Oct 14

Nautilus Reels and BTT

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust got a great ally recently in Nautilus Reels. Sounds like they’ll donate 5% to BTT for their award-winning NV-Monster reel and will sign the purchaser up for a year of BTT membership.


I interviewed Kristen Mustad a few years back and got a chance to fish a Nautilus reel back in 2010 on a trip to Belize. Loved it.

Great to see Nautilus partnering up with BTT.

Aug 10

Interview with Kristen Mustad – Nautilus Reels

I have not fished a Nautilus Reel… yet… but on my next trip to some warm and beautiful bit of salty water, I just might borrow one of Kristen’s reels and give it a go.  I already have one of his reels on my phone.

You have a Norwegian background?

Norwegian born, in Oslo.

So, what’s your strategy for not getting skin cancer being a Norwegian in Miami?

I use Buffs.  I was hating them, thinking people looked like fools wearing them and then I wore one and it’s the most amazing product ever. No other product comes close to it.  There are a bunch of other guys that make similar products, but they don’t work as well.

You see fishing guides smoking through them, drinking through them, it’s pretty crazy.  I’ll tell you something, when you are out there on the flats, I always used to wear long sleeves, cotton, because the soak up a little sweat and they keep you cool, and even when I wear technical stuff, I wear a cotton shirt under it just to get a little cool on it because it gets really hot here in the summer when there’s no wind.  But when you wear a Buff you don’t get a hang-over, you get a hang-over from the sun just because you are dehydrated, just like when you drink.


Tell me a little bit about Nautilus Reels.  What makes you guys unique or special, what’s the value proposition?

Right now, it is the lightness of the reel.  We hit it big with the CCF line, which, today in my book is a heavy reel, but we still sell a pile of them.  That’s an 8.7 ounce 8 wt. reel and when it was first launched was one of the lighter big game reels out there. Now, we’ve got the NV line, which is just way lighter, it’s higher dollar, but not as high dollar as some of the reels out there.

Another advantage we have is we are young guys, we are always out there looking for the new stuff; components, materials, cutting tools, software – you name it. Also, it’s our attention to detail: it is not all about functionality: Looks matter a lot, so does ease of assembly and manufacturing time. It is all a balance that affects your costs, so every time we run a part, we make changes to it, every time. Most of them are not visible to the end user, it is all to get better efficiencies in the factory and in the end, to make a better product without impacting the guy who bought one last year and wants to buy a replacement spool.  It’s going to fit.

The new NV, the NV-G series are really large arbor. For the NV 11-12, an 8.5 ounce 12 weight reel, which is about half the weight of the next comparable 12 wt. reel (ours or anyone else’s), we make the G-9 spool.  It has a huge arbor. We used to call it the Über-Arbors. You can put an 8, 9 or 10 wt. line on it and you’ve got 8.2 ounce 8 wt. reel that picks up line like the devil. A 4.5” 8 wt. reel… it’s a lot of fun

You’ve got to be out there making new products. When we got into this, we looked around and folks were changing their products every 5, 6, 7 years and the changes were  cosmetic. We made it a point to bring in a new model every year. People change their cars every 3-4 years, yet keep an outdated reel for 15!  People are still fishing cork. Cork was invented generations ago.  The main reason we use it in our CCF reel ( it’s cork and carbon fiber, that’s what the CCF stands for) is for marketing purposes. Carbon fiber is way superior to cork, but the whole big game crowd was so into cork because it is “so forgiving, compressible, has memory…” so we said, OK, let’s include cork so the big game guys can see that and say, “Hey, it’s got cork, it’s gotta be OK.”

Kristen with a bone.

Joe said he uses the featherweight.

That’s our little trout reel, and we built it big.  The featherweight soon will have a stronger drag and we’ll put cork in there so people will be satisfied, but it is a 4.5 ounce little reel, but that’s what Joe uses all the time.  You don’t need more.

I saw your Traveler’s Program (where you lend reels to folks to bring on their next trip).  That sounds awesome.  Are people taking advantage of that?

