How do you know when you have confidence in a reel? We know… try running 200 plus Bonefish through the drag & see what that does to your faith. That is exactly how we tested the 3-TAND TF-70 reel. But wait, it absolutely gets better!
Winning the ICAST 2014 New Product Showcase “Best in Show” category in their first year out certainly put 3-TAND on the map for the Vagabond Fly editors, and we hastily snaffled up a TF-50 for review back in 2014. After a positive review we just had to throw the TF-70 through our saltwater testing grounds to see if all the hype was… well just hype? This reel not only lived up to expectations but exceed them.
Size & scale
The 3-TAND TF-70 is touted as a 6wt-8wt crossover reel that can handle equally well in both the salt & freshwater conditions. At 130g (4.6 oz) the TF-70 is light, especially so in the 8wt category that we fished it. We paired our TF-70 with the Scott Meridian 9” 8wt and Scientific Anglers Mastery Series Bonefish line and unwittingly created a near perfect trifecta, balanced superbly by the 3-TAND TF-70.
The 3-TAND website states that the TF-70 can deliver 7lbs pressure in the drag department, to be honest we never pushed the drag to those “are you mad” proportions especially as we spent hours chasing big bruiser 7lb & 8lb Bonefish in skinny water on light tippet. That was of course after targeting smaller bonefish & numerous Bluefin Trevally to build confidence in this reel.
Fish after fish we began to build absolute faith that the Nano CF Drag™ Disc drag would deliver time & time again… and it did.
Where does the 3-TAND TF-70 Shine?
As a standard, you expect modern reels to offer a stable drag system to last for years, but we don’t want to understate how smooth the Nano CF Drag™ Disc drag actually is. In super skinny conditions Bonefish have only one medium in which to fight you – and that is distance. In ankle deep flats they often beach themselves on sandbars between water pockets on long scorching 40m runs before finding water again which is followed by another surge of power.
From hook-set there is zero startup inertia, which is of paramount importance within the strip strike saltwater environment. Follow that with a pause & surge fight over sandbars that could easily pop fish should any overwind or slack appear in the system.
We did not lose a single fish from popped tippet during our 2-week test abusing the 3-TAND TF-70. Point proven?
Another area of shine that cannot be overlooked is the price point. At $210 the TF-70 offers superb value, and more so when quality is thrown into the mix. With that said offering spool options that allow a single TF-70 cage to cover line weights from 6wt-8wt further polishes the value – this is crossover quality at an affordability scale that very few reels can compete with.
How else can we highlight our confidence in the 3-TAND TF-70 other than with a story? We spotted a permit feeding off the back of a ray on a pushing tide. We were on the prowl for GT’s, cruising the flat on our skiff, when the golden sickle fin caught our attention.
Permit are elusive, tricky & exceptionally fussy not to mention spooky & you don’t get many better shots than what presented itself.
When you get a shot at a permit, you simply have to go all in confidence blaring or you’ll hate yourself for dumping a cast & spooking the fish from being timid!
And should the stars align and you get the eat you it is imperative to have absolute confidence in your terminal tackle – these fish are not only pound-for-pound immense fighters but they are dirty and awfully devious in the heat of battle. They will test you.
With a boat full of rods, reels & flies at his disposal Vagabond Fly editor Colin Campbell grabbed the tried & trusted 8wt rig. Admittedly under gunned for Permit, confidence in the 8wt set-up & smooth, silk-like drag of the TF-70 evened the playing field. How often do we say that confidence is key in this this world of fly fishing?
Needless to say it all came together. Subdued after a long and nervous fight we had our photo, our first Permit & we celebrated that night patting ourselves on the back for a fish that took teamwork to deliver. Looking back we should have paid homage to the 3-TAND TF-70. When once in a lifetime opportunities present themselves much can be said by who (and what) you choose to take into battle with you and without blinking the 3-TAND TF-70 was selected. If presented with the same opportunity we don’t think we could wish for a better reel to take into battle.
Confidence is earned!