TFO Tactical Inshore Rod: Is It Worth Buying? Full Product Review

Temple Fork Outfitters has long been known for its affordable fly rod offering, but few people realize that they make conventional gear as well. With design influencers such as Lefty Kreh and Flip Pallot, TFO has continuously pushed the bar in the world of quality fly fishing rods. One of TFO’s high-end conventional rods is the Tactical Inshore, but is it worth buying?

The TFO Tactical Inshore rod is a great rod with exceptional value. From fishing for steelhead to battling large tarpon, the Tactical Inshore can handle it all and is worth the purchase.

I use the Tactical Inshore series for all of my charter guests and have put these rods through the paces. To properly consider it, you should understand where TFO products fit in the market, and both where the rod shines as well as its drawbacks.

Client using the TFO Tactical Inshore rod during an outing.

Does TFO make good conventional rods?

While not considered high-end rods, Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) makes quality, durable conventional rods at reasonable price points. TFO emphasizes designing rods that perform well without the use of unnecessary components that raise the cost. 

About five years ago, I happened to fish with a buddy who had a TFO conventional rod. Up until that point, I had no idea these rods existed.

I was shocked to discover that what I thought was a fly fishing company had also been producing conventional rods. I remember thinking that there was no way this thing would be any good as they are out of their element. 

To my surprise, the rod had an incredible backbone and a great feel when casting. I have since used various models of TFO conventional rods in a variety of different applications.

Whether you are looking to target Walleye in the north or deep-dropping offshore reefs, TFO has an offering for you. I highly recommend checking out the full lineup of TFO conventional rods. 

Catching a hammerhead with the TFO Tactical Inshore rod.

How does the TFO Tactical Inshore perform?

The TFO Tactical Inshore rod will perform well in a variety of different applications. Although the rod can be used to target large species, the rod performs best when fishing smaller to medium fish where long casts are required. The rod performs equally well in both salt and freshwater environments.

In today’s market, you are hard-pressed to find a decent rod for under $100, and it is not uncommon to spend $300 on a high-end rod. TFO has done an excellent job of creating the Tactical Inshore model to fall in the medium price range but fish like a high-end rod.

Personally, I enjoy throwing topwater lures and soft plastics for redfish using this rod. The rod has excellent feeling in the tip, yet a lot of launching backbone. I did find that the longer models, 7’ and above, outperformed the 6’6” model.

Click to check current pricing for TFO Tactical Inshore rod on Amazon

Is the build quality of the TFO Tactical Inshore good?

The first TFO rod I purchased was the Tactical Inshore in 7’6 length with extra heavy mag action. I remember unboxing the rod to see the bright sky blue blank with nice Fuji K guides. The cork was high quality, and the reel seat locking mechanism was solid. I was excited to get the rod out on the water. 

Once you are out on the water, one of the first things you will likely notice is how light the rod is. This is one of the lightest rods I have used and makes it relatively easy to cast all day. 

What is the best feature of the TFO Tactical Inshore?

By far, the best feature of the Tactical Inshore model is the rod’s action. The rod is very stiff, yet the tip has quite a bit of action. This allows you to whip a lure a long way and also feel the subtlest of bites. While fighting a fish, the rod feels strong and has plenty of lifting power. 

Are there any drawbacks to the TFO tactical Inshore?

Although I have caught up to 80lb tarpon using the extra-heavy model, this rod does not perform well when lifting large fish from the bottom, hence why it is called an “inshore” rod. 

Captain James fishing off the back of the boat with the TFO rod.

Over four years of using the Tactical Inshore, I have broken two rods. One was fighting a 20lb red snapper in 80 ft of water. The rod broke right above the cork.

The other was a large redfish hitting a rod that was in a rod holder. In this case, the rod broke a foot from the tip.

Granted, I wasn’t using the rod for its intended purpose in both of these situations.

Having said that, I still would not recommend the Tactical Inshore as a big fish rod. Instead, I would recommend the TFO SeaHunter model. 

