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Reel Review

An In-Depth Look at a Reel Made Entirely in the USA: The Ardent XS1000 (continued)

Retrieve: It is in the retrieve department that the Ardent wins back points. The retrieve on the Ardent baitcast reel is actually quite impressive. Itís very smooth and fast thanks to high quality ABEC 5 bearings Ardent chose to use in the XS1000 reel. Under load, cranking feels effortless and quite powerful when working lures and hauling in fish. Speaking of the handle, when I spun the knobs, I was amazed at how fast and long they would spin. I donít think Iíve ever seen a knob spin this fast and freely, for the same duration of time.


Retrieves are fast and smooth. The knobs spin very fast!


Drag: I fished with the reel a few times before taking it apart to analyze the interior components and before lab tests were done on the drag pressure, so I had no idea what type of drag system the XS1000 had aside from what Ardent names it, their Strike Saver drag system. The drag performed well on the water. As I hooked into a nice fish on the Delta it immediately darted for deeper waters and the drag came into play. The startup drag force felt smooth and while the fish swam away from the boat the pressure was still consistent, even when I turned the drag star to increase the force. The Ardent XS1000 has a clicking star drag so it helped with minute adjustments when fighting fish. This particular fish turned out to be a schoolie striper, but that didnít matter, it was a good test for the drag system and I was very happy with the overall performance.


Ardent uses a proprietary drag material that produces a smooth and consistent drag pressure


After a few trips on the water with the reel it was time to take it into the lab to see what this Strike Saver drag system was all about: first up, drag pressure. As always I began with a light setting to test its start up and drag pressure as line comes off the spool. At these light settings, the start and functional settings are very close, and it was smooth and consistent throughout as line is stripped from the spool. Buttoned down completely the Ardent baitcast reel was able to produce 7.8 pounds of start up pressure and 7.2 pounds of drag force, and again it was smooth and consistent.


The gear box removes from the frame


Next up, the drag system and whatís behind this smooth drag pressure, i.e. the washers. Opening up the reel and gaining access to the washers, I found only two washers: one metal, the other a mysterious material. The mysterious material isnít felt or carbon fiber. I asked Ardent what type of material this was but was only told that itís proprietary and that they developed it specifically for their baitcast reels. From my guess itís some sort of ceramic similar to whatís used on Quantum reels but this one is a tad softer.


It palms quite comfortably


Ergonomics: Though not the lightest in its class the Ardent XS1000 weighs in at only 7.9 ounces even though the company specifies 8.7 ounces on paper. Itís not too bad until you consider itís a magnesium reel and should be lighter. In terms of comfort, the XS1000l feels pretty good in hand when palming. The shape of the reel fits into my hand quite well and is comfortable to grasp all day fishing. The handle knobs are large and easy to grip, and are made of a soft firm rubber material thatís welcoming to the fingers.


The same material used on the knobs is also used on the release button


Durability & Maintenance: After countless hours and trips on the water the Ardent reel continues to hold up nicely. It has gone through many fish and even battles against hard hitting striped bass. The frame, mechanics, and various components are still going strong. This was one of Ardentís intentions, to build a reel thatíll last trip after trip and even long enough to pass onto your grandchildren.


We disassembled the reel for a closer look at the design


When it comes to maintenance, Ardent recommends that you send the reel back to their shop for servicing. I think I know why after I took it apart. If youíre handy and have done other reels before, you might get by doing it yourself but Iím sure youíll run into a few unknowns like I did, and I have taken apart many reels of different types. Fortunately, regular user maintenance can be done, but be sure to put everything back the way it came off. And a tip, when putting back the crank side cover, push the thumb bar up before hand so it will properly engage when using the reel.


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