The Nautilus Silver King, An Apex Predator

20 comments / Posted on / by

Photo by Joel Dickey

Photo by Joel Dickey

We put the Nautilus Silver King fly reel in a head-to-head comparison with the Hatch Finatic. The results were dramatic.

I was lucky enough to catch the palolo worm hatch in the Florida Keys this year. If you’ve never witnessed 10,000 adult tarpon in a full-blown feeding frenzy, you should mark it on your calendar. It’s straight from the pages of National Geographic and your best bet to hook up a ridiculous number of huge tarpon. It was the perfect opportunity to put the new Nautilus Silver King big game fly reel to a drag torturing test.

The Silver King is the latest evolution of the Nautilus CCFX2 family.

_DSC5948VIt uses the new Dual Action drag system created for the CCFX2 line, which offers over 20 lbs of drag with virtually no startup inertia. I have watched this drag assembly put together and can tell you first hand that it is an amazing piece of engineering. The attention to detail is remarkable. Kristen Mustad has left nothing to chance here.

The reel itself is elegant. A slim XXL arbor spool holds a twelve weight fly line and 250 yards of backing. It picks up a full 14 inches of line with every turn. You’ll always be tight to the fish with that on your side. The drag adjustment is twice the diameter of the NV series reels and takes 6 1/2 turns from minimum to maximum, making it safe to tighten on a running fish.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Silver King is the weight. Or lack of it. At 9.1 ounces it’s the lightest 5″ diameter reel on the market. That’s huge. I’m always shocked at how anglers will obsess about the weight of a fly rod, then fit it with a brick for a reel. The lightness of the Silver King is an upgrade to the whole system.

Here’s what happened when the going got tough.

Like I said, the palolo worm hatch is the ultimate test of a big game reel. For some reason, when tarpon are eating worms they fight much harder than normal. Like Popeye when he eats spinach. In a single hour, an angler’s count of hundred-plus pound tarpon can go into the double digits. We’re talking heavy leaders, maximum drag. Angler and equipment pushed to the point of failure. Two weeks later my right hand is still sore from fighting fish, if that tells you anything. If there’s a design flaw anywhere, you’re going to find it.

I had my brand new Nautilus Silver King and my buddy had a new Hatch Finatic. We didn’t set out to do a side by side comparison but it worked out that way. My Nautilus performed flawlessly time after time. One of my fish was the toughest tarpon I’ve ever fought. It damned near killed me, but the Silver King took it in stride.

My buddy’s Hatch, not so much. It didn’t take long for the drag system in his two-week old reel to fail completely. It started freespooling and locking up. When he lost his fish he almost threw it overboard. He had to borrow my backup rod with another Nautilus. I don’t like talking smack about gear manufacturers, but this is what I witnessed and I don’t think it’s fair not be honest about it.

That’s all the proof I need. The Silver King, at $685, dominated the $900 Hatch. If you are looking for a big game reel that delivers under pressure, look no further. The Nautilus Silver King is an apex predator. It’s been proven.

Get your Silver King HERE!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

20 thoughts on “The Nautilus Silver King, An Apex Predator

  1. Louis,

    i just hope for your sake, the Palolo Worm Hatch was as good as adverstied to you. I am determined, that one day I will be down in the Keys for this. Thanks for the very informative product comparison here.

    • We had a good hatch one night. The hatch was weird this year but that’s what makes it cool. You never know if it’s going to happen. This year was not the best I’ve ever seen but for the couple of hours it came off it was really good. It’s something everyone should see at least once.

  2. Question – did the running line escape the little gap between the spool and the frame? I have a NV Monster and running lines, not just uber thin running lines, consistently pop that gap which is a pain in the ass.

    The gap on the Monster is exceptionally large in order to not allow the frame and spool to rub when the spindle (and spool) flex while reeling in a fish. This is usually a painful problem when designing reels, especially ultra large arbor reels…The Hatch Finatic does not rub since its hub is much wider and more stable. I hope the Silver King is better than the Monster in this area.

