Hardy Ultralite 9’/#4 and UD 6000 LA

sweetandsalt

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House of Hardy, long famed on these shores for their truly classic spring and pawl, click check reels like the Lightweight series and Perfects has always built fly rods. However, it was not until 2012 when their new division, Hardy of North America introduced the SINTIX Nano resin graphite Zenith and Proaxis series that we on this side of the pond really began to pay attention. The Zenith was a home run garnering critical acclaim and almost immediate popularity, successfully competing with America’s well established premium brands. I myself fished two of them extensively, a 9’/#5 and 8 ½’/#4. An extra-large arbor, narrow spool, stacked drag module reel was introduced to accompany the new rods making a compelling package.

Subsequently Hardy was sold and is now a division of Pure Fishing. As part of this transition Hardy and Pure’s other fly fishing brands including Fenwick, Greys, Pflueger, Hodgman and more have reorganized under a subdivision led by the creative man who was originally President of Hardy North America, Jim Murphy. Remarkably, through whatever uncertainties, they wisely retained renowned British Hardy designer, Howard Croston as well as other key personnel.

Stabilized under astute leadership, Hardy is poised to start a new chapter in their long, storied history; come September they will introduce a much anticipated catalog of products. Every rod for both fresh and saltwater is an entirely new taper design, engineered with advanced and proprietary technology and material science. Reels too are advancements beyond earlier designs featuring sealed carbon drags or click checks. It has been a while now since Hardy’s last major introduction of the Zephrus line-up of fly rods but behind the scenes a vast amount of work and experimentation has been going on in preparation for the eventual production of all new Hardy rods and reels and that time is close upon us.

I have been enjoying the privilege of being entrusted with an advance production rod and reel outfit of my choosing. In the low, clear, chill waters of the upper Delaware system my selection was obvious, an Ultralite 9’/#4 of 2.8 oz. and a balancing UD LA reel of 5.2 oz. This pairing loaded with new RIO SlickCast Gold fly line is perfectly gravity neutral in balance with the fulcrum at the point in the cork where my forefinger naturally encircles the grip. I have been fishing it now for a couple of weeks and will again next week.

E20 017 Hardy cL.jpg
Ultralite features an unusual reel seat, it appears to be a hardwood spacer but in actuality it is a wooden sleeve over a lighter weight carbon spacer forming a mortised recess for maximum security for the reel’s foot. The secure and well machined hardware is anodized a prefect matching gunmetal color to the UD LA reel which itself has green accents matching the rods wraps. I selected a backing color to match these green tones as best I could. The upper hood of the reel seat is engraved with the #4. The cork work is first class, smoothly sanded of very high quality select cork in a pleasing and comfortable Western style grip tipped with a winding check again matching the rest of the metalwork. The signature area is a woven patterned, natural graphite colored area with the rod’s name and specifications along with a serial number. It also says Sintrix NSX but I do not know what that stands for. It is bordered, as is the rest of the rod's wraps with bright olive green thread wraps with an elegant green-gold metallic thread inlay tipped with two bands of black. The blank itself is painted an olive green which shimmers in the sunlight. For those who have experienced ferrule loosening during a day’s fishing, Hardy has left the male ferrule half natural sanded graphite whose matte surface enhances frictional adhesion within the female half, smart. There are alignment dots and the guide set is single foot grey Recoils with the new CIRecoil ceramic stripper. Ultralites come packed in a heavy twill rod sleeve edged with reinforcing ribbon, a hanging loop and a Velcro pocket for the included ferrule plugs.

