Hardy reels - now made in KOREA!!?? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hardy reels - now made in KOREA!!??

Geordie Shanks
04-18-2007, 09:57 AM
I just recieved a new Hardy Zane #1 saltwater fly reel a couple of days ago (no, not the $10,000 one), along with a new Marskman 3/4 reel that a friend of mine purchased as well. Imagine my total surprise when I opened both reels and found a "made in Korea" sticker on the bottom of the reels. The catalogue and the website photo from where we bought the reels both show the wording on the Zane as "Made in England by Hardy", whereas the wording on the my reel simply says "Hardy".

The reel is nice, but I cannot help but feel supremely ripped off and misled. I am a modest collector (as much as my limited finances will allow) of Hardy reels and own another 8-10 reels. I realize that the business side of our sport is extremely competitive, and that companies have to do unpleasant things to stay financially viable. However, in my mind, there are some companies and products that should stay above it. Hardy reels have been made in England for damn near a hundred years, and to move thier operations to Korea to realize a larger profit margin (obviously the prices haven't decreased) is an absolute travesty. Particularly when Hardy advertised the reels as "Made in England" and gave no indication otherwise. Now the reels are made by laborers who have no idea what a trout, bonefish or steelhead is and how/why the reels work and likely doesn't care.

Anyway, I am a little pissed and needed to vent. Is this new information or has Hardy been making thier reels in Korea for a few years now? The last Hardy I bought was a baby bougle, and that was three years ago and says "Made in England" on it. Just wanted to give a heads up and get some other anglers thoughts on this.

04-18-2007, 11:23 AM
If it's advertised as Made in England but really isn't, I wouldn't be very happy either. I usually buy fishing gear that's Made in USA exactly because of where it's made and who's making it.

04-18-2007, 11:47 PM
i would contact them and ask whats up. i think the niche of ff is so small that most fisherman would be quite put off by this. i would think there action and non disclosure will have a negative effect. i wouldnt be surprised if their titanium reel for 10k is made in korea as well

Geordie Shanks
04-19-2007, 09:29 AM
I spoke on the phone with the retailer that sold me the reel yesterday. This particular retailer does a massive amount of on-line business and the guy told me that they are among the top grossing sellers of Hardy in the USA. When I told him what was up with my reel being made in Korea, he was even more pissed (if that's possible) than I was. My reel was among the first batch to be drop shipped by this retailer to the US, and he said he had a couple voice mails from some of the other customers but had not yet returned the calls and thought the Korea angle was probably the reason for the VM's.

He called me back a little later and said he talked to the guys at Cortland (which bought Hardy USA several years ago), and that Hardy did indeed move thier entire reel factory and operations to Korea and China this winter, basically in secret. The guys at Cortland just found out last week and are also not really happy, although they filled him full of the typical BS such as "strict oversight and supervision" and "engineered and designed in Alnwick to Hardy's exact specifications" etc. The fact that Hardy would show virtually every reel in the 2007 catalogue with the "Made in England" engraving and then do this is what we are all mad about. Now the box says "designed and engineered in Alnwick, England." Pretty crazy. I was prepared to return the reel, but the retailer has been very good to me and he was so much more pissed than me that I decided to just hold onto it. Plus I need a saltwater reel in two days and just don't have time to mess with getting a refund and finding a new reel. It still is a pretty cool reel, but the collectibility, if any, for the future will definitely decline.

I really think this was a bad, bad business decision by Hardy. They set themselves apart before by the style, tradition and "snobby Brit attitude" if that makes any sense of the reels. Now they just dropped themselves right into the pack of middling, average reels. I'm probably an elitist snob but this really bugs me that they would do this. The mere thought that a Hardy reel would be made anywhere but England is just absurd to me. I doubt I will ever buy a new Hardy reel again. So, for those of you thinking about buying a new Hardy reel in the future, just be aware that all reel operations are now in Korea and/or China. Good luck.

04-19-2007, 10:42 AM
Would you rather have a Jaguar or a Lexus? Bottom lines are that: (1) Asian manufacturing facilities, once tuned in, produce as good or better product than British; and (2) cost does make a difference -- sometimes the difference between staying in business and going under.

