Hardy Ultralite Fly Rod Review
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The Ultralite replaces the Zephrus as Hardy’s high-end, freshwater rod series. Here at Trident, we were big fans of the Zephrus and its predecessor, the Zenith. Both series represented two of the finest all-purpose 5wts in the industry during their time. It is always difficult for a rod manufacturer to replace a well-received series and, without a doubt, the Ultralite has some huge shoes to fill! Hardy claims its all-new Sintrix NSX blank construction has created a stronger, lighter fly rod. For the angler, the most important thing is how this translates to performance. Read on to see if the Ultralite lives up to the hype and can establish itself as a true standout in a crowded market.
Fit & Finish
The base of the blank features an unpainted carbon fiber logo section that blends into a nice Green Pearl colorway. This color combination gives the Ultralite a sleek, progressive aesthetic. Other standout features are the Cerecoil stripping guides, generally only found on high-end saltwater rods. We like that Hardy laser engraved the rod’s line size on the reel seat. Overall, the Ultralite is a fantastic-looking rod with top-notch componentry. While maybe not quite on par with the likes of Thomas & Thomas or Winston, Hardy is proving that rods produced overseas can compete with the upper echelon of US-based rod manufactures.
The Ultralite lives up to its namesake. Hardy has built one very light rod! The 9' 5wt weighs in at 3.03 ounces and has a swing weight of 61.2 gm^2. While not quite as light as the Douglas Sky G, it is one of the lightest all-around 5wts on the market. With the Ultralite at hand, your shoulder will be thanking you after a long day on the water.
For such a lightweight rod, the Ultralite does not lack in the power department. The rod produces high-line speeds, especially when paired with an aggressive tapered-line such as the SA Amplitude MPX. You should have no problem sending casts to the periphery of trout distances.
- 30 feet: Faster-action rods are generally not great in-close. Do not expect to receive the same feedback and feel with the Ultralite as you would with your favorite dry fly-specific rod. However, considering the rod's powerful nature, we were pleasantly surprised with the accuracy of the rod at shorter distances.
- 45 feet: One of the better performing rods at middle-distances, expect to be able to throw tight, accurate loops on command. A great tool for technical dry fly situations where the ability to place a fly in excruciatingly tight windows is paramount for a successful day on the water. That Brown Trout holding tight-across the bank, sipping dainty-mayflies, doesn’t stand a chance.
- 60 feet: The Ultralite has the backbone needed to accurately hit targets at 60-feet and beyond. While long-distance sniper fishing is not always a requirement in most trout fishing situations, rest assured this rod has you covered on those special days on the Delaware, or Madison. The Ultralite’s power translates to greater efficiency while throwing smaller streamer and indicator rigs.
Flex & Feel
The Ultralite has a modern, medium-fast/fast action taper. This flex profile is a vast improvement over the ultra-fast action rods prominent in the industry a few years ago that emphasized power and line-speed, over touch and feel. With the Ultralite, you can now have your cake and eat it too. A true utilitarian, do-it-all performer. Hardy attributes the rod’s fast, yet refined nature to its Sintrix NSX technology-which enables the caster to load the rod deeper into the blank, allowing for more feedback and line control.
Hardy released the Ultralite during a time where the fly fishing industry has seen a resurgence in lightweight, medium-fast action, do-it-all 5-weights. We rank the Ultralite right alongside the likes of the Scott Centric, G Loomis NRX+ LP, and the Douglas Sky G. Its versatility, lightweight, feel, and power will appeal to a broad range of anglers. From dry flies to light streamers and nymphs, Hardy is helping to redefine the all-purpose trout rod with the Ultralite.
Watch Our Review
- Super Lightweight
- Extremely Versatile
- Top-Notch Componentry
- Not the most accurate in-close
- On the pricier side of overseas-built rods