You should have waited and cast some of my Hardy Zenith rods!
The 8'6" Zenith impressed Steve, and you know that can be hard to do. I tested a few lines on that 8.5 rod and the two that stood out to me are the Cortland Precision Platinum and the Trout Boss. I think the longer tapers feel the best on this rod. It is the smoothest casting rod I have ever cast. The entire line up is darn good. I took this rod out on the ponds at Anglers Covey with the Sage One in the same size and found that the Trout Boss (TB) is too light for the ONE. The GPX felt a lot better to me. The One was certainly stiffer and with the lighter TB line it had very little feel in close. The GPX made it feel better up close but I would hate to have to use a heavier line for a smaller size rod, used primary for throwing dries. Overall, I think the ONE is a great rod but for me, I think the Zenith has all the bases covered and then some. The GPX line was too heavy for this rod. It throws it off just a bit and is a noticeable bounce in the rod tip is too much for me. To me, an 8'6" rod should be matched to a standard size line. If you match it up with the right line, it just shines and it's such a joy to cast. That is all.......for now.