The quest to build an All American Made Reel was achieved in 2006 by Ardent Outdoors of Macon, MO. You see, reels that are manufactured overseas have long been the standard in the fishing industry…Until now! I vividly remember receiving my first Ardent reel in the spring of 2006, well over 2 years ago. The reel was called the XS model and was a 10 bearing baitcasting reel with “Race Reel Technology”. As I opened the box and gazed down, I was astonished and excited as the XS looked different from other reels. It appeared very sleek, fast and well appointed…like a racecar! I was pretty much fitting the stereotypical “Kid in the Candy Store” scenario by this point. Boy was I excited to try my new toy out. The Ardent XS quickly found it’s place on a 7′ MH Airrus casting rod and was filled with 30LB braided line and tied to a 1/2oz Rat-L-Trap lure in a matter of minutes. I adjusted the 6-pin braking system and was off to make the first cast.
As I drove towards the lake, the excitement and curiosity grew greater and greater. When I arrived at the lake, I jumped out of the truck and organized everything for the fishing trip while looking very forward to the Ardent experience I had been heard about several times. When the first cast was launched, amazement set in. The reel took my lure much farther than I ever remember casting before. At this point, I was under the “spell”, smiling from cheek to cheek. The cast was smooth, effortless and no sign of any backlash was present, boy was I ecstatic! I truly could not believe what I was experiencing. I quickly reeled the lure back in and cast out again, only to find an even longer cast with the same attributes as before. To say the least, I was extremely impressed and couldn’t wait to throw the lure out again. I distinctly remember there was a fellow fisherman who was only about 30 to 40 yards away from me in a cove and after he witnessed a few of my cast, he yelled…”Did you get yourself one of those new $700.00 Shimano’s”? I replied, “No, I just got a new Ardent XS”! He trolled over and took a look at the reel and we talked for a bit. Several hours and many fish later, I decided this was the most “pristine” reel I had ever had the pleasure of putting my hands on. When I returned home that evening, I could not wait to get up the next morning and cast my Ardent XS once again. I got on-line that night and ordered 2 more Ardent XS reels and had them shipped “Next-Day Delivery”.
The new 2007 Model XS was then introduced and had a much tougher finish on the reel and a slight color change as well. Later during that year, a new drag system was incorporated into the XS model and in my opinion; the “perfect reel” was born! Although, I thought I had the “perfect” reel in the 2006 XS model until I had the extreme pleasure of using the 2007 XS. This year however, in the 2008 line up, Ardent has came out with brand new models and is now a “Mega” player in the World Wide reel market. I would like to share a bit of information and observations that I have made regarding the 2008 Ardent reels in hopes that it will help you to make a more educated decision when choosing your next reel. Keep in mind that I have been using these reels almost daily for over 2 years now and have put them through every situation, climate and applied technique that exists. They have been through dozens of tournaments and have truly proven themselves as a worthy product in my book. Every since my first Ardent cast…. and still today, Ardent has strived to make the BEST products possible for their customers, products that are truly second to none! Ardent has made several changes to their reels over the course of a few years, in the pursuit to continue making their products better and better and of course as always, products that are proudly “Made In The USA”. The following is my synopsis of the Ardent 2008, 100% American Made Reels.
This is the flagship reel for Ardent so to speak. This reel is a free-spool casting reel that is precision engineered for superior on the water performance. Ardent wanted to produce a long-cast reel what incorporated a very special feature…”Maximum Backlash Resistance”. Well folks, they surely achieved this as I have maybe had e backlashes in over 2 years of use. My backlashes were related to accidentally catching something behind me, like a stick-up while casting out. The XS1000 has a very lightweight magnesium alloy frame that is tougher than any reel I have ever seen. There is no wobble back and forth or flex, like many baitcasters on the market today. The reel has been ergonomically designed as well, what does this mean to you as an angler? Well, you can fish with the XS1000 all day long and it will not only remain comfortable, but you will be fatigue free while using the reel, which is very important whether you are a weekend warrior or a seasoned professional.
The XS1000 boast a mighty 10 bearing system. These 10 stainless steel ABEC ball bearings produce an incredibly smooth retrieve and smooth as silk cast. The XS 1000 comes in a 6.3:1 gear ratio and features Helical gears as well. When using 12lb test line, the X1000 will hold 120yds. Ardent has incorporated its proprietary drag system called the “Strike Saver” system. You have never felt such a smooth drag set-up until you experience Ardent’s trouble and worry free system. The drag system is capable of being locked down as well, just in case your specific conditions require this action. The braking system is a 6-pin centerfugal system that does a great job at keeping the spool operating smoothly to ensure those long hassle free casts, but also ensures that your cast will be backlash free. This XS 1000 is finished in a beautiful black with gold flake color scheme. Some of the hardware such as the handle, spool and tension knob are gold in color to really accentuate the beauty of this extraordinary reel. The XS 1000 reel sells for a very realistic $249.00.
Another outstanding reel this year in the Ardent line-up is the XS600 model. This reel has all of the same features as the aforementioned XS 1000, except for it’s bearing system. While the XS1000 has 10 stainless ball bearings, the XS600 has 6 stainless ball bearings. Don’t let the number of bearing fool you though, this reel still delivers action packed cast and retrieves amazingly well with 6 bearings. Over the years many manufactures have achieved great casting and smooth operating reels by using only 3 or 4 bearings. Ardent wants to ensure that each and every one of their customers get the best possible reel for their hard earned dollar, this is why they have used 6 bearings in the XS 600, where the majority of manufactures would have used less. That’s the great American spirit this company possesses! This reel is also black with gold flake and the hardware is chrome plated and aluminum. The XS 600 sells for a very affordable $219.99.
