The Mitchell® product line is sold by Pure Fishing™,
"a global fishing tackle manufacturing and marketing organization." Some of their other brands are the legendary, world famous Abu Garcia™ Ambassadeur® casting reels, plus Fenwick™ rods and Berkeley™ products.
Mitchell® is most famous for their spinning reels. The original Mitchell 300 was invented by Maurice Jacquemin, an engineer with the French company, Carpano & Pons, back in 1948. Mitchell freshwater reels range in price (MSRP) from as low as $14.95 to $64.95 for the 300X Gold.™ Their 300X™ Classic reel retails for $44.95 and Mitchell states it's the #1 selling reel world wide. Not including the Nautil,™ there are four saltwater reels in the product line, starting at $34.95 for the Riptide™ up through the ALU™ at $104.95. The normal retail price (MSRP) of the Nautil™ is $164.95 but it is regularly discounted down to $140.00, $125.00 or maybe lower.
|Specifications Mitchell® Nautil™ 7500GV
Graphite Spool 1
Graphite Spool 2
25 Lb/330 Yds
15 Lb/550 Yds
80 Lb Braid/275
25 Lb/330 Yds
20 Lb/440 Yds
55 Lb Braid/550
15 Lb/220 Yds
12 Lb/330 Yds
35 Lb Braid/275
3 ft 5 in
The Nautil™ series was introduced in 2001/2002. The reel I acquired was made in Korea, not France. It is advertised as a medium priced waterproof saltwater compatible reel. I acquired the 7500 GV model Nautil™ for our look inside because it is a good size for saltwater applications, it's larger size means it would be more robust with larger component sizes and also because it appears to be popular in terms of sales.
Mitchell makes many claims for this reel and like most good marketers makes the most mundane things sound either hi-tech or unique. The following, in bold, is from page 3 of the Nautil™ "owners' manual."
- Sand and Waterproof (Patented) - Not really, more like "somewhat" water resistant.
- Shock Absorber Finish - that means its got a rubber boot around the reel body and the drag cap is "rubber" & plastic
- Infinite Instant Anti-Reverse Anti-reverse works
- Total Saltwater Corrosion Protection Not tested but it is a plastic reel, so...
- 5 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
- Worm gear oscillation system for perfect linelay
- Soft touch non-slip fighting handle (trademark)
- Titanium line roller with ball bearing. Nothing special
- Corrosion proof stainless steel shaft, bail wire and screws, brass pinion gear. - Yes, the Pinion Gear is only brass.
On page 5 of the owners' manual is this statement:
"Waterproofness rated to IPX6 and IPX7, tested in accordance with CEI 529 and NF C 20-010.
IPX6: guarantees total protection against splash, comparable to that of large waves.
IPX7: guarantees total protection against effects of submersion (1 Meter depth for 30 minutes)."
CEI 529 is a European Union standard (norm) for "Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures." I found the EU standard but could not locate the procedure itself to confirm how IPX6 & IPX7 tests are to be run but the main point is the statement by Mitchell that the reel passes submersion in one meter of water for 30 minutes.
Further on page 17 is this key statement and for our purposes as fisherman something that many of us consider important:
"The Nautil™ reel is built to a totally waterproof, maintenance-free design. We advise against dismantling your reel (during the 2 year guarantee period), as this could affect the seal and invalidate the guarantee."
I agree with this wholeheartedly DO NOT attempt to service this reel yourself - As long as it is under warranty send it back for a replacement! It is impossible to put it back together without the special jigs/fixtures that were used at the factory to attach the rubber boot. This boot is not glued on, it is held in place by the top of the reel foot joint and the back of the Body Mount Block. Second, if you do take it apart, DO NOT attempt to remove the Worm Gear Shaft. It is pressed in place and goes through the outside of the reel body. Really!
A black foil sticker (Picture # 3) covers the shaft and affords some water resistance.
My "Waterproofness" test before stripping down this reel consisted of a bucket filled with 16 inches of water (less than the one Meter specified in IPX7 above). The reel was submerged in the bucket for 30 minutes and at NO TIME was the reel handle cranked. That's important! Cranking would rotate the flyer and the handle possibly sucking water into the reel. The submersion test showed that this is NOT a waterproof reel and NOT entirely water resistant either! On careful disassembly water was inside the "sealed" rubber boot. Not a little bit, at least an ounce had seeped in. Within the reel's body was the shock - Click to enlarge the two pictures below.
What the pictures clearly show is that water has entered the inner workings of the reel. This is alarming because this reel is designed NOT to be taken apart for at least two years and to be very frank it's designed to NOT ever be taken apart. Why do I say that? Where's my proof? I have no proof or inside information. However the materials used and the methods of assembly, at least in my view are that this is a "one time" product. As I proceed, here I'll attempt to explain in "orderly fashion."