    • Timmy,

      I have honestly never had that problem. I own a Monster, a G8, G9, CCFX2 & the Silver King and it has never been an issue. That G8 has literally landed thousands of bonefish without a problem ever. All I do is soak it when I get home. For what it’s worth I noticed no flex in the spool.

      I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I think there may be some issue in how you are handling your line. Are you pulling line across that spot when you strip it off the reel? If so, that’s bad for both line and reel. Especially if you are doing it with the drag tightened. That will trash a line quickly and may have damaged your reel, making the problem worse. If that’s the case, I’ll bet the folks at Nautilus would fix it for you. You should contact them.

      Thanks for the question.

        • Frank,

          The profile of the 2 reels is different, with the Silver King being slimmer. The biggest difference is the drag system. The SK has the new drag assembly developed for the CCFX2. It is more powerful and has an easier adjustment, which is very easy to fine tune and even adjust under pressure. The SK is also a little more rugged than the Monster, meaning you are less likely to bend the spool by dropping it. They are both awesome reels but these days I find myself favoring the Silver king.

  3. I was lucky enough to hop on a last minute trip to the Keys this year fly fishing for tarpon. It was my first time. We hit a decent worm hatch and it was completely absurd. Caught my first tarpon ever. I am told hitting the worm hatch is pretty difficult. Thanks for the write up.


  4. I was with Louis on the trip. It was my first worm hatch but it definitely will not be the last. I do not currently own a Nautilus reel but I will soon. There is nothing worse than investing the time and money on a trip like that and have gear fail. Especially during an epic experience like this one.

  5. You need to do more fact finding prior to writing. The Nautilus is not the lightest 5″ diameter reel on the market! In fact, the first reel that came to mind ended up being a lighter 5″ diameter.


  6. Ooof, that is tough – but I do have to chime in for the boys @ Hatch.

    I’ve fished Hatch reels exclusively for a few years, for all kinds of fish big and small, fresh and salt, and have never had any kind of failure, let alone one like your buddy had.

    I’ve also never done any kind of maintenance on them, and they are still bomb proof.

    Thats been my experience, and I hope it stays that way. And yea, I’ll get around to that maintenance one of these days…


      • I tried to post this above in reply, but it did not seem to go through – hope this is not a duplicate.
        I sent this blog to Hatch & just received this response.

        “Hi Dick,

        Thank you for your email and follow up. I apologize for the late reply. I’m just catching up from being gone last week on vacation.

        We did see this blog and of course we’re interested to know the particulars. We had some significant questions right off the bat. For example, what model was it? Was the reel actually 2 weeks old? Was it a 5” reel being compared to the Nautilus 5”?

        We’ve dug more into it and found the facts were quite different than originally quoted. Keep your eye on the blog…

        Thanks for the heads up and please give me a call if you have any specific questions. ”

        Andrew Dickinson
        General Manager
        Hatch Outdoors Inc.
        1001 Park Center Dr.
        Vista, CA 92081
        P. 877-634-4343
        F. 760-734-4344

  7. I picked up the CCF-X2 6-8 last month, my first true premium reel. First day that I had it on the water, caught 5 or 6 smallies and a couple largemouth, all three to five pounds, so they put up a good fight, but didn’t really test the drag. The second time I fished it, landed a carp in the 15 pound range and a channel cat that was about 10. While neither of them pull quite like an equal size saltwater fish, for anything in freshwater in that size range, they’re tough to beat for power. The drag was fantastic, I kept adding a couple clicks at a time until the fish were stopped. Very smooth, very powerful. The other sizes are definitely on the short list for new gear as I replace quantity of cheap gear with quality


  9. Loop Opti Speed Runner. I have not checked anything else, but it is substantially lighter…and…I am not certain that lighter is better.

  10. Great to read this blog about the Silver King and that it performs well. I just got one, love it. Do you guys have any experience with the Silver King targeting GTs? Just wondering if the line capacity is sufficient. Know a lot of guys use the NV Monster for GTs.
    Thanks for your help.


  11. My hatch Finatic literally did the same thing. People tried to warn me. Didn’t even last 6 months. 1 permit was all it took to put it in the dirt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...