With opening day finally here, I had the chance to test out my new Hardy Zenith 9' 5-weight. I can say it definitely lives up to the hype. Here's the outfit I was using:
Fit and Finish
Right out of the box the Zenith looks amazing. It comes with 2 sleeves - one for the rod, and one for the rod TUBE. The rod comes with end caps and a skeleton reels seat. Traditionalists might prefer a nickel uplock with a wooden reel seat - and for those, Hardy makes the Artisan Sintrix. Thankfully, it also comes with alignment dots - unlike some notable competitors.
What would I change? There are a couple plastic parts in the reel seat that I'm guessing reduce weight, but detract from the look and feel. I also prefer double foot guides to single foot.
The Zenith weighs in at 2.9oz according to the Hardy website. Other sources have indicated that it might be a little higher. Very light, but not quite as light as the Helios or the ONE.
This rod loads perfectly with the GPX line. I had no trouble casting out to 70'. It's important to note, however, that this rod is NOT a "cannon" like the Sage ONE or the Scott S4. Even with strong double haul, I wasn't able to generate the massive line speeds of some other rods.
This is where the Zenith really shines. I was able to hit dinner plate size targets at all distances and throw tight loops on demand. I'm not the world's greatest caster, but this rod makes it easy.
There's no question that this is a high performance fast action rod. However, if you're used to casting a Sage, this rod has much more "feel" and a more moderate action. As someone who fished with Sage for many years, the transition was incredibly easy.
I was able to turn over heavy indicators and create wide loops with ease. It's a fantastic nymphing rod.
Lifetime (pretty much standard these days) to the original owner. $25 handling fee plus 10% retail cost of rod. for the Zenith, this means almost $100. Ouch.
Is this the best 9' 5-weight out there? It's certainly the best I've fished with. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade their current "all-water" rod.
Be sure to use a half-size higher line like the SA GPX or Rio Grande. It tried it with the Rio Gold and it simply didn't work as well. It also balanced very well with the Vanquish, which is an extremely light reel (3.5oz).
- Ease of casting and overall fishing fun
- Price (It's still $100 cheaper than a Sage or Winston!)
- A couple of plastic parts detract from the overall look
- Warranty costs