First, this is primarily a die cast plastic and "graphite composite" reel. There are very few metal parts except for the ones that obviously must be metal. These include the main shaft, roller and ball bearings, three gears, worm gear shaft, bail wire, handle, rod mounting foot and various screws. The main structural parts such as the spool hub assembly, flyer/rotor, body mount block and body itself are plastic. All of these except the body are spray painted gray. You can see the circular area on the bottom side of the flyer where the shaft goes through which has been masked from the paint as well as near the attached metal counterweight (see Picture # 6). I don't know what is graphite composite other than the two spare spools and perhaps the spool hub(??). I've asked a few other engineers and no one can identify any other "graphite composite" parts. Initially we thought the body must be made of graphite composite but, in my opinion it is probably some type of ABS plastic. I could do a burn test but that is destructive. In fact, I did snip off a small piece of the side of the body with a pair of wire cutters and put it under a flame - it burned, but the piece was too small for me to make a reliable determination.
The functionality of the moving parts depends on the rigidity of the plastics. An example of this is the way the Worm Gear shaft is in the body. It is press-fit onto the end of the shaft. Neither is meant to be removed and I have a hunch that the action of the Worm Gear is a weak link in this product since it is engaged from the brass Pinion Gear which in turn is first engaged by the Main Gear. The Worm Gear's stability relies on meshing smoothly with these gears even though it "hangs free" at the end of the shaft. In my opinion, not a good design when there is a lot of torque possible (Picture # 7). With the Main Shaft removed, the amount of play in the block on the Worm Gear shaft was amazing. I took a feeler gauge to measure it but ended up with a 1/8 inch thick piece of steel, that's a lot of movement! Structurally, the Main Ball Bearing which (Picture on left) sits in front of the Pinion Gear is the heart and soul of this reel. If or when it fails the Main Shaft may not operate properly, thus the Main Gear, Pinion Gear and Worm Gear may no longer engage, "mesh." The problem is that I don't think you can replace the Main Ball Bearing without a major disassembly, including removal of the Body Mounting Block (Picture # 17 below) which means the key seal of the rubber boot on the reel's body is lost.
Number two are big demerits for some of the metal parts themselves. In my opinion the springs for the anti-reverse switch and mechanism are just plain flimsy for a reel that is supposed to be maintenance free. The wire gauge of the spring attached to the On-Off Switch, in my opinion is far too light. But the spring which maintains the tension between the On-Off Cam and the Anti-Reverse Lever already looks like a busted up "slinky" and isn't really adequate (Picture # 8). The Main Shaft Roller assembly which is shown sitting at the top of Picture # 7 above, does not get a four star rating from me, it consists of a formed and stamped outer piece of metal, plated stainless steel (or an aluminum alloy), notched to engage the Anti-Reverse Lever. Next comes a one-way Toyo Shaft Roller, which holds a plain stainless steel tube to ride on the reel's main shaft. An extreme close-up of the one-way Toyo Roller is shown in Picture # 9. This is a very inexpensive one. The Main Shaft for this reel in itself is a bit light for my taste as well, it measures 7/32" in diameter, the shaft of a smaller Penn 6500SS measures 1/4" and a Van Staal shaft is 5/16". That's 42.8% bigger than the Nautil's, plus its Titanium!
I have to give Mitchell credit for a cost efficient machining process on the Pinion Gear and shaft. This is made from one piece of metal which makes the gear and shaft one integral unit. The helix cuts for the gear teeth have unfortunately over run the end of the gear and scored the shaft itself, normally an indication of an improper machine set up. Also this entire piece, unfortunately, is made from brass. It's easy to machine but it's not as strong as stainless steel.
Personally I don't want to see brass gears in any of my reels, it's too soft a metal, I would prefer even the cheapest grade of stainless steel (303) over brass. I guess I'm prejudiced because I've over torqued and broken the heads off or stripped out the screwdriver slot of too many brass screws (How many reading this now are saying to themselves right now, "Been there, Done that").
The drag system of the reel is nothing special, it's a standard grouping of metal and white Teflon® washers held in place with a C spring washer. At least I think they are Teflon.® These are not in the spools themselves but in the Spool Hub Assembly. Compression from the drag button increases or decreases the amount of drag. "Waterproofness" is created by a grommet on the bottom of the Drag Button. This pops off and there is a second rubber grommet, which also pops off exposing the hard plastic housing for the plated nut and spring assembly, which screw onto the end of the Main shaft. Keep the grommets greased if you want to maintain a "waterproofness" seal. There are anecdotal reports of the entire drag button assembly falling apart when removed. This did not happen to me but be careful when changing spools or as is more apparently common a line wrap (tangle) under the spool itself.
Mitchell® "Spool Concept" means that you get three spools with the reel; one aluminum and two graphite composite (spool capacities are listed in the table above). One thing I quite couldn't understand in the owner's manual is that you can deflect the shape of the graphite spools with (included) metal washers. By adding one or two of the washers the spools can be forced into either a conical or reverse conical shape. I assume that this might change the flow of line coming off the spool during a cast but I wonder what would happen to a spool when it was under pressure from a good fish on braided line. If one or two washers is going to compress the spool, the combination of braided line and a really good fish could be "interesting" to say the least. If you fish with braid I would forego these graphite spools and stick with the standard aluminum one.
