I’ve been using the Nautilus X in size XL since 2015 as my light saltwater reel. It balances out my #8 perfectly for that finesse work in skinny water.

I haven’t actually given the reel much love in terms of a proper service in the last two years; quietly (and lazily) hoping that the sealed drag was doing it’s thing. But it does get used a lot.  It sports a good drag that has dealt with bonefish, permit, carp, spangos and queenfish; amongst others. I’ve been very happy with it thus far.

But I do like to tinker. Before my recent Fiji trip, I was in the process of servicing and replacing carbontex drag disks on a light spinning reel and got wondering about changing the teflon to a carbontex disc in the XL.Upon inspect and research, I realised that what initially thought was a teflon washer is actually a nylon washer – this is a barrier washer between the wave spring and stainless washer. So there is only one teflon washer to be replaced. Finding the right carbentex washer is a simple enough affair; measure them and order the equivalent from any on the internet! I ordered via ebay from Bill Nelson on EBay and was very happy with service and product.

The CF washer was thicker than the teflon but my original worry about this effecting drag never materialised.

The new setup got well worked in Fiji, dealing with a variety of mid-sized trevally; one evening dealing effectively with a nicely sized Trevally Trifecta (a big brassy, decent bluefin and a mini geet). Maybe I was feeling biased but I really believe that there was a smoother feeling to the drag, a slightly lower startup inertia and a general all round improvement.

(DISCLAIMER: The X is a really tidy setup and probably doesn’t need an the carbontex upgrade. I know that Jesus (that’s the reel designer at Nautilus) has very sound reasons for not using carbontex in the but I, the layman, have my own for changing. These include improved performance in all my spinning gear reels that I’ve changed and a general belief that carbon is better than teflon.

A Fijian Brassy Trevally: one of many fish that the little Nautilus XL dealt with.


When opening any ‘sealed’ drag, the first thing that I want to see is how much water has got through into the hub. Sealed drags often become unsealed; especially when they are used for wading and and non-boat work! When I last serviced the reel there were a few drops of water in the hub but I used a good quality marine grease and a silicone grease on the O-ring when I put it back together. On inspection this time, I was pleased to see that there was a minimal amount of water in the drag compartment – for some reason, I didn’t a photo of this.

Once stripped down, it’s interesting to see the drag layout…

Stripped down, one can clearly see the factory components of the Nautilus X. It’s a well built reel and has a reliable drag for its size and weight!

The drag layout is as follows, from left to right:

Drag tightening plate (left of the cage)
Wave spring
Nylon washer
Stainless Steel washer
Teflon Washer
Hub for one-way bearing
Carbontex washer

The rebuild went as follows:

Everything first gets a good clean; nylon teflon (if not replacing) and metal components are cleaned and dried carefully. After that they get layer of grease. Everything gets grease, but spread it super thin. Grease helps with both lubrication and the sealing and prevention of corrosion.

A note on cleaning: While I was brought up using petrol to strip reel parts of old grease and build up, there are a variety of other cleaning compounds that can be used. They include hot soapy water, acetone, Simple Green cleaning compound, Ronsonol Lighter Fluid, engine cleaner and others.

Lubrication: Again, there are lots of options here. I use a fine marine grease on the moving parts. I got from JD Filmalter. I Yamaha outboard grease for coating areas of non-contact. I also use a silicon grease for any O-rings or rubber gaskets (if there are any).

Because the X uses brushes we don’t have to worry about cleaning and lubricating bearings. But when I do, its with petrol or acetone and then treated with either Shimano bantam oil or good old Bones Speed Cream (if you’re a skater you’ll appreciate).

The drag pillar. The hex end fits the spool. There’s a teflon washer that needs to be fitted onto the drag pillar before it gets inserted into the hub.

The drag pillar fits VERY snugly into the hub brushes but should turn smoothly.

The end of the drag pillar is shown emerging from the teflon brush in the hub. The clip fits into a groove (you can see it two photos up) close to the base of the drag post that is flush with the brush. You need to drop the clip into the recess and lever it into position.  The one way will fit onto the end of the pillar.

The one way bearing on the drag pillar. This is were you change between left and right hand retrieve.

The drag knob is attached via u clip. There is a stainless washer that fits into a recess in the cage and runs between the body and the clip.

The drag platform that is used to apply the pressure is screwed on.

The drag plate fits neatly into the two groves ensuring that does not rotate when tightening. The wave spring sits on top of the platform.

The nylon washer is placed on top of the wave spring while the stainless steel drag washer fitted on top. I mistakenly thought that it was a teflon washer, however, according to THESE GUYS it’s nylon.

Here I’ve replaced the teflon drag washer with a Carbontex one. You can see the nodes on the stainless washer and the slots in the frame into which they fit. This prevents the stainless washer spinning and ensures smooth drag functioning.

The one-way bearing fits snugly into the drag system – the three grooves on the bearing fit the ridges in space in one-way hub. Here the O-ring fits into a groove in the drag hub and is treated with a coat of silicone grease. You can see the edge of the carbontex (this is the original one) where it is smoothed from the contact and pressure with the hub edge.

The frame with the drag hub reassembled and connected. Ready for the next outing!

A great long nose emperor from the Fijian flats. This fish really tested the new drag as I needed to put max pressure on it to keep from heading over the edge of flat into the reef!


Cover image courtesy of the Nautilus Website


  1. Thanks for the article. I know i’m finding it quite late, but I enjoyed it. I have been looking into potentially getting this reel in the 6-8 size for redfish in Louisiana, but wondered if the drag could be enhanced in case I hooked something like a jack crevalle or similar. I wonder if the drag washer was set as nylon to avoid the case where someone would crank it down full drag and then bend the frame of the spool, but it is probably for another reason and the folks at Nautilus know better than I do! I know their CCF and NV-G series is a lot heavier with more material in the frame and spool and have much higher drag settings. Maybe this is sort of like a restrictor plate on a racing vehicle in that for the lighter reel it was designed to be limited to avoid warping if a less experienced person really bore down on the drag knob. I feel like what you did is a great upgrade because it will allow you to “dial in” your drag at less than full out and somewhere in the middle, which will make it smoother in operation. I have also done the carbontex upgrade on some of my spinning reels with great results.


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