Hardy Ultralite MTX-S Saltwater/Freshwater Fly Reel: A Buyers Guide

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MTX-S salwater fly reel review
Hardy Ultralite MTX-S Saltwater/Freshwater Fly Reel: A Buyers Guide
Our Verdict
This is certainly one of the best and most complete fly reels on the market today. Options are available for saltwater and freshwater. It's lightweight but yet extremely strong. It takes up line super fast. A joy to use for those that really are looking for the perfect reel.
Reel Quality
Overall Performance
Value For Money
The Good
Super fast fly line retrieval
Very lightweight and strong
5 Year warranty
Great drag mechanism
Great choices available for either saltwater (MTX-S 7000) or freshwater (MTX-S 3000) fly fishing
The Not So Good
Relatively small handle requires a little getting used to
Not for the budget conscious angler
Check Price

When it comes to choosing fly reels for smaller freshwater species like trout, you don’t have to be exceptionally picky, as they are pretty much just a line holder. Few trout will take you into the backing and require serious stopping power. 

But, as soon as you want an all-around reel that transfers to saltwater, you need to look a little harder at the specs of a fly reel.

Saltwater species like bonefish take you to the backing every time, and without a good fly reel, your chances of consistently landing them drop considerably. 

The Hardy Ultralite MTX-S fits the bill of a great fresh and saltwater fly reel you can rely on. Join me as we take a deep dive into the Hardy Ultralite MTX-S fly reel review so you can see if it’s the right choice for your fly fishing needs. 

Overview Of The Hardy Ultralite MTX-S Saltwater Fly Reel 

The Hardy Ultralite MTX-S is Hardy’s upgraded version of their original MTX fly reel. The purpose of the upgrade was a mission to make the reel both lighter and stronger and by employing a new design, they hit the nail on the head! 

Between the low weight of the reel, the excellent materials used, its solid durability, and the excellent drag, it’s a great reel overall. 

It comes in two sizes that are perfect for both freshwater and light saltwater fly fishing. It’s a little expensive but worth it for the overall quality! 


  • Lightweight to keep your overall rod and reel weight low for easy all-day casting
  • Built from some of the best materials around for durability and performance 
  • It comes in 2 sizes for both freshwater and light saltwater fly fishing 
  • The extra-large arbor lets you pick up the line very quickly 
  • A sealed drag system protects the drag from salt water, corrosion, and grime
  • Super smooth drag with enough stopping power for the likes of bonefish 
  • Drag is quick and easy to adjust 
  • Includes a 5-year warranty 


  • The handle is a little small 
  • It’s not the cheapest in its range 


  • Material: Carbon-fiber (frame) & aluminum (spool)
  • Arbor: Extra Large
  • Drag: Carbon-fiber disc drag
  • Sealed Drag: Yes 
  • Line Weights: 3 – 9 
  • Weight: 5.9 ounces

Who Is Hardy? 

Hardy is one of the most famous fly fishing brands around, as they were one of the first to build what fly fishermen would call rods and reels that you could rely on. 

Founded in 1872, they slowly made their way into the fly fishing world and have stood by their old reputation of unwavering quality ever since. 

Hardy reels and rods are some of the best fly fishing rods and reels on the market today, and when you fish with anything Hardy, you can rest assured it has got you covered. 

Features Of The Hardy MTX-S Fly Reel 

What Useful Design Features Does It Have?  

The Hardy MTX-S is one of the first reels to use a carbon fiber frame along with an aluminum alloy spool, and the results are quite amazing.

Dubbed the future of reel design, this combination of materials brings the weight of the fly reel way down without sacrificing any performance or durability, a whole 8% lighter than the original version known as the MTX. 

How Light Is The Hardy MTX-S? 

Weighing in at just 5 ounces, the MTX-S fly reel is super light, and it makes all the difference when you’re spending ten hours or so casting at tailing bonefish or bling casting nymphs into pocket water. 

What Materials Are In The Hardy MTX-S? 

The MTX-S materials include some of the highest quality aluminum and carbon fiber, resulting in the low weight already mentioned and ensuring the reel’s durability. It can handle being knocked around and dunked in saltwater without any worries. 

Is The Drag Smooth & Reliable? 

The drag on the Hardy MTX-S is a sealed carbon fiber composite disc drag that is super smooth and has some excellent stopping power. It’s got just enough power for freshwater, and light saltwater fly fishing without being too powerful to add a load of weight to the reel. 

By being sealed, it’s also fully protected from saltwater and grime, and you can fish carefree without worrying about your reel taking a dip. The drag is quick and easy to adjust, but the drag knob could be a little larger, as finding it mid-fight might not be so easy. 

How Is The Retrieve & Line Capacity? 

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You can also order a spare spool for your MTX-S

The fly reel also comes with an extra-large arbor, meaning the spool diameter is wide. This allows you to pick up the line quicker than ever, so you can put pressure on fish and clear line when you need to most.

The line capacity is also great, and you can squeeze more than enough backing on there for light saltwater applications. When using a quality reel, always use a quality saltwater fly line to ensure you get the best experience.

The only issue I personally find with the reel is the size of the handle, as it’s rather small. Having a small handle is a bit of an ergonomic issue, as the last thing you need is scrambling to find the handle in the middle of fighting a fish. That being said, after a few fishing trips using the reel, your muscle memory will kick in, and chances are you’ll find it every time.

What Sizes Does The Hardy MTX-S Come In? 

The Hardy MTX-S fly reel comes in two models, the MTX-S 3000 and the MTX-S 7000, one for freshwater and one for saltwater.

The MTX-S 3000 is the freshwater reel, and it’s rated for line weights 3, 4, and 5. I find it extremely useful to have a single reel that covers all these line weights as you only need to own one reel and some spare spools to change line weights when you need to. 

The MTX-S 7000 is the saltwater reel, and it’s rated for line weights 7, 8, and 9. This is the lightest class of saltwater fly reels, and it’s perfect for targeting species like bonefish, permit, snook, redfish, stripers, and triggerfish, too. 

It’s a shame this reel doesn’t go all the way up to a 12 weight class, as having a super-light 12 weight would make casting a lot easier. Maybe Hardy will bring one out in the future. 

How Good Is The Warranty? 

Hardy gives all their reels, including the MTX-S, a 5-year warranty that ensures their reels will be free from material defects in design, material, and workmanship. The warranty doesn’t cover damage from wear and tear, negligence, or misuse though. 

Hardy does offer a repair service for their reels, so if the warranty doesn’t cover your claim, then they will repair it for you for $35 plus replacement parts for repair. 

Is The Hardy MTX-S Worth Buying? 

In a word, yes! The Hardy MTX-S is an excellent fly reel that is perfect for both freshwater and light saltwater fly fishing. Between the incredibly low weight, great design, durability, and excellent drag, you really can’t go wrong. 

Yes, it’s a little expensive, but it’s relatively new and innovative, and it will most likely be around long enough for you to have your grandkids fish with it. If you’re looking for a new freshwater or saltwater fly reel, you’re not putting a foot wrong by ordering the MTX-S. 

Final Thoughts

Hardy fly reels, and, in particular, the MTX-S, are for serious fly anglers who want the best and have the budget. The Ultralite MTX-S fly reel is worth a look for those fly anglers looking to upgrade to one of the best saltwater and freshwater fly reels on the market today.

I hope this Hardy reel review gave you all the help and information to go and purchase one. You can read more on other awesome saltwater fly reel options, such as the Abel SDS ported, which can handle some of the biggest fish in the ocean, or the Orvis Mirage, which comes in six size options covering 1wt lines all the way to the largest at 11wt.

Jamie Melvin