Everything You Need to Know About Tarpon Fly Fishing – (Complete Guide)

The majority of fishermen approve that out of the various angling styles that exist, targeting and catching your victim on a fly is the most challenging.

Tarpon Fly fishing requires an extreme skill set. Typically, in fishing, you would soak or blind cast bait.

However, compared to all the different types of sight-fishing, it is incredibly tedious and complicated to sight fish and design accurate casts for fly fishing.

Fly fishing for Tarpon requires immense patience. Often, you will need to stand at the edge of a rowing boat for a very long time.

Sometimes it might take an entire day to land a massive tarpon that weighs 150 pounds or so. However, a challenging angling technique like tarpon fly fishing makes you forget about the long wait to make a catch.

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Tarpon Fly Fishing – A Challenging Angling Technique

Tarpon is one of the world’s most cherished saltwater sport-fishes that typically weigh more than 100 pounds.

These saltwater creatures are not easy to catch. You can take things a step ahead by planning a tarpon fly fishing trip. Planning a trip of tarpon fishing will soon make you realize that you are up for a fight.

Tarpon usually crowds the warm coasts of Florida in the summer season, gathering around Tampa Bay and Boca Grande to eat.

They are an aggressive breed of fish and are likely to be attracted to bright and vivid colored flies. Those huge tarpon fish falling for your fly will feel like a reward, and soon amidst the chaos, you will realize that all the long hours of waiting, fishing skills, and efforts were worth the wait.

Preparing your fly tackle to fight against this forceful and heavy-weight fish is not everybody’s cup of tea. This article shares essential techniques that shed light on how to fly fish for tarpon and why tarpon fishing is more exciting with the use of flies.

Tarpon fish in its natural haibitat

The Charm of Tarpon Fishing with a Fly

The idea of tarpon fly fishing might not attract you at the start. Hence, here are a couple of reasons you should try the uncommon fly fish tackles rather than the traditional tackles.

1. Tarpon are Very Attracted to Flies

Tarpon enjoys flies greatly. Unlike the other types of saltwater game fishes, they will catch and devour most of the flies that they spot.

Tarpon is naturally born as hunters and finds it difficult to resist what appears a simple snack.

Usually, when the prime members of the salty waters such as bonefish and permits are nervous, tarpon will not be fiddled with.

2. Tarpon Put Up a Fight

Tarpon is an assertive fish that fight back crazily. If this is your first go, you will be quite shocked when you hook a tarpon for the first time.

This particular species goes airborne almost all the time and can flee off a hundred feet away from your vessel, so be prepared to chase them.

Of course, fishing is a sport that gets even better if it is challenging.

3. Tarpon are Mostly Catch-and-Release

You can find several tarpons, so most fishermen hunt for the challenge and release the tarpon after striking them.

This way, they are allowed to transform into the big beasts they are.

fisherman fly fishing in ocean from beach

Preparations Before You Go Tarpon Fly Fishing

When you plan a fishing excursion to catch one of the best game fish, the utmost practice and preparations are required.

You will be amazed to see the crowds of seasonal and experienced fly anglers freeze when the beastly tarpon swim by their vessels.

Training is an essential part of tarpon fly fishing and should not be compromised at any chance.

  • If you select a novel tackle for tarpon fly fishing, it is vital to test it for a spin before your trip. Try to practice casting a fly in your vacant parking lot or driveway. This way, you can sense how to use more massive rods and heavier fishing lines.
  • Practicing for 30 minutes every day a week before your grand fishing excursion will be very fruitful.
  • If you take help from a guide, make sure that you and he have the same experience and skill set. This enables the guide to take you to areas that will be suitable for your knowledge and skills, thus allowing your trip to succeed.
  • Striking a small-sized fish is at least much better than not catching anything.
  • Always conduct thorough research on the available guides and choose one who can level up easily with beginners.
  • You need a guide who can instruct you actively during fishing and supports you even if you make mistakes.
  • Plan a fishing trip when the weather and timing are ideal for tarpon fly fishing. Tarpon can be found all around the year is several locations, but they are mainly found in abundance during the summer. They are highly aggressive during this time frame.
  • Tarpon usually migrate in the summer seasons to warmer regions like Florida and other tropical areas.
  • Another pro trip to consider is to go on a tarpon fly fishing excursion during a full moon. The moonlight at night allows the tarpons to feed and be more assertive in the daytime. A full moon enables the biggest tide swing, which attracts more fish since it draws in a lot of food from the open sea.

