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AFTCO Reel Drag Technologies (ARDT) Reel Seat/Rod Butt

The AFTCO RDT Seat-Butt (ARDT) is an electronic scale, which is built into the reel seat/rod butt, and displays the exact amount of drag tension in your line as you fight a fish. The ARDT senses the forward pressure of the reel as line is pulled against the drag and converts this pressure into a digital drag reading in pounds or kilograms. The easy-to-read LCD displays your exact drag tension, regardless of spool diameter, amount of line out, reel size or line test. The ARDT works much like a digital scale, but it measures line tension instead of fish weight. This innovation will now allow any angler- expert or novice- to see exactly how much drag tension is being applied during the fight. Using the drag reading supplied by the ARDT, anglers will land fish quicker, by maximizing their pulling pressure without exceeding the breaking strength of the line.

The ARDT is sold as a complete rugged and waterproof unit including the RDT digital readout, #2 reel seat, 11.5” long by 1” diameter, anodized 6061-T6 aluminum butt which weighs 19 ounces. The ARDT is designed to have an EVA, or plastic “slick” butt, along with gimbal or butt cap, glued into place. It will handle lines, reels and drag setting up to 80lb test.


AFTCO Reel Drag Technology - #2 Reel Seat/Rod Butt

The ARDT is designed to be used as an original seat and butt for a new rod, or as an add-on using an existing rod. The type of conventional rod used makes no difference in the function of the ARDT. It will work with trolling or casting rods, with roller or ring guides, and with any line and reel combo which can fit in the reel seat. Reel clamps may be used and will not affect the drag readings. It will not work on spinning rods in the current configuration.

It is constructed of machined and anodized 6061-T6 aluminum, and the housings are molded from tough, glass-filled nylon. The lens bezel is powder-coated aluminum and the lens is clear polycarbonate with a co-molded, waterproof switch. The ARDT is completely self-contained and the waterproof and rugged housing is O-ring sealed.

The waterproof switch below the LCD turns the unit on and off and will also clear the scale to “zero” at any time during use by depressing for 1 second. It can also toggle the reading between pounds (LB) or kilograms (K) by depressing for 2 seconds. The processor can read drag pressures over 30lbs, but is designed for practical and accurate readings from 0-25 pounds.

Installation Instructions- Installation of the ARDT on an existing blank is similar to installing any other ferruled-butt or seat onto a blank. The ARDT ferrule is .905” (22.9mm) in diameter and 1.525” (38.8mm) in depth. Rod blanks should be splined and aligned with the seat before being epoxied into the ferrule using a premium qualityepoxy, such as 3M 1838B/A, or equivalent rod builder’s epoxy. All blanks should be properly bushed or shimmed to fit the ferrule, as this connection is critical. Any existing rod of the proper size can be inserted into the ARDT by cutting to the proper length and exposing the blank before bushing and epoxying into the ferrule. The ferrule is a swaged and machined aluminum tube which extends completely through the seat and into the butt-tube. It is extremely strong and designed to handle very heavy drag loads and blank flexing.

The ARDT is designed to have the fore grip of the rod pushed all the way down over the exposed ferrule and up against the forward RDT housing. Once glued in place the fore grip should hide the ferrule (if desired).

The aluminum rear butt-tube can be cut to any desired length without damaging the ARDT. It can then be covered with EVA, Neoprene, or “slick-butt” types of handles. These can be epoxied into place along with a #2 (1” or 25.4mm I.D.) gimbal or butt cap as desired by the builder. The complete ARDT weighs 19 ounces.

ARDT Function The ARDT is designed to accurately measure line drag tension during the fight. It senses the forward pressure the reel is exerting on the reel seat, and the processor converts this number to pounds or kilograms displayed on the LCD. It is extremely accurate, but may see slight fluctuations due to rod flex or extreme heat changes. The ARDT drag readings are most accurate and reliable when the rod is only held by the fore and rear grips. If a harness is used with the ARDT the readings will only be accurate when the rod is lifted by the fore grip to slack the harness lug straps. Any influence of the reel’s movement by hands or harness straps will degrade the accuracy of the line tension readings.

The ARDT should be zeroed by depressing the on/off switch before use. It can be re-zeroed at any time while in use, but the readings will be most accurate if there is no pressure on the line or the reel when the on/off switch is depressed and zeroed. The ARDT will shut off automatically to conserve battery life if there is no change in the display for 10 minutes.

Ideally, the drag on the reel should be pre-set using the ARDT before the outfit is used to establish a baseline safe drag. Most reel and line companies recommend a maximum drag equal to 1/3rd the breaking strength of the line. As an example, using 30lb(15Kg) line the maximum drag would be pre-set on the reel using the ARDT at 10lbs(5Kg) of drag. During the fight the angler would then use the reading on the ARDT to stay within the “safe” amount of drag at or near the 10lb range. This would allow the angler to pull at the maximum amount of safe pressure, while not exceeding the potential breaking point of the line. The ARDT will give an accurate, actual drag reading regardless of the amount of line off the reel. It only “knows” how hard the reel is being pulled forward against the reel seat, which is equal to the amount of line drag tension.
Maintenance- The only maintenance ever required on the ARDT is a freshwater rinse after each use to eliminate salt build-up, and possibly a battery replacement after many years of use. Care should be taken to avoid scratching the lens in the LCD area with hooks or terminal gear. The polycarbonate lens material is durable and should remain clear for the life of the ARDT.

Battery Replacement-The ARDT is powered by a single 3-volt Lithium coin battery, which can be purchased at most drug and hardware stores. The battery will last for 1200 hours without needing to be replaced. The unit turns itself off after 10 minutes without a reading, which greatly extends battery life. There is a battery meter on the LCD readout in the upper right corner of the display.

If the battery ever does need replacement it should only be done in a completely dry environment with no moisture on the ARDT. The battery is located inside the waterproof ARDT housing, on the underside of the lens and PC board. To remove the battery the knurled aluminum bezel which holds the lens and PC board must be unscrewed completely and removed from the seat. The lens, switch, bezel and PC board will all come out in a single assembly. To remove the battery, the #2screws on the underside of the PC board must be unscrewed a couple turns to allow the battery to slip out of its housing and be replaced. Once the new battery is installed with positive side up the screws can be tightened and the lens assembly screwed back into the housing. The bezel has a fine thread and needs to be carefully located and fully tightened back into the housing for the O-ring to seat properly.