Tarpon Fishing Recommendations

Challenging is the correct expression to describe Flyfishing for Tarpon...

The so-called “Silver King” has an insatiable appetite, a strong mouth, power, resistance and acrobatic skills, wich makes him the perfect adversary for your Fly-rod…

Fishing for Tarpon or “Sabalo” – as we call him here in Mexico – can be divided into three cathegories: Baby Tarpon (up to 30 pds), Medium Tarpon (from 30 to 80 pds) and Big Tarpon (more than 80 pds, in occasions they can reach up to 200 pds of weight.) Obviously, those Mega-Tarpons are the ones “most wanted”, but of course the less common to find. In the waters of Ascension Bay, and along the Westcoast of the Yucatán peninsula, you can find schools of baby Tarpon to medium size Tarpons lurking in the mangrove areas. When the Tarpon-fishing-day has been successful, one will finish exhausted from the physical efforts. Deeper water gives the Tarpon a greater margin to maneuver and makes you spend more time to chase him, wearing out the angler as well as the fish. Around noon, when wind starts picking up, it’s getting more difficult to find the Medium to Big-Size Tarpon, that’s when the boats turn towards the quietness of the mangrove-channels to look for dozens of Baby-Tarpon.

Armed with 6wt – 9wt rods we go out to face these small giants in battle. You have to handle your line carefully, if you don’t want him to escape and disappear in between the mangrove roots, once you have him hooked up.In Ascension Bay, it’s high season for Baby Tarpon from May throughout September. Even though there are lots of them around the shallow waters of the flats, be prepared for a rough adventure. Hooking and landing any size of tarpon, is always a difficult challenge.

To protect the environment and to maintain fishing populations stable, Pesca Maya follows the “catch and release” policy for all species.

Further world-class destinations for Tarpon in the Yucatan:

Tarpon Holbox

Tarpon Campeche

Tarpon San Felipe

Fishing Gear

As we divided Tarpons into three cathegories, we also will need three different types of equipment to catch them:

Baby Tarpon: Rods 6Wt to 9Wt, reels with at least 150 yards of backing of 20pds, floating flylines for shallow waters, depending on the depth of the area (WF#F, WF#S).Leaders can have an extension of 10ft, the class tippet being at discretion of the angler, but it’s necessary to incorporate a shock tippet of 40pds. (According to IGFA law, it may not exceed an extension of more than 12”, including knots.)Adequate flies and hooks are 1/0 to 2/0.
Medium Tarpon: Rods 10Wt to 12Wt, reels with at least 250 yards of backing of 30pds, floating or sinking flylines depending on depth. The leaders in this case are elaborate, following the IGFA rules: Generally a class tippet of 16pds to 20pds, making a bimini twist on both end of the class tippet uniting one end of it to a shock tippet of 80pds or more with a Huffnagle knot. (The shock tippet mustn’t exceed 12” of length including knots. Different knots can be applied to tie the fly to the shock tippet.Tarpon flies with 3/0 to 4/0 hooks are recommended.
Big Tarpon: Rods 12Wt to 13Wt, with reels that hold at least 300yards of backing flyline 30pds, floating or sinking, depending on depth of the area or the type of fishing. For the leaders the above mentioned system Works, but preferably with a shock tippet of 80pds minimum, even 100pds or more. Las moscas pueden usarse en anzuelos 4/0 a 5/0.Tarpon flies exist in different patterns. In Holbox, basicly all of them work, there is still little impact by fishermen. Patterns like:Stu Apte Tarpon Fly, Black Death, Lefty’s Deceiver and others work well in those waters. Colour combinations like: black-purple, yellow-black and orange-yellow are the most successful.
More about tackle: Flyfishing Tackle Recommendations / Saltwater Flies

Recommendations for Tarpon Fishing

The most difficult part about tarpon fishing is not to make them bite the fly, it’s to keep them hooked to it! The tarpon’s mouth is very hard and rigid, practically they don’t have teeth, their mouths are like hard sandpaper. This is why it is so important to have our hooks sharpened. There are chemically prepared hooks available ready to use.

You need to hook your Tarpon with the duty strength, but careful at the same time, no to break your tippet. Quite a difficult combination to achieve, especially with the “Big Ones”.A critical moment for Tarpon fishers is when the fish might easily get rid of the hook or break our lines, jumping energetically out of the water.When the Tarpon jumps out of the water, his velocity and strength will increase exponentially, the flyfisherman must direct his rod towards him to reduce the tension on the line, being called bowing, which is known as a reference to the Silver King. Once the Tarpon comes back to the water, is when we can continue the fight, applying the down and dirty, – which means to apply lateral pressure to the fish in order to exhaust him.We have to consider, when the Tarpon is at about 100ft distance, we can apply mayor pressure to him and force him effectively with the down and dirty.

In case the fish is more than 100ft away, we can apply about 8pds of pressure, for example, but the pressure of the water’s weight on the line might increase with the distance to a level that might cause our tippet to break. For this reason, the mayor pressure must be handeled at about 100ft of distance, when we can best calculate the force we are applying on the Tarpon and finally bring him in.As a last recommendation, we should always consider our local guide’s opinion and help. Their knowledge and experience result truly valuable for the success of our fishing day.

Tarpon Facts

Megalops atlanticus (Tarpon) is our mayor adversary in flyfishing, product of millions of years of evolution.

He is confortable in saltwater as well as in brackish water. Tarpon even have been found in lagoons or cenotes – underground rivers, dozens of miles away from the ocean. His capacity to resist hostile environments and adapt to changing living conditions is remarkable. He can reach a surprising size and weight, his acrobatic skills are amazing. So are his strength and predator instinct, which leads him to devoure our flies with appetite, making him even more attractive to the flyfisherman. To us it looks like the Tarpon was always surrounded by an aura of mysticism and greatness…

For more details please check out our fishing opportunities in Ascension Bay

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