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Tarpon fly fishing is one of the major sporting activities done in various parts of the world specifically in Florida Keys, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands. Tarpons are really cool and are the most treasured game fish in Florida.
They are nicknamed as "Silver King" just because of their lovely color and tremendous size. They are considered as one of the angriest, acrobatic, violent, and tackle-wrecking creatures. This makes most anglers very obsessed especially when trying to land these monstrous battlers. It is said that for novice tarpon anglers, for every 10 tarpons hooked, only one or two are likely to be landed.
The only easiest thing when dealing with these types of fish is getting them to eat your flies. This is not comparable with some other species such as Permit which have nothing to do with the flies. Tarpons are toothless. Their mouths are boney, large, and feels like sand-paper.
The Best Time for Tarpon Fly Fishing
Tarpon fly fishing is best in early Spring and Fall. But this is not regarded as predictable as April through June. Early Spring and Fall are known to stall early tarpon-fishing temporarily. This is due to the influence of the passing cold fronts in these seasons which are accompanied by cool water temperatures and high winds. However, in April, May, and June, there is a huge annual migration of these fish.
Since the majority of tarpons are extremely large and very acrobatic, many anglers have a special way to fish for them in order to prevent much fighting when getting them to land. One of the ways is chasing the migratory fish which are often large and more common in open waters. The other way is to aim for the smaller fish in the backwaters and mangroves.
When you are beginning tarpon fly fishing, it is wise to have a good plan on where you will be attempting your initial shots. It can be challenging sometimes to find the right destination as a newbie tarpon fly angler.
As a beginner, you will want to start with areas such as Ascension Bay (Mexico), Northern Belize, and the Bahamas. These places enable you to begin with easier targets such as bonefish. This will give you more opportunities, inspiring numbers, and availability from the moment you step your feet at the destination for the first time.
Other great destinations for tarpon fly fishing beginners are El-Pescador Lodge, Isla-Holbox in Yucatan, and Belize River-Lodge.
Tools to Use When Fly Fishing Tarpon
The size of rods and type and color of flies can determine the number of fish caught on a particular day. When fly fishing for tarpon, it is recommended to use flies which are between 3 to 5 inches long. For the hooks, 2 to 2/0 for young or juvenile fish are recommended, and 5/0 for huge fish are advisable.
It is also good to know that your fly color depends on the bottom color. Therefore, selecting a steamer that is able to contrast well with the bottom is great for your tarpon fly fishing. For instance, light green, blue, and light gray patterns are perfect over dark grass. Additionally, yellow, red, and orange are better over sandy areas. When seen feeding on mullet, tarpon can be fly fished with whiteflies having some dark patterns and size of between 7 to 9 inches.
A weight rod of 5 to 7 is ideal for fly fishing in rivers and canals. It should contain a 10lb tippet and a 1 to 2 inches steamer in yellow or white. Black steamers such as muddler flies, marabou, and Dahlberg diver are good for fly fishing dark waters. What you need to do is to cast the right type of fly over the rising tarpon or any other type of fish.
It is advisable not to carry out tarpon fly fishing around bridges because you are more likely to lose your fish on the many surrounding hurdles.
Hooking and Landing a Tarpon
It is very challenging to hook a tarpon successfully due to their large bony mouths. This makes it necessary to avoid relying on very sharp hooks. To ensure success when hooking a tarpon, make sure to use supplemental sharpening on your hooks to prevent them from being too sharp. As well, do not be in a hurry to strike your hook. This is one of the common problems that most anglers do.
The secret to hooking your tarpon ideally is waiting until you feel the bite and heavy weight. This should be followed by two hard strikes for two times. Wise tarpon fly anglers usually wait for an extra one or two seconds before striking the hook so as to guarantee that the bait was set perfectly in the mouth of the tarpon. In situations when you are using hard lures, you are supposed to strike immediately especially when you feel the weight on the hand that is supporting the end-of-the-line.
Seeing the tarpon eat the fly does not mean that it is the right time to strike. You should wait until the fly goes deep inside the mouth. That is the time you need to strike hard. To properly set the hook, make sure that the tip of the rod is close to water. The butt-of-the-rod should be antagonistic towards your abdomen securely. Here you need to rotate your body quickly so that the rod moves side by side. Meanwhile, the line strips hard in.
Once hooking has successfully been done, you will see a lot of jumps, gill-rattling, and somersaults. You must lower the tip of the rod and try to push it in the direction of the fish. Pull the fish by holding the fingers tightly while pressing the line against the rod. When the fish becomes worn out, it will roll its body on one side. Here, you will need help to land it. Your partner should get rid of the hooks as soon as possible to avoid injuring the fish severely.
The hook should be removed without lifting the fish.
Tarpon fly fishing demands a lot of skill and experience in all its operations. But most fly fishing anglers usually start small with simple targets so as to gain much experience to catch large fish such as tarpon. The right materials and tools should be used in order to warrant success in every fishing activity. We hope that this article helps in all your tarpon fly fishing activities.
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