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Freshwater Rods

Hardy Marksman 9-foot 5-weight Fly Rod

The English have always fancied throwing darts.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
September 19, 2023
Hardy | Marksman 9-foot 5-weight fly rod
product description
“The new Hardy Marksman has been designed, developed and tested with varied fishing challenges in mind. A strong, yet considerably lighter blank has been matched with an all new reel seat that further accentuates the weight reduction and promotes an almost weightless in hand feel.” – Hardy
company ethos
“Hardy, based in Alnwick, England has been handcrafting innovative fly gear since its formation in 1872 and is still recognized as the finest fly rods and reels in the world. Hardy fly gear is for those who require the finest and will not settle for anything else.” – Hardy

Hardy’s chief rod designer, Howard Croston, won the fly-fishing world championship. So whether you think competitive fly fishing is a bunch of hooey or not, there’s no denying that the guy knows how to fish, and the lineup of rods he’s been engineering in recent years has been eye-opening. Today’s Hardy rods aren’t your father’s (or great-grandfathers) Hardys. Let’s be honest, to American fly fishers, up until several years ago, Hardy rods mainly appealed to Anglophiles and other traditionalists.

Product Story

But now, because of the resins and other materials Hardy uses, its rods have generated a loyal following among those who want a beefy (durable), cast-friendly stick that can turn big fish, and at the same time, drop a fly on a dime. This phenomenon almost ironically (given the Alnwick, England Hardy HQ) started on the saltwater flats and migrated to freshwater designs, and that’s exactly what happened with the “Marksman,” which is the de-facto freshwater version of the “Marksman Z,” which debuted first, and won “best fly rod” honors at the 2023 ICAST fishing trade show.

Performance

In either case, the “Marksman” moniker plainly shows what Hardy is driving at–it’s all about accuracy. So we decided to play Robin Hood on some western American rivers, banging banks with hopper flies, as well as dropping Trico dries on some morning risers, and by and large, we were impressed by the versatility. The rod does “recover” remarkably fast (meaning, it snaps back into form, quickly, without wobble) as you false cast and deliver shots. The action is intuitive. The 5-weight we tested was on the quick side, meaning it generates line speed with easy effort, and it isn’t the most dainty for a spring creek situation.

Versatility

And there are other rods that can “reach out and touch someone” at great distances (but who really cares?) with more effect. In terms of real FISH-ability, we found it to be pretty damn versatile in throwing any bug between a size #8 streamer and a size #18 BWO. And it’s an honest rod that isn’t a crutch, rather a tool that augments the efforts of someone who actually knows how to cast a fly rod.

Pros

Light, tracks well, you feel the line load (we tested it with three lines), and it’s beautiful and tough at the same time.

Cons

Hardy rods are designed in England, but they’re made in Asia, and they cost about the same as a high-end American-designed, American manufactured rod.

Pricing

At $950 it’s a high-end fly rod–not cheap, but beautifully constructed and impressive performance.

Durability

It’s a Hardy, and there are scads of ruffles and flourishes like ferrule plugs, a distinctive rod tube and sleeve and all that. By recent measures, Hardys are among the toughest, most durable rods on the market. Of course, anyone can break any rod by being stupid, but Hardys rate high on the durability scale. If you can get over the “import at the same price as domestic” hurdle, the value equation, while that measures out a bit differently for everyone, is palatable and fair.

  • Price: $950
  • Dimensions: 9-foot 5-weight, 4-piece fly rod
  • Weight: 2.7 ounces
  • Construction/Materials: Sintrix FLT applied to an updated mandrel design
  • Guides: Ceramic lined titanium framed stripper guides, Titanium recoil intermediate snake guides
  • Rod action: Medium-fast
  • Rod tracking: Straight
  • Rod recovery: Medium
  • Warranty information: Hardy warranty program

Hardy warranty program.

“As an owner of a Hardy carbon/glass fibre rod, you are entitled to take part in the Hardy Product Warranty and Repair Service. To do so, you need to register your rod within 60 days of purchase.

Once you have registered to take part in the Hardy Product Warranty and Repair Service you will be entitled for the lifetime of the product to the repair or replacement (at our discretion) of damaged, broken or defective sections of your rod in accordance with these terms.

For rods manufactured before 2002, please contact the customer service team to find out the cost of your claim.”



Likely buyers

You want a “high end” lifetime rod that was designed by one of the world’s best rod designers and anglers–done. You want an aesthetically pleasing, classy looking rod, that comes with “extra credit” touches by way of packaging and so on–done. You want an English-engineered casting tool that can stand toe-to-toe with any American stick when it comes to banging hoppers against the banks from a drift boat, or even dropping gray drakes on a meandering Michigan stream with appreciable accuracy–done. You want a hand-cannon to show off to your friends how far you can huck a streamer with a 5-weight–look elsewhere. You want a rod that allows you to feel a wide variety of lines load as you start and stop the cast–done.

Conclusion

You want a rod that will cover up your casting flaws, or you’re just going to flick split shot and nymphs under a bobber, you can choose the Marksman, of course, but you’re not getting the most out of what this rod was meant to do. For all-around fish-ability for trout, we really like this rod, and we recommend it for anyone who is an intermediate (though aspirational) angler up to a seasoned expert who legitimately appreciates and can leverage the subtleties of a highly-accurate, versatile casting tool that delivers in a wide range of conditions.

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