If you read our blog much, you’ve heard a lot about Bruce Chard. Bruce is one of the premier guides in the Florida Keys. He teaches our bonefishing schools at Andros South. He’s one heck of an angler and a good friend of ours.
Bruce is also a line designer, and he has a new line out, made by Scientific Anglers. It’s called the ‘Mastery Textured Series Chard’s Grand Slam’, and it’s a flats line available from 7 to 12 weight.
We fished this new line on South Andros a couple weeks back. We loved it, so we picked Bruce’s brain about the line and today we’re here to tell you all about it!
A Different Flats Taper
Bruce gave us a ton of background on the line’s design, so we’re just going to pass it on word-for-word. If you’re not that interested in line designs, you can jump on down to the ‘How it Fishes’ section below.
“For years I’ve chased permit around the Florida keys. I got into fly line design when I asked myself – why does everybody have a bonefish line and a tarpon line but no permit line? I originally set out to design a line for permit fishing.”
“At the time the average front taper on a tarpon or bonefish line was 6 to 9 feet long. The problem was that when permit fishing, we were doing two things that were a bad match for a long front taper – fishing heavy flies and fishing long leaders. With a long front taper it was really hard to get everything to lay out right, especially when it was windy. We made it about as hard as we could!
The average front tapers were just too long – they were dispersing the energy too much before it got to the leader system. Unless you were an amazing caster, it was very difficult to get the long leader and heavy fly to turn over right – there just wasn’t enough energy in the system.
That’s why we came out with a really short front taper – 18″ – much shorter than anything else on the market at the time. When you have a short front taper, it dumps the energy right into the long leader and into the fly, especially when it’s windy.”
“Also at the time, most saltwater bellies were over 40 feet long. That’s great if you need to make a 60 to 80 foot cast, but what about when you need to make a 30 foot cast? With a 10 foot leader you’d only be casting half your head – you just didn’t have enough line out to load up the rod. That’s why a lot of saltwater anglers would overline their rods – it would load the rod quicker for a shorter cast.
My line is already overloaded, by 3/4 of a line weight. It’s also shorter – the complete head is only 38 feet long. That allows the angler to load the rod completely and quickly, which is great for short casts.”
“The rear taper on most saltwater lines at the time was 6 to 8 feet long – once you got line out just past the belly, your running line was in contact with the rod tip. You were casting with ‘overhang’.
It’s really difficult to carry line in the air with overhang. The line is limp on the running line so it sags and creates slack in the system. That makes it difficult to control the head – to be accurate and land the fly where you want it to go. You need to have some part of the rear taper connected to the rod tip in order to transfer energy to the belly.
So I basically doubled the rear taper compared to the typical line – mine has 17 1/2 feet of rear taper. This allows you to control the line better, especially when you’re casting in the wind. In that situation you need to carry as much line in the air as possible because shooting line in the wind can be tough, and having that long rear taper helps that a lot.”
More on the Line Design
“The running line is thinner than normal, which helps you get a little more distance when you shoot the line, if necessary. This Scientific Anglers line has their textured coating on the outside, which helps it slip through the guides easier, like a dimpled golf ball. Less friction builds up when you’re shooting line.
It also has the AST coating which has been on the market for a long time – but most people don’t know that it actually releases impregnated silicone balls that lubricate the fly line while casting. That’s why the SA cleaning system is nothing but a pad – there’s no lubricant. The pad is abrasive – it just rips the dirt off the line and releases some of that silicone allowing the line to lubricate itself.
And a few more details! The line has the SA ID on it – the name and weight of the line is stamped on it on both the tip and the rear of the line. There are welded saltwater loops on both ends, and the core is the new Scientific Anglers saltwater core – a stiffer, harder core designed for the tropics to help add stiffness and reduce tangles.”
Not Just for Permit
“Once we started fishing this new line design, we realized that it the things that made it great for permit fishing also made it awesome for pretty much anything on the flats too – especially bonefish and tarpon. Everything I wanted to accomplish – easier transfer of power through to the leader and fly, ease of loading the road up quickly and ability to carry more line in the air – applies to bonefish and tarpon fishing too!”
How it Fishes
OK, how’s that for a view into the brain of a line designer! We’re done quoting Bruce, and now we’re going to tell you how this line fished for us on South Andros.
This section is going to be short because, to put it simply, the line is awesome and works as advertised.
Since our bonefish aren’t spooky, we have a ton of relatively short shots – easily 90% of our casts are inside 50 feet. Our rod loaded up really fast, and we were able to make most shots with just one false cast. The fact that it shoots line like crazy didn’t hurt.
We also fish very big flies by normal bonefishing standards, and the ease with which the leader and fly turned over was shocking. Pro tip: pair this line with a hand tied leader made of stiff mono like Bruce describes here for laser-beam turnover action.
If you have some flats fishing in your future, we really think you should try this line. Click here for more information from Bruce’s web site.