Last year I picked the Temple Fork Outfitters NXT Black Label Fly Reel and a spare spool (grabbed the spare spool so that I could have a floating line and sinking tip line ready to swap out at a moment’s notice). The reel has a simple and clean look. TFO describes the reel as “a new benchmark for performance at an affordable price.”
The NXT Black Label reel comes in 3 different sizes: I (4wt), II (5wt), and III (8wt). When I compared my Black Label III to my other 8wt reels I did feel like the reel was a little small. After having fished my fair share of different gear in the last few years I decided that I wasn’t going to let this first impression cause me to question the efficacy of this reel. I knew that I would have to put it to the test on some fun fish. I am glad that I did and I have found that for the price point this reel definitely holds its own.
I have used this reel plenty and wanted to share a quick story. This summer I had the chance to fish for some carp (yes, I love fly fishing for carp). I was using my 6 weight Echo Boost Salt and I paired it up with the NXT BLACK III. I was walking around a small bay and I spotted a nice sized carp cruising the bottom right next to a drop off, putting the fish in about 5-6 feet of water. I stripped some extra line out and quickly cast in front of and to the left of the carp. I watched as my crayfish pattern sank slowly down to the bottom. I placed the fly perfectly in front of the fish. A few seconds after the fly hit the bottom the fish came into range and I gave the fly a small little bump giving my fly a little bit of wiggly movement. The carp swam around the fly and did a 180 and charged the fly. With a big inhaling gulp and a solid hookset the fight was on! This fish pulled hard and started peeling off some line. I tightened up the drag and played the fish into the shallows. After several powerful but quickly tamed runs I was able to land the fish. It was a solid 29-30 inch carp – that was missing an eye – not too shabby of a fish at all. The reel held up wonderfully.
|TFR NXT BLK I||4.3 oz||2.90”||0.98”||50 yards/20 lb/WF4F|
|TFR NXT BLK II||4.6 oz||3.38”||0.98”||100 yards/20 lb/WF5F|
|TFR NXT BLK III||4.9oz||3.70”||0.98”|
100 yards/20 lb/WF5F
Cost: Being able to pick up a reel from the fly shop for under $100 that has the stopping power to handle big fish is definitely a plus. This price point makes for a great reel to throw on a kids rod, to take to places that are more likely to ding and scratch up a reel, and for a super solid backup reel.
Stopping Power: I was pleasantly surprised by the stopping power that this reel has. I was in a bay with plenty of room for a large carp to run and get into some really deep and boulder-rock filled water, but this reel had the brakes to keep this carp from running too far out into those dangerous waters. The reel boasts a “stacked, alternating disc drag system that delivers plenty of drag pressure, with no startup inertia.”
Limited Backing: With each of these models there is reason to have a concern about the amount of backing available if you get into a big fish with lots of pulling power. Maxing out at 125 yards of 20lb backing, the BLACK III leaves room for concern if you do get into it with a powerful fish with the current giving it an advantage. The stopping power hopefully gets the fish to yield before you run out of backing, but for those unexpected unicorns (massive fish) running out of backing would be a sure way to ruin the day very quickly.
Here are my thoughts: the TFO NXT BLACK Label reels are a great value and are worth owning. I would hesitate using this reel if I were out chasing many of the powerful saltwater fish, but I have used this reel for carp, bass, and trout and had zero reasons to not want to keep using this reel for any of my freshwater target species. I’d recommend it to you.