I’ve never really been a believer in swanky or expensive reels for Trout fishing here in the UK. For the vast majority of the fishing situations we encounter we don’t even need a drag system, let alone something that sounds like it has just been taken from the wheels of a Formula One racing car. For almost all upstream fishing I would far rather play a fish from my hands for the majority of the fight because at some point theres a high probability that the fish is going to make a dash downstream towards you and you’re never going to keep up by winding that little fly reel.
However, I did come unstuck fishing another method. On my first outing with the Sage ESN 10′ 3# I rigged up my favourite little reel, the super lightweight Wychwood River & Stream with the long French Leader and cracked on without a thought. That was until I made contact with my first proper fish. With the Euro Nymph techniques involving little or no line retrieve there is direct contact between the fish and the reel when the hook hits home and this became a serious issue on a click and pawl drag system. It quickly became obvious that when fishing leader to hand techniques you’ll be playing fish off the reel so a half decent drag system and a larger arbor might just be a good idea
Nautilus is a USA made reel brand with a reputation for world class saltwater reels – the NV has long been regarded as one of the finest available. Under the NV runs a range called the Fly Weight Xtreme, or FWX , in sizes from 1-3 through to 7-8. The 1-3 size at 3.4 ounces (96g) is very very light but shares the same sealed drag system as the rest of the range. If you wanted to do some saltwater euro-nymphing with this reel you could do so with confidence!
In a moment of uncharacteristic and lavish egoism not only did I hit the purchase button but I also customised the hell out of it! A green base, gold trimmings, and my name laser engraved on the cage – this reel looks the nuts on the ESN and i’m not even ashamed of it! It’s a beautiful little reel that I know I’ll get an awful lot of use from and it is all backed up by the Nautilus lifetime warranty.
I’m not the most careful owner of fly fishing kit and if a tackle item can survive two years of very regular use with me then it’s got to be tough. The little FWX has been bounced off boulders in Wales, stuck in silt in the south of England, and sanded up in Slovenia and there is barely a mark on it. The structural rigidity of the machined aluminium and the quality of the anodising is amazing, I can’t seem to stop the Nautilus from working!
After two years of abuse there is maybe a little bit of play between the cage and the spool and every so often the very fine mono french leader can sneak through there. I’m yet to experience this issue with fly line though and if it does happen it’s really very simple to remove the spool, replace it and crack on. With reels that don’t use a quick spool release latch this can be far more complicated.
Undoubtedly my favourite feature of the FWX (other than that it’s got my name on it) is the drag system which is silky smooth. This reel has gotten me out of jail so many times, particularly in Slovenia or on the big browns of South Wales. The whole drag system seems to operate in a couple of turns of the knob which makes it really easy to make adjustments while playing a fish. There’s a heap of top end torque, more than enough for most trout anywhere in the world, and as it’s all sealed in tight you can afford to be a bit clumsy like me.
I’m picky with my kit, I know it needs to be simple, functional and robust or it just won’t last. It’s also nice to own kit that makes you proud to use it and this little piece of Miami machinery is the one item of kit I actually take pride in showing off a bit. It’s super light, ultra functional, silky smooth and extra sexy – what’s not to like?!
If you fancy treating yourself to a classy bit of custom kit but you don’t want to break the bank then hit up Nautilus about an FWX, there’s a lot of good stuff in these little reels!