Tarpon Fly Fishing Tackle

FLY RODS: Choices for tarpon are multi-piece 8, 9 or 10 wt. fly rods in 9ft length. Fast-tapered saltwater rods with plenty of butt strength are needed in 3 to 5 pieces for easy traveling. Bringing a backup tarpon rod is recommended.

FLY REELS: Reels specifically designed for saltwater FLY FISHING that have disk drags, plenty of backing capacity (minimum is 150yds of 20-30lb backing), and sturdy aluminum, anodized frames are preferred.

LEADERS FOR BIG TARPON: If you are planning on fishing for BIG tarpon (50lb and up) in the Yucatan, you’ll need special leaders that incorporate a shock tippet married to a class tippet, by a series of special knots. If you are not into tying your own, the Rio Powerflex Big Game Leaders (16 lb. class / 80 lb. shock) are good choices. If you would like to tie your own tarpon leaders, some good reference books are Lefty Krey’s “Fly Fishing in Saltwater” and “Practical Fishing Knots” by Lefty Krey and Mark Sosin.

“YUCATAN SMALL TARPON LEADER”: This is a simple & very clean leader, perfect for small tarpon (10lb-50lb) in the nearby lagoons. From your fly line run a butt leader/section of 60lb test mono 6ft in length. Attach to this a section of 40lb test mono (shock tippet) 3ft- 4ft in length. To attach the two pieces of mono together, use back-to-back nail or uni knots.

FLY LINES: For 90% of your tarpon fishing a weight forward floating line is all you need. Airflo Ridge, Wulff Triangle Taper, and Cortland flylines are the best for tarpon. In addition to your floater, an intermediate sinking line may be necessary, especially when fishing over rolling tarpon in and around the various cenotes. Here again, Scientific Anglers Mastery Sinking Bonefish or Tarpon Taper lines are the best. These lines are abrasion resistant, with a very slick finish for distance casting, and feature a long tapered tip for delicate presentation and clear color that won’t spook fish. If you have to pick one line, go with the floater and use a longer leader.

Flies that work well include the Florida Tarpon standards such as the Cockroach in grizzly/orange or brown/chartreuse, the Tarpon Toad in black/purple or tan/orange, the Bunny Tarpon in purple and black, and large Gurglers in differing shades of light, medium, and dark.

  • Two tarpon fly choices should resemble 3in-long sardinas and the longer baitfish found in mangrove lagoons.
  • Flies that serve that purpose well are the Micro Minnow and the Finger Mullet.
  • Also an assortment of pencil-like poppers, such as Rainy’s Bubblehead Popper will come in handy.
  • Your flies should be dressed with marabou or rabbit in order to maintain neutral buoyancy, create an attractive silhouette that moves water, and resist fouling.
  • Other choices include Sliders in light colors, Tarpon Rats, Deceivers, and Gummy Minnows.