Light, quick, stylish rod. As I write this Hardy are in the process of rolling out the Shadow range of rods to replace their Demons. By the time you read this, Hardy dealers should have stock. As rods go, these are mid-priced rods, priced to offer entry to the Hardy brand.

The information on the Shadow list some similarities across the range and suggests some sense that the design of each rod was tweaked. The idea is that while you can have some range similarities, when, for example, you design a 10ft #7 and an 8ft #4 you have different needs in mind.

The length and line-class of this sample Shadow has me immediately thinking of dry fly fishing.

Throwing a clean straight line, quickly, I want a light, responsive rod so I can throw mends while the line is in the air, and reasonably accurately throw slack to extend the drift of my dry fly. To be honest, that one-sentence description is nowhere near a full specification of a dry-fly rod, but it gets me started.

Build quality is high, slim blank, decent cork, classy reel-seat with a matt wood-spacer and twin locking rings. The styling is restrained and elegant, a couple of silver thread-wraps frame the Hardy logo and Shadow name, then plain olive thread on a slim olive blank. Relatively small guides, a single lined ring at the butt, then single-leg snakes, tapering to small guides on the tip section –  designed to follow the taper and control weight.

With a #4 line this casts nicely. This Shadow is light, the length keeps weight down …a very nimble rod. With my WF4 line recovery is crisp, Hardy mention “…fast recovery blanks”. I have to agree. Casting a #4 line is not really ‘working’ this rod so I tried a couple of heavier lines, #5 and then #6, both of which this #4 rod handles with ease. Thing is, the heavier lines made it clear this Shadow bends deeper than one might expect from a modern dry fly rod. Actually, that’s not fair, this is not the first time I’ve handled a Hardy rod with a blank designed to have a little ‘feel’. This is the only Shadow I have tried so far, so I can’t say if that is characteristic of the range, but it suits this rod very well indeed. The action is medium, comes deep into the blank; that sense of crispness comes from the balance of stiffness and lightness.

So, back to the #4 line, this can cast heavier lines, but I’ll stick with the #4. It seemed to me I quickly adapted to this Shadow, so my loops were consistent enough, my casting was accurate enough. To my mind, one characteristic of a ‘good rod’ is that it fades into the background, so I’m casting to that target, moving the line, controlling the fly – the rod is a link in that chain, but it draws little or no attention to itself. Hardy seem to me to have achieved that level of refine-ment in this well-designed rod.