Tarpon Fly Directory

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Tarpon Fly Directory
Giant Tarpon
Tarpon Facts
Baby Tarpon
Opening Day
Turbo Cones

Tarpon Fly Directory
Plus extensive information about tarpon fly fishing.
Giants Tarpon Facts Baby Tarpon

ALF Tarpon Fly, Blue Back

ALF Tarpon Fly, Green Back

Belize Black & Red

Black Death Tarpon Fly

Boom Creek Special

Caribbean Lobster


Orange Grizzly

Palolo Worm

QT Tarpon Shrimp, Gurgler

QT Tarpon Shrimp, Shallow Water

Silver King Wings, Earth Tones

Silver King Wings, Black/Red

Silver King Wings, Olive

Splayed Tarpon Fly, Coker Smoker

Splayed Tarpon Fly, Furnace Tail

Splayed Tarpon Fly, Lime Tarpon

Splayed Tarpon Fly, Marquesa Sunrise

Splayed Tarpon Fly, Phantom

Splayed Tarpon Fly, Roach

Tarpon Destroyer, Orange-Yellow

Tarpon Destroyer, Purple-Black

Tarpon Screamer, Orange-Black

Tarpon Screamer, Purple-Black

Tarpon Toad Chartreuse/Yellow

Tarpon Toad Purple/Black

Tarpon Toad Tan/Orange

Whistler, Black/Orange

Whistler, Red/White

Whistler, Red/Yellow

Giants Of The Florida Keys
In early April schools of giant tarpon start sneaking into "Back Country" ; that amorphous conglomeration of mangrove islands, reefs and flats on the Gulf side of the Florida Keys. In this early season the area around Marathon in the Middle Keys can be loaded with fresh, laid-up tarpon that haven't seen a fly.  Many of these fish will weigh 100-200 pounds.  You can get lots of shots, but don't expect these fish to be easy.  They are shy and hard to hook and when you hook one they will be exceptionally powerful in
A school of giant tarpon prowl the Florida Keys.  Photo Mark Bachmann 2004.

the oxygen rich, cool water.  You'd better pay close attention to details such as leader knots, backing knots and the durability of your reel.  Big tarpon can dismantle tackle. And they can wear you out physically.  Any tarpon of over a hundred pounds might take a couple hours to land. A tarpon over 150-ponds might take several hours.  Billy Pate's 188-pound record tarpon took him   

nine hours and 35-miles. When it finally came to the boat, it jerked the muscular 275-pound guide overboard into harms way. But that is the attraction.  Hunters that pursue large carnivores look for the same kind of experience.  If the game were easy, it might not have as much attraction. My largest tarpon landed was hooked in the early season off Big Pine Key, Florida. It wasn't big by tarpon standards. The estimate was 135-pounds. It took 2 1/2 hours of pulling my guts out before it finally gave up. To this date it is the largest fish of any kind that I have landed and it is indelibly etched in my mind.    

A giant tarpon tears line of the reel.

Tarpon are hard to see. Laid-up tarpon are the hardest. They look like black logs suspended lazily just below the choppy surface of the water.  You have to see them clearly before you cast.  There is only one end of a tarpon that will eat a fly.  The fly must be cast to exactly the right place in front of his face. Casting gets harder with adrenalin pumping through your veins, but adrenalin is the whole reason for the hunt in the first place. My first big tarpon took fly turning away with such force that the line burned a

Keep your center of gravity low and enjoy the ride.

groove into my hand.  I struck back a couple of times. Then the fish went berserk; rocketing its seven foot long body high into the air several times as the line melted off the reel.  There aren't words that can describe the helpless feeling. The twelve weight rod that felt like such a "stick" before I left Oregon now felt puny against such ferocious power.  After ten minutes and several more sky walking jumps, the hook which had been driven so deep into the flesh pulled free. 

