Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel Review (Hands-on Tried & Tested)

Explore the Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel – exceptional features and performance for discerning fly anglers' needs.

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I’m Daniel, a passionate fly-fishing enthusiast with over fourteen years of experience. Today, I’ll be sharing my review of the Hardy Ultradisc UDLA fly reel. Having personally owned this reel for three years, I’ve extensively used it in stocked trout lakes, landing double-figure rainbow trout, and explored various rivers targeting brown and dollaghan trout.

This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the Hardy Ultradisc fly reel, presenting both its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll delve into a detailed review of its specifications, compare it with competitors, address common FAQs, and offer an overall verdict. Read on to discover why the Hardy Ultradisc outperforms its competitors.

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Why Trust My Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel Review?

At IntoFlyFishing, we exclusively review gear that undergoes strenuous hands-on testing in real-world fishing scenarios. This commitment ensures that our opinions on the product are genuine and unbiased. Since this post is not sponsored, we have the freedom to deliver an unbiased verdict and openly discuss any drawbacks associated with the fly reel.

Hardy UDLA front

Having personally relied on the Hardy Ultradisc UDLA as my primary trout fly reel for the past three years, I am well-equipped to offer accurate and honest insights into its performance. This reel has been my go-to choice, successfully handling a diverse range of fish species with varying strengths.

How I Fished The Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel

I’ve thoroughly tested the Hardy Ultradisc by putting it through its paces on a diverse selection of stocked trout lakes across Ireland. It has proven its capability by effortlessly handling numerous double-figure fish during these outings.

Furthermore, the Ultradisc has proven its versatility by enabling me to successfully catch a variety of wild fish. This includes an array of Irish freshwater species, such as the renowned dollaghan trout, brown trout, as well as perch and small pike.

Hardy UDLA rear

Pairing the Ultradisc with my Hardy Ultralite fly rod has been a winning combination, especially when targeting trout in Ireland. On the Ultralite, I’ve equipped it with a Rio Gold Premier floating line, and this setup has complemented the reel, enhancing overall performance.

What’s In The Box?

In this section, we will delve into the contents you’ll receive upon purchasing the Hardy Ultralight UDLA fly reel. Our goal is to offer you a thorough and comprehensive description of each component, accompanied by our sincere and unbiased opinions.

The Reel

First and foremost, the reel takes center stage as it emerges from the box, instantly establishing itself as a standout gem in the world of fly fishing. Upon the initial encounter, the reel’s exceptional quality and craftsmanship are immediately apparent.

Hardy UDLA

Its stunning design captures attention, with the first impression leaving a lasting impact. My eyes are drawn to the intricacies of the drag system, adorned with Hardy’s custom laser-engraved symbol, elevating the overall aesthetic to a level of superb excellence.

Reel Pouch

The reel pouch is meticulously crafted, showcasing custom Hardy embroidery and the snug fit ensures that the reel is securely nestled inside. The inclusion of a velcro closure within the pouch ensures it is tightly sealed, this feature not only enhances convenience but also instills confidence in the pouch’s ability to provide ample protection during travel.

Hardy UDLA pouch

User Manual

The user manual, though compact, is clear and straightforward, offering sufficient information for buyers to comprehend the reel’s functionality and providing additional general insights. With a focus on user convenience, the manual incorporates diagrams to complement the text, making it more accessible and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the reel’s operation.


The reel is enclosed in a sturdy black box with a Hardy sleeve, creating a high level of professionalism. I find the box to be an excellent storage solution for my reel and as it’s aesthetically pleasing it enhances the unpacking experience, contributing to the overall satisfaction of acquiring the Hardy Ultralight UDLA fly reel.

Hardy Ultradisc Review Features & Specs

In this section, we will thoroughly explore the features and specifications of the reel. We aim to provide you with an in-depth analysis of the Hardy Ultralight UDLA components, empowering you to discern whether it stands as the optimal solution for trout fly fishing. 