E20 028 Hardy Reel Seat c.jpg

E20 029 Hardy Signiture c.jpg
This rod projects as the faster end of medium fast in its flex profile. There is ample upper third bending for a strong sense of “feel” without ever beginning to go soft on you. Tip recovery which I have carefully examined during casting is top shelf, next to zero counter flex as it returns to straight and no tip taper artifact is generated into its high line speed tight loop formations. The upper third transitions smoothly into a mid-taper that is easily dialed for increasing distance simply by extending tip travel and I have not yet cast it far enough to tap into all the butt power reserves it possesses. I have it lined with RIO SlickCast Gold and a 16’ Braided Leader and have achieved precise and intuitive presentations at 30’ out to 75’ effortlessly. I’m confident I will learn new things about this rod’s character as I continue to fish it but there is no steep learning curve, Ultralite comes naturally to my hand.

My laboratory for this rod is the West Branch of the Delaware. The river is low and clear with submerged rock slab and weed bed braided currents. Angling culture here describes insect hatches in Latin which I believe the post graduate, all wild trout are fluent in as well. This is technical dry fly fishing in its ultimate form and an appropriate Delaware River rod is called upon to aerially turn over 5’ tippets at some distance often under overhanging bankside branches as well as addressing the surface complexities. In air slack line reaching and mending prior to on water manipulation and feeding require a rod with superb reflexes and tip precision. This level of line-leader control is not achievable mechanically; it involves fluid, communicative feedback between rod, fly line and angler. Casting is the initial part and adroit presentation techniques the second ultimately consummating with the slip-strike of metal to mouth and engagement with a leaping running fish.

E20 012 Hardy Brown cs.jpg
Back in the day I was fine with my spring and pawl, click check Hardy reels and still occasionally field one in a small stream habitat. Long ago though I experimented with trout reels with “saltwater” disc drags, quickly convincing myself that, given equal angling skill, a fine fish is more quickly brought to net with a finely tunable disc drag reel. This is important to facilitate safe and healthy catch and release. Hardy has long been a staunchly traditional company but is, as the Ultralite rod illustrates, passionately modern too. So, the new reel created to compliment Ultralite and its sibling series Ultralite LL, is the extra-large arbor, narrow spool width Ultradisc reel featuring stacked, multi-element, carbon disc drag modules. Unusual is its frame design intended to preclude fine leader or nymphing mono-rig entrapment into the spool. Also thoughtful is very incremental sizing allowing the fly fisher’s choice of going as light weight as one may wish or, seeking horizontal balance as is my preference. This reel and its Ultraclick sibling are the lightest reels of their respective types Hardy has ever made.

E20 022 Hardy c.jpg
Ultradisc reels span #3 through 10-weight sizing priced in the mid $300’s and the Ultralite starts at 8’/#3 up to 10’/#8 costing $795. My 9’/#4 with its UD 6000 LA is an ideal outfit for the upper Delaware in low water and is going back up next week.


 

okaloosa

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excellent well written technical review as we have to come to appreciate and expect from you.
I love my Hardy rods and reels but I have to ask, except for maybe T&T, why don't
these top tier rod makers at least give us a choice of down locking vs up locking reel seats?
I am not sure if the slight protection the up locking reel seat may provide to the reel while the rod butt is situated on the ground vertically
is worth the increase in swing weight.
norm
 

sweetandsalt

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If you look at the above image, you can determine, if this rod had a down locking seat, the reel's diameter would easily protrude beyond the butt. That is undesirable as it increases the risk of damage at worst and grit entering the mechanism at least. Now, I am not one to prop my rod up with the butt sitting on stone or gravel, I seek a soft grassy spot or the crook of a willow. With the reel behind your hand I doubt any change in swing weight occurs but I've never figured out how swing weight is measured...I just know it when I feel it and this one swings very light.
 

okaloosa

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From the numbers i have seen for euro nymph rods a down locking reel seat should shave at least 1/2 to as much as 1 ounce from the reel weight to balance the rod.. I will note that almost every fisherman I see leans their rod against a car or bush at an angle so the spool rim is probably hitting the ground anyhow. But I imagine the down locking seat can be a problem with storing the rod vertically indoors. Nonetheless in retrospect I may have been comparing apples to oranges anyhow since weight reduction is not so critical for the dry fly fisherman as it is for the nymph fisherman with his arm being extended for hours....
Once again, great review and look forward to seeing the whole series of rods in person.
I have a Hardy Zenith and a Hardy Demon and love them both!
 

