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NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review
NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review
Published by ausablebrown
05-12-2011
Author review
Performance
80%80%80%
8
Build Quality
100%100%100%
10
Appearance
90%90%90%
9
Value
80%80%80%
8
Overall
90%90%90%
9
Average 88%
Default NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

I settled on getting this new FWX to pair up with my super light (1 13/16 oz.) Sage TXL. After scouring the net, I found that the only time the FWX popped up in searches was in threads where people were wanting more information, and noone had it to give. SO, I got one and here is my take on it...

You can see from the Nautilus Website that this is a great looking reel, I don't need to go into much detail about that. Skeleton carved frame with the red accent disc brake and spool cap. It is on par with the best and most stylish reels out there. It is not super sexy, but for a plain black reel it is still sexy. I'm wondering if they could have done something better with the front drag knob side to spice it up a little. It is a little bland.

Construction: It is carved out to a skeleton like many other light and popular styles right now. It is 3.6 oz, which is one of the lightest on the market, though there are a few with comparable or lighter construction. Solidly built for something so ported. I like to give these super ported reels a squeeze test to see if there is any give in them; none at all with a significant squeeze. It looks like they kept plenty of thickness to the aluminum on the reel frame; no worries there at all. The spool is a little thin, but thickens up to a very sturdy rim; again, upon squeezing the spool there was no give. Conversely, I gave an old Ross EVO the squeeze test and thought I was going to mangle it.

Drag: Same complaint as before with the FW; light duty drag. I've heard, and from the looks of the disk brake nothing has changed. It will be a lighter duty drag mechanism, which is no problem at all on this 3/4 wt. It is very smooth; though you cant really tell how smooth until you crank the drag up a little. The plastic spring loaded clickers offer a little resistance to the spool movement. It actually was enough resistance that the reel won't backlash if you forget to give the drag knob a crank before you yank a bunch of line off. Also the drag knob adjustment is not on par with the best right now. It feels a little clunky, and with other reels having indexed number settings, that puts the Nautilus a step behind. When you turn the drag knob, there is some kind of mechanism that offers a non-distinct click; but it almost feels more like a grinding of parts, rather than a sharp, clear click. This is the same drag adjustment knob as the Nautilus FW model, because I distinctly remember the feeling. The first 5 turns do relatively little to tighten the drag, and then one more turn, and the resistance really spikes. It works great, buy you will be fishing with the knob and testing the resistance to make sure you have the setting right.

Pros:
Looks Great
Smooth Drag
Strong frame
Light Weight
Line information can be written with a sharpie on a designated spot of the spool, and taken off with rubbing alcohol (no stickers required!)
Very large cranking handle that flares out at the end
Priced toward the lower end of the High end reel market (240.00)
Interchangeable with the older FW3 spools (I havn't tried, but they are advertised as such).
MADE IN USA

Cons:
Drag won't stop a tank
Setting the drag right takes a little work
Out of stock at many shops due to popularity. Stillwater fly shop told me they were 100 reels spoken for by customers with no guarantee of a delivery date in sight from Nautilus.

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  #1 (permalink)  
By Frank Whiton on 05-12-2011, 11:23 AM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

Hi ausablebrown,

Thanks for sharing your review. For a light weight setup the FW1 for a 2/3wt would also be a good choice. You would have about 50 yards of backing with a 3wt WF line.

Good job on the pictures.

Frank
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  #2 (permalink)  
By popperfly on 05-12-2011, 11:54 AM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

ausablebrown,

Agree with everything you said, I purchased FWX 3/4 and fished with it about a dozen times and really like the way it performs. Thanks for sharing your review on the reel, great report.
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  #3 (permalink)  
By sweetandsalt on 05-18-2011, 09:56 AM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

Thank you for this well thought out review. I have had some interest in this series of reels and you sealed the deal for me with one of your observations; the non-linearity of the drag setting. In all reels, from light trout to tarpon, linearity of setting and stability, wet or dry, once set are the crucial performance criteria. Back to my first choice in sealed drag reels, Hatch.
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  #4 (permalink)  
By ausablebrown on 05-18-2011, 09:44 PM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
Thank you for this well thought out review. I have had some interest in this series of reels and you sealed the deal for me with one of your observations; the non-linearity of the drag setting. In all reels, from light trout to tarpon, linearity of setting and stability, wet or dry, once set are the crucial performance criteria. Back to my first choice in sealed drag reels, Hatch.
I'm not an apologist for this new reel, but it is 40% cheaper than the similar sized Hatch. However, I don't know why they couldn't change that drag system without incurring too much cost per unit. It would be worth another 20-40 bucks to have a nice indexed drag system.

