The Nautilus Monster Fly Reel, Every Tarpon’s Worst Nightmare

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Photo by louis Cahill

Photo by louis Cahill

If tarpon have nightmares, the monsters under their beds come from Nautilus.

Earlier this year, when I started going through my gear for tarpon season, something kept nagging me. In the back of my mind I knew that I needed a better reel. I’d been doing OK with my old tried-and-true tarpon reel but I knew it was the weak link in the chain. One thing I know about tarpon, if there’s a weak link they will find it. I picked up my phone and shot off a text to my buddy Kristen Mustad at Nautilus.

“I’m ready to stop fucking around. I need a monster!”

The Nautilus NV monster is the pinnacle in fly reel design. A schoolyard bully with a PhD. Brains and brawn in one package. A reel with one thing on its mind. Breaking the spirits of big fish. Let’s take the Monster apart and see what makes it tick.


Before the fight begins, before your drag starts to sing, you have to find and hook a fish. Sure, but what does that have to do with your reel? Fatigue, that’s what. Big game reels which hold lines 12 weight and up can weigh a pound. That’s a lot of weight to put on a rod and cast all day. Fatigue from casting with a heavy reel can cause your casting to get sloppy, just when you need it the most. At just over 9 ounces, the Monster helps keep your casting arm fresh and your casts clean and accurate. The Monster is working for you before you even hook the fish.

Now that you’ve hooked that fish, the Monster starts to live up to its name. Let’s look at some of the tools you have at your disposal.


The best sealed carbon fiber drag in the business. I’ve watched these reels being made and I can tell you there are no corners cut. This is a powerful drag system with excellent heat dissipation that will run like clockwork for years to come. I would jump out of a helicopter, Navy Seal style, with one of these reels in my hand.


The arbor is the defining feature of the NV Monster. Its 5 inch diameter gives you 14 inches of line pick-up with every turn. Go ahead fish, run straight at the boat. We’ve got that covered. There’s more to the Monster arbor, however, than size. The Giga-arbor design has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Nautilus uses computer software to analyze the strength of the design. While way above my head, I understand that this allows them to design an extremely light spool with no flex. The beef is where it needs to be and the rest is gone.

A complex system of vents allows both line and backing to dry quickly, keeping your backing at maximum strength. The shape of the vents keeps line from bulging and helps it spool neatly onto the reel. Machined cross-members mark the spool for 350 yards of backing. A 12-weight line then fits the reel comfortably without cramping your style. There’s a comfortable big game handle and perfect counterweight. But wait, there’s more.

The coolest thing about the NV series spool is that the entire spool, with its increased surface area, acts as a heat sync for the drag system. This keeps your drag running cool and efficient as well as being totally bad ass! You can learn more about that (HERE).

The Frame

The frame is beautifully designed and machined for maximum strength with minimum weight. Extra wide line guards and extra thick lugs make the monster rigid and shock resistant. A conical flange where the spindle meets the drag assembly makes a rock solid connection that will not flex. Its connection to the spool is simple and sturdy with a center locking knob. The reel foot is easily replaceable, should it be damaged, and sports the famous “Hooker” line keeper.


The Monster’s design is as much art as science. The look of the reel is bold and modern. The spool glitters in the sun as it spins under the load of a running fish. The frame has the signature Nautilus shell, billet machined into the lugs, and a capital M in the lower line guard. The disk drag system is the classic Nautilus red. The rest of the reel is available in silver, black and a rainbow of eye-popping custom colors. The fit and finish is outstanding and the anodizing flawless, which is what you’d expect from a reel that is handmade 100% in the USA.

I have been absolutely thrilled with the performance of my Nautilus NV Monster. It’s hands down the finest fly reel I own. When fishing tarpon on the flats and blue water leviathans, with the Monster I dictate the terms. The only downside is, now the weak link is me!

Get yours HERE!

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Watch the Monster tame a marlin in this great video!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “The Nautilus Monster Fly Reel, Every Tarpon’s Worst Nightmare

  1. As someone who designs stuff and works with machinists when I first looked at the reel I thought “Why the cross-members? Just for looks?” and then I read what you wrote and it all made sense:

    “Machined cross-members mark the spool for 350 yards of backing”

    Form follows function.

    Well done!

  2. Pingback: Nautilus Monster Reel Review at G&G

  3. I watched the marlin video. The man was trolling. Not allowed for fly fishing by USGA. no reflection on the reel or rod, but really!!!

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