sweetandsalt

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As I've written previously, there is no one correct perception on rod/reel balance. As you suggest, in high stick nymphing one wants weight in the butt to ease holding the tip aloft. In pure casting, a light weight reel adds less to the overall mass one is moving. My preference for neutral balancing is based on walking, wading and watching which I do more of than actual casting. I want to cast but don't until I have found my fish and positioned myself. My casts then better be good or else I'm back to walking, wading and watching again.

Oh, okaloosa, you are correct, folks frequently lean their rods in parking lots against their vehicles or put them on the roof but that does not make either of those things a good idea. On a float trip, a friend of a friend wanted to try casting my NRX#6. Sure, I handed it to him and he quickly wrapped the leader around the tip, dropping the rig mounted with my Abel SDF to the floor of the fiberglass boat with a crash to straighten things out. I swooped that rod off the deck and examined my new reel for rash. It was undamaged but that was the end of his casting session and he got the evil eye.
 
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JDR

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"... and he got the evil eye."

I honestly have visions of the hair standing up on the back of his neck.
 

pickadrake

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Thanks for the great report S&S. Always look forward to your reviews. Looking forward to getting on of these in my hands for a test drive
 

sweetandsalt

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I was informed today that the introductory date for this full new line-up of Hardy rods and reels has been pushed back to November as the result of COVID-19 related supply chain issues. When I know more, so will all of you.
 

sparsegraystubble

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I was informed today that the introductory date for this full new line-up of Hardy rods and reels has been pushed back to November as the result of COVID-19 related supply chain issues. When I know more, so will all of you.
Of all the new rods, I am most interested in this one with the Ultradisc reel. So thanks for keeping us posted. Further experiences with this 9’ 4 wt would be appreciated as well. When the time comes it will probably be between this Hardy, ‘the Stickman p-4 and the new Sky G. I’m probably foolish to not be considering the Centric or NRX+ as well, and that may change when and if I get a chance to cast them.

Probably couldn’t go wrong with any of this current crop of rods.

Don
 

King2040

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@sweetandsalt fantastic review. As a Hardy fan, it's great to get such in-depth information prior to the initial release.

I have a question for you. How does the new Ultralite 4wt compare to the original Zenith 4wt one piece rod? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
 
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sweetandsalt

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In the Zenith I had the 8 1/2'/#4 but have cast the superior 8'10" one-piece a few times, a great rod. I would hold onto that one. If though, you are seeking new 4-pc. rod, the new Ultralite is an advanced taper and material construction from the same great Howard Croston, a definite improvement over original Zenith and far better than detuned Zephrus. Welcome to the Forum.
 

King2040

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Thank you, sir.

No worries, my one piece Zeniths will forever remain in my stable. I was more curious if the new iteration of Hardy's flagship rods would be a worthy upgrade / addition to my arsenal. It sounds like that may be the case, and I look forward to testing one out in the near future. Gordy and Sons here in Houston are a certified Hardy vendor (fantastic folks to deal with), and I'm sure they'll have the new models available upon release.

An added thought, if you get a chance to test the Zane lineup, please post your thoughts. I can't be the only one on the forums excited about them, too.

Thanks again.
 

sweetandsalt

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These new rods and reels won't be up on their site until November sometime. I was provided with the dealers' info sheet to help me know wat I was writing about.
 

sweetandsalt

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Thank you, sir.

No worries, my one piece Zeniths will forever remain in my stable. I was more curious if the new iteration of Hardy's flagship rods would be a worthy upgrade / addition to my arsenal. It sounds like that may be the case, and I look forward to testing one out in the near future. Gordy and Sons here in Houston are a certified Hardy vendor (fantastic folks to deal with), and I'm sure they'll have the new models available upon release.

