Hardy HBX 13'6"n rod review

If you have more than 140 years of rod-building heritage under your belt, you should know a thing or two about what makes a good fly-rod. For its new HBX series, Hardy has started, as always, by choosing top-quality materials and technology. The fast-action blanks are built with Sintrix 440, using nano silica resin produced by technology giants 3M. This creates up to 60 per cent more compressive strength and is 30 per cent lighter than traditional carbon-fibre.

DSC_5975.jpg

Each rod is hand-built by five expert craftsmen in Hardy’s Alnwick workshop. After six quality checks, each is given an individual, hand-written serial number, and each female ferrule is fitted with a machine-turned aluminium stopper. Pleasing finishing touches.

We tested an HBX double-hander, the 13ft 6in model, rated for 8/9wt lines.

The rod has a minimal, gloss-black finish, high-end Fuji titanium stripping guides and REC black pearl Recoil rings, which keep the rod light and responsive.

 The handle is made from premium Flor-grade shive cork, hand-turned to produce a profile on which your hand naturally finds the right casting position. The bottom grip has an alloy spacer and a hard-wearing, synthetic butt-cap that fits the palm of the hand snugly and gives a good pivot point while spey-casting.

The down-locking reel seat places the reel in the best position to counter-balance the rod.

 The Sintrix blank results in a fast-action rod with the power to cast heavy tips and big flies in spring, but also the accuracy and feel for delicate casts with small flies.

We tried it first with a medium-length spey-line. The rod was comfortable lifting and casting a full line, perfect for summer fishing when you could cover an average-sized pool without the need to strip between casts. We also tried a 520grn (33.8g) short scandi head. Unsurprisingly, this made casting into the stiff wind much easier and the rod felt balanced and responsive in the hands, but we felt it was a little underloaded, so we changed to a 580grn (37.7g) head, which seemed to suit the rod’s fast action better, loading it deeper and releasing its reserves of power.

The tip recovers fast and is very stable and precise when changing direction. This is a rod that could cope with a wide range of rivers without ever feeling under-gunned.

The Hardy HBX four-piece double-handed rod is available in three sizes: 11ft 7/8wt; 13ft 6in 8/9wt; and 14ft 6in 9/10wt. Each is supplied with ferrule stoppers, a soft cloth bag and a black powder-coated aluminium rod tube.

Hardy HBX double-handed rods

11ft 7/8wt, £999.99

13ft 6in 8/9wt, £1,099.99

14ft 6in 9/10wt, £1,299.99

Contact: Pure Fishing

Tel: 01665 602 771

Web: hardyfishing.co.uk

Hardy HBX reel review

The Perfect, Marquis, Cascapedia and Ultralite, just a few of the many fly-reels made by Hardy that have become classics over the years. While it is too early to say whether their newest addition, the HBX, will be considered a classic, it has received accolades: it was awarded best fly-reel at EFTTEX (the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition) in 2018.

DSC_1506.jpg

The HBX looks modern with a heavily ported spool and frame made from aerospace-quality 6061 bar-stock aluminium. But it possesses admirable homespun qualities: it is machined and then assembled by hand at Hardy’s Alnwick factory.

The FWS (Freshwater Series) 4/5, 5/6 and 7/8 models have a linear Rulon disc-drag, which can be flushed with freshwater for easy maintenance. You can see through the porting to the small, single ratchet-and-pawl mounted on a plate in front of the drag. It is there to produce clicks when line is retrieved or taken, but it will also add resistance to the spool, useful if you’re fishing with ultra-light tippets.

The larger AWS (All Water Series) 9/10 and 10/11 models cater for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, from salmon to tarpon and everything in-between. The linear oversized carbon-fibre drag system is saltwater safe and can produce a formidable 15lb drag pressure. The large, knurled drag knob has a positive click and is easily used with wet or cold hands. Adjustment is fast, from zero to near lock-up in less than a single rotation.

The spool is released by a captive screw, etched with the Hardy logo. All models have an attractive gunmetal, anodised finish with red detailing.

Hardy HBX FWS  4/5wt, £399.99, 5/6wt, £449.99, 7/8wt, £499.99

Hardy HBX AWS 9/10wt, £549.99, 10/11wt, £599.99

Contact Pure Fishing

Tel: 01665 602 771

Web: hardyfishing.co.uk

Review: Hodgman Aesis H-Lock Wading Boots £209.99

"The soles lock in place at two separate points and can only be removed if both locks are disengaged at the same time."

"The soles lock in place at two separate points and can only be removed if both locks are disengaged at the same time."

Hodgman’s H-Lock removable sole system is an excellent innovation that allows you to switch between rubber, felt and studded soles using a single pair of wading boots. 

The boots are supplied with felt soles and Wadetech rubber soles. Additional studded rubber or felt soles can be bought for £44.99, and these studs are pre-fitted through the top of the sole making them far more secure than studs that are screwed in from the bottom in the standard way (you can’t later add studs to the plain soles because of their
plastic uppers).

The soles lock in place at two separate points and can only be removed if both locks are disengaged at the same time. This makes them very secure. They are relatively simple to fit, though it is important to make sure their grooves are correctly aligned when fitting. 

There are drainage ports built into the boots that flush water through the soles with every step, making sure that sand and debris doesn’t become trapped. The soles are clearly marked with right and left to avoid confusion once removed and have a space to right the name of the river where they’re used – a good idea where biosecurity measures are in force.

The Aesis boot features a BOA M2 closure (you turn a dial to tighten or loosen the fit) instead of laces, which makes the boots easy to remove without having to untie knots. They are made from an abrasion-resistant synthetic material, with corrosion-resistant hardware and extra rubber in high-wear areas such as the toe. There is a small D-ring on the tongue for attaching the hook of a gravel guard. This feature is also present on the nubuck Vion boots (£229.99) and H-5 lace boots (£179.99) where it saves wear on the laces. 

The boots are sized to allow for the neoprene sock on a pair of stockingfoot waders so your regular UK shoe size should be correct. Available in UK6 to UK12.

Contact: Pure Fishing. Tel: 01665 602 771. Web: Hodgman.com