May 4, 2019

Tarpon Notes for Saltwater Fans

 I don’t consider myself any kind of expert, but I’m an addicted tarpon-on-a-fly angler. I’ve had some great training from guides and casting instructors in my fly fishing career. I’ve had some great advice from the folks at the Gorge Fly Shop for much of my equipment.

 Here’s my “two cents”:

  1. I was using a G.Loomis NRX 10 weight on many of these juvenile tarpon, but I also throw my favorite tarpon rod-the G.Loomis NRX 11 weight most of the time, because you never know when a 70 (or 120) pounder is going to show, especially on the ocean side, in the Keys.

  2. Purchase the best quality equipment that you can afford. If you cannot afford it right now, save your money and get what you really want. Otherwise, you end up getting it, anyway, in the long run, when you find out that the “less expensive” equipment didn’t get the job done. Then the other stuff sits in the closet or in your rod rack. I happen to be a Nautilus NV fan. I’ve never had an issue with a Nautilus reel, and the drags are very sufficient and easy to adjust. If you read much on line, you’ll find out that Nautilus reels have very little “start up inertia”, which is important to protecting your class tippet. Yes, you can buy reels with 50 lbs of drag, but you’ll snap your class tippet on tarpon if your drag is set too tightly. 12-15 lbs of drag is plenty to get an adult tarpon to the boat quickly so that you can revive it and let it avoid predation by sharks. This is also why you NEED to use class tippet, or something that you can break off, if a hammerhead or bull shark is chasing the beautiful tarpon that you just fooled with your fly. Nautilus NV reels (Nautilus has had the NV-G format for some time now, which will fit the NV frames. The NV-G spools, I feel, are a distinct improvement, in terms of retrieval rates, and I’ve upgraded many of my spools to the NV-G spool).

  3. Matching the line to the rod is important, to achieve proper loading. It’s not all an exact science. You NEED TO INVEST TIME, ENERGY, AND YOUR OWN EVALUATION. Many times, it’s best to use a 12 weight line on an 11 weight rod, etc. The Gorge Fly Shop can help you out with advice on this. “Fast action” rods: G.Loomis NRX, Helios 3D, Scott Meridian, etc., can handle “over-lining.” Over-lining can actually help many folks “feel the load”, and throw tighter loops, which is of the utmost important in saltwater fly angling. Not all of us are 6’ 2” with powerful forearms and wrists, so we cannot aerialize 60-65 feet of line, and shoot the remaining 30-40 feet of fly line. You need to be realistic in your own self-analysis, but you need to have “tight loops and high line speed”, i.e., correct rod tip path with double hauling. I practice fly casting year round; it’s like some folks going to the driving range and just working on their 7 iron, or their 3 iron. You practice the correct stroke, and develop the muscle memory. So when the tarpon show up, and the guide is asking for a 60’ cast at 11 o’clock, and “lead ‘em by 8 feet”, it’s an automatic thing. This is very important to getting a hook up, especially at a demanding tarpon venue, with sensitive and wary fish, such as the Florida Keys!

  4. This, perhaps, should be number one: Spend some time throwing different rods. Everyone has their own casting stroke. I can throw a number of different rods and be happy. Personally, in the 11 weights, I love my G.Loomis NRX rods. In 8 through 10 weights, I like my G.Loomis NRX, but I also like the Helios 3D. I also have a Scott Meridian in 12 weight-a very light rod that is extremely powerful. Match those with a RIO Direct Core Stealth tip, or RIO Outbound short, or an SA Amplitude Tarpon line, and you’ll love it. You should be able to do a “quick cast”, from the “ready” position, to 60 feet, with one backcast, and have the fly turned over and the leader straight when the fly lands.

  5. I tie most of my tarpon leaders, and I use RIO Hard Mono for the butt and sequential leader sections: 40-35-30-25-class (say, 20 lb). And RIO FluoroFlex Saltwater Tippet for the bite tippet, 50, 60, 80-whatever you prefer. Many guides will provide the leaders for you. In Costa Rica, I use 100 lb fluoro. Those Costa Rican tarpon don’t mind.

  6. PRACTICE YOUR CASTING. I cannot emphasize this enough. Practice with a 12’ leader. If you are tying overhand knots in it, those are “casting knots”, not “wind knots.” YOU made them, with a tailing loop. Figure it out and correct it. On spooky fish, such as in the Keys, your guide will love you if you can turn over a fly on a 12 or 15 foot leader.

  7. Hire a guide who is also a teacher, and who is an affable person. That person needs to be respectful, patient, be able to “correct your casting mistakes” in a diplomatic fashion, know the fish behavior on certain tides, wind directions, and be able to handle the boat appropriately. I am very pleased to be able to fish with a guide such as Joel Dickey, in the Keys, and guides such as Dion, Dubs, and Mark, at Turneffe Flats Resort. Henry Rodriguez and Pancho Xec at Pesca Maya resort on Ascension Bay. Cokie, with Avalon, in Cuba. On the other hand, your guide is working hard to get you into position to catch fish-perhaps “the fish of a lifetime.” So have some respect for his/her efforts, and prepare before you go on your trip. THAT MEANS PRACTICE YOUR CASTING! 

Have fun and ENJOY! There’s nothing like a big tarpon to tighten your blood knots!
Howard Stringert

No comments :

Post a Comment

  © 'and' Mike Prine 2009-2014

Back to TOP