We talked to Pro-Staffer and tv host Chasten Whitfield to talk about her favorite rods, reels, baits and more for red fish, snook and tarpon.
Your fishing gear is hardly everything, but it can mean the difference between a fish in your hand and an explosion of graphite littering the bottom of your boat.
We love gear and the opportunities it opens up for us, but with new rods, reels and lures coming out at ICAST every year, it can be hard to keep up with great additions your favorite companies are putting out.
To keep up with some of the best gear we checked in with Fishbrain Pro Staffer Chasten Whitfield and which gear setups she is using. Chasten is an inshore in the Tampa Bay area and a saltwater fanatic regularly targeting redfish, snook and tarpon.
Chasten’s new show on the Sportsman’s Channel, Their Life My Lenshas her taking her favorite rods, reels and lures and putting them in the hands of kids with special needs and limitations, trying to get them interested in the outdoors and fishing. This means all her gear choices have to get the job done, but be forgiving enough for that a child can cast and set the hook with them.
Chasten’s go to rods are the Penn Battalion series.
“These are great for any inshore fishing. I use them all the way from really light/fast size for inshore fishing for redfish, snook and snapper all the way up to tarpon fishing,” Chasten said.
These rods can handle everything inshore and are responsive enough for the hands of a kid. When it comes time to chase bigger prey, Chasten sticks with the Battalion by upgrading to a heavy/extra heavy model that can handle tarpon. Regardless of which size rod she is casting, she says the Battalion is a super light, yet powerful inshore rod.
Bait, lures and hooks
Saltwater fishing is often all about live and natural baits, but earlier in the season, during the cooler weather, lures were proving quite effective and the Berkley Gulp Shrimp did the trick.
The saltwater shrimp lure, looks, feels like and even smells like a real shrimp and the fish think the same thing. One of these, on a steady and slow retrieve in cool weather is enough to convince a snook, or redfish that is usually lure weary. The smell and taste of a bait can be incredibly important when saltwater fishing and Berkley’s Gulp Shrimp will release 400 times more potent fish attractors than others.
When the temps rose and the weather became predictably warmer, Chasten was back to throwing live shrimpon either a one ought, or two ought Mustad circle hook.
Circle hooks are her go to when using live bait. Circle hooks are a conservation minded angler’s best friend as they help prevent fish from swallowing baits, or deep hooking themselves, allowing more fish to swim away free. The one and two oughts are perfect for redfish, snook jacks and other inshore species, but the higher grade hooks are more than enough for tarpon and grouper.
Line choices can be intimidating, but are paramount to fighting strong fish in abrasive environments. Chasten runs 15-20 pound Spiderwire braided line for inshore snook and redfish. The braided line is strong enough to fight most inshore species regardless of size, but gives you enough strength to pull a fish out of a mangrove, or stop a hard run. As an added bonus, Chasten will tie on a 20 pound fluorocarbon leader onto her braid for an extra bit of strength. The fluorocarbon is also more clear than braided line, offering a more stealthy presentation to line shy fish.
Tarpon line and setup
“For tarpon I go big because I'm not trying to get my butt kicked.”
On a heavy Penn Battalion Chasten runs 40-50 pound braided spiderwire,with up to an 80 pound fluorocarbon leader attached with a double uni knot. Strength is the name of the game with tarpon and this setup does the trick.
On the end of her line, she ties on a seven ought Mustad circle hook baited with crab.
For inshore spin fishing Chasten attaches a Penn Slammer 3500-4500 onto her Battalion for redfish and snook. The fully enclosed reel prevents salt and other debris from getting into the reel and the drag is more than enough to handle redfish and snook runs.
For tarpon she upgrades to a 5500-6500 Slammer, allowing for more than enough line for those epic tarpon runs.
Saltwater fishing can be brutal on your equipment. The fish are stronger, the salt is corrosive, and the weather is unpredictable. Your gear can make or break your success inshore and off.. Make sure you have the best gear that will rise to the occasion when you have that fish of a lifetime on the other end of your line.
Make sure to check out all of Chasten’s catches on the Fishbrain App and don’t miss a moment of her new show Their Life My Lens, on the Sportsman’s Channel.
Now let’s go fishing. We'll bring some fancy new gear.
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