Hardy Marksman Z Fly Rod Series: Model-By-Model Review
We get questions about specific rod models all the time. "How does the Hardy Marksman Z 9wt compare to the 10wt?" "When should I use this rod?" and "What line works best on this rod?". This article is designed to pass that info along to you. We started a model-by-model blog series to provide better information so you can make a more informed buying decision.
Trident Fly Fishing is a full-service fly shop. We spend a lot of time testing gear and writing shootouts to give you all of the tools to make your next trip a success. We are not a blog, or a review site, and there are no ads. 100% of our funding comes from your gear purchases, so if this shootout helps you on your next fly fishing adventure, please support us by buying your next fly rod from us.
Hardy has a long history of making amazing rods, from the Zenith to the tournament-winning Zane Pro. The Marksman Z proves itself to be a serious upgrade from those legendary sticks, sporting a much faster action into a purpose-built saltwater rod. Here are our impressions of every rod in the lineup:
The first thing we noticed when casting the 6wt is the speed and power of the rod. This is a fast-action rod with a stiff butt section, but with a soft enough tip to give you plenty of accuracy for bonefish at close range. Despite feeling heavy for a 6wt, it is a bit lighter than the Sage Salt HD and the Scott Sector. Overall, the rod casts a bonefish line great, making it one of the best salty 6’s on the market.
Best Uses: Light line bonefish, snook
The Marksman Z 7wt sports plenty of power while still maintaining accuracy at a distance. It throws a bonefish line and SA Titan very well but has a slightly heavy feel in hand. Overall this is a powerful yet accurate taper that can throw multiple lines with ease. Just be aware that this won’t feel like the lightest 7wt saltwater rod.
Best Uses: Bonefish, snook, jacks
The Marksman Z 8wt encompasses the powerful nature of the entire lineup, giving saltwater junkies great power and accuracy at all distances. For bonefish, this model is almost too powerful to make it your daily driver. If you need a bonefish rod for gusty days, this could be a valid choice, but for normal bonefishing conditions, other rods like the G Loomis Asquith or the Scott Sector would offer up more feel and finesse. That being said, at typical permit distances of 60’ to 80’, this stick gives you herculean power and wants to shoot line. For windy days chasing black tails, this would be an obvious choice. All in all, the Hardy Marksman Z 8wt is a pronounced upgrade from the Hardy Zane Pro.
Best Uses: Bonefish, snook, jacks
The 9wt is most angler’s go-to permit rod. And while the Marksman Z can certainly handle the task, this model is surprisingly soft, it's more akin to an 8.5wt. We cast this rod with an SA Grand Slam and it was just a bit lackluster in speed. The Rio Striper line was also not the perfect fit, but it would get the job done. Overall, the 9wt was a little under-gunned compared to many of the other models.
Best Uses: Permit
The Marksman Z 10wt is lightning fast, highlighting its powerful blank. This model casts an SA Titan taper amazingly well and would be best suited for stripers or false albacore instead of tarpon. If you’re looking for a 10wt that loads quickly and delivers big flies to distant targets with ease, then this rod might be the one for you.
Lines: SA Titan
Best Uses: Stripers, Albies, other chuck and duck situations
The 11wt is a trusted line weight for tarpon anglers, and the Hardy Marksman Z 11wt delivers in this category. Fish this model with a tarpon-specific line for a quick, light feel ideally suited for making speedy, accurate shots at strings of big poons.
Best Uses: Tarpon
The 12wt is an absolute canon of a rod. This model sports so much power that an SA Grand Slam barely flexed it. If you’re looking for a big game rod for windy conditions, this would be a great choice as it has the backbone to muscle through the wind. Although not the most accurate of the models, its ability to cast long distances with high line speed makes it a valuable addition to the lineup.
Best Uses: Tarpon, GT's
The winner is the Hardy Marksman Z 9’11wt. Hardy has designed this rod to match perfectly with the top tarpon-specific lines on the market. The 11wt boasts a great mix of power and speed with enough accuracy to make this a deadly tarpon tool. Surely Florida Keys anglers and guides will put this model to great use.
Least Favorite Rod:
The 9’ 9wt was a bit perplexing. While this rod could be used as a light Permit stick, it is too soft to handle 9wt permit lines well, while also likely over-gunned for most bonefishing scenarios.
Found this video insightful? We've reviewed hundreds of Fly Rods & Reels just for you. Subscribe to Trident's YouTube channel and always make the right gear choice!