Fishing Baby Tarpon

by Fly Fisherman

A baby tarpon hits hard and fast and the angler must strike at the Hash of the fish below the lure, if he hopes to hook him. The big fish, on the other hand, are slow and deliberate takers. A big tarpon sucks in the fly. He comes up with his mouth wide open and as he is usually pointing at the boat, an immediate strike would pull the fly right out of his mouth. So the angler must stand there and look down that great maw and hold still until the tarpon turns, before setting the hook.
Many a fly rudder who likes to go after big tarpon never says he is going “tarpon fishing”—he says he’s going out to “jump tarpon.”
There are so many things that can happen in fly rodding for these big boys that it’s a wonder any over 20 pounds are ever boated. Nine times out of ten, the rough gill covers or the rough mouths or sharp fins or scales cut the nylon leader and puts finis to the whole story. Or the reel will freeze under the strain of the terrific runs, or the tarpon will throw the hook from his cast iron mouth.
Yet, even with the light 12-pound test leaders to which the average really dyed-in-the-wool fly man limits himself, many big fish have been landed, and with a little luck there’s always a chance at a 25-to 40-pounder. Some fishermen have fitted their fly outfits with extra heavy tippets, either of wire or very heavy nylon, sometimes as much as 65-pound test, in order to frustrate the fraying action of the fish’s mouth. If one wants to go to that heavy tippet, however, it would seem more logical to go into balanced heavy tackle. The fly rodder is going to get his fun out of the cast, tempting the fish to strike, and then seeing its phenomenal jumps—with, of course, always the chance that he might land a really big one in spite of such a light tippet.
It’s surprising what fish will hit big streamers and poppers in the salt. When found in suitable water even such deep water
fish as the snappers offer superlative sport. The strike of an eight-pound snapper or grouper to a popping bug is something to long remember.

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