Hardy Marksman Reel #3/4

Hardy Marksman

Hardy Marksman reel with its spindle-less centre

I was looking for a lightweight river reel to go with my new Hanak Czech Nymph Champion #3, 4 in 1 as I want to be able to set it up alongside my XF2 Streamflex when out Grayling fishing. Having the LRH Lightweight on the XF2 means I need another reel to hold a #3 line with the Hanak rod. I was surfing the web and came across a Hardy/Grey sale at GACand amongst the items on sale (obviously end of line kit) was the Hardy Marksman series reels. I opted for the 3/4 weight unit rather than the similarly priced, smaller 2/3 reel. I am more likely to use it with a heavier line than a lighter one.

It’s a simple reel, no drag, just a typical Hardy, very positive click check mechanism, which I really like with the LRH too. The fishing I do on rivers means I rarely if ever need a drag so I can live without it. I nearly was tempted by an Orvis Battenkill when I went into the shop albeit it was about £60 more, with a drag, but then reminded myself why I was there and left with this reel. Its simple, wonderfully light, and has a cool, spindle-less design.

It is left or right-hand wind without any mechanical change whatsoever, simply turn it around and wind your line on the right way!

The Hardy Marsman Reel onthe Hanak Czech Nymph Champion rod

The Hardy Marksman Reel on the Hanak Czech Nymph Champion rod

It holds a Hardy Premium DT#3 line and tons of backing comfortably. I am sure it will do me for years, not bad for £100.

Ball ache

So it appears there is one major design flaw with this reel. The exposed ball race that use to mount the spool on the cage, If you are out fishing on the river and lay the rod down in the water to unhook a fish, for example, there is a high probability that if not while you are out, but certainly next time , the spool will seize in the cage. The give away is the loosening of the knurled locking nut, and a “graunchy” operation. Hardy seem to do a repair/upgrade though whether it actually replaces the ball race with something more durable I don’t know. I was on the cusp of sending mine back when I discovered if on returning from an outing, I thoroughly dry it off, NEVER leave it wet or damp. The remove the cage and soak the race in WD40, it’s as good as new again and fine. I have managed to get by with it like this for some time now.

Update 2015

reel and bearing

The reel returned from Hardy with a new bearing fitted.

After several years keeping the reel going the bearing finally died, so I contacted Hardy and as it has a 5 year warranty they kindly replaced the bearing in a quick 4 day turn around. Can’t really complain though it’s not possible to tell if the new bearing is actually a more robust design ( ie. sealed) or as I suspect the same as the old one so will in time likely expire also.


  1. Johnny Blair
    December 16, 2014 @ 23:26

    How long was it before the bearings rusted out?


    • unfamous
      December 17, 2014 @ 08:20

      Hi Johnny
      The bearings don’t/didn’t rust out, what seems to happen is the bearing ( it looks to me like a semi-sealed ball race) seems to seize. I don’t think there is any rust involved it loses its lubrication and jams, I did contact Hardy and they advised to return it but at the time I discovered that if I give the bearing a good soak in WD40 after an outing and especially if the reel has been immersed in water, it is fine. It wasn’t that long after I bought it that I discovered the issue but as long as the reel is kept lubricated its absolutely fine and smooth in operation. You can tell its getting a bit “sticky” when the retaining nut starts to loosen against the spool in use ( usually when I have forgotten to oil it). If I seen one on a shop’s shelf now, with that knowledge I wouldn’t buy one but I have it now and in a sense it makes me maintain it! They have superseded this model now.


  2. John Blair
    June 18, 2015 @ 23:25

    Thanks for your helpful reply. I recently got around to sending my #3/4 back for bearing replacement which, after moaning about the high cost, was done for a discounted fee of £31.50. They would not sell me the replacement parts. For future I shall be following your advice about lubricating, and I’ll keep the pouch on the reel in between casts lol.


    • unfamous
      June 19, 2015 @ 08:20

      Would be interested to know, is it a new design of ball race they fitted or is it just the same as the old one?


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