Tarpon season is right around the corner and although many of us will not be able to chase the silver king this spring/summer some of you will find yourself on a casting platform with shaky knees making a cast at one of the most exciting fish to hook on the fly. If you are thinking about making a trip to Florida this year in hopes of hooking a migrating Tarpon I wish you all the luck in the world. Fly fishing for tarpon is quite possibly one of the most addicting fly fishing experiences you can have. It will make you consider selling everything you have and pursue them as often as you can. But as responsible adults we cannot make that happen….well, most of us. This spring I am planning on taking a DIY low budget trip to Florida in hopes of hooking tarpon without the help of a guide. With access to a Gheenoe watercraft and a GPS I am going to try to find some fish hiding in the Florida
Everglades. With recent permission from my wife I just started planning my trip. Of course airfare will play a large role in this trip and I might just have to ride the stadium seating of Frontier Airlines to make it happen. With all this pIanning and excitement I have realized that I am not well versed in building Tarpon Leaders. Fortunately I have been lucky enough to have fished with Tarpon guides and picked up some great advice from them but am still unsure on the proper set-up. I stumbled upon this video and it seems pretty basic and I am sure that I can re-create it.
There are a couple steps that I might choose to use different knots but this seems to be a good place to start. From my understanding a Tarpon leader needs the following; A heavy 5 – 6 foot butt section of 50-60 lb test, Then attach a 2 foot section of 20-30lb test with a knot that you are confident in, finally a 2 foot section of shock/ bite tippet – this could range from 60-80 pounds. Traditionally I have seen guides attach each section with an Albright or Slim-beauty knot, in this demonstration they use Blood knots. Like I mentioned whatever you are more comfortable with. There is a suggestion that the smaller the knot the better. Some believe that Tarpon get fished to so often that they can see the larger knots. I don’t know, but I will always listen to my guide. If you are planning a trip south in search of the silver king there are a lot of great fly fishing guides to choose from. But please be sure to call Captain Al Keller with NOLA Guides. Here is a clip I shot with Al a few years ago. Stay calm and make your shot, even if your legs are Jell-O.