Below is a video to show you a few tips for Tarpon fishing.

Places to Go to For Tarpon Fly Fishing

Fortunately, tarpon can be found in ample quantities in tropical water destinations like Mexico, Florida, Belize, and the Bahamas.

These few locations contain a considerable share of huge, ravenous tarpons. The more prominent concern is to choose an area that will prove to be encouraging for a beginner.

Note that your first time can be rather irritating if you have not experienced fishing in saltwater flats before.

It is quite different from other fishing techniques. Here, you can clearly observe the fishes that you are targeting, and you are also visible to them. This suggests that you only have one or two casts at most before the fish spot you and then flee.

Sometimes you will only have one chance to offer your bait to a tarpon that passes by. If you place the lure too close or too far away, they will probably not go for it.

The Proper Tarpon Fly Fishing Tackle

When you fly fish for tarpon in saltwater, the first step to successfully score this big beast is to purchase the proper fishing gear.

Tarpon is a species that will test you and your equipment to the ultimate limit. If you are not adequately equipped, then you have a chance of losing the tarpon, as well as your expensive gear.

For the fishing line, it is recommended to use 10 or 12 weight floating lines.

Based on the weather conditions, you might also need a line with a precise sink tip. For days with unstable wind conditions, you will need a denser fishing line to manage the wind and the forceful tarpon.

For choosing a leader, it is recommended to use an original 25-pound tippet that is approximately 9 to 14 feet long.

Both fluorocarbon and monofilament can do the work. Still, there is a higher chance that the former will lead to increased strength.

As far as the fishing flies are concerned, the best fly tackle for tarpon would be 1/0 to 3/0 hook size and a twisted tail.

Baitfish, worms, and toad-styled flies work like wonders under the cloudy water. If you are still unsure which bait to go ahead with, head down to your nearest fly tackle shop and check out what is recently trending.

Choosing the Right Kind of Tarpon Flies

Tarpon fly fishing typically calls for planning and techniques. The conditions should be ideal so you can easily spot the fish.

However, even if everything is in your favor, if you do not have the right tarpon flies, your trip can fail.

You need to have a set of the best tarpon flies with you to successfully hook a tarpon.

Regardless of the unique terrain where tarpons reside, a crab serves as the most ubiquitous food for them.

Quite unsurprisingly, the most useful flies for tarpon will resemble crabs. However, most tarpon are some extremely devious feeders and they are also attracted to a variety of baitfish and shrimp style flies.

There are times when tarpon may find it infuriatingly difficult to choose between baitfish, shrimp, or crabs. This is where the most realistic replications of these flies have the upper hand.

Natural Tarpon Flies

When choosing a color for your fly, it is preferred to go for tans, nudes, and natural browns. These colors are the best match against the color of crustacean.

To increase visibility, add a minor tint of bright orange, blue, or even yellow on days with clear water and sunny skies.

Bright Tarpon Flies

When you choose a location that contains murky, dirty, or stained waters, it is best to go for bright-colored tarpon flies.

This also applies to fly fishing for tarpon over patchy or dark grass bottoms. Vivid colors like yellow, orange, hot pink, and chartreuse enable the tarpon to quickly detect the flies.

Bright-colored flies stand out even more in murky water.

Dark Tarpon Flies

Sometimes, fishermen like to fly fish for tarpon under conditions where there is dim or low light.

In instances like going tarpon fishing at the brink of dawn, late evening, or cloudy skies, opt for dark colors.

Use a dark-colored or patterned fly in the shades of purple, black, and red and add a tint of contrasting colors like orange, yellow, or chartreuse.


In conclusion, these few things will help you to a great extent if you are going to fly fish for tarpon for the first time. Tarpons are an interesting breed to opt for fly fishing.

Several fishermen can only envision the day when they will actually get to fish for tarpon. As challenging as fly fishing for tarpon seems, the experience can be extremely thrilling and satisfying.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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