Twenty minutes later the second tarpon took  my fly coming head on toward me and pushed enough slack into the line that I thought it missed the fly completely. Yet as it went on past me the line came tight and a couple of hard jabs buried the hook into the cartilage of her upper lip. Then the fish bolted a couple of hundred yards of backing off the reel without jumping.  It stayed down and nearly half an hour passed before we saw the size of the this fish. Then it jumped twice.  It was

Landing a big tarpon takes endurance.

a little smaller than the first fish.  Tarpon are able to gulp air into their swim bladders and absorb oxygen from  the atmosphere.  This action enables tarpon to live in oxygen 

Mark and Capt. Chris.

starved water or supercharge themselves as they are being played on a hook and line.  The trick is to keep a fish from gulping by pulling its head down by sticking your rod under water and giving it a "down and dirty".  I wasn't able to keep my big tarpon from gulping and the fight went on for two and one half hours.  Finally my guide grabbed the tarpon by the lower jaw with both hands and hoisted it across the bow of the boat for a quick length measurement  and a picture.  It was 78"; easily the largest tarpon I had ever landed.   It was returned to the water where it revived  instantly.  I, however was exhausted. 

The Florida Keys fishery is so compelling that it has set the standard for tarpon fly development. Keys Style flies can be found here, and here. The flies that are current favorites with Florida guides, are Toads, Destroyers, Screamers and Alfs.

Tarpon. Tarpon have been called "The Silver Kings"....Kings of fly rod game fish. The reputation is well deserved. Big tarpon can be truly intimidating. Medium size tarpon can be exhausting. Baby tarpon can be exhilarating, miniature replicas of their behemoth

parents. Tarpon remind me of over-sized, lazy trout in a very rich lake. They have their feeding cycles but don't waste any energy. They are however, capitalistic feeders and will often take nearly any fly if it is really easy to catch. A straight-on shot will usually get results. The odds go way up if the fly is presented at a level slightly above the fish's eyes and retrieved at a pace to keep it about two feet ahead of his nose for at least five seconds.  Fly action is important. Flies that have a lot of wiggly, flowing materials are most productive. Tarpon are nearly like steelhead

Big tarpon.

Baby tarpon.

in that they move freely between fresh and salt water. Tarpon can migrate many miles inland, up rivers and roam head water lakes and creeks. Tarpon easily feed in jungle rivers that are very turbid. At times, usually during freshets, tarpon seem to enjoy the cover of muddy water. As in all rivers, when there is bed load shift, there are a lot of prey species exposed for exploitation. Tarpon within these turbid rivers can be very aggressive feeders.  The greatest of these turbid tarpon rivers in Central America is the Rio Colorado, which is the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Silt load

from the Rio Colorado stains the blue water of the Caribbean for several miles out to sea. Tarpon school here in unbelievable numbers. The trick is getting them to find your fly in the muddy water.  Dan Blanton has fished this area a lot. He reasoned that if tarpon couldn't see the fly, maybe they could hear it. He fastened large, hollow bead-chain eyes to a bulky fly. It was an instant success. The holes in the bead chain act the same as air blown across an open pop bottle. They whistle. That is what he called it, the Whistler. Whistlers are productive anywhere tarpon hold in deep or muddy water.

Baby Tarpon
Since baby tarpon can actually gulp air and absorb oxygen through the walls of their swim bladders, they often rear in oxygen starved black water creeks and lagoons, where predatory fish such as barracudas & sharks have a hard time surviving.  Juvenile tarpon also like areas where black water creeks flow from mangrove forests into salty or brackish water. There are many such places along the coast lines of South Florida, Mexico and Belize. Fly fishing for smaller tarpon with lightweight gear can be as much fun as hunting for giants.

Mark Bachmann with a typical Campeche tarpon...

