Rod Review: Hardy Ultralite LL 10'8" 3w
To preface, I truly believe a high-end nymph rod is a must-have if you want to elevate and really excel in your nymph game. All nymph rods are great at any point in your fishing career, but the amount of innovation and quality built into these rods far surpasses mid-lower end rods.
With that, Hardy has introduced a game-changer from their top-tier brand. I've always loved the Hardy brand, and own a few of their rods, but I've never thought of them as someone to stir up the nymph rod game.
I've used the Hardy Ultralite LL 10'8" 3w for over 20 outings, and it's quite a unique rod, one that I can't seem to keep my hands off for a few reasons.
Since I've reviewed a rod before, i'll stick to the same format: Recovery, Accuracy, Sensitivity, Power, & Feel.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, recovery, for me, is a direct correlation to accuracy. Too slow/wiggly of a rod, and you'll get poor accuracy.
But, with that said, too stiff of a rod, you'll start breaking off on hook-sets.
There has to be a balance. The Hardy Ultralite LL has a really good balance. It's really quick to recover, even faster than other high-end models, so I'm really easily placing flies where they need to be, but its supple enough for thinner tippets. I think I've only broken 1 fish off on hook-set, but that was absolutely my fault.
This rod brings something I haven't really seen before to help with a quicker recovery: the top few guides are snake guides, and the rest are just a single-footed guide. That helps the top section stay a little more stiff (an old trick my uncle taught me about rod-building). You can certainly tell me if there are others on the market, but this is something I haven't seen before. Really, really cool piece of "innovation."
One thing that often goes unnoticed when nymphing, but the thing that sets apart novices from experienced anglers is accuracy. Less casts, better placement, more efficient drifts.
Directly related to recovery, this rod has a lot of forgiveness, even at long-distances. The Ultralite LL is super accurate, and could help you make better, more effective drifts more efficiently. It really is fun to cast.
Sensitivity will differ between anglers, their leaders, how they fish, etc. However, if you're not feeling fish eat, you're probably missing a lot of fish. With that said, sensitivity is extremely important to me.
For my fishing style, this rod is pleasantly sensitive. I wouldn't rate it at the top of the list, but I haven't been missing takes because I wasn't feeling them.
Not feeling your fish eat? Check out my series on Light Euro-Nymphing.
The past few years here in PA have been super windy. It's not fun. I've been trying to find different ways to "enjoy" a windy day, and this rod has helped. It feels a lot better casting in gusty winds, doesn't feel like you're overpowering the rod. Most of the times I'll just stay at home when it's windy, but I haven't found a better 3w that handles wind more effectively than the Ultralite LL.
Strangely, with all the wind power, I do feel that this rod lacks some backbone that it's competitors have. I feel myself sometimes struggling with a medium sized fish in heavier current.
The power feels balanced throughout the rod, instead of having a stronger backbone. Certainly a give & take situation, because of this rod's casting abilities.
Feel is a pretty broad attribute. Covers everything from lightness to casting feel.
Weight is the first thing i'll discuss. This rod is actually not much heavier than competitors, but feels heavier (3.5oz). I do believe that how the rod is balanced, it creates a heavy feel. After a half-day, my arm does feel a little tired. It's still light, but the metric could be improved on their next model.
The grip is nice too. Nothing to complain about.
As I've mentioned, the casting feel is great. Balanced, accurate, responsive, forgiving. All top marks from me.
The Hardy Ultralite LL 10'8" 3w is a top-notch nymph rod from an innovative company. If you would like to hone in your casting, improve your accuracy, having trouble casting your current nymph rod, or you just like the hardy brand, this rod is for you.
Go try one at the fly shop, or book a trip with me to fish mine!
Featured shops that can help you with this rod:
Thanks for reading, please reach out to me with any questions, or if you'd like any more feedback informing your rod purchases.