They are, but I’ll tell you it’s frustrating.  They borrow the reel, and then they don’t send it back for three months and then they don’t send a picture.  You tell them, “Guys, can you send a picture of the fish?”  They say, “No, we didn’t catch any.”  Just tell me a story, tell me about the guy that fell over the case of beer. Tell me anything. You end up with no stories half the time.

That does suck.  I’d think there would be so many people that would jump at it.

It’s an awesome program and it is non-threatening to the dealer because there is only one of each (reel model/weight).  Each gets engraved with every destination.  I’ll tell you, the 10/11 traveler is gone.  The 8/9 traveler is gone. They just never returned them.  They get charged, but they just don’t return them sometimes.  We need to find a way to get this to work better.  It’s frustrating to the guys that want the reels and can’t get them.  It’s frustrating to us. We need to put a GPS tracker on those things to get them back.

How much do you fish for bones?  Biscayne Bay is right there.

I probably get a couple days a month.  When I bonefish, I fish in Key Biscayne. Most of my bonefishing I did in Los Roques.  I lived in Venezuela for four years.  I had some buddies that fished and had little planes and we’d go out there on weekends and fish for two or three days.  You go out there on your own and you’ll catch three fish on a weekend, and you go back when you have a little more money and you hire a guide and you catch 15 fish in a morning.

Do you have a most memorable bonefish?

I invented a patentable way to tie a fly that works well in certain applications.  I tie a lot with big rabbit strips.  I was fishing with some of the guys from Kauffmans down here and we were casting… the way you tie this fly, it’s tied on the weed guard, and what was happening was I was using too light a weedguard and the fish would suck in the rabbit and the hook would stay outside its mouth.  We had two different fish eat this fly four times and they’d pick it up, the angler would come tight and clear the line and then the fly would just come out.  It happened again and again.  The guy said “This fly sucks, can we change it?”  I picked up the fly, put the hook right through the rabbit strip and I said “Cast again.”  Sure enough, he stuck the fish on the first cast. That concept didn’t work, but it was a very memorable experience.

Another FL bonefish

What rod do you pair with your Nautilus reel?

I use whatever the newest Nautilus reel is.  Right now, I’m fishing the G9’s. That’s the one I like best.  For rods, I’ll use pretty much anything US Made.  I use a lot of different rods.  On my last trip, I used a Scott S4S in a 9 weight.

I saw you actually have a section on your website called “pipeline.”  Is there anything coming down the pipeline you are particularly excited about?

The Featherweight’s are changing to a spool that looks like the G spool.  The G spool, when it has line on it, the backing sits higher than it looks like it should sit, so it looks like it floats. It promotes backing drying faster, but they also look really good.

Do you  have any parting thoughts?

Here’s my message… take a buddy fishing.  That’s the best thing you can do.  Every day we lose kids and adults from this sport.  When I go out fishing, I don’t take the hard core guy, I take the guy that doesn’t get out, the guy who hasn’t done this before.  The guy finds a new hobby he loves, the guide gets a new client, everyone wins.  There are so many guys that just do offshore fishing, but the flats fishing, its full contact… you are there in 12 inches of water and there’s a 200 pound shark that comes up and noses the propeller.  You can’t beat that.  I take my kid out, he’s 9, I’ve been taking him out since he was 1 ½ and he’ll spend the whole day on a flats boat soaking a crab and he just loves it.  It doesn’t have to be fly fishing.  Just take someone out there.

Thanks Kristen!

Aug 10

I don’t think bonefish french kiss

Owner of Nautilus Reels, Kristen Mustad sent me a couple of pictures of a bonefish tongue.  This particular fish fell victim to the cold snap back in January and was given to one of the Nautilus employees by a bonefish researcher.

All I can say is… WOW.


That is a bonefish tongue


Side view.

Perfect for crushing that little crab against the bonefish’s crushing plate on the top of its mouth.

Now you know… and “knowing is half the battle.”