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Freshwater Rods

Hardy Ultralite LL Fly Rod

A Euro-nymphing rod that you can do other things with.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
January 15, 2024
Hardy | Ultralite LL 10-foot 8-inch 3-weight Fly Rod
product description
“The surge in popularity around advanced European style and competition style techniques has to some degree left rod design behind–not anymore. These technique specific rods have been designed, developed and tested by some of the leading experts of modern light line methods to represent the most refined and usable actions on the market for these demanding styles of fishing.” – 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

Product story

If you’re into competitive angling, you know who Howard Croston is, because he won the individual title at the world championships in Tasmania several years ago. He’s also the rod designer for Hardy. You likely also know about Euro nymphing (European-style nymphing), because that’s the method competitors often use. Euro nymphing has a long, complex history that I’m not going into here, but in very basic terms it involves using nymph flies that are heavily weighted within, because the rules forbid the use of split shot. You cast (if you want to call it that, you’re basically just flipping a long leader), maintain tension and then feel the fish take the fly when your drift through moving water stops. 

The point of all this is to say that the guy who won the pinnacle competition that involves Euro nymphing (Czech nymphing, Spanish nymphing, Polish nymphing, etc., variations of which have been perfected by different national teams) designed this rod that’s made for Euro nymphing, so that tells you half of what you need to know.  

The other half of what you should know, however, is that this rod is good for more than Euro nymphing. It’s great for casting tiny dry flies like midges and Tricos (Tricorythode mayflies) at selective trout, and it’s an exceptional rod for fishing from a belly boat.

Performance

Euro nymphing: Let’s keep it simple and say you’re casting a tandem rig of size #18 Frenchies. The mission of this rod in that case isn’t to deliver a long cast, it’s more about the feel after the flies land in the water and drift through a river run. At 10-feet 8-inches, the rod extends your reach, but as a 3-weight, it’s also very light and sensitive. It’s a tippy rod, with a medium-fast action overall.

I’m admittedly not the best Euro-nympher, but I have dabbled around with it, and find it interesting. It’s just that I’m more into the casting part when I fish, and if we’re being completely honest, Euro nymphing is more about flipping and dapping, and you can do that with a long spinning rod, or tenkara rod, or whatever. But for feeling takes and fighting fish, a specialty Euro-nymph inspired rod like this is great, and I’ve done enough to be able to vouch for it.

Versatility

If you take this rod to a lake and fish from a belly boat, where you’re three feet shorter than when you’re standing on the shore, you’ll appreciate the casting action of the Ultralite LL. It can send flies a good 40-feet or more with precision. You can form tight loops, roll cast and do a lot with this rod.

The bottom line is that it’s a world champion Euro-style nymphing rod, with a bit of a free spirit that thrives in places like the American West.

Pros

Great Euro-style rod, that also plays the dry-fly game with aplomb.

Good balance with the right reel. Nice reel seat.

Great sensitivity and transfer of feel from tip to grip.

You can actually cast it.

Cons

Not a lot, honestly.  

While we think it’s versatile, it isn’t that versatile, far from being a good choice for a “one and only” fly rod.

Pricing

$895 is less than most domestic manufactured premium rods, but a lot to pay for an import. This one straddles both worlds in terms of value. It costs a few bucks less than high-end “made in America” fly rods, but it by far outperforms most imports, even specialized Euro-nymphing models.

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: $895
  • Dimensions: 10-foot 8-inch 3-weight, 4-piece fly rod
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Construction/Materials: Sintrix NSX combined with a greater percentage of high and high-intermediate modulus carbon fiber
  • Guides: Ceramic lined titanium recoil 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

It’s a premium rod at $895, so I wouldn’t call it a starter rod for someone who wants to explore Euro nymphing. But for someone who wants to dabble in the Euro stuff and have some fallback applications, it’s a good choice.

Conclusion

I don’t go looking for Euro-nymphing rods very often, but when I do, I look to Hardy first, because their rods are designed by the best competitive angler in the world, or at least one of them. 

I consider this a “bonus rod” because at least in the 10-foot 8-inch, 3-weight variety, it is very usable for lake fishing, belly boating, small dry fly fishing, casting into beaver ponds and a lot more. 

It might just be the most versatile specialty rod on the market, which might sound like a Yogi Berra-ism, but you’ll get the picture if you fish it.

Find the Hardy Ultralite LL with our trusted partners: 

Hardy Ultralite LL rod outside lifestyle image
Hardy Ultralite LL rod outside lifestyle image
Hardy Ultralite LL rod outside lifestyle image
Hardy Ultralite LL rod outside lifestyle image
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