There's a lot of flies out there and everyone has a pattern that they say is the golden ticket. Here is our favorites.
Rios Palolo Worm- this is a great fly when fishing ocean side in the Florida Keys in the month of May and June when the tarpon are gorging themselves on worms to fuel up for their long migration north.
Tarpon Toad- A classic designed down in the Florida Keys. This is a very effective fly for not only on the ocean, but in the back waters also. Chartreuse and Tan on the ocean, Tan, olive, and black/purple for the backwaters.
Chewy's tarponator- This fly is one of our favorites for fishing backwaters. With a long rabbit strip tail, this fly moves well in the water and is irresistible by tarpon of all sizes.
Chew's Fit For a King- One of the newest flies on the market is a spin off of some classic tarpon flies. with splayed hackle, and a very sparse body, this is a great fly for delicate presentations, different water clarities and all sizes of fish. once again, tan in the cleaner water, and black/Purple in the darker water.
EP Mullet- While tarpon are undeniably getting smarter and the flies are getting smaller, The EP Mullet still has its place when fishing in very dirty water, or when the fish are focused on bigger baits during the mullet run.
Tarpon Fly Rods
When most people think Tarpon Fly Rods, they think big. 12 Weight Plus. Times have changed... With new rod building technologies and materials, Tarpon fishing can all be done with 10 weight and 11 weight Fly rods. The rods have become lighter, stronger, more responsive. Using these lighter rods allows the anglers to have more delicate presentations, cast more throughout the day, but still have a powerful enough rod to cast into the wind, and fight the fish effectively. Here's a few rods that we have used and put to the test tarpon fishing in numerous scenarios and destinations.
Echo Boost Blue- For anglers new to the saltwater world, or anglers on a budget, Echo's entry level saltwater rod, the boost blue is a great bang for the buck. $299.99
Echo Prime- As you move up in echos line up, you get to the Prime series. This is one of the best casting rods on the market regardless of cost. With a soft tip, yet strong back bone, this rod is a great tarpon fishing rod in the 10 weight and 11 weight. Offered in 2 and 4 piece variants. $499.99 for the 4 piece and $524.99 for the 2 piece.
Hardy Marksman Z- Hardy's newest rod, the replacement for the Zane Pro, might be the best rod on the market as far as we're concerned. Featuring recoil guides with a titanium insert, quality cork and components, this rod's fit and finish is unbeatable. This is the perfect rod for the serious tarpon angler. With a tough to beat, lifetime warranty, Hardy Rods are starting to dominate the market. Hardy is the only company as of now who still offers a 1 piece production Fly Rod. For lots of tarpon anglers, this is a must have. $995 for 4 piece, $1050 for 1 piece.
Tarpon Fly Reels
When Tarpon fishing, your reel has to handle a lot of stress. Not every reel can handle it. Here's a couple reels that we think do a great job and perform the best in their class.
Lamson Liquid Max 10- Lamsons newest reel has set a new standard to "Budget Fly Reels". No more pressure fitted spool, This reel features a 5inch diameter which is a huge benefit when it comes to picking up line after a long run. This drag comes straight from their Centerfire Reel which is sealed and offers plenty of drag. Over 200 yards of backing capacity. This Reel does it all, for only $299.
Hardy Zane Carbon 10000- Hardy Reels offer a sealed carbon disk drag with serious stopping power. 10+ pounds of drag will stop most tarpon in their tracks. With a one-turn drag system, you always know how much pressure you're putting on the fish and there'sless room for error. A great buy at $550
Hardy Fortuna Regent 10000-Hardys Premium Fly Reel, offering all the same great features of their Zane Carbon Reel, but in a lightweight, machined platform. This reel is designed by and used by serious tarpon and big game anglers everywhere. One of the best reels on the market today at $850.
Tarpon Fly Lines
Cortland Tarpon Taper- The cortland tarpon taper is one of the most popular fly lines for tarpon fishing. Offering an aggressive head with a long rear taper, the tarpon taper fly line gives you the ability to punch flies through the wind while still being able to deliver a fly delicately for spooky fish. This is a full colored line which means there's no clear tip or full clear coating. Even though these lines can effectively be used in clear water, we recommend you use full colored lines in dirty/dark water scenarios.
Cortland Tarpon Taper Clear-
The Tarpon Taper Clear features cortlands popular tarpon taper, but with a full clear coating. This is extremely effective when fishing spooky fish in clear water such as the Florida Keys, or any other destination where you may fish the ocean side. Clear lines give you the ability to throw over top of fish with much less chance of spooking them.
Cortland Ghost Tip-
The Cortland ghost tip also features the tarpon taper, however has a 9 foot clear intermediate tip. This means that the front 9 feet of your fly line will sink slowly and is completely clear. This is a great line when fishing deeper water, or in areas where the fish may swim lower in the water column. Andy Mill and many other Keys anglers fish this line almost exclusively.
Tarpon Fly Fishing Leaders
Tarpon Leaders don't have to be as complicated as everyone makes them out to be. This doesn't mean that you should just throw straight 60 pound leader. Here's what we recommend. This for not only the safety of the angler, but also the fish. This keeps the angler and equipment safe for situations where the fish takes off and line may get wrapped around the anglers hand, fingers, feet, etc. If the class section was stronger than 16lbs, this can be a dangerous situation. As far as the fishes safety, If you have a shark attempt to eat your tarpon, with a 16pound class section you're able to break off the fish and allow it to escape. With no light class section, you will not be able break off your fish and it will get sharked.
Umpqua Deceiver HD Fluorocarbon Tarpon Leader- For most Tarpon fishing scenarios, we prefer a 60 pound bite tippet. This means the from 18 inches or so of your leader will be 60lb. This is to account for the abrasion of a tarpons mouth. The rest of the leader is a tapered leader with a 16 pound class section.
Build your own- Most serious tarpon anglers will build their own leaders. This gives you the ability to adjust the length of your butt section, class tippet, and bite section given your situation. Typically these leaders are tied with either full fluorocarbon, or have a mono Butt section (The start of your leaders that attaches to your Fly Line)
Looking for a guide?
Call us at the shop at 321-723-4751 for our recommendations anywhere from the Gulf Coast to the Keys!