Hardy Zane 9ft 8wt saltwater fly rod
Justin Anwyl takes a look at this saltwater fly rod from Hardy.
Length: 9 ft
AFTM Rating: #8
Weight: 4.28 oz
Guarantee: Unconditional lifetime guarantee for original owner.
The 8 wt Hardy Zane arrives in a reinforced carbon tube coloured blue. The rod is packed within the tube by a neoprene sleeve and the four rod sections have aluminium stoppers to protect the spigots. Each section is marked by a white dot to ensure the correct assembly.
First appearances of this 9 foot 8 wt are classic Hardy although looking closer you soon realise this is a new breed of single handed rod. The carbon blank is very slim and the first two guide eyes are Fuji-lined SIC rings, deliberately oversized for rapid line clearance. The remaining rod has 7 good sized snake rings whipped over the carbon blank which finishes 9 feet later with an oversized tip.
The reel seat is aluminium and the design team has been well advised to realise the importance of fitting nylon washers to the locking nuts to allow easy removal of the reel after a week on the salt.
The Zane is very smart in its dark marine blue livery. The rings are not only well designed for good line clearance but thought has been given to the flyers who use multi-tip lines with sink tip extensions; the tip allows even the bulkiest of loop 2 loop joins to pass through smoothly – too many fish are lost when the line joins can get held up at the critical moment before netting or beaching fish.
The nylon washers work when it comes to releasing the reel from it’s seat after a months hard work on the flats. Minimal maintenance on most outfits would have you considering a vice as a last resort – no such trouble here as the release was as smooth as the day it was put together.
The handle is constructed from good quality cork which has had minimal filling and is in a very comfortable “Full Wells” design. Even after a full 7 hour session which would entail loading this rod over 2000 times did it feel loose or in danger of swivelling in my palm – beware as some rod handles are too small in diameter and can swivel when being double hauled – this rod handle is solid to ensure a positive grip with no chance of it becoming loose whilst being worked hard.
This 9ft 8wt has worked with me tirelessly whilst hunting Sea Bass since March 1st this year. It was loaded with an 8 wt salt water (weight forward) line of 30 meters – this line has a good head and thin running line which I find helps load the rod quickly enabling it to cut through most on shore winds. The test curve is a fast taper and has handled onshore winds well with oversized flies. The clousers we use have large tungsten heads which can damage a cast if the carbon taper fails to deliver. Although I’ve used much faster rods this is more than adequate in winds of up to 20 knots whilst hauling size 2 flies into the sea.
To date, the rod still looks new and the cork handle which so often begins to deteriorate after constant wetting and drying is holding together very well – it is still hard which is a good indication that the cork is a premium grade and far less porous than most handles.
In a perfect world
This rod, at a price just shy of £500, does reflect it’s quality as well as originating from a tried and tested blood line for which Hardy is renowned. A new breed of rod from a traditionalist which has managed to create a masterpiece in understated elegance, Zane Grey would have been more than happy to lend his name to such a fine piece of equipment, comfortably doubling up as a Bone fish rod whilst in the tropics as well as being at home in UK covering our own top salt water predator, the Atlantic Bass.
Firstly, many flyers have more than one rod in a different rating but all in the same series, I do and I’m sure I’m not alone. All the Zane rods are 9 ft and in either a 7,8,9,10 & 12 wt and there is very little to differentiate each rod even though it has a different AFTM rating. It would be sensible to have the AFTM rating against each spigot join (similar to the aligning dot) thus ensuring you could never mix and match your 8 wt tip on your 9 wt middle section – easily done and a nightmare to correct.
Secondly, it would be useful if the protective tube had a carrying strap as it’s substantial enough to be put through cargo when travelling abroad with only a single rod instead of having to insert into another protective tube.
Thirdly, the gloss varnish is very attractive to the potential buyer of this rod but has the opposite effect when covering fish on the flats – if a matt finish was available it would reduce rod flash substantially – one thing I have not seen in the fly fishing manufacturers remit but something which is highly prevalent in the course fishing market.
And lastly, if only it was cheaper but then again quality in this day and age is priceless.