| Tarpon are widely considered the premier inshore gamefish, and with good reason. Powerful, fast runs and stamina for a long
battle combined with their tendency to completely or partially leave the water multiple times during a fight make them spectacular
fish to catch. The brilliant silver of their scales and their huge eyes magnify them even more. There are few experiences like that
of being tied to a big tarpon on properly matched tackle.
They are, however, a difficult fish to feed on most days. I use a wide variety of methods and techniques to coax them into
eating, but sometimes, the best efforts wind up with nothing to show for the time and attention. This, of course, makes them all
the more thrilling to hook. Multiple refusals that build one after another followed by a sudden explosive feed and the
pandemonium immediately following instantly cures any case of the tarpon doldrums! There are days when you can do no wrong
and the tarpon are just on the feed, but these are relatively uncommon. It is more common to see many fish but only have a shot at
a small percentage of those.
I target tarpon with live bait or fly tackle most often, though there is a time and place for plugs and jigs. Some days when the
schools and pods are moving faster, the fishing is tough. These fast moving fish often do not have food on their minds so any
strikes are a matter of a fish deciding to slurp an easy meal on the swim. An angler should be able to cast accurately and quickly
to maximize opportunities, but novices are welcome and should not be discouraged from trying it! After all, the best way to learn
is experience! If you are new to the tarpon game, we can always plan on going after different fish if you grow tired or need a break.
I also target smaller tarpon in the back country and bay, for example.
If you want to fly fish, please select a powerful 11 wt or a 12 wt flyrod for these fish. Fish in the 100-150 class are not
uncommon, but most beach fish run 70-100 pounds. A 60-80 pound tarpon is not a problem to take with a 10 or 11 weight rod if
the angler knows the drill, but most anglers will be better served with a heavier rod and line. I do not like to prolong a fight for any
reason, least of all for too light of tackle. Sharks and exhaustion are both lethal threats to tarpon. The shorter the fight lasts,
the better, as long as the fish doesn’t come in green. Select your stick accordingly. You've noted by now, I generally prefer that
fly fishermen provide their own tackle, though I provide flies. The reason is simple. An unfamiliar rod can be the difference
between a good cast and an inadequate or bad cast. Your own tackle gives you the best chance to hook and fight a tarpon. On a
day when shots are fewer or more difficult, that difference is critical.
My conventional tarpon rods are 20-40 lb class live bait and spinning rods rigged with 20 or 30 lb line. I use circle hooks
exclusively for live baiting, regardless of the bait type. Again, we will fight the fish aggressively to keep it close as much as
possible and end the fight as soon as we can without bringing a green fish to boatside. A 20-30 minute fight is more than long
enough to get every flavor of battle from the fish and wear you out as well. If you have experience with tarpon fishing and wish to
use your own tackle, this is fine. Let me know when we set up your trip and I’ll select additional rods accordingly!