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.
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
Following advancements in raw materials and components the popular LPXe range of rods from Guideline has undergone a complete overhaul. The original LPXe was and is a firm favourite among salmon anglers who like to use shooting-head lines. Its short handle and powerful blank first appeared in 2003 as part of what was then the latest in salmon-fishing fashion from Scandinavia. The new LPXe has big shoes to fill, which is perhaps why Guideline has spent three years in the development and testing process.
We tried the rod on the Welsh Dee and the power of the blank is immediately obvious. Using a matched shooting-head line and thin shooting-line it was easy to hit the opposite bank without much effort.
The rod has new grip lengths, shapes and diameters. The handles on all the rods in the range are slimmer than on previous models. The bottom grip on the 14 ft 9/10 is very comfortable in the palm. It is short, which is ideal for the bottom-hand-driven Scandinavian casting technique. The top grip tapers nicely towards the blank with a slight flare to guide the thumb position.
The reel seat is smart, with an etched metal insert and orange detailing on the locking nuts. The blank has a matt grey finish and has been built using new graphite structures and cutting patterns. The intention is to give improved strength and recovery speed while loading with a three-quarters deep bend. Described as crisp, the rod is light and bends nicely; you can feel its power and spring.
The Fuji KW stripping rings have a slant that is set away from the handle towards the tip. This design was first introduced on Guideline’s RSi rods and it aims to stop your running line tangling around the rings when shooting for distance. A stripping ring that projects at right angles to the blank is more likely to catch a loop of running line during the cast. Single-leg rings are preferred to snakes to minimise weight and prevent any unnecessary stiffening of the action. Everything is geared towards maximising the LPXe’s performance. It looks and feels the part.
The LPXe is supplied in a hard, light tube with a fabric outer layer. The four pieces are held in a dark grey Air-Mesh bag, which has a tactile spongey texture and fluorescent orange trim. The whole package feels very modern with lots of attention to detail.
A full range of single-handed rods, three 11 ft switch rods in different line ratings, and double-handed fly-rods from 12 ft 8/9 wt to 15 ft 10/11 wt are available; all are four-piece.
Contact: Jim Curry. Tel: 07973 291 367. Web: guideline.no