American Made Rods and Reels

Submitted By:

Steve Felgenhauer – USA Guest Author


I have a confession. I am drawn to a rack of fishing poles like a moth drawn to a flame. Most times after I examine them I’m left with the same feeling. Burned. Made in China, made in the Philippines, made in … Well, you get the picture.

Depending on the year you were born or if you fished with hand-me-down fishing gear, like I did, perhaps you recall names like Pflueger, Shakespeare, South Bend and who could forget Zebco. Today’s gear might sound familiar using the old same name game, but that is where the similarity ends.

Has affordable American-made fishing equipment gone the route of the Dodo and the passenger pigeon?

David Gray, founder of American made Ardent reels, doesn’t think so, and he has put his money where his mouth is once again by creating Carbon X rods – Made in America by Americans for American anglers.

Why the fishing industry?

After graduating from college, Gray opened a tackle store in Kansas City. Eighteen years later, he sold the business. Signing a non competing clause, he decided to take some time and go fishing. After a year, a fire ignited inside him, and Gray made the decision to make a high performance casting reel, and Ardent reels was born.

“Fishing has always been a passionate pursuit of mine, from the time I was a small child, we fished,” said Gray. “I call it love of the sport, and it isn’t difficult to explain why I decided to create these rods to anglers that have the same passion towards fishing.”

Keeping it in the USA

“You can’t be competitive making an American made reel,” Gray was reminded non-stop when he had a workforce of one – himself.


He heard the argument from friends and associates; most in the fishing industry. Proving them wrong, Gray’s new endeavor, Carbon X rods, finds him using the same playbook.

While many some manufacturers call using American workers a challenge, Gray disagrees.

“It’s not a challenge using an American worker who loves to fish, understands the sport of fishing and understands what the product is supposed to do when you get them to the water; it helps the process.

“When it comes to building, manufacturing in the USA, I am never going to apologize for blowing the trumpet loud and long because I believe in it,” states Gray. “I’m an American. I was born and raised here in Missouri. I like to use my friends, neighbors and people I know to build these rods. They have pride in their workmanship,” he said. “American workers still possess a can do attitude and the ingenuity of how to do things.”

While many U.S. rod companies have begun selling less expensive rods made abroad, Gray has no plans on doing so. “We are not trying to produce an inexpensive rod; we are trying to produce the finest rod we can.”

Gray has great respect for other countries and its people. “In many ways they are just like us, but most of them don’t understand what these products (fishing rods) are supposed to do,” said Gray.

Gray considers a fishing rod a tool. It must do several things to land a fish. It must cast the bait, set the hook and fight the fish.

“We are trying to build a fishing tool that will raise the bar and perform better than any other on the market, if we do this anglers will seek us out and buy the product over other brands, then we will make a profit.”

The plan is to have two facilities manufacturing rods. Currently, Carbon X rods are being made in Washington where eight craftspeople are producing rods; however, a suitable location in Gray’s home state is currently underway.

“If you are trying to build a brand and disaster hits that facility, it might be down more than a year before that it gets back on its feet. By then that brand will be sunk,” Gray said.

Two separate facilities will ensure production needs are met even if one facility is crippled.

Introducing Carbon X rods


According to Gray, Carbon X rods are lighter than most of its competitors and will cost about $100 less than its competitors. How is this possible?

“In manufacturing there are things like Precision Manufacturing, which is a benefit we have here in the U.S. There are other countries that use Precision Manufacturing, but Americans understand the process and the final product,” explains Gray.

Carbon X rods will be introduced as freshwater casting and spinning rods suitable for bass fishing, as well as, crappie, walleye, white bass and even trout fishing.

When Gray’s role was more active at Ardent reels several pros began using them. Alton Jones won the 2008 Bassmaster Classic using an Ardent reel and Elite Series angler and former Bassmaster Classic winner Denny Brauer is fishing an Ardent.

Gray has not yet sought out any pro anglers for the new rods, but claims it is on his to do list, “If the opportunity to work with anglers like Jones or Brauer, we would certainly do so.”

I look forward to using my new Carbon X rod knowing that good ole American know how and American pride is built-in and my hard earned dollar is staying right here in the USA.

For more information on these made in America, Carbon X rods go to their website

Carbon X rods are initially being offered exclusively through the internet tackle site


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