Hardy UDLA side view

We will delve into aspects such as weight, sound, finish, warranty, ergonomics, and more, ensuring you possess a comprehensive understanding of the reel before making a purchase.


The durable yet lightweight Hardy Ultralite UDLA fly reel stands out as the lightest disc drag reel ever crafted by Hardy. The specific model I own weighs merely 3.8 ounces, showcasing an impressive feat for any disc drag reel.

In addition to its remarkable lightweight design, the Hardy Ultralite UDLA fly reel is available in various sizes, spanning from 3000 to 10000. This diverse range of sizes provides anglers with an extensive selection, catering to all their fly fishing requirements.


Hardy offers reel warranty that covers material deficits in the reel design, the material itself as well as a workmanship period of five years from the purchase. Registration of the product within sixty days is a requirement under the Hardy warranty. 

It is important to note that the warranty is applicable only to the original owner and does not cover damage from misuse, lack of maintenance, negligence, or normal wear and tear. Customers must also retain proof of purchase for the claims process, so it is advised to hold onto emails and/or receipts.

Hardy UDLA and pouch

Furthermore, non-manufacturing related failures incur a fee of $35, as well as the cost of replacement parts. The company also reserves the right to determine the repair or replacement eligibility, meaning they have the final say when it comes to the warranty. 

Finally, to claim the Hardy reel warranty, send the reel with proof of purchase and a completed form to the Hardy Customer Service Department for assessment. It is essential that unregistered reels have the original proof of purchase.


For anglers who relish the distinctive sound of a fly reel’s screaming drag, the Hardy Ultralite UDLA is truly satisfying. It stands out as one of the few disc check drag reels that closely resembles the familiar click and pawl style reel, providing an experience that combines modern functionality with the nostalgic sound of traditional fly fishing reels.

Reel Handle

The ribbed handle of the UDLA excels in providing a firm grip during intense battles with hard-fighting fish. Its comfortable feel in hand not only enhances the reel’s aesthetic appeal but also contributes to a positive overall user experience. The handle size is well-balanced, never feeling undersized or challenging to work with, ensuring ease of use for anglers in various fishing conditions.

Drag Knob

Typically found on Hardy reels is a color-coded drag knob, featuring a segmented drag with light, medium, and heavy pressure settings represented by green, orange, and red dots. For instance, an orange setting indicates a moderate pressure level.

However, the UDLA sets itself apart significantly, and in my view, it’s a positive development. The drag knob of the Ultralite UDLA is fully adjustable, departing from the restrictions of previous designs with only twelve stopping points. 

This unregulated drag knob allows for precise fine-tuning during battles, ensuring you can apply the exact amount of pressure needed for the fight. In my opinion, this feature is crucial when facing the fish of a lifetime.

Retrieval Rate

The retrieval rate of the UDLA is exceptional. It efficiently retrieves line without struggling, even when handling hefty trout. 

Whether dealing with larger runs or fish swimming directly towards me, controlling the line and maintaining tension on the fly line has been effortlessly manageable, showcasing the reel’s effectiveness in various fishing scenarios.

Changing Spools

Swapping spools on the Hardy Ultralite proves exceptionally convenient; just unscrew the spool release located on the side of the reel. Hardy has thoughtfully engineered the spool release to prevent it from coming off entirely, ensuring you won’t misplace it. Once the spool release is unscrewed, effortlessly pull the spool from the reel frame.

Hardy UDLA spool open

Drag System

The Hardy Ultradisc UDLA employs a multi-pad scaled disc drag system, which operates by bringing multiple discs together within the reel to generate tension. This system is unregulated, allowing for precise adjustments with ease—whether fine-tuning for subtle changes in pressure or making larger adjustments.

Available Colors

The Hardy Ultralite UDLA is available in two captivating colors: Gunmetal and Black. Both options are visually striking, with the Gunmetal featuring a vibrant green drag knob, and the Black showcasing an equally vibrant orange drag knob.

