Fly Fishing for Tarpon: Big Drags, Sharp Hooks

Fly Fishing for Tarpon A recent Andy Mill interview mentioned something about fly fishing for tarpon that most anglers consider a black art: keeping the fish on the line. To paraphrase, Mill said that he’s come to the conclusion that the best thing to do when a tarpon takes your fly is nothing. That’s a over-simplification of his advice and the process, of course, but it does reinforce something we’ve believed for many years — that the most important thing in keeping a tarpon hooked up is not slamming home the hook at every opportunity, but keeping the fly in the fish’s mouth. Keeping tension on the line until the fish turns his head prevents the fly from slipping out, and when the fish does turn and run, the hook is more likely to stick in the corner of the fish’s mouth. The other key ingredients to making this strategy work are very sharp hooks and big drag settings — 3-5 pounds is ideal if you are fishing with 16-20-pound tippet. By the way, the tarpon photo is from last Friday morning in a basin in southwest Florida, where the fish were thick before the latest front came through.

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