Along the coast of Campeche, Mexico, our guide, Juan poled the panga toward the mouth of the tiny black-water creek. Several small tarpon rolled with their dark backs and sharp dorsal fins showing above the surface of the dark water.  The pungent-sulfur smell of the mangrove swamp filled my nostrils.  The eight rod was loaded for the cast.  The red and white fly sailed through the air and landed with a quiet splat.  One strip, two strips...the water exploded as a tarpon felt the bite of steel.  It vaulted high into the air with its gill-plates rattling.  The 30-pound leader broke and the fish was gone...that fast.  "Ten or eleven kilos", said Juan about the lost fish.  Then we examined the frayed leader.  I reached for my tackle bag and tied on a-foot of 40-pound

fluorocarbon for a bite tippet. My second fish came only a few minutes later, but threw the hook on the third jump. Five minutes later a small pod of tarpon showed themselves forty feet off the bow, and a third fish was hooked, and this time landed.  It probably weighed about ten pounds, which seems to be the average for the waters around Campeche.  During our five days of fishing Campeche, we never hooked a tarpon smaller than 5-pounds, although several were close.  We each hooked one fish that was larger than twenty-pounds.  Both were lost to leader breakage. 
Black Creek flows from the Belizian coast just north of Monkey River Town. If you don't know where it is, you will never find it. The opening to the ocean is so small  and shallow that it is easily missed in the jagged wall of giant mangroves.  One morning Patty, Mark Stensland, Derek Mushchamp and I entered Black Creek in the gloomy dawn. After the tiny opening, the creek opens up and several hundred yards inland it becomes a black water lagoon covering about ten acres. A half a dozen tiny creeks flow gently from the mangroves at the head end of the lagoon. It is a primordial place completely walled in by thirty foot tall mangroves. It is an oily black, sulfur smelling lake completely cut off from the rest of the world.  For some reason small tarpon often congregate here in large numbers. This morning was no exception. Patty, Stens and I jumped a dozen tarpon between eight and thirty pounds in a couple of hours. Then the sun climbed over the top of the mangroves. The black water and the dead calm air turned our little piece of paradise into and oven.  Short jacket flies, a blood sucking nuisance of the Central American tropics began to target our sweating skins. Stens, who is a light blond of Norwegian descent applied a liberal layer of sun screen. On top of that was applied a slathering of insect repellent. Unknowingly he had just created one of the finest lubricants ever produced by man. A tarpon rolled to the surface of the black water seventy feet from the boat. Stens grabbed his favorite baby tarpon gun, a sage RPLX with his cherished shiny black Abel number-2 Big Game reel.  His cast landed the orange grizzly fly in the rings of the rise and he began stripping the fly back to the boat. Nearly thirty feet of line were retrieved before the tarpon took the fly. The strike was so savage that the rod handle slipped from Sten's slippery hand and the only contact with the fish was the line in his stripping hand.  The rod shot twenty feet from the boat and bounced around on the water as the fish jumped repeatedly. A string of four letter words filled the quiet air and the other three of us were laughing so hard that we were of no help. The thirty pound tarpon was finally hand-lined to the boat, the rod was recovered and the fish's picture hangs on the ceiling beam of our shop.
Another adventure with Derrick Muschamp took us deep into the Belizian jungle. His friend Frankie, had told us about a tarpon lagoon at the head end of Boom Creek a tiny black water tributary of the Sittee River. We used Derrick's skiff, and for several miles the creek was so narrow there was no place to turn around, and as we had jumped the boat over several party submerged logs that spanned the creek, there was no way to back out.  We were getting very nervous that we had marooned ourselves when the creek opened into a beautiful lagoon ringed with tall mangroves intertwined with vines ladened with huge sweet smelling trumpet shaped flowers. Here tiny trout- sized tarpon from 18" to 22" ate an epoxy headed fly we dubbed the Boom Creek Special. It was Patty's turn to be the big winner. She even landed a tarpon that took the fly on a low back-cast.
One November found us in Naples Florida, fishing with Captain Bob Marvin at night. Naples is cut up with dredged canals and water front trophy houses with lighted private docks. some dock lights are of sufficient intensity that they attract schools of bait fish and the predatory fish that come to harvest them, such as jack crevelle, snook and tarpon. Bob, Patty and I were stationed off just such a dock with our navigation lights turn off. We are invisible in the darkness and it was my turn on the bow. A man and women inside the house were clearly visible through their huge plate glass window. They were clearly unaware we were watching. A tarpon rolled under their dock. My cast fell true and the fifteen pound fish was landed in as many minutes. As I released the tarpon, the man in the house raised his martini to his lips as if to toast my accomplishment. I toasted him back with a bottle of Gatorade.

