Re: Hardy Zenith Beginner Friendly?
The Zenith is a fine rod that can be managed by a beginner IMO. I have a 5wt Zenith and after fishing mostly Sage/Redington fast action rods I find it on the medium side of fast and in no way too stiff in the low end.
I am not familar with the waters you fish but on 15-30 ft wide rivers it is in it's element and can handle a hopper down to a tiny dunn without an issue. It protects 6x tippet on larger fish just fine with enough backbone to land a 20 + incher without too much stress.
After reading the reviews and comparisons to truly fast action rods I was concerned it was going to be a bit fast and technical for my liking as well so I purchased GPX textured half weight heavy line for it. Having spent many hours on the river with it I now realize that I have dulled the rod and limited it's distance some what.
Having said that, in close it loads very nicely with this line and is still more than accurate enough to catch fish.
If you are truly a beginner, I would suggest the GPX or the new Rio Gold half weight heavy line as you will be able to get very good feedback when loading the rod and perfect your cast. You could grow with the rod and load it up with regular 5 wt when it is time to respool in a year or so. (beginners are hard on fly line, the next line will last much longer.)
A 9' 5wt. is never a bad choice when a person is purchasing one rod and this is especially true when dealing with a trusted brand like Hardy.
Perhaps you are feeling a wee bit of buyer's remorse for over shooting your budget a bit? I have done this on many purchases as well and I can tell you in the long run I have never kicked myself for buying the best I can afford at the time. It's when I cheap out to save a few bucks that I usually get burned.