Overall "waterproofness" is achieved by a series of built in seals on various components. An example of this is the attachment nut on the flyer (rotor) to seal the Main shaft (Picture # 14). This is an integral nut and cupped engine seal which is not meant to be removed (Picture # 15). It doesn't appear as if this as well as many other seals on the reel are replaceable so after a year or two you may have problems. I would liberally pack the cap (P/N 89016) on the right side of the body with grease as well as maintain a constant film of grease on the nut/seal pictured here. I did not send the "rubber" boot out to a polymer lab to ascertain the elastomer used to mold it. I assume its got to be made from Neoprene or NBR (Nitrile Butadiene Monomer) but Hypalon® would be great (see NOTES below). All of those elastomers have good resistance to water, resiliance to shrinking, splitting, cracking, ozone, oxidants, salts and oils.
I could not precisely determine where the water seeped into the reel's body during my bucket immersion test however the fact that the rubber boot and the body both had water inside them points to a couple of spots. The water probably seeped through the seal on the handle into both the rubber boot and the body. There was also water in the area where the shaft passes through the Main Ball Bearing and Pinion Gear and enters the body. This could have also seeped in through the slit in the boot (Picture #16) or where the boot and body meet on the Body Mounting Block. It could be checked for leakage with some strategically placed fiber optics but I'm not equipped with that or to do an old fashioned Barium X-Ray test either. The Main Gear is also shown in Picture # 16, it's not brass despite the plating. It's not magnetic so it must be stainless steel or an aluminum alloy. I took a file to the plating and its a clear "silver" metal underneath. In order to precisely determine metal alloys destructive tests are required. Even non-destructive testing with a mass spectrometer which hits the metal sample with a charge causes pitting. I think it's plated to reduce noise and to prevent galvanic corrision (dissimilar metals in direct contact) with the brass Pinion Gear.
Picture # 18 is an extreme close-up of the mounting point for the reel's foot (the studs are also shown in Picture # 7 above). This really got my attention because it creates one of the compression points to "seal" on the rubber boot. After a closer look I decided that I don't like this at all. First, the foot is held in place by two 3/32" diameter cap head screws. That in itself is okay, but they only extend 3/16" into the two mounting studs. Here again I thought well maybe that's sufficient since the foot is aluminum and there is a deep indent which goes over the mounting area holding the threaded studs. I didn't want to destroy the reel but I would surely have loved to cut open the plastic holding the studs to determine how they are secured. Nevertheless I did take the rubber boot, put it back on the body, attach the reel foot, torquing down the cap screws as tight as possible. Since this spot is a seal and there's "rubber" between the foot and the body there is some very minor play. Normal casting and retrieving should be no problem but I would keep an eye on this spot because who knows if the cap screws or worse, the studs, work loose at the wrong time. You could be holding a rod with a reel foot in one hand and a reel body with a fish on the line with the other. Now that would be veeerrry interesting!
My last, "I don't like" is that there are only three holes for screwing on the side of the body. Not really a big deal. My Fin-Nor Ahab has three holes also. The difference is that the Fin-Nor is metal. Three machined screws go into machine-threaded holes. On the Nautil™ its three self-tapping screws going into plastic! The body itself with the rubber boot installed is held in place on the Mounting Block with 4 stainless steel self tapping screws with O-rings (Picture #17). All these self tapping screws do not spell Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y to me.
Final thoughts - My Opinion
Sorry but this is not a waterproof reel or a good reel. The Mitchell Nautil™ is a low cost plastic reel dressed up with a rubber boot and a big handle. It is NOT designed to be easily repaired, and like I said earlier, as far as I'm concerned this is a "one-time" reel. It may be good for one, maybe even two fishing seasons but its not going to hang together as long as a classic Penn spinning reel, 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more. I understand now why there have been negative reports about this reel on various fishing web site boards since it first came out. If you are planning to hook into a "Trophy Bass," someday, 40 pounds up to and beyond 50 pounds, maybe this is not the reel to own. What's it worth? Read paragraph one again, look at the Mitchell product line on their web site - you decide. No way would I pay more than maybe $75.00 for it. Why $75.00? None of the components, even with that rubber boot justify more money. Like I said near the beginning:
"Mitchell makes many claims for this reel and like most good marketers makes the most mundane things sound either hi-tech or unique."
Fact is, reading the owners' manual carefully, the claim of a patent for Waterproof isn't 100% true. Its actually "Patent Pending." What that means is a whole big long story that we can't get into here but it doesn't really mean squat! I started to do a search for any patents or patent applications here in the US or Europe and then I realized how dumb it was to waste my time. What can they patent, a rubber boot, foil stickers? Beats me, if I was a Patent Inspector they would have to show me something really unique and not leak.
- If you are in the market for a reel you can do a lot BETTER for a lot LESS money.
- If you bought or received a Nautil™ for Christmas, maybe you can still return or exchange it.
- If you own one, under warranty, if any problems occur or you hear strange sounds, send it back immediately.
- If you disagree with my analysis of the Nautil,™ that's your privilege - go get one and take it apart for yourself. Just don't come crying to me when you can't get it back together 100%!