Monday, June 26, 2017

Product Review for Ardent Flipping Reel

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As you may recall, I have been pleasantly surprised with Ardent's reels. First, I purchased a couple on a group deal about two years ago. We received a hefty discount which made it worth trying a new brand. I have tried a lot of different brands, but Shimano was the only brand that really lived up to my expectations for a baitcaster. 

Even though I bought the Ardents for the price point, they have ranked just below Shimano for quality. I liked them enough to join their prostaff this year. 

I was really excited about this new flipping reel which was designed by the king if flipping, Denny Brauer. You can go directly to Ardent's site and see the product for yourself here

Here is the description and the stats:

"The Apex Flipping Reel is the only reel specifically engineered for flipping. Designed by #2 all-time B.A.S.S. Elite money winner and King of Flipping Denny Brauer, its ergonomic frame shape minimizes hand discomfort and maximizes efficiency. Its total reel weight of 5.9 ounces reduces arm and shoulder fatigue, and its thin arbor spool and nose design improve flipping accuracy and eliminate the need for a level wind mechanism. The aluminum frame and carbon fiber handle provide strength with reduced weight. 11 lbs. of drag combined with 10 plus 1 ball bearings and 6.5:1 gearing deliver strong close range retrieves."


High Strength Aluminum frame
Helical Aircraft Aluminum Gear
Carbon Fiber swept back handle
EVA grip knobs on handle
11 lb. Strike Saver Drag System
10+1 High Precision Ball Bearings
Swept back forge aluminum star drag
Weight: 5.9 oz

Pros: 

True to its description, the reel IS very ergonomic. It fits fantastically into your hand and you do no get fatigue. 

The handle design gives you a lot of no-slip, high weight wrenching power. 

I really like the spool design, as it limits just how much line you have to put on the reel. That will save some money, in the end. Additionally, while this reel is the same weight as every other Ardent (a surprise, given that the goal of this reel is to limit weight), having less line on the reel will save SOME weight.

Getting rid of the level wind setup and the smaller "eye" does create a very, very smooth cast. 

It's nice just to have a dedicated flipping reel ready to go. 

Cons:

Not available left-handed. That is a major, major disappointment. As most know, a left handed reel saves valuable time and missed hits during the transfer from right to left hand with a right handed reel. This was a major oversight. 

I really don't understand going with the 6.5:1 ratio. I do understand that the lower ratio provides some durability for the gears and it allows better leverage and wrenching power, but it drastically limits retrieval speed. Retrieval speed is all important in both number of flips and getting the fish out of the cover that you are flipping. Most everyone is using as high as ratio as possible, up to 8:1. Why not just step up the quality of the gears in the reel to deal with the stress of a high ratio?

The reel gets rid of the typical level wind setup and makes way for a smaller spool and larger "eye." Yes, it saves weight (supposedly) but it sacrifices accuracy, even though it is supposed to be more accurate. Because it doesn't have a level wind system, you are forced to "tape off" the line. That is, measure out a cast length and add tape down on the spool. It prevents birds nests, of course, but also the lack of a level wind causes line to pile up. 

Conclusion

This is the first iteration and I hope it isn't the last. The approach is the right approach. Limit the mechanisms, limit the weight, make it as ergonomic as possible. But, Ardent really missed the boat on the truly important things that fishermen will look for: retrieval speed, accuracy, and a left-handed model. I wouldn't pay the MSRP of $169.99 again but I have no problem with the discounted price. Hopefully, the next iteration will fix these oversights.