Tarpon Tips: Part Two
Casting to Tarpon and the Retrieve: NeverÂ cast too early. Don't begin to cast when a tarpon is out of your range. Be patient, know your comfortable casting range. If you try to make too long a cast and your fly falls short, it may take too long to cast again and the tarpon will have moved on. But, It is better to cast too short and hope the fish sees the fly, than to cast too long and spook the fish.
Keep your rod's tip at the waterâ€™s surface and point your rod tip directly at the fly when stripping your line. This helps give proper action to the fly and will help when a fish eats. Strip slowly. A fast, jerky retrieve will spook most tarpon, while a long slow retrieve usually initiates an aggressive response. For bonefishermen, a bonefish retrieve is too often short and too erratic. For trout fishermen, a properly executed streamer retrieve is usually too jerky and fast. The bottom line is... not all retrieves for all species should be the same... nor do they get equal results!
The magnificent turtle grass flats on the West Coast of the YucatanÂ
Remember a tarpon's mouth is designed not impale or grab, but to "inhale" it's prey. Think of it as a tackle and not a stab. The massive gape of the mouth is tilted slightly up and therefore designed to take prey from below. Tarpon flare their gills while opening their mouth thus "vacuuming" in their prey. A fly should ideally be slightly above and heading away from a tarpon when it is first seen. Predators chase their prey and they expect their prey to be moving away from them and fleeing. This is the best way to "feed" a tarpon. You are literally trying to tease a tarpon into taking your fly. You want to trigger their predatory instincts and make them "eat" even if they are not hungry or aren't excited by your offering. If a fish follows closely, but does not take your fly, change your retrieve: make longer strips, strip even more slowly or stop entirely. This change will often elicit a strike from a sluggish 'poon. Lift your fly line quietly and smoothly off the water to initiate another cast. DO NOT use the water's drag on the fly to load the rod tip. Many beginning anglers rely on this "water loading" to allow themselves to make
longer casts or to cast into the wind. This noisy lift off will almost always spook tarpon. The tarpon will be gone and you'll have nothing to do but deal with a guide who is muttering under his breath.
Do your homework before going fishing. Learn to cast accurately and quickly. Do not false cast excessively. Learn to make 2-3 false casts while playing out line with each cast then shoot your line accurately to the fish on your last cast. As well as wasting valuable time, repeatedly false casting over a fish (in an effort to "measure" distance and therefore increase accuracy) often spooks fish as they repeatedly see the fly line whipping in the air. Remember the part about tarpon being called megalops (giant eye) in Latin!