Nautilus CCF Saltwater Reels
Nautilus CCF Saltwater Reels. $460 for number 10; $165 for spare spool. Available at many fly shops and online stores.
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or years, the standard in big-game saltwater reels has been Tibor. They're solid, high-performance, bulletproof reels. They're also very spendy. Ditto Abel.
An excellent alternative is the Nautilus series from Old Florida. This is an up-to-date wide-arbor design with a fully-enclosed disc drag system. You can change spools without removing any screws, and the reel is lighter than its competitors. Also, you don't have to take out a second mortgage to buy extra spools. You can buy a Nautilus 10 plus an extra spool for $610; a Tibor Riptide with extra spool runs 50 percent more, and I'm not convinced it's a better reel.
Old Florida says the drag system is, "Built on a backbone of four oversized stainless steel ball bearings, centered around the CCF Disc Brake Systems' ability to dissipate heat quickly and away from the working components [.T]his reel was engineered to withstand extreme fishing environments and any and all forces that a fish may throw at a fisherman."
Well, I was trained in electrical engineering, not mechanical. If it doesn't have a computer or a transistor, I can't evaluate the design. But I've used the Nautilus 10 for saltwater fishing and found it smooth and quiet. The best things I can say about a reel are that it does its job without any fuss and I never have to think about it.
The Nautilus 10 seems to start spinning immediately when a fish hits, and it has a wide adjustment range for the drag. The sealed drag system keeps sand, grit, and salt scum out of the mechanism. The anodizing and finish seem to be of excellent quality. Note: Just because the drag system is sealed, don't assume you don't have to rinse the saltwater off the reel; no reel is "maintenance-free", and every reel should be cleaned after saltwater use.
I've found this reel to be reliable and a pleasure to use. I team the Nautilus 10 with a Winston Boron IIX 8-weight. The theory is that the reel is light enough that it's only a tad heavy for the 8-weight, and I can use it on a 9-weight, too, when I set up that Bahamas trip. The extra backing capacity of the 10 takes care of those situations when I hook a fish much bigger than I was planning on. Not that that's happened recently, but a guy can always hope.
Bottom Line: Well-made, trouble-free reel perfect for saltwater fly fishing and other big game. Reviewer Rating: 5
5=tops 3=average 1=low
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