Build Material & Durability

The construction of the Hardy Ultralite UDLA fly reel deserves commendation for its exceptional build quality. It has demonstrated remarkable durability, withstanding considerable wear and tear. Personally, I am quite rigorous with my gear, and throughout years of testing, the reel has shown no significant signs of damage.

Drag Tension

The intelligently crafted drag system of the Hardy Ultralite offers precise tension adjustments, allowing you to tailor the drag to specific requirements when battling fish. This versatility empowers you to target smaller stream trout while also providing the robustness needed for pursuing trophy fish. 

Hardy UDLA in pouch

The drag system employs a disk check design, a simplified concept featuring multiple discs that generate friction to decelerate the spool. This configuration ensures a highly accurate and adjustable drag, combining precision with plenty of power for a reliable fishing experience.


As the UDLA stands as Hardy’s lightest disc drag reel ever created, its remarkable lightweight design ensures exceptional comfort in hand. The reel is so featherlight that one might not even notice its presence. During casting sessions and extended days on the river, the minimal weight translates to virtually no wrist strain, enabling prolonged casting without discomfort.


In terms of its structural design, the Hardy UDLA reel frame stands out for its placement of the line guard below the spool edge. This design proves highly beneficial, especially in the context of euro nymphing, as it simplifies the management of leader/mono-only rigs. 

By preventing the entanglement of small fly lines and leader setups within the spool frame, this construction enhances the overall usability and effectiveness of the reel, making it particularly well-suited for euronymphing techniques.

How The Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel Compares

In the competitive realm of disc reels tailored for trout fly fishing, the Hardy Ultralite confronts a large number of competitors. While seeking a suitable trout reel, I came across three notable alternatives that I considered.

Enter the Orvis Battenkill Disc Reel, notable for its superior maximum drag of 7lb, surpassing the Hardy Ultralite’s 6lb, it shines in the power department. However, it lacks a lightweight design – a prominent feature of the Hardy reel.

Hardy UDLA beside pouch

The Orvis SSR DISC REEL, exclusive to single-hand retrieve, forfeits the versatility inherent in the Hardy Ultralite, known for its seamless transition between hands. Despite a comparable price point, the restriction in retrieve orientation could sway user preferences.

Now, consider the Greys Tital Fly Reel, positioned as a more budget-friendly option with a better price tag. Yet, it bears the burden of a heftier build compared to the lighter Hardy Ultralite, potentially impacting the overall experience.

Hardy Ultradisc Review: My Personal Thoughts


  • The disc check drag system surpasses the power of most click-and-pawl drag systems found in reels of a similar standard.
  • Adjustable drag settings allow for fine-tuning during battles, enhancing control and responsiveness.
  • The spool release is designed not to detach completely, minimizing the risk of loss during use.
  • Incredibly lightweight, promoting effortless casting and reducing the likelihood of wrist strain.
  • The tailored frame design makes the reel ideal for euro-nymphing techniques.


  • The frame features small protruding spikes, occasionally causing the fly line to wrap around them.
  • The reel is relatively pricey compared to competitors in the market.

I personally believe that the Hardy Ultralite UDLA stands out as an exceptional all-around trout reel. Its lightweight construction and adjustable drag make it incredibly versatile, allowing me to target various trout species in diverse settings without worrying about the size of the fish I might hook. The drag system adds to its appeal, ensuring a strong performance. The overall build quality is superb, and I’ve found it well-suited for euro nymphing, thanks to the advantageous frame design.

Hardy UDLA frame

On a less positive note, the reel does come with a relatively high price tag. Additionally, in rare instances, I’ve experienced my fly line getting caught around two protruding spikes on the reel’s frame, which can be a minor inconvenience. Despite these drawbacks, the reel’s overall performance and versatility make it a worthwhile investment for trout enthusiasts.

FAQs About Hardy Ultralite Fly Reel

In this section, we will discuss some commonly associated questions associated with Hardy and the UDLA reel.

