With the introduction of their BVK series in late 2010, TFO joined the move toward light fast-action flyrods with soft sensitive tips, in the wake of big names such as Scott (S4s), Sage (Xi3) and Loomis (NRX). Fly rods with these specifications are easier to cast, perform well at all ranges, and given the lower swing weights, models designed for line weights eight and above are a lot less taxing on the casting arm.
The BVK series designed by Lefty Kreh (aka Bernard Victor Kreh = BVK), with some help from Flip Pallout and Gary Loomis, is arguably the best TFO has produced. These rods retail at a little more than a third of the price of high end brands and models, against which they comfortably compete.
TFO are understandably fairly cagey about the technical details of blank construction.
All I managed to ascertain was that the graphite has higher modulus than the IM6 graphite used in all the other TFO series, and the resin is a tried-and-true proprietary system that does not involve new nano resin technology.
The hardware on the BVK series is what you would expect to find on a top end fly rod, including REC recoil stripping guides (also used by Loomis on the Cross Current and Streamdance series), lightweight chromium-impregnated stainless snake guides, 'flor' (highest) grade cork grips and reel seats constructed from woven graphite and type-three anodized, machined aluminium components. The rods are a rich moss green and the finish is very good.
My only complaint is that glossy blanks generate rod flash, which could become an issue when targeting spooky fish on saltwater flats or in New Zealand’s crystal clear backcountry streams.
Glossy fly rods also tend to scratch more easily in tough backcountry stream environments, which, though more of a cosmetic than a practical issue, may bother some people. On the plus side, surface scratching does eventually reduce rod flash.
In New Zealand, the BVK rods come with a rod sock and TFO rod tube and a life-time warranty. The turnaround on rod repairs is generally under two weeks and can be as short as four or five days, which beats the 8 week turn around on most top end models. Broken sections are replaced for a handling fee of NZ$30.
Producing a light, fast action blank with a sensitive tip section is no mean feat, and to create one that is also durable, is the Holy Grail of fly rod design.
I have also found that casting a fly rod in a car park or paddock does not provide much insight on how the rod will handle the demands of fish and water.
In order to establish how durable and fishable the BVK series is, I loaned 5 wt and 9wt rods from Feather Merchants, the New Zealand distributors, and fished them alongside my favourite rods.