Hardy has been building fly reels for nearly a century. Reels like the Hardy Perfect defined what a fly reel should be for generations. Over the years Hardy has changed ownership a few times and they've come out with some great new products, like the Hardy Zenith. Certainly Hardy's most talked about trout reel release in many years is the Hardy Ultralite DD. It's got a sleek modern design, and has won many awards. Dive in and see if its performance stands up.   5-Wt Challenge Full Results


4.8 ounces. Heavier than we'd like, but not bad.


  We expected the Hardy to be a top contender in this shootout, so it was very surprising to find out that its drag wasn't up to par. It starts with substandard strength of only 1.8 lbs. While that number isn't impressing anyone, it's not enough to dismiss the reel all together. The true issue is its startup inertia, which we measured at a massive .8lbs - almost 50% of the reel's drag!



Sounds is definitely one part that Hardy gets right. The DD, like all Hardy reels, sounds great with a nice click on both the incoming and outgoing.


Best in the test! If there's one thing that we really like about the DD, it's the spool. It retrieve is a lightning fast 8.3 inches per turn. It's also fairly narrow so your line won't be piling up. The Hardy doubles down with a fairly large volume, so you could easily fit a 6-weight line on it.


The DD is a really good looking reel. It's modern and very well designed. There's just something that reels made in Korea lack in terms of feel that leaves us wishing for an English or US-made reel, but maybe that's just us.


Handle: The handle is comfortable - one of the best!   Drag Knob: It's not our favorite, but not bad, either.   Spool Change: Quick change spool with a screw knob. It's really easy to use and works great!


Average. Major divoting, but little to no scratching. Having fished with the black version, I can tell you that you'll see every scratch, but we didn't test the black one. No Damage.


Lifetime to the original owner + $25 fee.   Price: $225


  There's a lot to like about the DD 4000. It's got the best spool design in the test. It looks great. It's even affordably priced. All of which seems like a winning combination - and it would be if it came equipped with virtually any other drag in this test. Unfortunately, you're better off with a click pawl reel than the DD's drag, so we can't recommend it even though it scored in the middle of the pack.   Help us review more gear! Buy it here.


  • Great spool design
  • Handsome appearance


  • One of the worst drags we tested
  • Why not make it in England?