An added thought, if you get a chance to test the Zane lineup, please post your thoughts. I can't be the only one on the forums excited about them, too.

Thanks again.
I fished this past weekend with my wife and an old friend who is a Hardy Pro. We plied the seas off Montauk Point to across the sound to Watch Hill, RI. I have fished his Zephrus SW rods previously and now he has a few new Zane's. The Zephrus SW rods are actually very good and smooth but the new Zane's are notably more refined and seem more potent as well. They are not super fast like the earlier, great ProAxis Hardy's but more medium fast offering plenty of upper to mid taper flex for feel and feedback. Interestingly though, since their recovery rate is far sharper and more precise, they perform as does a faster rod, just with a more responsive feeling. They are imbued with greater lower taper power reserves too.

I fished a 9'/#9 4-piece Zane for a full day, well, that is whenever my wife would let me use it as she fell in love with it. When this model becomes more readily available after the official introduction, I hope to rack up some real time with it and will then write a actual review.

S20 053 East End cs.jpg

S20 054 Watch Hill cs.jpg
 

Lenres

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Thanks for the great review.

Would you consider the larger size /heavier UD LA reel for saltwater usage ( sturdy enough)? They do appear well proportioned.
 

sweetandsalt

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And they do go up to larger sizes, however, though I have yet to handle one, the also new Zane Carbon will be the saltwater equivalent to the Ultradisc depicted above.
 

bevanwj

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House of Hardy, long famed on these shores for their truly classic spring and pawl, click check reels like the Lightweight series and Perfects has always built fly rods. However, it was not until 2012 when their new division, Hardy of North America introduced the SINTIX Nano resin graphite Zenith and Proaxis series that we on this side of the pond really began to pay attention. The Zenith was a home run garnering critical acclaim and almost immediate popularity, successfully competing with America’s well established premium brands. I myself fished two of them extensively, a 9’/#5 and 8 ½’/#4. An extra-large arbor, narrow spool, stacked drag module reel was introduced to accompany the new rods making a compelling package.

Subsequently Hardy was sold and is now a division of Pure Fishing. As part of this transition Hardy and Pure’s other fly fishing brands including Fenwick, Greys, Pflueger, Hodgman and more have reorganized under a subdivision led by the creative man who was originally President of Hardy North America, Jim Murphy. Remarkably, through whatever uncertainties, they wisely retained renowned British Hardy designer, Howard Croston as well as other key personnel.

Stabilized under astute leadership, Hardy is poised to start a new chapter in their long, storied history; come September they will introduce a much anticipated catalog of products. Every rod for both fresh and saltwater is an entirely new taper design, engineered with advanced and proprietary technology and material science. Reels too are advancements beyond earlier designs featuring sealed carbon drags or click checks. It has been a while now since Hardy’s last major introduction of the Zephrus line-up of fly rods but behind the scenes a vast amount of work and experimentation has been going on in preparation for the eventual production of all new Hardy rods and reels and that time is close upon us.

I have been enjoying the privilege of being entrusted with an advance production rod and reel outfit of my choosing. In the low, clear, chill waters of the upper Delaware system my selection was obvious, an Ultralite 9’/#4 of 2.8 oz. and a balancing UD LA reel of 5.2 oz. This pairing loaded with new RIO SlickCast Gold fly line is perfectly gravity neutral in balance with the fulcrum at the point in the cork where my forefinger naturally encircles the grip. I have been fishing it now for a couple of weeks and will again next week.

