We are two weeks into the new year and starting 2021 and Redfish off with a bang. There's no lack of Redfish around, you just have to find the ones with the right mindset. We've been seeing hundreds of fish in schools ranging from 10 fish to 100 fish...all in less than a foot of clear water. Some schools see you from 100ft away and require a very stealthy approach and cast...while others are much more user friendly.
While not necessarily targeting them, we are finding a handful of Speckled Trout on the Redfish flats we are fishing. When we find them along a cut bank or drop off, they've been more than willing to play along with us. I've seen a few flounder on the flats this week also.
If you've never seen a hundred Redfish circling you in six inches of water, you are missing out. We should have this type of sight-fishing available to us at least through the end of March. Give me a shout if you want to take a shot at it.
Back in the fall of 2019, Grays Sporting Journal came and spent a few days with me while writing an article for their magazine. The Albies hadn't quite arrived yet, but there were plenty of Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jacks and Houndfish along the beaches here on the Crystal Coast. We also hit a few tailing tides, and hooked a couple Redfish. The awesome folks over at Gray's just posted some footage from that trip, I'd love for you to check it out.
I'm in the mood to share my thoughts about a company and product that I really love. Hatch Outdoors and their Finatic Fly Reels. They didn't pay me to say that, they didn't ask me, they don't even know I'm writing this. I've been fly fishing for 15 years and working as a guide for 9 of those, and I've bought, beat up and sold my fair share of fishing gear. So, when you come across something you really believe in, it's worth sharing with your clients and any other anglers looking for a great product.
"I've shared the following story with countless anglers on my boat, and now I'm putting it out there for everyone else."
When I first got back into fly fishing 15 years ago, I had to decide what gear I was going to invest in. The options were overwhelming, and back then, there weren't nearly as many online resources to help with that decision. I settled on an overseas made rod, a cheap fly line, and a fly reel that would get me started. I still own the rod, and I caught a few fish that first year before the drag completely quit on the reel and the handle fell off.
Thus, began my 10-year process of buying gear and abusing it to see how long it would last. When I say abuse, I don't mean throwing it down and kicking it around...I mean fishing for extremely tough fish in some pretty harsh environments.
"I've been through enough brands and products to start my own fly shop."
That's where Hatch comes in. In 2017, I launched my own fly rod company and began looking for a fly reel that would match well with the rods we were building. These would be reels that I would fish daily as a guide but would also be used on demo rods when Mauser Fly Fishing set up booths at trade shows. I had a few rules in mind when I started researching companies.
(1) I wanted a Made in USA Fly Reel company, and (2) I wanted a reel from a company whose main focus was reels.
There were a handful of companies that fit the bill. You can probably think of them immediately and count them on two hands. I had used the products from several of these brands over the years and had been pleased with all of them.
I emailed 5 of those companies and told them about the new business I was building, and explained to them that I was considering using their products exclusively to guide with and use on my demo rods. And then I waited... I was sort of testing the waters to see if any of them showed interest. I wasn't asking for freebies or even discounts, I was just curious if they'd respond back. As a guide, I've always been a big fan of supporting companies that are a fan of what I'm doing.
"Within 24 hours I received an email from Hatch."
The manager at Hatch responded to my email and commented on how exciting it was that I was starting a new business venture. He also said that they were honored that I'd consider using their reels for my guiding and demo rods. The response came quickly and felt genuine, which is something you don't see much anymore. (I did receive a response from the other brands, but it took a few weeks, and none of them seemed nearly as thrilled. I understand what it's like as a business to be completely overwhelmed with the day to day process and receiving a never-ending inflow of emails. That being said, the company that beat everyone else to the punch is the one that got my attention.)
I placed an order for 5 reels that same week. A Finatic 3+, 4+, 5+, 7+, and 9+. I still fish all of those reels four years later and have had zero issues. I've also added several more to the collection.
The email from the manager wasn't my only positive experience with Hatch. A few weeks later I received a thank you letter in the mail from the owners, John and Danny, along with some Hatch stickers. Rarely, if ever, do I receive a thank you letter from a company that I purchase products from. It's something Mauser Fly Fishing does for every customer, so when I was finally on the receiving end of one, I was thrilled.
Later that year, I went to the ICAST/IFTD show in Orlando. While there, I had the pleasure of chatting with the team at Hatch. Even though the show was extremely busy, the owners took the time to talk with me about my businesses, fly fishing, and really made me feel like I was important to them.
At that point I was so sold on this company, that there was no way another brand could steal my attention. I was a super fan.
By now you've probably figured out why I'm head over heels for the company's culture, but you're probably wonder how good their products are.
I have been fishing my Hatch 3+ through 11+ reels nonstop. Big Redfish, Striped Bass, Albacore, Bonito, Sharks, etc... They've stood up to everything we've put them through. Their drags could stop a train, the machining is flawless, and the design is easy on the eyes. My buddies absolutely love theirs too and have caught everything from big Tarpon to Arapaima on them. I don't know anyone personally who has had a failure with them, but I have no doubt that if there was, Hatch would take care of it immediately.
"There are plenty of companies that make excellent fly reels, but ones that also make you feel like part of the family are a bit harder to come by. That combo is the reason I'm sold on Hatch."
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