When I was contacted by Nick of Truffle Pig Films and asked to comment on The Lost World of Mr. Hardy, my first question was, ” Can I get a copy?”
After all, it would be hard to do a proper review without seeing the movie. My request was honored by Director Andy Heathcote, who kindly offered to send a copy for review.
This past weekend the DVD arrived, so I placed it in the player and begin to watch the intriguing Hardy story unfold in a series of interviews, vintage photographs, and archived footage.
The Lost World of Mr. Hardy is a refreshing break from today’s fly fishing videos, which often consist of a machine-gun series of clips punctuated by speed metal music.
Instead this movie tells a very real story at an entertaining pace. It chronicles the rise and fall of a family business that focused on producing quality tackle, stayed close to the needs of the customer, and always strived to build a better product. As someone says during the movie, “They built their name on perfection.”
Hardy’s attention to detail was so well known that Prince Charles requested two of their older reels as a wedding gift. Author Zane Grey also asked that Hardy produce a special big game reel, allowing them to license his name.
And while most of us are familiar with the Hardy rods used for trout and salmon fishing, big game fish such as marlin, tarpon, sailfish and sharks have all been caught on Hardy reels.
Hardy also did a great job with flies. One of the more interesting vintage clips is an interview with Tommy Weber, a Hardy fly tier. At the time of the interview he had worked for the company for 45 years. He tied flies for Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, and a number of other luminaries.
At one point there were almost 90 fly tiers on staff. Boys and girls would come in at age 14 and begin a 5-year apprenticeship. No flies made by first-year students were sold. Instead their flies were cut down and the hooks reused.
The chance to improve production capabilities led the Hardy team to build a new factory. The cost of he new factory, combined with the introduction of inexpensive African imports ultimately led to the demise of Hardy’s fly tying operation.
In addition to producing a line of unparalleled products, the Hardys were expert marketers, realizing early on the importance of fly fishing clubs and distributing catalogs with pre-paid envelopes for orders. In 1925, they were producing films to show dealers the capabilities of Hardy products.
In the early 1960’s, Hardy was facing tough economic times and sold out to Jim Miller, a private investor. He introduced new developers and new markets. Hardy became one of the first companies to work with carbon fiber.
Ironically, Jim Hardy admits that they actually made inferior fiberglass rods. As he put it “We wanted the public to think that if Hardy can’t build a decent fiberglass rod, there can’t be anything good in fiberglass.”
Later Hardy would make the transition from a manufacturing-led business to a sales and marketing company. Today, less than 5% of Hardy rods are made in England. Cane rods are now seen as an niche product and not an integral part of the business.
Just like the Hardy products, Andy Heathcote got this one right. If you have a chance to pick up a copy, do so. The DVD can be found on The Lost World of Mr. Hardy site.