Monday, January 9, 2017

Product Review for Ardent Outdoors Apex Elite and Apex Grand

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2016


One of the benefits having a good fishing club and an even better president is the fringe benefits. In this case, our president goes out and gets us great prices on fishing equipment. Last year, he was able to secure us a fantastic (truly unbeatable) discount on Ardent Outdoor's products.  Of particular note were their reels. Now, I have always been a Shimano guy and have occasionally gone to other brands. I have used Lew's as well as house brands from Bass Pro Shops and Academy. For the most part, the house brands are garbage and Lew's is exactly what you get for $100. 

As such, I was hesitant to go all in on Ardent's products. But, I did need a 5:1 reel for cranking as well as a nice 7.3:1 ratio with a lot of strength for frogging/flipping/etc that might compare to Shimano's Curado. Therefore, I selected an Apex Elite in 5.3:1. It also comes in 6.5:1 and 7.3:1, as well as left and right hand configuration for 6.5:1. 

Here are the stats for the Apex Elite:



High Strength Aluminum frame
Deep V 6061 T6 machined aluminum spool
Carbon Fiber swept back handle
EVA grip knobs on handle
270 Degree Mag Brake system
12+1 Ball Bearing
Swept back forge aluminum star drag
Line capacity
Weight: 5.9 oz
Line Capacity 150 Yards - 12 lb

Here are the stats for the Apex Grand



High Strength Aluminum frame
Deep V 6061 T6 machined aluminum spool
Carbon Fiber swept back handle
EVA grip knobs on handle
270 Degree Mag Brake system
Internal Centrifugal Brakes
12+1 Ball Bearing
Swept back forge aluminum star drag
Weight: 5.9 oz
Line Capacity 150 Yards - 12 lb

I have fished with each of these for right at a year now. In that time, I have purchased another five Ardent reels. It isn't the quality or performance, per se, as much as the price point. With the discount we receive (which most people can get if they look around), the price point cannot be beat. The price is less than a Lew's Speed Spool (between $100-$120) and the performance greatly exceeds the entry level of the Lew's and, in some ways, exceeds the Shimano Citica. 

Casting: When you read the bio on each reel, you will see that casting distance is a major focus for Ardent. Indeed, these reels, when setup properly, will outcast virtually any reel on the market. These reels will actually cast a lot further than you want to, at times. The Elite, which I use for cranks, can handle small squarebills up to Strike King 8XD's with just slight tuning on the tension knob. 

Tunability: Casting and tunabilty go hand in hand. With that said, these reels will cast as far as you want IF the reels are setup precisely. I find that the two part cast control used on Ardent's products has something to be desired. Now, I am not a hard caster. I prefer to let the rod to the work. I have found that all of my Ardent braking systems have to be set almost to maximum and the tension knob has to be almost as tight as it can go without truly affecting the spool. To that end, Ardent has a lot to be desired on Shimano but are much further ahead on Lew's, which remains one of the most baffling reels to setup and remain dialed in for the same bait. 

Drag: The drag on these is excellent. The Grand could be a little heavier for me, as I throw Alabama Rigs and Bullshads on this rell, frequently through heavy grass. 

Weight and Size: I have zero complaints about the size of the se reels and the weight and I have fairly small hands. 

Quality and Durability: No issues yet. However, I detected a difference in smoothness of one Ardent Elite to another Elite. 

Price Point: Again, with a discount, the Elite will sit in between a Shimano Citica and a Lew's Speed Spool. In many respects, it is a better over all reel than the Citica (with more options, to boot) and be just pennies more than a Lew's while completely out performing. 

The Grand is comparable to a Shimano Curado for the price, but is still lacking in the completeness of the reel. The Curado is just more steady and consistent.