#8 Hardy Zephrus AWS 9 foot #8 $729.00
We tested the AWS model rather than the SWS. Both of these rods have a similar action and deflected in a similar manner, with the same amount of power. In the end we liked the AWS better as it was lighter and more pleasant to cast. This rod performed well across the board at all distances. It is perhaps not in the league with the best rods here but still a very solid performer. The Hardy rods are designed in England by Howard Croston, and manufactured in Korea.
The AWS is a fast action rod with a smooth action and excellent dampening. It’s light in overall weight and swing weight – coming in just behind the Sage X and Recon.
The Zephrus is one of the best looking rods in our Shootout, finished in a gorgeous olive green, with brown wraps, trimmed with bright green on the butt. The cork handle is a full wells design and felt just right. A double uplocking, anodized aluminum seat is used with a green triaxial carbon spacer that matches the blank color. The rings locked up well, but were a little harder to grip than on the best rods. I liked the two titanium SiC stripping guides, followed up with flexible nickel/titanium single foot guides the rest of the way. If anything, the single foot guides and tip top could be slightly larger, especially for saltwater use. My only gripe is the excessive amount of epoxy finish over the guide wraps.
Performance at 35 feet: 19.2 points out of 20
I was getting good feel and pretty good accuracy but the top rods like the Asquith, Meridian and Helios 3F were noticeably better.
Performance at 60 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
Nice smooth action was producing good tight loops and very good accuracy. Slightly better than the Legend Elite and SKY at mid-range.
Performance at 80 feet: 19 points out of 20
Good, but not the kind of power I was getting with the Exocett or Meridian. And the Asquith was far better.
Performance at 100 feet: 19 points out of 20
Enough power to launch it long, with the same kind of performance I was getting with the Exocett and Meridian.
8. (tie) Hardy Zephrus AWS 9’#8 4pc $729
This year we tested the Hardy Zephrus AWS rather than the Zephrus SWS. The “All Water Series” version was just as pleasing as the “Salt Water Series,” however, given a choice between the two, if I were doing a lot of salt-water fishing I would go with the SWS version, which has larger guides.
The Zephrus is a good-looking rod, finished in an attractive green. If I had to describe the Hardy Zephrus AWS in one word it would be smoooooth. Smooth and light, the Zephrus was one of the best casting rods at the shorter distances, where it also delivered excellent feel and accuracy. Like the Meridian and the Helios 3F, the Zephrus is one of the best rods at 35 feet. But don’t let this in close killer fool you, it still has the power required to throw 80 feet and beyond.
1st impressions: Green colored blank jumps off the rack more so than others. Interesting but attractive reel seat. Tracks well and has great feel.
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 points out of 20
Tons of feel combined with great accuracy. This rod was right on the fence for getting a perfect score, however the Meridian and 3F had a touch more feel. Even at 35 feet I can tell this rod tracks very well.
Performance at 60 feet: 19 points out of 20
Smooth as butter and tracks as straight as an arrow. I’m hitting near or on the target every cast. I like this rod a lot more than the old Hardy ProAxis, which was a heavy clunker in comparison.
Performance at 80 feet: 19 points out of 20
Can still hold a tight loop with a good 70 feet of line in the air. I find myself wanting to shoot a little line to get it the extra 10 feet, and this diminished the accuracy a bit compared to the best rods.
Performance at 100 feet: 17.5 points out of 20
Now I’m starting to struggle to hit 100 feet. More overall power would help here. My timing had to be absolutely perfect or the result was a tailing loop. The Zephrus isn’t one of the best long bomb rods.
#8. Hardy Zephrus AWS $729.00
The Hardy Zephrus AWS is the “all water series” version of the Zephrus. It comes with single footed guides as opposed to the snake guides on the saltwater model. The Zephrus AWS was a pleasure to cast and really nice at shorter distances.
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5 out of 20
I really enjoyed the Hardy Zephrus at closer distances. It had good feel and it was also extremely accurate.
Performance at 60 feet: 19 out of 20
At 60 feet I still made really accurate casts and hit the plate nearly every time with the Zephrus. It was showed signs of inaccuracy when I really powered it in the wind.
Performance at 80 feet: 19 out of 20
The Zephrus was very similar at both 60 and 80 feet. Still felt nice, but a few of my casts “died” when I really powered into them.
5. (tie) Hardy Zephrus 58/60 $729.00
The Zephrus is a light, powerful rod that is a pleasure to cast thanks to its lack of weight. It’s so easy to cast that to me it feels like a shorter or lighter weight rod throughout the casting stroke. This rod performed well at all distances. I think it’s a fantastic looking rod as well.
Performance at 35 feet: 19.5
It was great in close, just missing the top marks. I liked it for its great accuracy and feel at 35 ft., but docked it because it feels almost too light. This is more of a personal feel thing for me but something worth noting.
Performance at 60 feet: 19.5
I like the Zephrus a lot at 60 feet. It’s almost as good as the top performers at carrying line in the air, which I think is important in an 8 wt. to help with quick second shots. It shoots line very well too, in case you need to quickly readjust your aim. The Zephrus proved to be a good rod in the wind, but I wouldn’t say it’s this rod’s forte. Look for this rod to make pleasing, accurate casts at mid ranges without wearing you out.
Performance at 80 feet: 19
The Zephrus loses just a tiny bit of steam casting to 80 ft. It still gets the job done, but doesn’t handle hard wind nearly as well as the NRX or SKY. If the wind was calm or light, there was little to no issue with presentation, accuracy, or distance.
Performance at 100 feet:
I was able to get the Zephrus out to 100 ft. fairly easily as long as there wasn’t much wind. If there’s too much wind, then all bets were off.