Interview with Bruce Chard

Bruce Chard is a guide, instructor and designer of fly lines (and probably more).  He was featured in the fly fishing movie “Rise” and is a fixture of the Florida bonefishing and saltwater scene.

Bruce, doing what Bruce does.

I saw you on “Rise” and thought it was a great film.  Do you have any up coming film projects?

At this time I am in the middle of my busy season guiding full time every day for Giant tarpon, permit and bonefish in the Florida Keys.  This will continue till August every day.  I will be working on many new projects but don’t have any time frame as to when they will actually be done.  Stay tuned to my blog and Website for updates on the many small videos and informational posts that will be on my blog for upcoming DVDs and Books. On bonefishing.  I am currently booking spots for my hosted fly fishing bonefishing school trip to the famous Andros South Bonefish Lodge on South Andros Bahamas.  These trips are tons of fun and offer learning experiences all week long with me.  Something you can’t get by going on your own.  For dates check out my web site at WWW.BRUCECHARD.COM

You have a series of saltwater fishing schools, including one for bonefish.  Is there one aspect of bonefishing that you find most beginners really struggle with?

Beginners usually struggle the most with the fly casting and getting used to actually seeing the fish.  Both are obviously extremely important for the success of catching bonefish.  All there is needed to fix both is experience and a good instructor and good patient guide.  These aspects also extend well past the beginners but the dedication to the sport from the individual will change these issues promptly.  The more you put into it ( time practicing and time fishing) the more you will get out of it ( like actually catching more fish).

I fished your bonefish line on my last trip (Grand Bahama) and really liked it.  It did get me wondering… how does someone get their own bonefishing line?  What was it you wanted your line to do that other lines on the market weren’t doing?

I was given the opportunity to design my own lines from Jim Teeny himself.  I have known Jimmy since I first started guiding in the Keys over 18 years ago now.  We have fished together for years and he saw how dedicated to the sport of fly fishing I was and to the actual fly fishing industry.  The angle of having some new upcoming young salt water fly fishing talent in his lineup of professional series fly lines something that was needed and wanted in his company.  So he asked me to design the Chard Series of lines.

What went into the thought of designing the lines are the fact that most casters have a hard time forming tight loops consistently.  Then there is always a lack of power in the casting system making it difficult for whatever power that was there to make it all the way to the leader and fly to roll out straight (which is very important in salt water fly presentation).  The reasons it was tuff for the power had a hard time getting that far was most of the fly lines on the market for salt at that time had a very long front taper taking power away from the system gradually.  Then when the power got to the leader there was not much left to roll out the leader and fly straight.  Using longer leaders combined with heavier flies made this issue even more prevalent.  Loaded with this information I then chopped off the front taper making it only 18 inches (most where 6-8ft at the time).  This unloaded mega power straight from the belly of the line right into the longer leaders that we use and into the heavier flies and the then rolled over more consistently even into stronger winds.  A little over sizing on the Head of the line, lengthening the rear taper and thinning the running line where also major changes in the line from others that where on the market at the time that allowed the line to perform superior to all other salt lines to this day still.  You can order Chard Lines from me personally if you like.  Check out my website for more information on them and email me for any order requests of questions.

Mr. Bonefish, chillax'n

The bonefish angler these days has so many options… the Bahamas, Hawaii, Belize, Venezuela, Christmas Island… what is it about the Florida Keys that makes it a special?

The main asset of the Florida Keys bone fishery is the pure average size of our Bones.  Nowhere else can you find a larger average size bonefish.  Our fish average 7-9 pounds with many 10 pounders caught all the time.  The reason for so many large bonefish calling the Keys home is plentiful amount of large shrimp and crabs that can fatten these big pigs up.  We have an unreal variety of thick turtle grass flats, hard coral flats, huge sweeping mud bottom grass flats, and endless deep water access to all these luscious. Super strong current helps keep the flats alive with nutrients.  All these reason add up to some of the best largest bone fishing in the world!

Florida bones have a reputation for being educated.  Do you have a tip or two for going after those educated fish?

Our Florida Bones are not hard to catch.  They are harder to catch than anywhere else but not hard to catch.  The biggest reason that bones are not caught in Florida is that the presentation is not good enough, and you don’t get as many opportunities so you have to make the shots you get count.  Not to many anglers are good enough to put the fly in the right spot consistently enough.   Everywhere else in the world there are usually many more opportunities to have shots at bones and then if you screw up and hit them in the head 9 times out of 10 they turn over upside down and eat the fly anyway.  Not in Florida.  It’s the NFL for bone fisherman.  But if you can cast and present the fly where it needs to be you can catch many bonefish in Florida no problem.

A favorite question of mine… when you are on the water a lot, you see things… odd things, unusual things, funny things… is there something you’ve seen out there on the water that was particularly interesting or memorable?

