Innova Tern Review – High-Speed Driver

Innova is the name when it comes to disc golf. They were the first company to create a disc specifically made for the sport. As the sport itself has evolved, so too has Innova – they now boast an extensive range of plastics, a veritable fleet of discs including the Destroyer, Daedalus, Shark or Valkyrie, and provide all the equipment necessary to enjoy playing, whether you’re a pro or novice.

For anyone new to the sport, it’s important to understand the difference between the various discs, which starts with understanding the rating system used. The ratings describe the expected flight path of the disc based on four distinct aspects of flight: Speed, Glide, Turn, and Fade. The first two are fairly self-explanatory but Turn and Fade get a little trickier for new players. Turn is specific to banking during the initial part of the flight, whereas Fade describes the hook of the disc at the end of its flight.

Innova Tern Summary

The Tern is a more recent addition to the Innova arsenal, having been introduced back in 2012. It is a high-speed distance driver and is more of an intermediate disc simply because of its higher speed rating. Unsurprisingly, it is best known for its turn, but also has an extremely high level of glide – this makes it ideal for long shot shaping throws. It’s widely considered the tailwind disc of choice for getting maximum distance. If you’re looking purely for accuracy then I would suggest you take a look at the Innova Teebird.

This disc is available in the premium plastic lines, as well as in the Pro line. In the Star plastics, it’s rated with Speed 12, Glide 6, Turn -4, and Fade 1, meaning that it’s a bit more understable. In the Champion line, the Tern is rated with Speed 12, Glide 6, Turn -2, and Fade 2, which creates a more stable disc, as the turn and fade balance each other out.

In general, players consider this disc to have the perfect combination of speed and stability for maximum distance. Beginners can use this disc to increase their maximum distance, whereas intermediate and advanced players will enjoy the Tern for flex shots, hyzer flips, or long-distance slight turnovers.

One of the most unique traits about the Tern is its high level of glide. When the disc is at full speed, the glide will hold the high-speed turn – then the fade can kick in perfectly at the end of the throw. However, the Tern is very nose sensitive; keeping the nose down will allow it to turn sooner and let the S-curve fully develop. On the other hand, keeping the nose up at release will create a straighter flight with less turn and more fade.

The Tern’s major weakness is that it doesn’t perform well in headwinds or crosswinds. In such conditions, it tends to have a stronger turn, then roll over. If used against a small headwind, players should use a hyzer release to get the best performance.

Pros of the Innova Tern

  • Incredible glide
  • Perfect distance stretcher for less developed players
  • More forgiving than other Speed 12’s
  • Great roller
  • Ideal for huge flex shots in calm conditions or tailwind
  • Long tailwind bombs
  • Very controllable, especially for beginners or intermediate players
  • Good for long hyzer flips

Cons of the Innova Tern

  • Very nose sensitive
  • Not forehand friendly, better for backhand
  • Bad performance in crosswinds and headwinds
  • Needs lots of room to work when using the full S-curve

Types of Plastics for Innova Tern

Innova has four main lines of plastic: Star, Champion, DX, and Pro. Each line has its own subsets, which in turn have distinct qualities. The Tern, however, is only available in Star, Champion, and Pro plastics.

In general, the Star line is a premium plastic that offers enhanced grip with a similar level of durability to the Champion line. The superior flexibility of these discs will lead to a more understable flight. The Champion line is the most durable of the plastics due to the rigidity of its structure. Champion discs will hold up to almost any beating and fly more consistently for a longer amount of time, but they tend to be more overstable. Pro discs are softer than the premium plastics, which makes them more flexible and cold-weather friendly. This same attribute allows for increased glide, as well.

In terms of the Tern, specifically, Star and Champion are the most popular plastic options. Each plastic, as mentioned earlier, gives the Tern a different flight path. Star Terns are more understable, while Champion Terns are more overstable. Beginner players, or players with lower arm speed, would benefit more from having a Star Tern in their bag. Being more understable, the Star Tern will allow these players to gain more distance and fly on the expected S-curve. The Champion Tern is a better choice for the advanced player wanting to take more flex shots. In that case, the more overstable nature of the Champion Tern means the disc will fight the anhyzer release and come back at the end of the flex shot.

Final Thoughts on Innova Tern

The Tern is an incredible disc for intermediate and advanced players. These players tend to use it for a wider variety of shots, like getting extra distance on hyzer throws meant to get around or over obstacles, or flex shots in a heavily wooded area. For this kind of use, a Champion Tern will give players the best results.

It can be an easier distance driver for beginners, too, as it tends to be pretty forgiving on form and can really improve the maximum distance for those with noodle arms. Beginners who can’t muscle a really hard throw should go with a Star Tern in the lightest weight to take advantage of its understability.

The Tern really shines in a couple of key areas: it provides easy distance for those with slower arm speeds, intermediate players will find it a very controllable distance driver, and it can perform high-level throws for the more advanced player. It is consistent, versatile, and controllable – while it certainly seems like a disc for intermediate and advanced players on the surface, it can also be a great disc for beginners. If you’re looking for more suggestions for the best frisbee golf discs, then we have the guide for you!


About James

My name is James Francis, and I’m an avid disc golf player ever since I was introduced to the sport by my brother in 2008.  I fell in love with the sport because of the laid back & casual attitude, the ability to enjoy the great outdoors, and the technique needed to master the sport.

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James Francis