That having been said, it is plain wrong to mislead the buyer as to where a product has been manufactured. IMHO, the lie is the problem, not the fact that the reel was manufactured in Asia.


Geordie Shanks
04-19-2007, 11:09 AM
That is pretty much what I was getting at. I understand that companies need to make less-than-ideal decisions to stay in business. But I am pissed about being misled, and am also pissed about the breaking of tradition, as stupid as that might sound.

This is not at all a slam on Asian goods, which i do know can be just as good. However, Hardy reels have been made in Britian for generations by craftsman who (assumedly) know what a reel is, know what a trout is, know how to fish and how a reel should perform. These craftsman likely use thier own products all the time, and thier input and thoughts have certainly contributed to the improving of the reels. That intricate knowledge of a product generally results in a better product that performs how a consumer would expect. I would be shocked if a single laborer in the sweatshop in Korea has the first idea what a trout, or a bonefish, or a permit or a steelhead is.

The simple fact is, I expected a Jaguar and got a Hyundai. Moving the reel operations to Korea is to me, akin to moving the New York Yankees to Tijuana. It just does not make sense and seems like a major travesty to me.

04-19-2007, 07:50 PM
Misrepresentation SUCKS!!!

However here's what I think is happening...

I used to write database integrity checking programs for contractors to the Navy, including BIW in Maine on the USS Arleigh Burke Aegis Class Destroyer. Man what a boat she is, you don't want to be on the same ocean with a pissed off captain on that vessel believe me.

Anyway.. I was told that the US was once the world leader in commercial shipbuilding, supplanted over the years by Japan, subsequently by Korea. Keep in mind Korea is a culturally sophisticated country and is a manufacturing superpower already especially in heavy steel. I think this has a lot to do with it or it would have gone to Mexico for NAFTA benefits. I suspect there will be another change of hands to China eventually if the technology can be culturally adopted.

Singapore has taken the semiconductor manuf business into their back pocket.

Toyota used to be the Hyundai when I was a teenager. Now it has the highest reliabilty ratings and best quality. I think the Hyundais are coming hard after that, as I get more of them as rentals I can tell the quality is dramatically improving in just a few years.

BTW - I have 192,000 miles on my first model year Tundra. Major repairs? NONE. Service / maint only. I even get 100,000 miles out of the michelins I put on them and the front end has never gone out of line. HOW AMAZING IS THAT?? ok back to the topic...

The list goes on... this migration of manufacturing is driven equally by the competitive climate being offered remotely and our good ol' neighbors who recruit these opportunities. This is going to be the trend for the forseeable future I am sure.

But I agree, misleading the consumer SUCKS and to hear that a sacred element of flyfishing gear, the English Hardy, has gone by the wayside is sad.

If you have an English Hardy, be prepared for the value to escalate like the old "pre-CBS" Fender guitars did in the 70's! You think old Hardys are expensive now....

04-19-2007, 09:27 PM
cost does make a difference -- sometimes the difference between staying in business and going under.

At the same time Hardy significantly has increased the prices of it reels.
I think they want to increased profit, not to just stay in bussines..........

I am not sure ( I could be wrong) that whoever makes reels for Hardy has not dedicated shpphisticated machines only for Hardy reels.
So the machines are adjusted periodically to make reels and used for many differnent products.

This may not asusre the same quality as the angler operating the machiene which is dedicated to make only rarrow range of produtcs/reels.

04-19-2007, 11:33 PM
I have eight Hardy and love them but I will NEVER buy one that is made in Korea or any of their cars.:tsk_tsk:

04-20-2007, 12:22 AM
You are very fortunate to have such a collection, I envy you.

On the car comment, people said that about Toyotas once too. It may not be in our lifetimes, but I think the Hyundai will evolve to be a quality / economy brand.

That being said I am happy to finish up my lifespan in Toyotas, figuring it to be the least number of purchases possible.