Lastly, I did notice the castability of the shorter Tactical Inshore models did not cast nearly as well as the longer models. Specifically, the 6’6 model does not cast very well at all when I tried it.

If you plan to use the rod to throw longer distances or use lures, I recommend the 7’6 model.

What size is the TFO Tactical Inshore available in?

TFO realizes that the Tactical Inshore rod can be fished in various situations and did a great job offering a variety of different lengths and actions. The Tactical Inshore model is currently offered in the following configurations:

ModelLengthPowerLine Wt.Lure Wt.ActionRod Wt.
TAC IS 692-16’9″L4-101/8-3/8 ozFast3.9 oz
TAC IS 693-16’9″ML6-121/8-1/2 ozFast3.8 oz
TAC IS 694-16’9″M8-171/4-3/4 ozFast4 oz
TAC IS 703-17’0″ML6-121/8-1/2 ozFast4.5 oz
TAC IS 704-17’0″M8-171/4-3/4 ozFast4.5 oz
TAC IS 705-17’0″MH10-203/8-1 ozFast5.1 oz
TAC IS 706-17’0″H15-301/2-1 1/2 ozFast5.5 oz
TAC IS 707-17’0″XH14-301/2-2 ozFast7.2 oz
TAC IS 763-17’6″ML6-121/8-1/2 ozFast5.1 oz
TAC IS 764-17’6″M8-171/4-3/4 ozFast5.3 oz
TAC IS 765-17’6″MH10-203/8-1 ozFast5.4 oz
TAC IS 806-18’0″Mag H15-403/4-5 ozFast7.9 oz
TAC IS 807-18’0″Mag XH20-502-8 ozFast8.4 oz

If you are unfamiliar with rod action and rod weights, check out Why Do Fishing Rods Bend? How Rod Bending Increases Yield.

The Tactical Inshore model is only available in a 1-piece rod. TFO offers a 7 foot 3pc Traveler model for the angler looking to travel with conventional gear. The Traveler model offers the same fit and finish as the Inshore Tactical model, including the sky blue color.

Click to check current pricing for the TFO Traveler on Amazon

Can I purchase TFO Tactical Inshore in Bait Caster models?

Many freshwater fishermen, and even some saltwater anglers, prefer to use a bait caster reel. Using a bait caster has its advantages and disadvantages, but the main advantage is the casting accuracy.

 In addition to spinning rods, TFO offers the Tactical Inshore in bait caster models as well. The length options offered in bait caster models are far more limited when compared to the spinning rod offering. For a list of available bait caster options, refer to the TFO Website

Up close shot of the Tactical Inshore by Temple Fork Outfitters.

Will the TFO Tactical Inshore hold up in saltwater?

As a full-time fishing guide in Florida, my gear gets put to the test. If it isn’t abuse caused by novice anglers, it is corrosive saltwater elements. I have been the TFO Tactical Inshore model for myself and clients for roughly four years now. They are used exclusively in saltwater.

Whether you fish brackish backcountry marshes or along the beach, the Tactical Inshore model will withstand the corrosive elements of saltwater. However, like all fishing gear, you should rinse any salt from the rod after use, especially the guides.

Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for new conventional rods, do yourself a favor and check out the TFO Tactical Inshore. Like myself, you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality offered at a reasonable price.

The Tactical Inshore can handle almost any application and is the perfect rod for catching pike in a lake or fishing the flats of key west. The tapered rod blank offers great action, and the Fuji K guides allow your line to glide through when whipping a long cast.

If you plan to cast lures or small jigs, I highly recommend choosing a model greater than 7’ in length. Luckily, TFO offers this model in a variety of different sizes from 6’6 up to 8’.

The only drawback to the Tactical Inshore is when fighting large fish off of the bottom. I did not find this rod to perform as well as I would have hoped. 

There is no problem using this rod in saltwater applications. I have been using mine almost daily in salt for four days. The rod is highly durable and, with minimal care, will last a long time.

I enjoy using my TFO Tactical Inshore rods and will continue to use them personally and with my clients.