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Nautilus X-Series Reel Review

The Nautilus X Series reel has quickly become my favorite reel for trout fishing. I paired it with my 5 weight Loop Evotec rod almost 2 years ago, and the reel has performed tremendously. Not only is it one of the lightest reels in its class, but the drag is insanely smooth as well. It is a true joy to use, and I think many anglers could benefit by going with this reel.

The Nautilus X Series reels are considered premium reels. This means that they are machined out of solid bar stock aluminum, instead of being molded (cast). Nautilus is one of the nicest reel companies on the market, and some of their saltwater reels can cost over $1,000. However, the X Series stays in the $300s-$400s price category, depending on the size that you choose. For trout anglers, the X Series is a wonderful reel choice.

Below I will cover all you’ll need to know about this reel series, and will hopefully guide your decision if you’re in the market for a new reel. Coming up on 2 years with my Nautilus XM, it still works just as well as when I bought it.

Nautilus X-Series Reel Features

The X Series is an open frame design, which cuts down on weight quite a bit. The frame is actually really slimmed down, and is in the shape of an “X”. This provides ultimate lightweight durability.

Being a large arbor reel, this model allows for quick line pick up – so you can be sure that you’re getting the most retrieval with each turn of the reel. For trout fishing, this doesn’t matter a ton – but it is still a nice feature.

Nautilus also made a completely new drag system for this reel. This SCF-X drag is a completely sealed system with Teflon and carbon fiber discs. This type of drag is definitely worthy of saltwater species, but it also makes for a really smooth trout reel. Sure, it’s overkill for trout streams, but it’s certainly very high end. The large drag knob is textured and very adjustable, so you can fine tune your reel even when it gets cold or wet out.

This reel also features strong beams that extend from the center, which allows for spool protection where your reel normally touches the ground. This is usually when it’s leaned up against your car.

The spool strength has been increased by 35% with a ventilated arch design, and this reel also has a dual palming rim.

All in all, the X Series is loaded with features, and is overly engineered for one of the nicest trout reels on the market.

I really like that I don’t have to worry about this reel. I know it is built to last and I don’t have to “baby” it. Whether I bring it on a long road trip or local floats on rivers, it holds up to abuse season after season. This is one of the reasons why I only buy machined reels – they are much more sturdy than cast reels, and they generally last a lifetime.

Before this reel, my reel collection was mostly Lamson and Ross, with a couple of Abels also. However, I am now a big fan of Nautilus.

X-Series Sizing and Pricing

The X Series comes in 4 main sizes, covering small trout to large trout, and even smaller saltwater species such as bonefish. The specs are all listed below in the table, with their respective pricing as well.

The standard color finishes are anodized black and brushed titanium. However, Nautilus also has a custom shop, where you can customize the colors on your reel. This is nice if you want brighter colors, but it does cost more. For custom reel colors, it is normally $120 on top of the regular pricing. For custom small parts colors, it costs $140 on top of the regular pricing. So if you choose both options, you are looking at $260 extra. It can also take 6 months for them to build these custom reels.

Personally, I went with the XM in anodized black. It is perfect for my local trout rivers, and the price is better without the custom shop.


XSLine: 3/4 wtWF3 + 100 Yards Of Backing
WF4 + 85 Yards Of Backing
3.25″ Diameter$345
XMLine: 4/5 wtWF4 +130 Yards Of Backing
WF5 + 105 Yards Of Backing
3.5″ Diameter$365
XLLine: 6/7 wtWF6 + 175 Yards Of Backing
WF7 + 150 Yards Of Backing
4″ Diameter$425
XL MAXLine: 8/9 wtWF8 + 175 Yards Of Backing
WF9 + 150 Yards Of Backing
4″ Diameter$455


Long Term Use

As stated before, this reel is a tank and it can withstand some abuse. Besides huge drops, I would never have a reason to worry about this reel. You are also covered by the lifetime warranty if something does go wrong. Feel free to use it without worrying about it. However, the same can not be said for cast reels.

If you are a trout fly fisher who is hard on your gear, this reel can definitely keep up with you.

Considering A Premium Reel

You may have heard the term, “A trout reel is just a line holder”. While this is somewhat true, I would rather buy a reel once and have it last a lifetime, than to go through multiple cheaper reels. With growing my machined reel collection, I have realized that these premium reels are truly worth it, and they will stay with you for decades. Cast reels are tempting due to the low prices, but they are prone to cracking and shattering if you drop them.

I totally understand the budget appeal, but I highly recommend looking into machined reels if you’re in the market. At $365, the Nautilus XM is relatively cheap compared to other brands such as Abel and Ross. It is still a premium reel, but it is priced sensibly.

All in all, the Nautilus X Series should be in the conversation for any reel purchase, so head to your local fly shop and check them out!