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.

At $400 retail, this is a big-league saltwater reel, made in the USA, with really nice features and a great drag system. We like those classy, saltwater standards (a la Tibor) a lot, but Nautilus gets it done for a better price.
Score **4.5 out of 5 **

How it “Met the Street”
An admission here … Most of the actual reels we tested were offered as samples by the reel companies. In this case, I used my own Nautilus reel. No fear … I’d had so many fish pull on this reel in difficult situations, I knew a motorcycle wouldn’t make it choke. Smoothness is what we experienced, except for a hiccup at the start of the second run.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Functional Review
Nautilus reels are good values, throughout the range of weights and classes. It’s fairly easy to pop the spool on the move, very light, yet with an honest drag system that takes no prisoners. They look great, and balance any rod well. Is a Nautilus an heirloom in the Billy Pate/Tibor class? Not exactly. But it will probably be cranking away when your kid is fishing with it.
Score: 4 out of 5

We’re scratching our heads here. The price is pretty darn fair, when you’re talking about high performance saltwater gear. The weight and balance are nice. The tolerances are tight. Drag is muscular. Machining is great. Maybe a little “plastic” on the spool screw cap, handle and drag setting. But shouldn’t you fall in love with someone or something for what’s on the inside?
Deduction: .5

Total Score: 11.5 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