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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