Noodler’s Ahab Flex Nib Review (It stinks…..Well, smells bad)

I finally took the plunge and picked up a Noodlers pen. I’ve been a fan of their ink for years but I haven’t taken the next step of getting one of their pens.

To be honest, when the first generation of pens hit the market, I wasn’t super excited about their looks. more importantly, the reviews I was reading online were decidedly mixed. The second generation hit, and though they looked the same, the reviews definitely got better. Then came the Ahab….


This is a completely new pen. Aproximately 5.5″ capped, just a hair ove 9/16″ in girth (capped) and 6 ¾” posted. It’s light, but substantial. Two negatives almost immediately struck me. First, it stinks. No, I mean it stinks – it smells bad. Really bad. It’s made from something called “vegetal resin”, and….it stinks. Everything I’ve read is that this occurs with new pens and that the smell eventually dissipates. I sure hope so. did I mention that it smells really, really bad? Second, the cap posts, but not completely securely. I’ve had other pens where the cap didn’t post well, but those were always due to a lack of friction. That’s not the problem here. The cap will post, and seems like it will stay in place, but it doesn’t easily post straight and correct. It wants to be angled if you’re not careful. (Oh my gosh this thing stinks. Hard to concentrate on writing here…)

This is the first “modern” flex nib pen I’ve ever owned. I like it! I like it a lot! (Dumb & Dumber. Anyone? Anyone?) I have some vintage pens with flex nibs and I’ve just been ok with them. I tend to exert just a bit too much pressure and thus tend to get a lot of railroading (the tines spread too much and instead of getting a wide wet line, you get two thin ones at each tine tip). This one has railroaded on me but I was able to quickly figure out just how much pressure to use. Basically I don’t have to bear down really, but I do have to use considerably more pressure on this pen than my vintage ones if I want to achieve flex (that is, wider) strokes. The nib is large, stainless steel and very smooth. There’s no breather hole, instead a line running the entire length of the exposed portion of the nib. It’s very attractive I think.

Another really cool aspect (just one of many), it that the pen is designed from the get-go to be easily converted to an eye drpper fill pen. You simply remove the included piston filler (which holds a lot of ink on it’s own, by the way), slap some silicone grease around the body threads, fill ‘er up, screw the section back in and you’re ready to go. It holds probably a pint of ink. Finally, no special tools needed! for cleaning, for anything really. All parts are either thread together or friction fit together. Sweet.


Overall, Other than the horrible, awful, terrible, unholy, eye-watering, nauseating, bung-hole oder that this thing currently gives off, I give it two BIG thumbs up! This is a whole lot of quality and good looks for very little $. I’ll do an odor follow up in a few weeks.


There are a lot of really good, informative reviews on this pen out there. Here are a few I really liked (some video):


Time For A Notebook Review…..ARC by Staples

Once again, toooooo long since a posting. Time to change that.


So Ok, I’ve been playing around with disc based notebooks for years now. I first saw the Circa system in the decadent “Levenger” catalog (LOVE their stuff. Expensive, but I love it). Soon after, I discovered the Rollabind system while in Staples one day, probably 2006 or 2007. Awesome, I thought, a notebook system just like Levenger’s Circa system (in fact, completely compatible) but at a fraction of the price. So, I picked up a couple. How could I go wrong at $6.99 ( for the Jr size)? I thought – I really thought – I would love it. But after a few weeks of use, my attitude was “Ehh…” (Exaggerated shrug of the shoulders). I found that I didn’t want to replace my daily planning/list notebook. I typically use a 5.5″ x 3.5″ moleskin knock-off notebook of some sort. I just like that size. But I loved the idea of being able to rearrange and better organize my notes. So for my daily work use, I went back to the small form factor. I did start using the Rollabind notebooks for church sermon notes and general Bible study (Yeah. I’m one of those….)

The Rollabinds soon fell out of favor for me because of the paper. My initial notebooks had very good paper that came with them. But once I had used up the initial supply, and bought refill supplies, everything went south. Obviously, due to very name of this blog, I’m a fountain pen user. Die-hard. And the refill Rollabind paper was so bad as to be almost unusable. The bleed through was so bad! So back to the shelf for the Rollabinds.

Now, move forward to 2014. I’ve never lost the infatuation for the disc system. But Rollabind was out for me and Levenger’s Circa is just too expensive for me to consider. I’m back in a Staples again about six weeks ago, and what do I see? A new disc system (I’d noticed the Rollabind products had disappeared a few years ago): M by Staples ARC System. And most intriguing, they had a leather product (at least it claimed to be) in a Jr size for $16.99. In an apples to apples comparison, the Levenger Jr size in leather is $79. A $62 dollar difference. So I came home without one, and went online to do some research before I plunked down $17 for another disappointment. ‘Cause I’m cheap like that. Reviews were glowing. The leather appeared to be real. Rollabind had offered a “leather” notebook (I have one). Nope. Vinyl. This thing appeared to be the real deal. And the paper was getting good reviews as well. So off I headed, back to pick one up.

That was about six weeks ago. And I admit, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. I now have the leather Jr size, a leather Sr size, AND I bought the paper punch. That punch has proven to be the game changer for me. Now I’m using these notebooks and the disc system in general, for everything I’m doing. It allows me to use any paper item I need, to be securely bound in my notebook. I’m an insurance broker and now I can develop my own custom forms to use in my day-to-day business activity. The paper has been nothing short of fantastic. Just to be sure, I bought a refill pack, and it seemed to be the exact same quality as the paper they ship in the notebooks.

I can only compare this system to the old Rollabind system. To me, unequivocally, the ARC system is superior. Both systems are completely compatible. However, in the Jr size, the paper is slightly different in size, though, each will fit the others discs and covers. The paper for the ARC Jr size is exactly 5.5″ by 8.5″ (exactly half the size of a standard 8.5 x 11 letter page). The Rollabind is slightly smaller at 5.5″ by 8.25″.

The net is full of good reviews on the ARC system. Here are some I thought were worthwhile:


Inside cover of the Jr size ARC notebook. Test for fountain pen bleed through



Almost no bleed-through



Letter size ARC



The Punch. This is what REALLY makes this system usefull.