And, I kinda disagree with you if you will give me the liberty. I don't think that linearity of setting is all that crucial on a 3-4wt trout reel. I've seldom used the drag at all, and I don't see a problem changing this on the fly; A slight nudge one way or the other gives you a slight adjustment. It would be nice to have very deep distince clicks...but I'm not sure if I'll ever lose a fish over this. If it were that "crucial" why haven't click/pawl reels gone by the wayside? Because Palming always works, and drag is seldom engaged on small reel. I'd say it was a luxury that was left out, not a crucial component.
Last edited by ausablebrown; 05-18-2011 at 10:01 PM..
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  #5 (permalink)  
By sweetandsalt on 05-19-2011, 07:52 AM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

Well I did say from trout to tarpon...and true enough, not much drag is needed with a #3 outfit. My personal interest is in a #5/6 reel that would be used on larger rivers. I still use an old Orvis CFO on some smaller streams but am of the view that a smooth predictable drag helps even experienced anglers land a large wild trout X% faster aiding in its safe release. I will not accepts design flaws in my equipment even if they pose but minimal and over-comable disadvantages. I, again, thank you for pointing them out so articulately for, even if they don't effect your specific purposes, they are magnified as the model size of reel increases for more powerful game fish.
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  #6 (permalink)  
By ausablebrown on 05-19-2011, 08:34 AM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
Well I did say from trout to tarpon...and true enough, not much drag is needed with a #3 outfit. My personal interest is in a #5/6 reel that would be used on larger rivers. I still use an old Orvis CFO on some smaller streams but am of the view that a smooth predictable drag helps even experienced anglers land a large wild trout X% faster aiding in its safe release. I will not accepts design flaws in my equipment even if they pose but minimal and over-comable disadvantages. I, again, thank you for pointing them out so articulately for, even if they don't effect your specific purposes, they are magnified as the model size of reel increases for more powerful game fish.

The larger sizes of the FW, were disliked for just this reason. Many people didnt really like the fw 5 and especially the fw7 because it was a salmon sized reel with a trout sized drag. Especially with a 7+ spool I think the capacity was for 9 or even 10 wt line...

I don't know why they did a complete redesign of the reel frame, and clutch but failed to redesign the only aspect of the reel that got complaints, the drag??? I read probably a couple dozen reviews about the old FW and the only complaint that ever surfaced was the weak drag.
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  #7 (permalink)  
By sweetandsalt on 05-19-2011, 04:00 PM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

A friend of mine has fished their new NV for bonefish and liked it a lot. But then you are buying an expensive rookie reel playing in the league with the big boys. The FWX is attractive because it proports sophistication at a modest price. There are a zillion reel makers out there.
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  #8 (permalink)  
By ddombos2 on 05-22-2011, 10:37 AM
Default

As an owner of an FW 7+, I second all comments in this review related to drag and drag knob adjustment.

It's not a salmon stopper on it's own. You'll need your palm. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
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  #9 (permalink)  
By ausablebrown on 06-20-2011, 10:04 PM
Default Re: NEW Nautilus FWX 3/4 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddombos2 View Post
As an owner of an FW 7+, I second all comments in this review related to drag and drag knob adjustment.

It's not a salmon stopper on it's own. You'll need your palm. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
Update...

After using the reel for a good month now; I can honestly say that I wouldn't hesitate to buy another of these reels either. It just feels right, line goes in and out smoothly, no annoyingly loud clicking sounds. It also does fine with sand/dirt (it got the sand test in AuSable last week; one quick dunk in the water and it was back to perfect (and it is a 100% sealed drag so there nowhere for sand or debris to get stuck). The drag knob adjustment has not proven to be much of a bother at all on this 3/4 wt model. It takes 10 seconds to set and I never touch it for the rest of the day.
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