Hardy Ultralite DD Reel Review

Sunday, February 15, 2015 , , 6 Comments

Modern design meets classical elegance in the Hardy Ultralight reel series. Designed and crafted by Hardy in Alnwick England it would be difficult to find a more venerable reel in this price range. Winner of the 2011 best in show award at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show, the Ultralite DD (Disc Drag) is offered in sizes suitable from 3 weights to 12, can easily be switched between left to right hand retrieves without tools and simply looks stunning. The audible click of the drag reminds you of the reel's historical roots. MSRP starts at $225 but if you would have had me guess the price upon handling and fishing with it I would have guessed $400 without much of a thought. This reel is sexy and has the performance to match. 

The size to weight ratio is remarkable. By designing an extra large aluminum arbor it allows the angler to retrieve line quickly while keeping the weight marginal. Perhaps, some may be concerned about the durability of a reel this light, but I can attest that after 3 years of hard fishing and abuse the reel has withstood wear well. Hardy employs nothing less than aircraft grade aluminum in the Ultralite's construction. In other words, if it is tough enough to support a landing Boeing 747 it is more than enough for a fly reel. Some minor scratches are present from dropping it on that occasional rock you misinterpreted to be less slick than it really was but honestly the finish is still superb and the integrity of the frame remains perfect. The drag is precise and what you would expect from Hardy, easily adjustable and will tighten down more than enough for most any freshwater or  saltwater applications. Maybe a 100 lb Giant Trevally could push this reel to it's limits but that applications is not what this reel was designed for. It is more than enough plus some for your 8 lb trout or 25 lb muskie should you be so lucky. 

This is a strong, lightweight, simply captivating reel at a great price considering what you are getting and who you are getting it from. It will look and feel like you have an Aston Martin in your hands, yet you will know you only paid a Toyota price. As rods become lighter and stronger we expect the same for our reels, but many have had difficulty cutting weight without compromising strength or functionality. Strong, smooth, and elegant. The Hardy Ultralite delivers. 


Hibernation said...

I've pondered one of these occasionally the last few years. I LOVE the look, and the English fly fishing tradition is so rich and such a root to american fly fishing that it feels we all should own at least one English fly fishing item... Sort of like how all cyclists should have a French or Italian bike at some point in their life!

Thank's Atlas

Atlas said...

I like your thinking. Between Hardy and their subsidiary Grey's, I own a fair amount of their stuff. I have been impressed with almost all of it.

CARF said...

Great review. I have always been attracted to these reels. Their build looks solid, and cosmetically they are very attractive to the eye. The only thing that has kept me from pulling the trigger on such a reel, has been the price tag. For the fishing that I primarily do, I do not feel the need for such a reel. I have never seen my backing.
...I am also a sucker for gear, and if I have an extremely nice rod, I'm going to pair it with the best. So, eventually, I will probably own one of these.

Atlas said...

Justin, I think if you do decide to get one you will be very happy with your decision. Just gorgeous reels and they will complement any rod beautifully. I get the point about not seeing your backing, but even so with this reel between the durability and the low startup inertia I think big fish or not the reel is worth the price, especially if on the other end of the equation you are trying to protect light tippet.

I am so into these type ultralight reels, especially when paired with the right fly rod, that compliments the reel. I don't have the Hardy, but I do use the Redington 3wt. paired with the 7 1/2 ft. 3 wt. Redington fly rod. Thanks for making all of us aware that there are small reels that can give one a thrill.

Great review. It sounds amazing.