We have hooked tarpon right at the boat. Jack Gregory had one follow his fly up to within two feet of the boat, Jack had his leader in the rod and this 60-70 pound fish took the fly and stuck his head out of the water just inches from the boat. I was leaning over with my camera in hand trying not to scare the fish. We have hooked plenty of them within 10 to 15 feet from the boat. There is absolutely nothing like seeing a 100 pound tarpon jump out of the water 10 feet from you and 10 feet out of the water. We have jumped a lot of tarpon 30 feet away and shorter. I have several 12 weight rods. My favorite is a St. Croix Avid. Why? Because it loads short and I have more tarpon eat close to me. One reason that happens though, until I got contacts and the best sunglasses made, I couldn't see them until they were close. One of the guides I have fished with also guided Andy. Andy is probably the best tarpon angler in the United States right now. Long casts are OK but, you don't know what direction that the tarpon will take. So with a long cast you are at a disadvantage because if he changes directions it takes a long time to strip in that much line and make a second cast. It's more fun to have them eat when they are close. You see them open up their huge mouth and suck in your fly. I better stop. I'm starting to shake.