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Reel Review


 

Defying the Status Quo : ARK Fishing Creates Their Own Gravity Baitcasters

 

Date: 11/7/22
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: ARK Fishing Intl.
Reviewer: Cal


 

 

 

 

Total Score: 8.00 - GREAT

Introduction:
Back in July of '22, we previewed ARK Fishing's exciting announcement of their brand new line of fishing reels. Given the number of rod and lure manufacturers delving into this segment of the market, it's easy to assume ARK is leveraging the same or similar resources as the majority of these other upstarts. Well, I'm pleased to say, to make such an assumption about ARK's new Gravity 7 (G7) would be in error. Let's take a closer look.

 

ARK Fishing Gravity G7 Casting Reel Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 12/100
Line Capacity - Spool Volume 8.9 cm3
Retrieve Ratio
5.4:1
6.4:1
7.1:1
8.1:1
Inches Per Turn (IPT) - calculated
13-20
15.5-23.5
17-26
19.5-29.5
Weight 7.1 oz
Spool Weight 10 g
Handle Length 90 mm
Bearings 11
Bearings per Knob 2 bearings
Levelwind Bearings 1 bearing, 1 bushing
Rated Max Drag ~14lbs
Origin Made in China
MSRP $239.99


Back in the early part of 2022, ARK Fishing reached out with an offer to send us some late model prototypes of a project they were working on

Impressions: Back in the early part of 2022, ARK Fishing reached out with an offer to send us some late model prototypes of a project they were working on. Naturally, I assumed this was another line of fishing rods. When the package showed up, I was surprised to see it was a box, not a tube. When I opened the box, I found a couple of fishing reels. My natural assumption was these were simply rubber stamped clones coming out of one of a handful of OEM factories. The look and feel of the reel was solid if not familiar, but when I opened up the non-handle sideplate to check out what ARK was using for a braking system, it became obvious the manufacturer had been hard at work defining their own not-so-me-too take on the low profile casting reel motif.

 


Here I thought it was going to be a fishing rod. Imagine my surprise when it was a reel with their own, brand new braking system.

 

The braking system consisted of magnets, but the way in which they were configured was different. Additionally, it appeared the spool's rotor was adjustable so you could change how much force was applied by those magnets. Turns out the system can be tuned to the user's preference in support of everything from finesse applications all the way to big baits. The only limitation, really, is line capacity.


Then the production model showed up...

I was told these late model prototypes were very close to the final product mechanically with the majority of changes coming for the production models involving cosmetics - color, handle selection, brand graphics, etc.. Then, right before ICAST was set to kick off, ARK Fishing sent us production models for a much more official look.


I wasted little time affirming the impressions made by the prototypes

Real World Tests: I fished ARK's late model prototype reels on a variety of fishing rods from their very own Viper, Catalyzer and Essence series to Evergreen International's Dire Wolf, so I had a good feeling for this reel prior to receipt of the production model. Nevertheless, for the G7's official run of tests, I spooled it with some 20lb Daiwa JBraid with a leader of 10lb Sunline Marboroshi FC Leader material. I then paired it with a self wrapped, Phenix TX-C 736H blank from their K2 series and an ARK Fishing RFC76MHFC Reinforcer on different trips.


The defining characteristic of any casting reel for me are its brakes and how well they hold up to my casting style

Casting: The defining characteristic of any casting reel for me is the brakes. They are the mechanism that determines how usable the reel will ultimately be. For ARK's system, it begins with that rotor. It is a very Daiwa-esque looking rotor, but the function is different. For one, it is fixed and doesn't move while in use. However, the user can determine how far that rotor extends into the magnetic brakes prior to use by pushing the rotor in towards the spool and rotating it so that the cross-pin aligns with one of three roman numerals, each of which allows the rotor to sit at a different depth.


A look at the G7's non-handle side with the somewhat concealed brake dial. Matched up here with my self wrapped Phenix K2 736H

The magnets, located in the non-handle sideplate, then move in or out, towards or away from the spool depending on the setting at the external dial. In addition, during the cast, those magnets actually move in towards the rotor and back away to exert force when needed during the cast. It is a system that looks somewhat simplistic at the start, but actually has quite a bit of flexibility and a number of moving parts.


The G7 sits nice and low in the reel seat

The braking profile allows for good line management through a variety of lure weights and we are told shallow spool options, will be available at some point for those who are more light line inclined. Additionally, a full blown BFS reel is in the works, but that's subject for a different review. I fished the production G7 with a light swim jig and trailer, but the prototypes with everything from standard jigs through some smaller big baits all with little to no trouble during the cast using forceful and easy casting motions.


Early success with the prototype while testing an ARK Catalyzer using the Ned rig

I did find I had to adjust the brake force from time to time depending on wind conditions. If the brakes are set too light, cross and headwinds can upset the spool and cause a backlash. A quick adjustment of the dial, however, and those concerns can be alleviated. Just note this is not a set and forget type of braking system. Ironically, I find this to be the case with a lot of the more sophisticated or complex magnetic braking systems.


Switching things up with a standard, half ounce jig

At one point, I did notice my G7 emitting a loud sort of whine during each cast that you often hear from less refined reels. I couldn't recall if it made this sound from the beginning and I was just noticing it or if it was indeed new. When it got to the point of being a concern, I finally had the thought to add some oil to the bearings and just like that, the sound disappeared. Even after all these years, it takes me a bit to diagnose my reel may be in need of a little oil. Fortunately, about three years ago, I began carrying a small bottle of oil with me on each trip so I could take care of issues like this right away. It only took me close to twenty years to figure that out.


The G7 is available in 4 different retrieve ratios. I fished the 7.1:1

Retrieve: Packed inside the G7 is a reinforced brass main gear, so when you turn that carbon handle, you're rewarded with a very solid and smooth connection. I didn't feel any strange hiccups or grinding from the reel's inner workings and found it behaved in a very refined manner. To be honest, I was actually surprised. I didn't expect a brand new platform from a first time reel manufacturer to feel so smooth.


The swept carbon handle measures 90mm from center of post to center of post

The other surprising thing about ARK's Gravity G7 is the fact the reel is offered in four retrieve ratios and all four in both left and right hand configuration. As manufacturers are in that unofficial race to see who can offer the fastest retrieve ratios, it is becoming increasingly difficult to slow things down and find reels with ratios that are sub six to one (6:1). ARK's G7 becomes one of the few platforms offering something in the five range with their 5.4:1 option. Having said all that, I only fished the 7.1:1 reel.


Each of the TPE knobs is supported with 2 bearings

Next Section: Power and Brass Guts

 

   

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