Unlike Abel Super and Hatch Reels, Nautilus, built in Miami, Florida, do not maintain a uniform, scalable design from #2 to 12-weight. They recognize that the performance parameters of big game fishing embodied in their high performance "NV" series which start at an 8-weight appropriate size ascending to the "Monster" #12 do little but add weight, complexity and cost to their freshwater sized "FWX" series which encompass the #2 through 7-weight line sizes.
I fish two FWX's for trout and their capacity to weight ratio is unparalleled. When I bought my first one, a 3.8 oz. 5/6 intended for my Sage ONE #5, a light weight rod, I found it too light. It found an appropriately balanced home on one of my 4-weight rods (a distinct upgrade) and I replaced it with the FWX 7/8 for the 5-weight. Line ratings on reels mean nothing to me, balance parallel to the ground (water?) with the fulcrum point being toward the front of the cork where my forefinger encircles it is what I am after. If anything, I would rather the reel be a hair too heavy than too light. Therefore I select a reel for a new rod based on these few criteria: 1. Does the reel fulfill the performance and capacity requirement for how the outfit will be fished? 2. Does it, with backing and line loaded, balance the rod correctly? And 3. Does the reel's design and build meet my personal quality and aesthetic standards? Nautilus FWX has a very smooth and linear drag that maintains its setting and has very little inertial start-up resistance. I regularly fish fine tippets and small dry flies on large rivers using these reels and they have performed perfectly. Their super light weight allows me to mount lots of backing, even #30 in the case of the "7/8" 5-weight reel which I like for its thicker diameter's kindness to my hands when some Missouri River big boy decides to head for Great Falls. I have featured this large arbor, well proportioned, handsomely built, black or silver with red accent reel in "Reel Love" along with a couple of other high performance trout reels I use as well.
Where Nautilus compares to Abel and Hatch Reels though is in its NV Series. They share the light weight, skeletal design language of their FWX little siblings but take on the grown up role of dealing with the truly tough fish. I quote from Nautilus's web site's tech section:
"NV CCF: First introduced in 2006, the NV CCF is a stronger, lighter version of the CCF brake. It sports a larger drag, Hybrid ceramic bearings, a titanium drag shaft and delivers the same less than 1% startup inertia as the CCF disc brake. Even at twice the drag surface, this brake unit weighs almost half of that in the CCF line of reels, allowing the NV line to deliver true big game reels that weigh less than many trout reels. The BremboŽ brakes of fly fishing reels."
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to drag strength, there is no substitute for sweep area. Draw-bar Abel, Tibor and Islander do it with a big hunk of cork composite, Hatch and Hardy Fortuna do it with multiple, stacked surfaces and Nautilus NV does it with their fully sealed, large diameter drag surface. Fully sealed? If you wish to convert an existing NV to opposite hand retrieve, you need to acquire a new drag assembly from the factory as the enclosed ceramic bearing is inaccessible to you. If you can reach a one-way clutch bearing with your fingers to flip it over to convert from right to left-hand wind, you do not have a "sealed" drag.
Like Hatch with their optional mid-arbor spool to increase backing capacity, NV comes standard with a deep but large arbor spool. Optional is their "Giga" spool. So my Nautilus NV 10/11 is rigged with its standard spool as a permit reel but with its Giga spool it is a super large arbor "Giga" 8 optimized for bonefishing. When a bonefish zooms toward the mangroves, I can turn my rod low and to the side, crank down on NV and really test my rigging and leader knots and, when I turn him and he re-joins his small group of peers and streaks back towards me, the super large diameter arbor facilitated my quickly cranking in line in big wide coils. Importantly this big 4.25" diameter reel is a wise 1.09" in spool width so I do not have to give much focus to uniform, tight line retrieval.
It happens that Nautilus NV "Giga" 8 is a perfect balancing, performance and aesthetic match for super bonefish rod, G.Loomis NRX #8