Ardent just recently released another addition to the “Ardent Family” called the C400 baitcast reel. While I use the XS1000 & 600 models religiously, the new C400 is truly one of the most phenomenal reels I have had the pleasure of using. Ardent’s mission with the new C400 was to build a reel that was more affordable, but was durable and still had the high performance that Ardent is known for. Ardent still uses the 6.3:1 Helical gear ratio and combines what with a 120yd/12lb vented spool. Another proprietary breakthrough for Ardent Reels is it’s new design, which is present in the C400 called the “Comfort Grip” frame design. This new innovation is just as it sounds, an extremely comfortable reel that delivers all day performance and provides you, the angler with a trouble free and comfortable design that ensures fatigue free fishing. The C400 has 1 roller bearing and 4 stainless steel ball bearings. When I use this reel, it really feels as though I am using a 7 or 8 bearing reel. This is due to the close tolerances and the technology that Ardent has put into its American Made products for us anglers…simply amazing.
The most impressive feature of this reel to me is castability! When I first cast the brand new C400, believe it or not, I cast all the line off the spool! I was using 30lb-braided line, which has the diameter of 8lb monofilament line. With the C400 spool holding 120 yards of 12lb test line, I defiantly had more that 120 yards due to the smaller equivalent of 8lb test line. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 135 to 140yds of line. I was throwing a 3/4oz lipless crankbait and it kept on going and going and going! After it hit the water…..because I had ran out of line, I just stood there and laughed. I thought to myself, “Ardent has done it again”! Ardent even has an answer to this awesome problem by offering a high performance spool as an accessory. The high performance spool will give anglers of all levels an option. The spool will actually fit the XS1000, the XS600 as well as the C400 baitcast reels. The spool holds 225yds of 8lb, 200yds of 10lb and 200yds of 12lb. I guess I never thought I would have to change spools because I cast all the line off the stock spool, but then again….I had never used an Ardent C400 until now!!! This incredible action packed reel sells for a mere $169.99. The “Ardent Reel Xtra” spool sells for only $34.99.
In addition to the awesome baitcast reels and the “Reel Xtra” spool, Ardent also makes a spinning reel called the S400M, which is a 4+1 ABEC ball bearing reel that also has the “Strike Saver” drag system and a 5:1 gear ratio. The S400M has a one-piece A360 Aluminum Frame that houses a high strength worm gear drive. This reel sells for $149.99 and is a great value as well. I am currently using 2 of these reels on an Airrus Puls-R 7’2″ spinning rod and an Airrus Puls-R 6’8″ spinning rod. The S400M is a very versatile reel as I use it for everything from drop-shotting & shakey-worming to buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.
A few more products from Ardent I must mention are the “Reel Klean” degreaser, the “Reel Butter Grease” and the “Reel Butter Oil”. These are THE BEST lubricants and cleaner that are on the market today folks! Again, they are made in the USA as well. Ardent Reel Butter is ranked #1 versus the leading synthetic reel lubricants. The Reel Butter Grease & Oil are high-performance, synthetic products developed by Ardent Reels specifically for fishing reel components. They are manufactured to be used on each and every model or brand of reel on the market. Texas Oil Tech, an independent ASTM, tested the Ardent products ISO 9001 certified and ANSI-RAD QME accredited lab in Houston, TX. Ardent Reel Butter outperformed the leading lubricants in the category. Below are a few features about the cleaning and lubrication products:
Ardent Reel Butter Grease
-100% Full Synthetic Grease
-Bonds to brass, steel and plastic
-Rust Inhibitor prevents corrosion
-Patented super-smooth additive
Ardent Reel Butter Oil
-100% full synthetic oil
-Super low viscosity
-Compatible with all materials
-Consistent temperature performance
Ardent Reel Kleen Degreaser
If you were to call up Jake Tippee at Ardent Reels, this is how he might describe Reel Kleen. “A chemically engineered solvent developed for the regular cleaning of fishing reels. Reel Kleen breaks up old grease and dirt and dries clean with no residue so a reel is prepared for proper lubrication. It’s 100% compliant with all reel components so it provides effective cleaning capability without damaging parts. Works on all brands of reels”. Retail-$3.99.
Ardent also puts the three products mentioned above into a handy and convenient kit called the “Reel Kleen” Cleaning Kit. Besides the Reel Kleen, Reel Butter Oil and Reel Butter Grease, the kit also contains tools, cleaning brush, treated cleaning cloth, swabs, a complete manual as well as a great little handy storage box to put everything in. The kit retails for $19.99.
I have used most every reel on the market today and I can honestly tell you that Ardent makes the most exceptional and “pristine” reel that is available anywhere! Reel shopping to me is almost like car shopping (except for the sales people). Tell me if I am correct, when you shop for a reel you look for one that will offer you trouble free service for a long period of time, but will not “break the bank” so to speak in the process. You also want a reel that will take on many different types of techniques and work well for each and every application. When you get the opportunity to try out an Ardent Reel, you will notice something that you do not see in all the “other reels” on the shelf. Not only is it the only one that’s 100% Made In The USA, but also it will feel just like the “Porsche” of your dreams in your hands! I strongly encourage you to visit your local retailer or the Official Ardent Reels Website at http://www.ardentoutdoors.com or simply call them at (660)395-9200. When you do, tell them G. Wayne sent you! The Ardent warranty is like none other I have ever seen! They offer the longest warranty in the entire industry simply because every Ardent reel is hand crafted and performance tested prior to shipment. From the braking system to the spool shaft, they guarantee quality as well as craftsmanship. This smooth, high performance fishing experience is proudly and confidently backed with their 3-YEAR warranty…that folks, is incredible! Until next time, here’s to Bent Rods and Screamin’ Reels!