Tarpon Tricks

Photo Courtesy Mark B. Hatter

 Simms Ambassador, David Mangum Shares a Few Overlooked but Critical Tips for Tarpon Season.

It’s nearly mid-June which means we are in the midst of prime tarpon season. Are you ready for the days you have booked? Here, Simms Ambassador, David Mangum of Shallow Water Expeditions shares a few commonly overlooked tips that will help you maximize your time on the water this season.

1. A Small Investment Makes a World of Difference: Throw your old cracked, coiled and grungy fly lines away and start fresh with a new one. Rods and reels will carryover year after year but a new line is undoubtedly worth the cash come tarpon season. Tarpon fishing is a game of inches, more often than not, shots come fast and at close range. A new slick line allows you to drop the fly, make one backcast and place the fly quickly and accurately.

2. Short and Sweet: Being able to make a beautiful 90 foot cast is great but in all honesty, in tarpon fishing, it is seldom necessary. Practicing casting in the offseason is fantastic but it seems as though when anglers head out to the backyard to cast, they are only trying to add distance. “Launching” fly line is a skill that sometimes comes in handy and adds to your bag-of-tricks, but far too few anglers put in the time practicing those short 30- to 40-foot accurate casts. If you can throw accurately to those distances quickly, you will be way ahead of the curve.

3. Less is More: The object of the game is for the fish to eat your fly — so let it breathe but don’t keep it away from the fish. We want to give the fish every possible opportunity to eat which is why I’m a huge believer in moving the fly less. In my mind, the less you move the fly but still “keep it alive”, the better.

4. Tying with Purpose: I’m all for using flies my clients tie — that is as long as they are flies that I’m confident will work. If a client calls prior to their trip and asks what type of flies to bring. I’ll gladly go in depth on hook size, colors, profiles, sparseness of materials, sink rate, etc., etc. When clients begin to visualize their flies in the water and think about how the fly sinks and acts, that’s when the flies they tie get fished.

5. Be Realistic: With all the images and videos on social media, it’s easy for tarpon anglers to think each day is going to be full of blistering runs and acrobatic jumps but the truth is, most days you have to work for every single fish. I think I speak for all guides when I say the most important thing you can bring with you for a guided day of tarpon fishing is realistic expectations. When your expectations are exceeded — everyone is happy.

6. Accessorize: I love it when I can get to the spot, hop onto the platform and keep my eyes and thoughts focused on where fish are cruising, rolling or where I think they might show up. Bringing quality nippers, pliers, sunglass cleaners and things of that nature allow your guide to do what he does best uninterrupted — find fish.

7. Embrace the Elements: When fishing along Florida’s coast, rainstorms are inevitable. But, just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you won’t get good shots. As long as it’s safe and their isn’t any lightning, you can certainly feed fish in the rain. But, if you are wet, you aren’t going to be comfortable and it’s likely you won’t want to be out there. Personally, I’d rather somebody steal rods and reels out of my boat than my Simms ProDry™ GORE-TEX® Jacket and Bibs. That’s something I simply never leave the dock without. you just never know, sometimes, when it rains, the fish pour.