest quick-change spools I tested. While the drag is not quite as smooth as the others, it is more than sufficient for less explosive saltwater game and the entire spectrum of freshwater fish. Bottom Line: Aesthetically the Prism does not have the same luster as its machined competitors, but at $99 this cast reel offers immense value.
In addition to saltwater testing in Costa Rica and Florida, I tried to wrangle as many huge musky and northern pike as my home state of Colorado offers. I also set up a series of cones to measure distance and accuracy of casts at a local park. (As large fish are frequently on the move, being able to place a fly precisely before the fish swims out of range can be critical to success.)
At the park I performed a series of casts with three different setups on each rod. First, I paired the rods with their respective manufacturers’ reels. Then, to adjust for the differences in fly line, I cast each with the Sage 3810CF reel (Sage Equator Line) to evaluate distance. Finally, I used the Ross Evolution reel (Scientific Anglers Mastery Series Bonefish Line) to evaluate accuracy.