Specialist nymphing rod shows its sensitive side
Hardy Zephrus Ultralite rod from £579.99
THIS series of rods is aimed squarely at the light line angler, mainly for river work but there is also a crossover into stillwaters. There are seven models in the range from an 8ft 8in 3wt at £579.99 to a 9ft 9in 5wt at £649.99. I had the 9ft 9in 3wt which I fished with during the Hanak European Grayling Festival on the River Dee last December. I was keen to try it out with the European nymphing style and long French leader work, and also with a 3wt line outfit. With a full French leader set-up the rod was smooth and accurate when flipping the flies onto target, helped along by its softer top section. I was really impressed with its sensitivity and I could feel the tap-tap-tap as the nymphs trundled over the river bottom. High sticking can cause a certain amount of arm fatigue but it wasn’t noticeable with this outfit. As the leader came to a dangle downstream it was so easy to lift and recast at short and medium range, while the occasional single haul helped it on its way at longer range. This rod has great ‘feel’, and really came into its own when hooking a fish as I could spot even the slightest of knocks or takes. I was able to set the hook immediately, and then the smooth deep flex of the blank took over when playing the fish and also helped to cushion the light tippets. It has a hidden backbone that I wouldn’t usually associate with a rod this light and I was easily able to turn fish in the powerful currents. It also handled a specialist nymphing line and short leader in the same competent manner. If the rod was only able to handle this very specific style of fishing I would have been more than happy with it. However, loading it up with a 3wt line it was more than proficient at fishing duo and trio methods as well. It took me a little time to get used to the way the rod flexed but by slowing down my casting stroke I was able to cast and lay out a very good line.
One of the best lightweight, specialist European nymphing rods I’ve ever used. It ticks all the boxes as regards sensitivity, casting prowess and power, while also showcasing the quality of the Hardy brand. Matched up with the Hardy Ultralite FWDD 1000 reel (line size 1-3) it made the most perfectly balanced outfit.
“It ticks all the boxes as regards sensitivity, casting prowess and power.”