It was tough choosing a winner between the Hatch Finatic and the Hardy Fortuna X for the title of "best saltwater fly reel". If we were only scoring drag performance, the Fortuna would have won, hands down.
8.35 ounces. Like our test winner, the Hatch, the Fortuna is a little heavy. It makes up for this with an awesome drag.
Fully sealed disc drag. When my Hardy rep told me that the Fortuna had 32 lbs of drag, I (and I'm sure most of the fly fishing world) didn't believe it. It turns out he was lying - it only averaged a little over 30 lbs.... It had so much drag that we not only broke both 20 and 30 lb backing during the test, but we also had to turn it down to test it at a usable fishing weight. The drag is also incredibly well sealed. Hardy tested the drag by soaking it and then freezing it to prove that it was truly waterproof. Startup inertia was low as well.
DRAG TEST GRAPH(s)
When I started reviewing fly reels, I was surprised at how much this mattered. As with most Hardy’s, this reel sounds great. Enough to know that you've got a great fish ripping off your drag, but definitely not overly loud. Click-pawl aficionados might be disappointed.
SPOOL & RETRIEVAL RATE
The good news: the Hardy Fortuna had plenty of volume for 8-9wt fly lines - at roughly 7 cubic inches, it was ahead of the pack. Unfortunately, the retrieval rate was below average, which is unfortunate because the reel was released so recently.
LOOK & FEEL
This is a Hardy reel. Those of you who have ever tried anything made by Hardy know that their work is some of the finest work in the world. The Fortuna X is no exception - it’s beautiful. The reel also comes with a great neoprene cover which is easily large enough to slip over a rod as well as the reel.
Hardy beefed up the handle on the Fortuna, so there's no mistaking it for a trout reel. The spool is incredibly easy to remove and replace and the retrieve switches from left to right, easily.
Lifetime to the original owner + $25 fee.
Dare I say it? If you're going "ultralight" (read: 8-wt) tarpon fishing, this is the reel for you. Pairing it with Hardy's nearly unbreakable Proaxis fly rod would make quite the outfit. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing world records coming from this reel.
The drag performance on the Hardy Fortuna X Fly Reel far exceeds anything else in this class. In fact, there are big game Marlin reels that have a similar amount of drag strength
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- Amazing, industry-redefing drag strength
- Low start-up inertia
- Built for big-game
- Arbor size was small for a modern reel