I was recently able to communicate cross-polar to my antipode to a rare DXpedition, Cocos-Keeling. Background on it is here.
And I mean BARELY. The hex beam at 42 feet was marginal at best. Only after I swapped out the feedline for LMR 600 VERY LOW loss was I able to sneak in a 2-way communication.
I started doing some reading on improved wire antennas, and read the ARRL Wire Antenna Classics text.
One particularly interesting design is the collinear array. Basically, it's a combination of loaded dipoles in series, end to end, which provide improved gain. Here's the design for the Franklin array.
Lower height, no towers, cheap, and they work. I put one up for 17 meters at the low height of a quarter wave in the back trees. Super stealth. I am still making measurements, but it appears to pretty good. This morning for a station in Taiwan it was S4 on the Franklin, and S6-S7 on the hex.