Hardy Baby Bouglé Reel

Hardy Baby Bouglé reel review on twigwater

Were the Hardy Baby Bouglé a fashion model it would consume only lettuce, cigarettes and coke and wouldn’t get out of bed for less than 50K a day.

Yes, it is that good looking.

Released in 1903 and made till 1939, the original Bouglé (boog-lay) was at the pointy end of reel design for the time and the reissue still holds it’s own against modern reels in it’s basic functions of holding, reeling in and stripping out fly line and, with the exception of a few materials updates like the stainless steel screws and bearings and the bar stock aluminium body, still holds very true to that form.

There’s lots of vintage touches in the build including the deep anodised semi-matt ‘Pearl Silver’ finish, stunning ‘Ivorine’ (whatever that is) handle, brass centre axel assembly and the raised pillars with the rotating nickel silver line guard. Overall the look is very classy, very timeless and sure to live on for many more years.

Beautiful Hardy Bouglé reel on twigwater

The drag is a simple time tested and very well weighted two pawl clicker, that when hooked up to a hard running trout can scream well enough to front AC/DC. No, it will never find favour with the tuna crowd, but, in my experience, a clicker reel is more than enough for most 2- through 5-weight trout fishing pursuits and outside of New Zealand I’ve rarely been left wanting for more. Besides, a quick run downstream chasing a horse with a screaming reel is good exercise and makes for good stories off the water.

Hardy Baby Bouglé review on twigwater

If there’s a down side to the whole retro thing it would be changing the spool and you will need the patience of seriously sedated saint to get it done stream side without losing any bits or marbles if you’re in a hurry. First, you need to unscrew the large centre pin reverse threaded coin screw and then, gripping the reel tightly, you unwind the handle till that side of the reel and the mainframe seperate leaving the spool free to be removed. I’ve tried to do this is quickly with the larger Bouglé’s with freezing cold hands while fishing the winter run on the Tongariro River and been left floundering.

One up side of this down side I suppose is that the spool will, more than likely, never just drop off and I rarely change spools and anyway, who cares when the whole show is this easy on the eye.

Flylife Magazine photography David Anderson

My first Bouglé was a bit of a star at Flylife Magazine.

Normally it’s hard for me to comment on the longevity of a lot of the gear I review, but I can say that the three other Bouglé’s I have at the moment and a couple others I’ve had over many years have all have given fault free service despite a lot of use and a lot of hard knocks.

In size the Baby is the smallest of the Bouglé’s and is 2.8 inches or 71mm in diameter and pretty much perfect for a 3-weight rod and would also work on a 2-weight as well.

I lined this one up with a Vision Tane WF3 line with 6 or 7 meters cut off the back end and around 60 meters of 20 lbs braid and was even left with a little room for sloppy line management. A thinner line like the RIO Perception would likely fit without the cut.

In weight they’re a little more than a typical supermodel and the Baby comes in at a 3.2 Oz’s / 91 Grams which makes it a little heavier than the very lightest of modern reels, but it’s still well within respectable balance range on any of my 3-weights from 7 to a bit over 8 feet.

Hardy Baby Bougle reel and Sage X fly rod on twigwater

The perfect blend of retro and cutting edge.

There’s 5 models in the Bouglé series from the Baby up to the big 4 inch salmon models. They are all easily switched from left to right hand, made in England and come in a nice soft leather black case lined with sheepskin.

Hardy Reels Bouglé page:

I owe a big thanks to Hardy’s Southern Hemisphere guy Adam Royter for organising the reel – check out his New Zealand  fishing adventures through his Facebook page here:

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