Best of Show, Freshwater Reels: Hardy UltraLite

THE HARDY NAME IS SYNONYMOUS with classic fly tackle, and perhaps in no single product category has that iconic brand carried more weight than in fly reels.

Thankfully, Hardy is still producing revamped classics like the “Bouglé,” the “Cascapedia,” and the “Marquis.” But the company has really been pushing its boundaries with new models in recent years, both on the “performance” side of the equation (durable disc-drag models), as well as with “pricepoint” models for more budget-minded anglers.

Hardy UltraLite Reel

Hardy UltraLite Click-and-Pawl Reel

Hardy’s new UltraLite series took “Best of Show” at the International Fly Tackle Dealers expo in the freshwater reels category, because it offers both classic looks and performance at a decent price.

The reels are machined of barstock aluminum (in Asia) in both click and pawl and disc-drag options. They all feature fast-retrieve large arbors with narrow spool configurations. When fish tested, the reels responded smoothly (with fiber composite drag systems) during line pull, and were equally impressive on the uptake. They are sturdy in hand, but by no means bulky, and an all-around solid option for someone looking for polish and performance, without emptying the checking account.

Available in weights 5-12, retail is $169-$199 for click and pawl models; $199-$349 for disc drag models.

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  • Anonymous

    Hardy used to be the cats meow. It’s thaat they are all made in China thaat makes me nervous. The Click and Pawl version seem to be viable. I just don’t trust the disc drag’s use of the  one way chinese clutch. This clutch engages the drag.The clutches will rust and then sieze up! 

    • Boodave

      I think they use Korea rather than China…but it is not Alnwick.

      • John Rabsaris

        Anyone noticed how the Koreans and Chinese have upped their game? Americans used to say this about Japanese cars. 

        • joe

          The bitter U.K. posters said “The Hardy Sintrix would be nothing special” I wonder how they feel now that it has overwhemingly beat every rod out there in every category. Make it in England and the price doubles because of exchange rate and tariffs.

  • RichardFranklin

    The “narrow” spool width sets these reels apart from thier often too wide (for smooth and even line retrieve) couterparts from other designers.

  • PSF

    Writing from the UK, I own several Hardy and Orvis “made in England” reels for different outfits but now I only consider  Nautilus, Tibor and Van Staal for situations where the disc brake is key. I think Hardy lost the plot when it came to high performance rather than “classic” reels. Shame really  but the good news is that those “Made in England” reels make good money on auction sites to fund the purchase of those US reels 🙂

    • LJB

      What about the Fortuna X? Thats a pretty dang good “performance” setup. And worth the money

    • joe

      Just another post from the U.K. bitter because they moved the factory. Would you want an old Hardy made in England that is cast aluminum or a new machined version of the reel? I have a Cascapedia made in England couldn’t even get wholesale price at auction!

  • Steven Griffin

    I am sorry but I am not buying anything made in Asia anymore.  It detracts from the actual company whether based in the U.K. or the U.S.A.  It is very annoying that all these decent names have outsourced their products and still make a huge profit.