Hardy Zane Pro Fly Rod Review
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Hardy, the Alnwick, England-based Fly Fishing company, knows a thing or two about the Fly Fishing industry. Hardy has been in business since 1874 and has released many groundbreaking products including the Perfect Reel and the Zane Grey Multiplier Reel. The latter was named in honor of famed Western author and avid big game angler. It should come as no surprise that a company so steeped in the history of fly fishing would choose to name its brand new, high-end, saltwater rod series after one of the sport's legendary figures.
Paying homage to a pioneering icon like Zane Grey is a nice dose of nostalgia from a company well-versed in it. However, many anglers reading this might be asking, "that's great, but what about the performance of the rod?" A fair enough question for those in the market for a high-end 8wt fly rod for their next Bonefishing trip to the Bahamas. Hardy is no stranger to producing great saltwater fly rods. The Zane Pro's predecessor, the Zephrus Salt, was especially well-received by the anglers who had the opportunity to fish them. Read on to see if the Zane Pro stands out in a crowded market filled with exceptional 8wts geared for the flats fanatics.
Fit & Finish
The Zephrus Salt was a great rod and Hardy knew it had a difficult task on hand in replacing it. One of the ways Hardy accomplished this goal was by upgrading the componentry on the Zane Pro. The reel seat on the Zane Pro is hard anodized. This equates to a more durable, scratch-resistant seat. The up-locking fitting on the real seat has been improved to ensure the reel stays nice and tight during a day on the flats. One of the biggest improvements is with the guides. The Zane Pro features Cerecoil stripping guides, which are lined with ceramic and titanium. Salt can be extremely tough on gear. These upgraded features might seem insignificant to the non-discerning eye. Rest assure, Hardy has put in the time to develop a rod built to withstand the rigors of saltwater. The Zane Pro's blank has a nice blue tint, very reminiscent of the Zephrus. Nothing groundbreaking here, but hardly the worst-looking rod out there.
Hardy claims its new blank technology, Sintrix 440, has drastically improved the strength to weight ratio of the Zane Pro. The rod weighs in at 3.74 ounces and has a swing weight of 86.7 Gm2. While fairly light, The Zane Pro is certainly not the lightest 8wt on the market. Many of the rod's main competitors such as the G. Loomis NRX+ Salt, the Scott Sector, and the Orvis Helios 3D all possess lighter swing weights.
The Zane Pro is not a distance champion. It is just a tad too soft to hang with some of the stiffer saltwater rods out there. As much as we love to get out in the yard and send entire lengths of fly line, these situations are rarely, if ever, warranted during most flats fishing applications. A rod's ability to quickly and accurately sling line to targets at short to middle distances is a vastly more important attribute.
- 40-Feet: This is a very important distance for flats fishing. A rod's performance here is critical for a successful saltwater outing. This is where the Zane Pro shines. One of the most accurate rods we have tested at close range. It would make a perfect wading Bonefish rod, where being able to delicately present a Crazy Charlie to spooky fish is paramount.
- 60-feet: The Zane Pro is still very accurate at middle distances. The rod has plenty of guts to reach targets at the periphery of reasonable fishing range. The Zane Pro would be a great rod to take on a floodtide Redfish trip, where a slightly longer cast might be needed to accurately drop a fly in front of a moving, tailing fish.
- 80-feet: Longer distances are the Zane Pro's Kryptonite. It is not the rod you want to cast 80 feet into a headwind with. Thankfully, you won't be needing to cast this far, very often.
Flex & Feel
The Zane Pro has a smooth, medium-fast action. If you are accustomed to fishing ultra-fast action rods, you are going to want to slow down your timing a bit. Being able to dig down deeper into the blank and feel the rod load the line is what makes the Zane Pro perform so wonderfully at closer distances. The flex profile is fast enough to make those medium shots count. Hardy nailed the taper on this one.
Hardy's decision to release a saltwater rod series during a time where most anglers cannot travel, is interesting, to say the least. Performance-wise, the Zane Pro is a great all-around tool for most saltwater applications. However, the Zane Pro faces stiff competition from some of the biggest names in saltwater fly fishing such as Scott, Orvis, G. Loomis, and Thomas & Thomas. We believe the Zane Pro can hold its own. The question remains: Has Hardy done enough to convince the consumer to reach for the Zane Pro off the rod rack?
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- Exceptional accuracy and performance at closer/middle distances
- Top-Notch Componentry
- Heavier than other high-end saltwater 8wts
- On the pricier side for an overseas-built rod