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Hot off the heels of the very popular Ultralite, Hardy is back with the Ultralite X. If you happen to find yourself rolling your eyes at the thought of another rod under the ever-growing Ultralite umbrella, you aren't the only one. However, the Ultralite X is unlike anything else in the Ultralite family tree. Hardy designed the Ultralite X to be a high-performance machine capable of tackling the harshest conditions, the largest flies, sinking lines, and predatory fish. This sounds like great marketing, but how does the rod perform? If you are interested in a new ultra-fast action fly rod, you will not want to miss this review.

Outfit

Hardy Ultralite 9' 5wt Fly Rod

Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX Fly Line

Fit & Finish

We have been pleased with the build quality of Hardy rods in the past, and the Ultralite X is no exception. The Ultralite X features a single up-locking reel seat with durable carbon fiber spacers that contrasts nicely with the burled wood insert. The eye-catching feature is the exposed carbon fiber strip above the cork that gives the rod a sleek, sports car look. Furthering the Ferrari-like aesthetic is the metallic red blank that rises above the carbon section. Hardy opted to use ceramic-lined titanium recoil guides, which are generally only found on high-end saltwater rods.

Weight

With a swing weight of 64gm^2, the Ultralite X is hardly the lightest 5wt on the market, but it isn’t amongst the worst offenders, either. If you plan on using the rods to lift bulky flies, you might come to appreciate the rod’s beefiness.

Distance

The Ultralite X is an absolute cannon. The experienced caster should have no problem sending most of the fly line. This is not easy for most 5wts, but the Ultralite X is undoubtedly up for the challenge.

Accuracy

  • 30-feet: We were pleasantly surprised by the Ultralite X's accuracy at shorter distances. Take the preconceived notion that ultra-fast, stiff rods do not perform at close range and throw it out the window. While it is certainly not as accurate as the Winston Air 2 at 30 feet, the Ultralite X is among the best ultra-fast rods we have cast at this range.
  • 45-feet: At middle distances, the Ultralite X gets even better. The rod is capable of dropping the fly in excruciatingly narrow spaces. The Ultralite X will thrive in technical western tailwaters where snipping out trout from 45 feet in windy conditions is often the norm.
  • 60-Feet: Unlike many of the trout rods we have seen recently, the Ultralite X shines at longer distances. If you find yourself in fishing situations where you routinely cast to long-distance targets, this is the rod for you.

Flex & Feel

The Ultralite X is a fast, powerful, and stiff rod. Most five weights are not optimal for throwing streamers, but this rod is up for the challenge. The Ultralite X's stiff tip allows the rod to lift bulky nymph rigs with ease. Despite its strong backbone, the rod possesses some feel and is relatively receptive to the caster's feedback. Still, this is not the rod to take when fishing size 24 tricos on 7x tippet. We opted to test the Ultralite X with Scientific Angler's Amplitude MPX fly line. The MPX's compacted, heavier head helped load the stiff blank well. However, don't be afraid to throw a lighter, longer bellied line such as the Rio Gold.

Warranty

Lifetime

Conclusion

Hardy designed the Ultralite X to tackle adverse fishing conditions and situations: high winds, bulky rigs, or long-distance targets. We can vouch for the rod's capabilities. However, for a 5wt, the Ultralite X might be too much of a rod for most trout anglers. While the Ultralite X performed decently at average trout fishing distances, the rod's greatest strength still lies in its ability to toss a fly line at long-distance targets. While some fly anglers will find this beneficial, most trout anglers will be better off with a more well-rounded 5wt (ie the Ultralight non-X).

Watch Our Review

Pros

  • Build quality and premium components
  • Distance champion 

Cons

  • Lack of feel at shorter distances
  • Does anyone really need this rod?