Well one night I was night tarpon fishing with Jim Teeny.  We had jumped 28 tarpon in 5 hours and we were just about to head in for the night.  I said to Jimmy make one more cast buddy and we will head back to the dock.  Jimmy then said no problem there Bruce just let me catch this permit on this next cast and we can head in no problem (giggling).  Jimmy makes a cast and then hooks up right away. Mind you I have never ever ever ever seen a permit caught on fly at night.  My first thought was here we go another big tarpon so I crank up the engine and get prepared to chase him down.  Well this fish didn’t run like a tarpon.  This fish didn’t jump either.  This fish ended up being a 12 pound permit!  Unreal!  I have never seen anyone call a permit on a blind cast either.  Pretty sweet fishing story!

What’s your favorite bonefishing rig (rod/reel)?

My favorite bonefishing set up is a 7wt Ross World Wide FW 9ft fly rod with a Ross Arius #4 reel, lined with a Bruce Chard Professional Series 8wt bonefish line, and a 12ft hard mono tapered leader from 27LB to 13LB mono then a smaller diameter Seaguar Grand Max 18Lb Flouro Tippit.

What’s your sense of the health of Florida bonefishing stocks?

I think the Florida bonefish stocks are looking great for the Keys.  We are learning how much these bones actually travel.  Our fish will travel great distances in a short amount of time. Weather changes seem to move the fish more than any other reason.  Cold fronts in the winter make these fish move quick and far for some reason.  Also there has been some proof that Florida Bones are in this are for the mixture of fresh water from the everglades and nutrient loaded waters from the gulfstream.  These water mixtures apparently make supreme breeding water conditions.

Thanks Bruce.  Keep up the good work.

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  1. Nice interview! I had heard that the bones got hit pretty hard this winter.

  2. Thanks Rob. Got some good ones coming… including one from Yvon Chouinard.

  3. great interview!

  4. Dude, very, very good interview… and good stuff from Mr. Chard, too.

    I’ve told many of my clients to chop off the first 10 ft of their fly line but none had the guts to do it… it’s a little different with my buddies that come down to fish, though. In their cases I just grab the old snippers and the job is done before they can say WTF!!!?… they always thank me in the end. Not only does a shorter front taper help with turning over long casts into the wind, but it also helps load a rod in close,which is where (let’s face it) most of the shots at bones come while wading. So, good job with that line, Bruce. I’ll try it out soon as I can.

    As for permit at night, the first permit I ever hooked (but didn’t land so I have no actual hard proof) was at night. It was “floating” in a school of tarpon that were gathered around a light. I saw the dorsal sticking out of the water in the middle of the tarpon school and remembered my grandfather’s stories about such things. I cast, let the fly sink, and the dorsal followed and sunk with it. A few seconds later the line came tight and ripped off (dang near removing a few fingernails on the way). The fish never jumped and after two BLISTERING runs the hook just came out. I still swear that was a permit.

    As for Keys bones, they aren’t actually hard to catch at all. Mr. Chard is dead right there… there are just far, far fewer of them than other places. I remember reading a stat from B.T.T. recent which said there were 80% less bones in FLA now than 20 yrs ago. WOW! I can personally attest to the fact that they certainly aren’t everywhere like in the Bahamas, for example… (shit, fall overboard there and your likely to kill at least two bonefish and injure a third.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Keys suck for bones (I’ve caught several very nice fish there on my own over the years), but there is a serious problem if the numbers are down that low. I mean, no wonder those old timers could wander out there and hang 3-4 bones in an afternoon. The things WERE everywhere. Even if bonefishing is still good down there, something needs to be done before it’s too late.

    Tight lines, brothers and sisters.

  5. Yeah, I know they are there, but they have a rep for being tough, tough, tough. I know a couple of guys that have been out and never even seen a fish. I have yet to fish Florida (or the seychelles, or Xmas, or Andros, or Grand Cayman or… well, you get the idea), but I hope to at one point.

    I may have to try hacking my line at some point, but since the line on my go-to is a Bruce Chard line, I’m pretty set for now.

  6. It’s good to see that there are some folks out there using their brains when it comes to tackle design. Looks like you made a good choice in lines.

    I understand the idea behind a long front taper — it’s supposed to turn over the fly quieter for a delicate presentation — but a long front taper typically means you’re making long casts (which is a standard FLA Keys bonefishing tactic), but for most of the rest of the bonefishing world long cast just aren’t necessary. Thing is, a long front taper just give you less options: you have to have a lot of line out to really load the rod, it’s harder to turn the leader over in the wind, and if a fish appears 25 ft away upwind, you’re screwed (usually). A shorter taper simply offers more options, I think: you can easily turn leaders over in the wind, you can load the rod in close, and (if the wind drops out and you need to make a delicate presentation) you can simply lengthen your leader.

  7. mi6lethaltool

    Try Catching bones in Culebra PR they are huge and have a PhD!!!
    Fl ones are 4 rookies!

  8. bonefishbjorn

    I’m looking for big AND dumb… More my speed. Love toget to PR some day though.

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