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Hardy is one of the most iconic names in fly reels, having produced beautiful reels since 1873. Longtime fans of Hardy’s heritage reels will be intrigued by the remastered Hardy Sovereign, a classic solid-plate reel that hasn’t been available to consumers since the 1970s. The new Sovereign maintains the original model's elegance and thoughtfulness, with significant modifications for the 21st century. Read on to learn more about this charming heritage reel from Hardy.


When discussing the weight of classic reels, it's important to consider that they aren’t necessarily designed to be ultra lightweight. That being said, the Hardy Sovereign does score pretty well in the weight category, compared to similar classically designed reels on the market. The 5wt size Hardy Sovereign weighs in at 5.1 ounces. In comparison, the Hardy Cascapedia is 6.3 ounces, and the Pflueger Medalist is 5.4 ounces. For a reel that prioritizes looks and legacy, the Sovereign would pair fairly well with modern, lightweight graphite rods.


The most important thing that can be said about the Hardy Sovereign’s drag is that it has one! This unsealed drag provides about 3-5 pounds of stopping power and requires approximately 1.4 turns to adjust from zero to maximum pressure. This is plenty of drag for any freshwater situation you may encounter, especially if you’re pairing the Sovereign with a bamboo rod (which feels like a natural pairing). Unfortunately, this drag isn’t the smoothest we’ve tested, but we weren't expecting a high-tech drag system. To us, the fact that the Sovereign features a drag with solid power is worth celebrating.


A heritage reel should have a nice clicking sound, and the Hardy Sovereign delivers here. While not quite as pleasing as the Hardy Perfect, it's still great, and pays tribute to the vintage original Sovereign reel. The incoming sound is rather muted, but the outgoing produces that classic audible click. 

Spool & Retrieval Rate

The new Hardy Sovereign is a small, traditional arbor reel, which is to be expected with the Hardy Heritage series. The reel features a 2.85” maximum diameter, a 0.85” width, and a 0.6” arbor. These measurements equate to about 3.8” of line pickup per turn, and 100-120 yards of backing capacity. While many anglers will find these legacy specs to inhibit performance, classic reel enthusiasts will appreciate the reasonable performance of the Hardy Sovereign. 

Looks & Ergonomics

By far the most striking aspect of the Hardy Sovereign is its looks. Hardy did a wonderful job of producing a precisely machined reel that looks elegant down to the smallest detail. This handsome reel is offered in two attractive colors: black and spitfire (silver). The solid-plate frame features the iconic Royal Warrant of Appointment, a mark of recognition from the Royal Family of England. Hardy also incorporates a unique half-cage design in the Sovereign, making it useful for spey applications.
Ergonomically, the handle and drag knob are a bit small, but they match the reel’s vintage design and are functional.


As of 2024, Hardy reels purchased from an authorized dealer come with a 5-year limited warranty, covering defects in materials and workmanship. Repair fees start at $35 plus replacement parts.

Price: $595


Hardy did a great job with this revamped heritage reel, staying true to its original character and elegant appearance while incorporating a dash of modern technology. Although the Sovereign lacks high-end features like quick line pickup and super lightweight, it wasn’t intended to be a high-performance machine. Overall, classic reel connoisseurs and longtime Hardy fans will appreciate the Sovereign's solid drag and impeccable craftsmanship.

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  • Plenty of drag
  • Looks elegant
  • Sounds great


  • Small, traditional arbor
  • Small handle
  • Drag is a bit sticky