Danny Ashcraft here with Hatch Outdoors. Tarpon season is upon us, and what better time is there to revamp our Insider newsletter featuring… Whats In The Bag? This time of year, we are often asked what products we recommend to successfully target Tarpon. For this we turn to Capt. Bruce Chard and his expertise in chasing this highly sought after species. I have had the pleasure of chasing tarpon in the Keys with Capt. Chard as he has been a Hatch Prostaff member for close to 10 years. The wealth of information he possess on our product, setup, and sight fishing is incredible. If you ever have the chance to fish with Bruce or attend one of his seminars, I highly recommend it. For now Hatch Outdoors brings to you……. What’s in Bruce’s Bag?
REELS & RODS
HATCH 9Plus, Large Arbor – The 9+ reel is a perfect match for my light 9wt and 10wt tarpon set ups. I will rig my 9wt rod with a 9 PLUS REEL for baby tarpon fishing (fish under 40lbs – A great set up for many different tarpon fishing conditions in Belize, Mexico, and the Florida Keys). When conditions for larger fish call for a technical approach, water is super clear, sun angle is high, and tarpon are on their guard, I love to go to battle with a stealthy 9+ on a 10wt. [SHOP HATCH]
HATCH 11Plus, Large Arbor – In most occasions, an 11wt can help you tackle large tarpon. My most recommended tarpon set up is an 11wt rod matched up with a 11 PLUS REEL. The larger Arbor increases the all-important retrieve rate. This helps gain line back quickly when you’re using the skiff to close ground on the fish or when the fish comes back at you. [SHOP HATCH]
G.LOOMIS RODS – When it comes to tarpon fishing, the faster you get your fly in the water the more valuable time and space you have to work with to get your fly in the right spot per the conditions. The LOOMIS NRX rods are fast and accurate, helping to get straight line presentation at any distance. [SHOP LOOMIS]
LINE & LEADER
AIRFLO LINE – The AIRFLO TROPICAL PUNCH LINE is the best line for fighting the almighty wind in the tropics while tarpon fishing. The short head dumps energy into the leader system, increasing the odds of slack-less presentation. When you start with no slack in your system, this allows you to successfully and efficiently regulate slack that enters the system while fishing your fly to the tarpon. Since the fly needs to be above the tarpon at all times to increase the odds of a take, no slack can be within the system. [SHOP AIRFLO]
HATCH Hard Mono, 16 – 100lb – A complete set of HATCH HARD MONo allows me to customize a leader to any size fly line diameter for the smoothest transition of energy possible from the fly line to the leader. [SHOP BRUCE’S TARPON LEADER SYSTEM]
HATCH Fluoro Shock, 40, 50, 60lb – When it’s windy, use the 60 LB HATCH SHOCK TIPPET . It will help sink the fly down a little bit more when fish are running deeper because of the wind or when fishing in off-colored water – plus you get more protection with the larger diameter against abrasion. 50lb is a must for all general fishing, and 40 lb is great for stealthy calm, ultra-clear skies and days when fish are more spooky. Drop down the fly size and the shock tippet size on these technical days for best results. [SHOP BRUCE’S TARPON LEADER SYSTEM]
TOOLS & ACCESSORIES
HATCH Nomad 2 Pliers – When it comes to tarpon fishing, rigging can make all the difference in landing that big fish or not. Having my NOMAD PLIERS on me at all times allows me to handle any rigging situation immediately and effectively. A must have for any tarpon angler. [SHOP HATCH]
HATCH Nipper 2 – Its important to have the ability to change flies quickly on the fly. I love having a pair of HATCH NIPPERS around my neck at all times to help me trim my knots smoothly and quickly, especially when under pressure. Nippers need to be sharp the effectively cut through hard and large diameter fluorocarbon. Hatch Nippers handle it all. [SHOP HATCH]
SIMMS APPAREL – Tarpon season usually consists of really hot and muggy fishing conditions. Having SIMMS SUPERLIGHT PANTS helps to keep you cool and protect you from the suns damaging rays. Pair the SIMMS EBBTIDE LONG SLEEVE SHIRT with a sun gaiter and you’re good to go! [SHOP SIMMS ]
Costa Sunglasses – Tarpon fishing brings in all light levels of the day. When it comes to early morning rollers on calm days or high noon, high-sun, clear water sight fishing, the COSTA SILVER SUNRISE lenses are my favorite. The Costa frame style “PERMITS ” are a great choice to help relieve any side light that may enter under the lenses as well. Perfect for sight fishing the flats. [SHOP COSTA]
WHO IS CAPT. BRUCE CHARD?
Bruce knew exactly what his career would be right out of high school and didn’t waste any time after graduating to start guiding. Bruce has since become a full-time Florida Keys fly fishing flats guide, with 25 years of experience and counting. Specializing in sight fishing for bonefish, tarpon, and permit, along with some of the best salt water fly fishing instruction available, Bruce has become one of the most sought after fly fishing guides in all of the Florida Keys.
Check out Bruce’s CUSTOM LEADER SYSTEM set up for Tarpon by watching the short video below.