BTW - I have owned 8 domestic vehicles in my life and I have done my time dealing with blown head gaskets (twice), transmission failures, emissions problems, constant maintenance, unreliability and small stuff falling apart all the time. No one can say I haven't supported domestic auto makers especially when the Tundra is now designed and built in the US.

04-20-2007, 12:44 AM
Juro I didn't post that I had the Hardy's to BS:devil: .It's just that everytime you turn around more manufacturing goes out of North America and Britain,to me Hardy being made in Korea is just unthinkable and pisses me of royally.I just wonder how much the Korean worker makes per hour turning out these at one time quality reels.I am not getting getting into the American made debate it went on too long last time.

04-20-2007, 12:56 AM
I can't agree more. As I said some things should be sacred but apparently are not.

But my point was two-fold:

1) that domestic corporations are the ones sending the manuf overseas, you know the guys with big houses living in the best parts of our own communities. They brag about how many countries they use for manufacturing on their web sites.

2) these things have historically made their way around before and will again (and again) industrial might is short-lived in the global economy. In fact last year Toyota had 386000 US employees and over 13 billion invested in US plants and growing.

but what do I know - this is just speculation on my part I am no economist, just a consumer trying to be objective.

I am however very fond of Swedish reels :)

04-20-2007, 04:57 AM
The Koreans are actually good engineers, having spent two years there in the early eighties. At that time their manufacturing was just starting to go worldwide.

Hyundai's first construction machinery was some what of a joke here too. But they listened to the customers and have made great improvements. Now one can buy a USA made or at least assembled front end loader that will last a long time & be relatively trouble free for it's life span, for a lot less than the other brands.

The Koreans have been making fishing tackle for years, One of the tours you could go on in Korea in the 80's was one of a fishing rod factory. I never went, but some who did say they made all kinds of stuff.

As for the charge made here that the people making the reel don't know what a trout is, well that may be true but they know what fish are. I spent a weekend fishing with some of our Korean workers. They used hand lines & we used spinning rods. Guess who caught the most fish?........The Koreans with their hand lines:D

As for the Hardy reels, I would be furious as well. Sorta like buying a Harley made in Japan. There are some things that should not change

Geordie Shanks
04-20-2007, 08:20 AM
Yeah, I have no interest into getting into a US vs. foreign made debate. That is not the reason I am so upset. I fully realize that the majority of goods that we (The US) consume are made overseas and that generally, good products are produced. The main reason I am so mad is that I (and every other consumer who bought a reel) was misled. Again, virtually every photo in Hardy 2007 catalogue showed all the reels with the "Made in England" engraving on the side, and I have now gone through the catalogue almost word for word and not a mention of the operations being moved overseas. Even thier retailers didn't know. My reels says simply "Hardy" on the side.

The second reason is tradition. I'm really having a hard communicating why it bugs me, but I am very upset that a holy icon of our sport would do that. Again, Hardy's have been made in England for over 100 years and the thought that a Hardy would be made anywhere else but England is so foreign as to defy any accurate description on my part. Just blows my mind. That (presumably) now empty factory in England has seen multiple generations of fine reel makers go through it, and back in the day when you bought a Hardy reel, it had the makers initials engraved inside. You could write Hardy and request that the same guy make another reel for you, or if there was a problem they knew who to talk to, and you could find out how long that maker had been at Hardy and all kinds of stuff. To this day, you can contact Hardy with the initials and they'll give you a full bio of the maker. How cool is that? How do you piss on 100+ years of that kind of deep tradition and class to save a few bucks? I doubt I will ever buy a new Hardy reel again. But Juro said it nicely - hold onto those pre-Korea, English made Hardy's. They are about to get more expensive than thier already overblown prices. Already have my eye on a couple more on Ebay as we speak.

The retailer emailed me yesterday and he is trying to get a grassroots movement going. He sent me the addresses for Hardy USA and Hardy UK and I am including those herein. I have already written a couple of scathing letters. Will it do any good? Probably not. But do I feel better? Yes, I do. At least I made myself heard in some small way and got it off my chest. I am including the addresses and would like to encourage anyone who is so inclined to let Hardy know how you feel. Thanks boyz.