Ultralite features an unusual reel seat, it appears to be a hardwood spacer but in actuality it is a wooden sleeve over a lighter weight carbon spacer forming a mortised recess for maximum security for the reel’s foot. The secure and well machined hardware is anodized a prefect matching gunmetal color to the UD LA reel which itself has green accents matching the rods wraps. I selected a backing color to match these green tones as best I could. The upper hood of the reel seat is engraved with the #4. The cork work is first class, smoothly sanded of very high quality select cork in a pleasing and comfortable Western style grip tipped with a winding check again matching the rest of the metalwork. The signature area is a woven patterned, natural graphite colored area with the rod’s name and specifications along with a serial number. It also says Sintrix NSX but I do not know what that stands for. It is bordered, as is the rest of the rod's wraps with bright olive green thread wraps with an elegant green-gold metallic thread inlay tipped with two bands of black. The blank itself is painted an olive green which shimmers in the sunlight. For those who have experienced ferrule loosening during a day’s fishing, Hardy has left the male ferrule half natural sanded graphite whose matte surface enhances frictional adhesion within the female half, smart. There are alignment dots and the guide set is single foot grey Recoils with the new CIRecoil ceramic stripper. Ultralites come packed in a heavy twill rod sleeve edged with reinforcing ribbon, a hanging loop and a Velcro pocket for the included ferrule plugs.

This rod projects as the faster end of medium fast in its flex profile. There is ample upper third bending for a strong sense of “feel” without ever beginning to go soft on you. Tip recovery which I have carefully examined during casting is top shelf, next to zero counter flex as it returns to straight and no tip taper artifact is generated into its high line speed tight loop formations. The upper third transitions smoothly into a mid-taper that is easily dialed for increasing distance simply by extending tip travel and I have not yet cast it far enough to tap into all the butt power reserves it possesses. I have it lined with RIO SlickCast Gold and a 16’ Braided Leader and have achieved precise and intuitive presentations at 30’ out to 75’ effortlessly. I’m confident I will learn new things about this rod’s character as I continue to fish it but there is no steep learning curve, Ultralite comes naturally to my hand.

My laboratory for this rod is the West Branch of the Delaware. The river is low and clear with submerged rock slab and weed bed braided currents. Angling culture here describes insect hatches in Latin which I believe the post graduate, all wild trout are fluent in as well. This is technical dry fly fishing in its ultimate form and an appropriate Delaware River rod is called upon to aerially turn over 5’ tippets at some distance often under overhanging bankside branches as well as addressing the surface complexities. In air slack line reaching and mending prior to on water manipulation and feeding require a rod with superb reflexes and tip precision. This level of line-leader control is not achievable mechanically; it involves fluid, communicative feedback between rod, fly line and angler. Casting is the initial part and adroit presentation techniques the second ultimately consummating with the slip-strike of metal to mouth and engagement with a leaping running fish.

Back in the day I was fine with my spring and pawl, click check Hardy reels and still occasionally field one in a small stream habitat. Long ago though I experimented with trout reels with “saltwater” disc drags, quickly convincing myself that, given equal angling skill, a fine fish is more quickly brought to net with a finely tunable disc drag reel. This is important to facilitate safe and healthy catch and release. Hardy has long been a staunchly traditional company but is, as the Ultralite rod illustrates, passionately modern too. So, the new reel created to compliment Ultralite and its sibling series Ultralite LL, is the extra-large arbor, narrow spool width Ultradisc reel featuring stacked, multi-element, carbon disc drag modules. Unusual is its frame design intended to preclude fine leader or nymphing mono-rig entrapment into the spool. Also thoughtful is very incremental sizing allowing the fly fisher’s choice of going as light weight as one may wish or, seeking horizontal balance as is my preference. This reel and its Ultraclick sibling are the lightest reels of their respective types Hardy has ever made.

Ultradisc reels span #3 through 10-weight sizing priced in the mid $300’s and the Ultralite starts at 8’/#3 up to 10’/#8 costing $795. My 9’/#4 with its UD 6000 LA is an ideal outfit for the upper Delaware in low water and is going back up next week.


Very nice. :) As that reel is designed to hold a 5, 6 or 7 weight line and you are using a 4 wt line how much backing did you put on it? I would think that even with a minimum of 100 yards of 20lb the reel would still be way short of full.
 
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