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Most people getting started in fly fishing generally lean towards the 9’ 5wt for their first trout rod. There’s a good reason for this, too, since its versatility will cover many situations encountered on the local trout stream. However, fly fishing is a sport of many subtle nuances with more sub-divisions than you can shake a 10’6” Euro rod at. Of course, the fly fishing industry has taken note, and there are now an equal number of rods out there to cover virtually every situation, perhaps situations you didn’t even know existed. 

This leads us to Hardy’s Ultralite LL rods- a ‘light line’ series loosely lumped together for various ‘long leader’ fishing applications with the competition angler in mind. Everything from Euro nymphing to technical dry fly fishing is covered. The 9’9” 4wt falls into the latter category, and it’s one of the more unique rods we’ve ever tested. If you are interested in learning more about what makes this rod stand out and if it deserves a place in the quiver, you will not want to miss this review.


Hardy Ultralite 9'9" 4wt Fly Rod

Winston Energy Fly Line

Fit & Finish

The Ultralite LL follows a similar blueprint as the others in the Ultralite series, and you can read more on the original here. The partially exposed reel seat insert shaves grains away, and the half-wells grip features high-quality cork. The eye-catching feature is the exposed carbon fiber strip above the cork, which blends into an olive-brown colored blank. Durable ceramic-lined recoil guides top the Ultralite LL and add to the rod’s durability. We’ve always loved the look and feel of Hardy rods; they are a welcomed breath of fresh air.


We opted to cast the Ultralite LL with a 14’ leader for our on-the-water test. Long leaders are crucial for technical dry fishing to spooky fish in tailwaters, spring creeks, and gin-clear water. A greater length of light leader and tippet material landing on the water lessens the chances of slapping the much heavier and visible fly line over the fish. 

The 8’6” 4wt you’re accustomed to fishing might be great for the local freestone, but the shorter length hinders its ability to turn over longer leaders. The Ultralite LL’s extended reach creates more energy, helping turnover longer leaders with greater efficiency. This is one of the rod’s strongest attributes and, dare we same game changer for the angler who finds themselves trying to cover these situations.


We didn’t cover the standard casting distances for our on-the-water take since this is a niche rod. But, with the benefit of turning over the long leader with a shorter amount of fly line out the guides, we found the rod to be highly accurate.

Flex & Feel

The Ultralite LL is a very interestingly feeling rod. First, let's touch on the swing weight- the extra mass was noticeable after a day of casting. This rod is HEAVY. The blank’s butt section is super stiff and incrementally softens up to the tip, almost like a Euro nymphing rod. The key difference is we’re actually casting this rod, and the rigidness means the Ultralite LL doesn’t provide the caster with much feedback. 

Since the Ultralite LL is designed for a very specialized purpose and has a taper unlike most rods out there, this unconventionality means line pairings aren’t as paramount. We cast the Ultralite LL with a Winston Energy line which probably isn’t a perfect choice. Nevertheless, we could turn over a longer leader more efficiently than our standard 4wt.




While the Ultralite LL left us scratching our heads a bit, it serves its purpose very well. For those considering it, be aware that it’s hardly an all-around 4wt. Most anglers will be much happier with the original Ultralite 4wt, which we highly recommend. Still, the Ultralite LL might be the perfect choice for the angler who finds themself fishing technical dry fly situations and NEED to cast that 20’ leader. 


  • The perfect long leader, sight casting tool
  • Tailor-made for anglers who have Troutbitten bookmarked


  • Heavy
  • Too application-specific for most anglers