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Hardy Demon 5000 fly fishing reel

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Reviewed by Jeremy Lucas

This is the best fly reel I have ever used. It is what I refer to as a tactical fly reel, which might sound odd until I explain that it is a cartridge spool reel (unusually for Hardy) and so allows quick changes of fly line types to suit the conditions of the moment. This is not restricted to competitive fly fishing situations, of course, but for any situation in which you might require several changes of fly line through the course of a day. 

'Audibly it purrs as, well, only Hardy reels seem to do.....'

There are other cartridge reels on the marketplace, including the incredibly high-value Greys GRXi, but the Demon is simply the best tactical reel ever designed and produced. It is machined from the famous 6061 aluminium bar stock and, believe me, the tolerances are absolutely rigid. The cartridge spools are a high-impact resistant colourless polymer, side ventilated (so as to allow fly line and backing to dry), and fastened into place, or changed, with a novel quick-release and fixing ring system. The spool housing is released at the touch of a button, centrally on the face of the reel. A four disc Rulon brake provides the drag, very easily and reliably adjusted using the central adjuster on the back of the reel cage. Set at just more than minimum, the drag prevents over-runs as line is stripped off, and with the smooth take-up (no frictional jarring) it can be trusted with fine tippets or fine wire hooks.

Aesthetically the reel is stunning. Visually it is semi-lustrous, with a slightly brushed look (hard anodised) and machined so precisely. Audibly it purrs as, well, only Hardy reels seem to do, while line is stripped, and is utterly silent on line retrieval. In a tactile sense one does not tire of holding and using this reel: the aluminium handle, the knurled drag adjuster, the spool rim - which can be 'batted' for quick line retrieval (another tactical quality)… At 6.9 oz (196.5g) the reel feels right, both in the hand and when fixed to the rod.
The aesthetically pleasing and extremely well designed Hardy Demon range of fly fishing reels
Stored in the (included) padded case, the reel comes with three spools, so readily lends itself to use with floating, intermediate and sinking lines. Extra spools are available at a reasonable price. The 5000 can be loaded with fly lines in the 5 to 7 AFTM rating range, with adequate backing (maximum DT6 floater with about 40m of backing, or WF7 sinker with 70m backing).

Is there a downside? Well, this is a Hardy reel, the product of British design at its best, using the best materials for the job, with the finest machining and tools; so it is not cheap, at £219 (spools being £9.99). This is not really an issue for such quality, but the point is that as a tactical reel it could be subject to a lot of abuse, including being laid on the bank or bottom of the boat as lines are changed, so it might get scratched. Certainly, I find myself being ultra careful with this reel (because I hate to see those wear marks on a reel surface), so I am not really using it at its best, tactically. Instead, I find myself loading the bulk of my fly lines for still water use on the faithful Greys GRXi system, which because of its price (less than a quarter of the Demon) I do not mind scraping along the stones (quite so much).

The Demon 5000 is so classy and elegant as well as being functionally as close to perfection in a fly reel as I have ever found; I love it.

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