Fly Fishing For Tarpon
The tarpon is considered by many to be the ultimate fish to catch on the fly. There's one
thing for certain. Fly fishing for tarpon can be very exciting. It's amazing how the different
size tarpon are still exciting to catch on the fly. You just vary the size of the gear you are
using. Baby tarpon that range from five to fifteen pounds can provide a lot of fun and
excitement. That seems strange when you realize tarpon are also commonly caught on
the fly up to 150 pounds and even larger. The fact you can sight fish for them and the
fact they fight hard and can be very acrobatic, makes fly fishing for tarpon the sport it is.
Tarpon fishing in the state of Florida, including the Keys of course, can be great in
January, February and March but the weather can vary drastically from day to day. April,
May and June are more stable weather months and are therefore the most dependable
times of year you can fly fish for tarpon. During the early spring, passing cold fronts can
drop he water temperatures and of course, rough up the seas to the point you cannot
fish for them. The same thing can occur in the late Fall but it usually isn't quite as
variable as the Spring weather. It's also very possible to catch them in the winter months,
provided the weather is agreeable.
Most anglers prefer to use a 10 weight, floating fly line for the larger size tarpon. Some
want to go up to an 11 and even a 12 weight fly line. Most prefer a sinking tip line. You
need a fly rod to match the fly line, of course. We prefer a fast to medium fast action in a
9 to 10 foot length. The fly reel is very important. It must hold a lot of line and backing
and have a very smooth drag. This is one case where a fly reel becomes equally as
important as the fly rod.
Leaders can vary anywhere from ten to fifteen feet long, depending on the location and
type of water. The tippet varies from about 16 to 20 pound test with a strong butt section.
Fly fishing for tarpon can become tiring due to the heavier weight of the gear, so the fly
rod and fly reel should be as light as possible, but must not compromise the strength of
When you are fly fishing for tarpon, presentation of the tarpon fly is of utmost importance.
Once you have spotted cruising or rolling tarpon, you need to quickly and accurately get
the fly a few feet in front of them. Don't attempt to make too long of a cast. You can get
relatively close to tarpon without spooking them, so you don't want to ruin your chances
with a misplaced cast. Most of the time you should get the fly to within about three to five
feet. You also must get the fly down to the level of the tarpon before you begin to strip it.
A slow, steady retrieve works best in most situations. If conditions are right, and the
tarpon is in a feeding mode, it will take the fly very aggressively. Don't overreact. You
must wait until the tarpon turns before attempting to set the hook. This also allows the
tippet to end up at a direction to where the hook will set in the corner of the tarpon's
mouth. Most areas of the mouth of a tarpon are very hard and tough to penetrate with a
hook. The corner of a tarpons mouth is the softest part.
Pinfish, mullet, crabs, worms and shrimp are the tarpon's favorite foods. Flies that imitate
these foods are all effective at the right time and place. Our "Perfect Flies" that imitate
these foods tarpon eat have been proven effective anywhere tarpon exist. If you haven't
tried our "Perfect Fly" Tarpon flies, you should. You will be glad you did.
Copyright 2010 James Marsh
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