by Al Quattrocchi
As soon as I took the 8-weight Hardy Zane Pro rod out of its sock, it was clearly evident that this wasn’t an ordinary fly rod. The details were obvious starting with titanium recoil guides spaced down the blank to a quality full-Wells cork handle with anodized reel seat. Each rod section had its own metal ferrule cap which was impeccably machined to precision; a detail that reinforced its fine craftsmanship. The loose end caps conveniently can be stored in its exterior Velcro fly sock pocket. Each rod section has matching dots to help assemble and align your guides—a nice touch. Now I know you should never judge a book by its cover but on the surface this rod was looking like the Pappy Van Winkle of fly rods right out of the tube. It was time to hold it in my hand and string it up for a cast to see if looks could kill.
As a seasoned saltwater angler I was excited to see what this rod had to offer in performance. We set the rod up with two fly lines; an 8-weight Rio Guide Pro Tropical fly line and up-lined it with a 9-weight Rio Bonefish quick shooter. The two things I wanted to test is how much line we could carry in the air without a haul and the responsiveness of the blank after the forward stop and understand how accurately the cast tracked towards our target.
The rod effortlessly carried 60 feet of fly line in the air without a single haul. The blank didn’t feel stiff, it had flex and feel. The shorter 30- to 40-foot casts were extremely accurate tracking straight after the forward stop. The rod was light in hand and bent in the top third of the blank but seemed to have feel all the way down to the handle. It cast both lines effectively but I actually liked casting the 8-weight line the best. It was matched perfectly and allowed the fly rod to perform without having to overpower the cast. You can up-line this rod without hesitation if you desire to, but I felt the WF 8-weight felt balanced and you felt the load of the rod. In the right hands this stick is a monster with reserved power that can deliver long casts into the wind, yet still have the feel and sensitivity to make that quick 40-foot pick up and lay down. We call the short cast, the money shot. It’s the cast that you will most likely be called upon to deliver quickly and accurately. The Zane Pro had the flex to load the rod for that quick money shot.
When a medium/fast action rod can deliver both long and short casts effortlessly with feel and soul, you have something special. I dug the full-well, cork handle which allowed my thumb to have a resting place, making it very comfortable to hold and stop the rod. This fly rod delivered the goods with elegance, power and sensitivity. It is technically light, strong and responsive due to it’s revolutionary Sintrix 440 blank. It’s no wonder the Hardy Zane Pro won the 2020 ICAST Online Best of Category – Fly Fishing Rod. This stick is a beauty and a beast. You definitely get what you pay for in this top of its class, performance fly rod. I was truly impressed.