Hardy USA
Customer Service
3736 Kellog Road
PO Box 5588
Cortland, NY 13045

Hardy Brothers of Korea (thats a joke btw - it is England)
Customer Service
Willowburn Industrial Estate
Alnwick, Northumberland
England, NE66 2PF

04-20-2007, 09:39 AM
As long as they sound the same as the old school Hardy's I will welcome them to the "collection". The dollar is a bit weak at this time in the bussiness cycle, maybe down the road the Hardy's will be a better value! Made in England never really got anybody very excited as a moniker for quality except us fly reel collectors.:smokin:

04-20-2007, 11:06 AM
I think some of you guys are missing the point here. It's not necessarily about whether or not the Koreans make a good product or whether they know what a trout or bonefish is, who really gives a crap about that? I think what pisses off Geordie so much in addition to being misled is the fact that Hardy would simple throw away the history that so many worked so hard to achieve. Some of you might say that moving their plant isn't doing that, or it is the necessary price of staying in business. This is just not true, many companies have shown that they can remain profitable by staying in the U.S. or Britain. This is particularly true with flyfishing, a good example of this is Sweetgrass rods built in Twin Bridges MT. They make each bamboo rod by hand just like in the old days, they are over a year out for a rod. Why? Because flyfisherman want that kind of product that has that kind of care and attention from true flyfisherman.

Anyway, the whole foreign debate isn't where I want to go with this. I see it more as the sport we so dearly love was nurtured in England by workers/flyfisherman that cared about the products they were making. They cared because the sport was almost sacred to them. These people felt that the sport and the fish deserved their upmost respect. It was almost a holy experience for them. Of all the companies that represent our sport Hardy was at the pinnacle of this. Like Geordie was saying about the whole thing with the makers carving their initials into the reel and the fact that they took so much pride in the product they made, how many companies have that? In my opinion Hardy has taken that and thrown it all away.

The question I would throw out to all of you is if it is not a huge deal then why did Hardy move their plant to Korea like a thief in the night and not tell anyone about it? Why did they put the smallest sticker possible on the reel saying that it is made in Korea? Why???? To me it is because they know it is a big big deal to flyfisherman everywhere that know and love this sport and it's tradition. I really don't think I am making too much of this. Seeing a company in this sport that is so steeped in tradition fall victim to this is truly sad.

I for one am going to write Hardy and let them know I will never buy a new Hardy again. You are probably right though Geordie, it won't do much good. But, like you said, at least I will feel better.

Geordie Shanks
04-20-2007, 03:30 PM
Man, I was wondering if I was the only who was pissed off about this. I'm glad that someone else is lit up about it. I have never heard of or fished Sweetwater rods, but I totally agree that there is a solid percentage of fly fisherman will pay a premium to get a quality product that is hand made by someone who cares instead of stamped out of a Korean machine. Our industry is full of examples such as Winston Rods, Per Brandin rods, Arne Mason leather goods (Arne Mason anything for that matter), Montana Boat Builders (with thier $20K drift boats), Big Sky Carvers, Charlton Reels, Simms waders ($600 for a pair of waders?!) etc. The list goes on and on. Before this, I would have put Hardy in that category. Now, I do not. They just effectively batched themselves in with Ross, SA, Orvis and every other mass, machine produced reel. Oooooh boy. That last statement is going to get some reaction.

Jsteel pretty much hit it as far as my thoughts on the history and tradition of Hardy. I cannot think of a single other company that has been around for so long or is so deeply ingrained into our sport. There is not even a close second. Don't say Orvis, or this will turn into a 20 page thread and probably get shut down by the moderator. Not even in the same category. It is just a sad, sad set of circumstances. I would like to encourage anyone who cares about these reels to write Hardy. Won't make a difference, but it is nice to be heard.

Off to Andros in the morning. Talk to you all in 8 days!! Cheers!!

04-20-2007, 05:26 PM
I have to agree with the sentiments here, like I said before some things should remain sacred in our sport.

Count me in for the correspondence to Hardy.

