Renown Middle Keys fishing guide Jeff Malone (Tarpon Time Charters) took us out for baby tarpon and he did not disappoint. We have always heard great reports from anyone who has fished with Jeff, and it was not just dock talk. He knows his stuff he is a true guide on the water every single day.
I only have 6-8 flies that I have tied for my tarpon season. Sure, I mess around on the vise and tie up all sorts of creations that I hope will unlock some aggression in the fish, but the truth is that I use light and dark Keys style flies, light and dark Steve huff Ballyhoo flies, Worm flies and light and dark Toad style flies regularly. With those flies, you can probably get a fish to bite.
To catch the most tarpon it is important to pay attention to the details. Having a knot that makes the fly swim unnaturally can result in less bites and getting fewer tarpon to the boat. Let's take a look at three of the most commonly used loop knots for tarpon.
Too much handling is too much handling. Even if it is with the best intentions, too much is too much. Too much time out of the water is not good for a fish. After a long fight, a tarpon needs oxygen and rest to be able to recover and swim away without predation. If we fight the fish quickly and release it quickly, the fish will swim away with 100% chance of survival. Fight it for an hour then pick it up out of the water, drop it in the boat 4 times and then try to release it...not so much.
The idea behind the bow is that the fish will accelerate as it leaves the dense water and hits the less dense air. Combined with the drag of the line in the water, especially fly lines, the hook can pull out easily. Anglers learned long ago that a bow at the right time would throw enough slack in the line to keep the hook set in the tarpon through the jumps.
If you are going to be in the Florida Keys in May for Tarpon, you are going to need a BUNCH of crabs (which they will have at Hawks Cay) and a few of these rigs ready to go. Here is the exact rig we were using.