I only use Hardy fly reels because I like the traditional designs and materials. I don’t like the current fashion for large arbour, plastic reels. Hardy are not the company they used to be. They went down market in an attempt to expand, big mistake. Hardy are now trying to claw back their reputation by returning production of up market reels to the UK.
I bought my first Hardy Marquis reel in 1973 and it is still a delight to use. It is #5 and the 3″ spool easily holds a #4 WF line. It was very expensive but I have had 45 years of enjoyment and it is worth more today than I paid for it. That is excellent value for money.
I have turned off the ratchet so that it doesn’t make a noise when extending line which I find annoying. In 1980 I bought a Hardy Marquis #6. Both of these reels were made in the UK from high grade aluminium.
I recently bought a Hardy Duchess from Peter Cockwill who was closing his shop in Albury. It is made in England and has the simple click and pawl design of the Marquis. I loaded it with half a Cortland 444 for use on the river.
I normally use Cortland lines. I have tried other brands but Cortland lines are the best. I only use weight forward (WF) floating lines. I usually use a WF #4 Peach 444 for both river and lake, it suits my style of trout fishing.
However, since July 2017 I have also been using a Rio line. I like the colour of the line, weed green. The coating feels supple and the core of the line is white braid. Excellent. I had been told to stretch the entire line before loading it on the reel. I fixed it to the garden fence and gave it a good pull, several times.
I superglued a Greys copolymer nine foot tapered leader into the exposed core of the tip. I used the line exclusively for the rest of the 2017 season, mainly on the river. I used it for nymphs and dry fly. It has a nice supple feel and no memory. I’ve stretched it again since loading it on the reel and I have cleaned the main body of the line several times. It floats well but not as high on the water as a Cortland line. I’m not sure about the colour of the line. I find it difficult to judge distance when casting because I can’t see the line on the forward cast. I usually overcast which is a problem on the river. Overall it has improved my presentation, it is a joy to use at 10 yards.
In 2015 I bought a Hardy Jet Sintrix #4 10′ four piece rod. There were good reasons for my purchase. My right arm is worn out and a light rod means I can fish for longer. I visited Albury Game Angling and waggled a few rods. I was dubious about buying a four section rod, surely the joints would alter the action ? I like a long rod, it helps when roll casting and enables me to reach over bankside weeds. The Hardy was the lightest 10′ rod in the shop and when it was fitted together I could hardly see the joints. The rod has a fast, crisp action and having used it for several seasons, I am very happy with it.
I am not a collector but I seem to have acquired quite a few split cane rods. The three Bob Southwell fly rods are very special.
I recently found an unused Sharpes ‘Aberdeen’ and a pristine Hardy ‘Itchen’ that came from the Hardy archive at Alnwick.
I may have become a collector without knowing !