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Hardy Zenith 9 ft., 4 piece, 5 wt. review

2012/9/4 10:44
From Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 0
I’m new to the board, but I used some of the information on here to make my latest rod purchase, so I thought I would "give back" so to speak and provide a review of my own on the Hardy Zenith I recently purchased.

Prior to a trip to Montana and Wyoming, I was in the market for a new 5wt. 4 piece western rod that I could use for this trip and fishing some of the larger waters I come across in my travels. In conducting my due diligence, I came across the famous, or infamous, Yellowstone Angler's 5 wt. Shootout. This is how the Hardy Zenith got on my radar.

The rods I currently own are an Orvis 2 piece Silver Label 3 wt. “tip flex” and an Orvis 2 piece 8'6" 6 weight Silver Label mid flex. Last year, I bought an Orvis Helios 8’6” 3 wt. “mid flex” 4 piece to travel with as I fish a 3wt. the most, and now the Zenith. I have always been brand loyal to Orvis so this was a big step for me to buy another brand rod. I’m glad I did.

The set up is a 9' 4 piece 5 wt. Hardy Zenith. I have Rio Gold 6wt line strung to it on a Lamson ultra light reel and a back up spool of SA 5.5 wt. GPX. I am a RIO fan boy but the 5 wt Gold was too light for the rod. This is basically the only knock on this rod I could really find. It’s probably a 6 wt or 5.5 wt! A lot of the modern rods are so stiff now and need to be strung at a higher line weight to perform and the Hardy is not really any different, but it is not as stiff as the Sage One and others I tested. However, this whole premise seems counter intuitive to me. I think, a 5 wt. should be a 5 wt.

As far as my abilities, I am an experienced angler and I would consider myself an accomplished caster, definitely well above average and a tech and gear junkie.

Anyway, after using the rod for 10 days out west I can honestly say I love the Zenith. It’s a beautiful rod and definitely has the “bling” factor. Other fisherman stopped me in the airport and asked me to look at it. That means nothing to me, but I did think it was interesting.

What does mean something is performance. This rod is very stiff at the handle. It incredibly light weight and with the Lamson reel is flat out light as a feather. Yet it feels solid and the swing weight is perfect. The rod has the best "balance" of any rod I have ever owned. Further, the rod softens nicely at the tip and lays line well. It admittedly took me some time to get used to the stiffness of the modern rod, like the Sage One, the Hardy, and others. Out of all the rods I personally tested, the Hardy is by far the best between 20 and 50 ft. I can only think of one time where I have casted 50 feet or more and caught a trout, so while this rod is more than capable; I’m not really concerned about that type of distance.

From 20 to 50 feet this rod is a dream. It is light, shoots incredibly straight, and is laser like in its precision. I felt like if I looked at a spot on the water I could place the fly there just by focusing on it. It passed all casts, mending, nymphing, streamer, and presentation tests that I could muster at these distances (and caught many fish). It extends long and short leaders very well. I can’t say enough how well the rod performed at its target distances.

Protecting the tippet with a fish on with this rod is very easy with the Sintrix material and rod action. It is very solid, but has very light pressure at the tippet. It was perfect and gave me plenty of confidence to fight large Bighorn and Yellowstone trout without fear of snapping the tippet.

I will say that loading the rod and turning the leader at less than 20 feet was difficult. I often had to false cast several times more than usual to get the presentation I wanted. Not surprising, and this is probably 3-4 wt. distance, but I thought it was worth noting.

The bottomline, I highly recommend this rod. It is not perfect, I wish it was more of a “true” five weight but it is so good at what it does I have forgiven that. If I didn’t have two solid three weights already, I probably would recommend and have purchased the 4 weight. Finally, I can’t really fault any of the review comments George and his team at Yellowstone Angler present in their Shootout as my own are very similar. This is a great rod.

Posted on: 2012/9/4 17:26

Re: Hardy Zenith 9 ft., 4 piece, 5 wt. review

2007/2/21 22:57
From York, PA
Posts: 0
Awesome review, man.

Posted on: 2012/9/5 6:34

Re: Hardy Zenith 9 ft., 4 piece, 5 wt. review
2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
Posts: 439
Good review - thanks.
Welcome to the Paff forums and our online community.

Posted on: 2012/9/5 7:50

Re: Hardy Zenith 9 ft., 4 piece, 5 wt. review

2010/2/13 7:55
From Murrysville, PA
Posts: 9
Slightly bummed that they are Korean made rods... that being said:

I own 2 Zenith's, the 9ft 4wt and 9ft 5wt and love them both. This summer I used a guide's 1 piece 6wt and it was totally totally awesome.

I also experienced great customer service on a broken rod. I broke the rod on day 2 of my 7 day fishing trip and wanted to puke over the side of the boat. The next morning I went to the nearest dealer (Bighorn Trout shop) and they had the same model in stock. I talked Hardy and the Troutshop into swapping out the broken section rather than mail it to me after my trip was over ( was embarrassed to ask because i never thought they would do it). Plus Hardy just charged me only $25, not the $25 plus 10% they are supposed to. I was impressed that both the shop and Hardy were cool with that.

Posted on: 2012/9/5 7:58

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