The Ahab from Noodler’s is one of the most affordable entry points to the world of flex nib fountain pens. Having seen beautiful works of calligraphic art all around the community, I wanted to find out what these unique pens are all about. But first, the basics.
In addition to their huge range of vibrant and colorful inks, Noodler’s also offers a series of flexible nib fountain pens. The Ahab is on the lower end of the price range for this series, and one of the most popular options with consumers.
The Ahab features a solid resin body, grip, and screw-on cap, a draw-pull piston filling mechanism, and a number six steel flex nib. Overall the pen has a pretty solid feel. The converter screws in and is sealed by a rubber o-ring, so internal leaks are not a concern. You can also remove the converter completely and go full eyedropper, more than doubling the internal ink capacity. The nib and feed pull directly out so you can give the pen a thorough cleaning, and swap the nib should the need arise.
One stumbling point of the pen is the grip section. While it is not particularly shorter than other pen grips, measuring about three quarters of an inch, it is a bit wider toward the back and is lacking any sort of ridge or finger-stop on the front. Now maybe I just hold my pens too close to the nib when I write, but every time I use the Ahab, I end up with at least a little ink on my finger from accidentally touching the feed. Based on the seller-produced photos available online, the other pens in the Noodler’s line don’t share the same grip design. But if you go with the Ahab, it is something to keep in mind.
Writing with the pen is (as expected) a pretty unique experience. With very little pressure, the pen writes smooth but very wet. I would rate the line width somewhere in the area of a German fine nib. The pen does well with slow and purposeful writing, but the ink flow had trouble keeping up when writing quick notes. Admittedly, that isn’t really the purpose of a flex nib pen, but it’s definitely something to consider when shopping.
But what about the flex?
The design of the Noodler’s number six flex nib is fairly simple; The cut line between the tines extends roughly two thirds down the length of the nib. This allows the affordable steel nib to flex like a much smaller, and more expensive, soft gold nib. Applying more pressure splits the tines, creating a much thicker line on the down stroke. Unlike a stub or oblique nib, you can only get this line variation by applying pressure on the down stroke, but this does allow for some very creative handwriting when it works. When it doesn’t, you either get nothing out of the nib, or you get something commonly referred to as “railroading.” This occurs when the ink does not fully flow through to the page, so you end up with an outline of the wide line you intended to draw. The resulting mark is two parallel lines that sort of resemble rail road tracks. This being my first flex nib pen, I don’t know how frequent of a problem this is, but I ran into it about five to ten percent of the time. It’s annoying, but not a deal breaker.
What does cause a bit of concern is the impact of the nib on paper. As I mentioned previously, the flexible nib is still made of steel and is sharp at its point. By applying enough pressure to flex the tines, the points dig into the surface of your paper a bit. The grooves made by the pen are not enough to rip through the page (unless you really try), but it does affect your ability to use the back of the sheet. Even on thicker Rhodia paper, the impact of the Noodler’s nib shows through to the other side once pressure is applied.
Because the pen uses the standard sized number six nib, it is very easy to find replacement flex or standard non-flex nibs. When switched out to a Goulet EF stell nib, the pen writes very smooth and consistent.
So. Is it worth it?
This is another tough pen to recommend as a sole purchase for your primary writer, but that isn’t really this pen’s purpose. While the Noodler’s nib struggles to keep up with regular writing or note taking, the real reason to buy this pen is to have some fun with it. This is definitely a tool for creative expression, beyond just writing words. If you read my review of the Karas Kustoms Fountain and Render K pens, you know that I am a fan of versatility and adaptability. While the $23 base pen may not be universally useful, the lower cost of entry makes it easy to add on a replacement nib.
All things considered, the Noodler’s Ahab is a good pen. I would not buy the it as a daily writer, as it’s ink consumption is through the roof compared to other pens, but it’s a very fun change of pace. At $23, the Nooodler’s Ahab is a welcome addition to any pen enthusiast’s collection.
Looking for something different in your pen collection? Get you Noodler’s Flex Nib Pen from Goulet Pens.
Disclaimer: The Goulet Pen Company provided this pen to The Poor Penman blog at no charge for the purpose of review. All opinions stated are those of the author.