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We graded each reel on a 1-5 scale in three areas:
1. Price
2. How the reel felt and reacted as the motorcycle sped away
3. How we like handling the reel

Then we made “judges deductions” for any beefs we had about the reels.

Price/Features
Nautilus makes a 12 ($500), a 12T ($565), and a 12S (for $595). For this sized reel aimed at tarpon and above, those are all pretty fair prices. We tested the 12 S.
Score: 4.5 out of 5

How it “Met the Street”
A touch of bump felt at launch, but beyond that, the reel, with a carbon fiber and cork combo in the drag, did a very nice job of paying out line with a grudge against the bike. Jeff felt like he had a parachute dragging behind him as he accelerated. No heat, no stink. No problem.
Score: 4 out of 5

Functional Review
Nautilus is the only brand we tested in all three classes. The functionality attributes we described apply throughout the different series the company produces. Not a whole lot to argue with. Not a lot of bells and whistles; just a “shut up and fish” brand. We’ll give it the same score.
Score: 4 out 5

Knocks
We will say, at this top end size, the Nautilus is a beefy tostada. It’s a little heavy, but not bad. Honestly, when you’re throwing big flies at mako sharks or sailfish … when that fish is lit up and on the move, who the hell is really worried about the finesse and feel of the rod and reel?
Deduction: .5

Total Score: 12 out of 15

Watch More Reel Tests:

Trout Reels Hatch 3-Plus Nautilus 5 Abel Pt. 5 Ross Evolution Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor Scientific Anglers System 2L Model 45L Bauer JM2 Bonefish Reels Sage 3400 Nautilus 8 Bauer MX4 Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor **Big Game Reels ** Orvis Vortex (VO2) 8-11 Nautilus 12 Hatch 9-Plus Abel Super 10

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