Are Hardy reels good?

Hardy has some of the finest workmanship in the fly fishing industry, with reels that are arguably among the best in the game. Whether you’re into light fishing for small trout or hooking a lightning-fast Atlantic salmon, Hardy has something for every fly angler.

Are Hardy reels made in England?

Yes, Hardy reels are proudly crafted in England, specifically in Alnwick, a tradition that has been upheld since 1872. Renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship, Hardy reels may come with a higher price tag compared to competitors, but they are considered a worthwhile investment for those who seek gear to pass down through generations.

Who owns Hardy reels?

Hardy reels are currently owned by a company named Pure Fishing, which operates under Sycamore Partners. Sycamore Partners acquired Hardy in 2018, and prior to that, Jarden Corporation owned the brand.

Does a good fly reel make a difference?

Absolutely, a high-quality fly reel ensures smooth drag performance throughout the entire fishing process. While it may be less crucial for smaller, less powerful fish, a top-notch reel becomes paramount when dealing with trophy-sized catches. Budget models may lack a reliable drag system, affecting their ability to prevent hook slippage.

What does LRH stand for on Hardy reels?

LRH on Hardy reels stands for Lawrence Robert Hardy, the eldest son of William Hardy. This detail adds a touch of history to the reels, reflecting the family legacy within the brand.

Do Hardy still make fishing rods?

Yes, Hardy continues to develop sought-after fishing rods, maintaining a competitive position in the world of fly fishing. They are often associated with high-end gear suitable for professional anglers.

Who is Hardy Alnwick?

Hardy Alnwick refers to the two brothers who founded Hardy: William Hardy and John James Hardy. They began their work in Alnwick, giving rise to the name Hardy Alnwick.

Are Hardy rods worth it?

Certainly, Hardy rods are worth the investment. Unparalleled in craftsmanship and attention to detail, they excel in appearance, finesse, and power. Overall, Hardy rods are well-rounded and suitable for any fly angler.

What are Hardy rods made of?

Hardy rods are crafted from high-modulus carbon fiber, reinforced with synthetic 440 resin.

How old is my Hardy product?

To determine the approximate manufacturing date of your Hardy rod, you can check the stamped number on the product.

The Verdict

The Hardy Ultralight fly reel review provides an in-depth analysis of the reel’s components, performance, and suitability. I firmly believe that this reel is the perfect solution for individuals aiming to target a variety of trout without compromising on performance, making it an excellent choice for those who want to enjoy catching smaller fish as well.

Shop The Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel

View the Hardy Ultradisc Fly Reel and compare prices on AMAZON.

Compare At:

Hardy Ultradisc

The build quality of the reel is commendable, reflecting durability and craftsmanship. The drag system stands out with its impressive performance, ensuring a reliable and smooth experience. Moreover, the overall aesthetic appeal of the reel adds to its charm.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend this reel to both beginners and advanced anglers. Its user-friendly design and consistent performance make it a reliable companion for anglers of all levels.

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Meet Daniel O'Neill, a writer and angler from Northern Ireland. With a love for fly fishing, he excels as a fishing guide and instructor, bringing abundant expertise to his writing. Daniel has taught beginners all over Ireland and guided anglers pursuing Ireland's mighty salmon. At the beginning of Daniel's angling journey, his fondest memories revolve around the joy of catching brown trout with his friends on his local streams. The thrill of experiencing subtle takes on a dry fly and successfully landing the fish brought them immense satisfaction, regardless of the size of the catch. Daniel's early love for fishing has paved the way for many ventures resulting in impressive catches such as bass, sturgeon, double-figure pike, and Atlantic salmon. His angling journey has taken him to various locations worldwide. Daniel has targeted saltwater bass in the Canary Islands, chub in France, carp in Poland as well as trout and salmon in Scotland. As Daniel continues to journey through the world of angling, he remains committed to sharing his experiences and knowledge through his content creation.

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