04-20-2007, 09:00 PM
on a related note, I wonder if the new Hardy Girl will be Asian?

ok by me :)

04-20-2007, 09:15 PM
Not too many Asians with red hair:hihi:

Geordie Shanks
04-20-2007, 09:26 PM
Asians with red hair.... lol, that is killer. Who can forget the poster girl from 2001? Or was it 2002? That is one tradition Hardy may have to continue to uphold or there could be an international riot.

Geordie Shanks
05-02-2007, 04:56 PM
I just did a google search and saw that this post on flytalk.com has been making some rounds on other sites, noteably Speypages and others. I know its more or less done here, but I did write Hardy and recieved a response that I think should be summarized and some clarifications made.

The letter came from Mr. Richard Sanderson, Managing Director of Hardy & Greys Limited. A poster on Speypages speculated that only a few reels, namely the Zane and Marksman, are being made in Korea as they are targeting the US market. The letter I recieved confirmed that HARDY'S ENTIRE REEL OPERATIONS have been or very shortly will be moved to either Korea, or China. The days of Hardy reels made in England are over - both in the foreign and domestic market. I then got the usual BS that already has been touched upon in this thread about Hardy tradition, global markets, customer feedback, cost prohibitive, pound versus dollar, strict oversight, we still design and patent etc., etc. I can honestly say that I appreciate that Mr. Sanderson would personally respond, and I understand his explanation but still really, really don't like it and will not buy another new Hardy again. Ever, under any circumstances whatsoever. Frankly, there are better performing reels out there for the same or lower price (Bauer and the Lightspeed come to mind), but I love that "Hardy click" and the tradition and quality that used to be behind every reel. That is gone, and is absolutely, completely and totally depressing.

Another poster on speypages noted that the old Hardy reels were 100% inspected and quality controlled at every step from start to finish, which is why there are so many old perfects and bougles that are still in excellent condition. That's why we love them. The trend lately has been manufacture the parts foreign then assemble in England, and now they apparently just took the final step. He suggested it was a quality control issue, rather than a country of origin issue and I completely agree. Anyway, just wanted to clarify this and update you guys. Good luck.

05-02-2007, 07:14 PM
Man that sucks,

Another fine product goes to crap. Pretty soon nothing will be made by the company selling it. all products will be purchased from China & re badged.

Sad, so sad

05-03-2007, 07:55 AM
"The question I would throw out to all of you is if it is not a huge deal then why did Hardy move their plant to Korea like a thief in the night and not tell anyone about it? Why did they put the smallest sticker possible on the reel saying that it is made in Korea? Why????"

maybe we should ask Sage too.

for the record my toyota was made in the US and so are all of my reels.

05-03-2007, 11:14 AM
I hope you aren't putting Sage in the same conversation as Hardy. Sage can make their rods wherever they want for all I care. Sage doesn't have the history or quality that Hardy's ever had. I personally think other than a couple good spey rods most Sage rods are average at best, some the word crap comes to mind, so I certainly wouldn't compare the two.

I too buy American made products whenever possible, however when it comes to the finest reels with traditional value Hardy used to have a corner on the market. I agree that Hardy reels have slipped on quality a bit and don't perform better than a Bauer/Lamson reel etc., but like you say they still had the tradition factor, which is now lost. Maybe the reason they're quality has slipped is because they've gone to having parts made for them and just assembling them, rather than the old way of manufacturing a reel from start to finish....who knows?

I do think that is cool that Mr. Sanderson would personally respond to you like that. However, that whole deal about global markets, cost prohibitive, etc. is a bunch of bull. That is merely PR corporate bullcrap, trying to smooth things over the best they can. It's too bad to see a company like Hardy turn into just another corporation that only cares about profit margins.

05-03-2007, 11:27 AM
I will remain to refrain from having an opinion until I get my Hands on a Perfect or Bogle that is manufactured in Korea then I will be able to tell what the results are. I suspect that a lot of things that have been made in England that were every bit as junky as some of the lighter weight Hardys, Jaguars and Austin Healeys have a big following with some of the "Colonials". ;)