Tarpon this size are like a cross between steelhead and large mouth bass...

The same flies that work for adult tarpon seem to work fine for baby tarpon as well. Old favorites like the Cockroach, Orange Grizzly and Boom Creek Special are consistent producers as well as new patterns like the Tarpon Screamer.  White flies with pearl flash and a little bit of red or hot pink seem to be most productive as well.

Opening Day
By: J. Morgan Jones

My eyes are searching, but focus on nothing specific. In the late afternoon sun it is difficult to look for fish. The riffles shimmer and diffuse the light in all directions, the broken surface only momentarily allows random visions of the river bed. I look for the motion of a tail, the quick opening of a mouth as a fish takes yet another insect. All of these things are links in a chain that should never be broken.....
I stand quietly above the river. Relaxed.... Watching...
My eyes are searching, but focus on nothing specific. In the late afternoon sun it is difficult to look for fish. The riffles shimmer and diffuse the light in all directions, the broken surface only momentarily allows random visions of the river bed. I look for the motion of a tail, the quick opening of a mouth as a fish takes yet another insect. All of these things are links in a chain

that should never be broken.....
I climb from the road down to the river bank, picking my way through the rocks, looking for other predators. I understand that I too am a predator, but I   am not here for food, I am here for release.....the prey  I seek is too valuable to waste, but still, today I am a hunter.
I leave the river bank and enter the water slowly, placing each boot clad foot in deliberate steps, looking for the next likely step. I see some steps, others I feel with my staff, or with movements of my feet, always careful, but always watching, looking for some

movement that its out of place in in a river that never ceases to move.

There! Something not really seen clearly catches my eye, and I stop, almost motionless, watching. Perhaps the subtle rise of a meandering current, perhaps the quiet take of an unseen insect, a reflected glint of light from the broken surface. I am focused now.....Again! This time I see the rise, I am sure. I have not seen the fish, but my mind tells me that  he must be there. The pieces of subtle evidence I can put together triggers my instinct, and I let my entire world constrict to this small soft spot of river perhaps fifty feet up and across from where I stand. Ah! I see the motion clearly now and I am spurred to

unstring my fly and pull out some slack line from the reel. I set my feet in more comfortable position. Mentally calculating the distance, I begin the ritual of false casting, working out the line. Without conscious thought, I gauge the breeze, the current patterns, the exact spot I need my offering to land. It is a long way for the light rod that have in my hand, but this rod is like a good friend. We have been here before and know each other well.....

The rod grows heavy as it loads for the last cast and I see the line form that candy cane shape as it unrolls on its way to the target. I add a small mend and, having committed to the presentation, I wait for the fly to land above the prey, and I again stand motionless. Watching, waiting.....
I see the rise clearly and the fly is no longer visible. The tip of the rod has moved no more than it would if I had moved a finger on the grip, but I know......
The watching, the wading, searching, climbing down to the riverbank, the cast,  all of it is as one single motion. I am the conductor of a

symphony that plays this music that I have written....And while I realize that none but myself can hear the music, I hear it clearly and it sounds sweet. For a brief moment I lose conscious thought and am transported to a place where I have lost all that I thought I was. I have no other place in this world but where I am at this very moment. I have no future and no past, there is only now. 

I do not know why or how, but this one moment in time has somehow cleansed and recharged me. “ I understand this concept, though perhaps not the method of “The catch is the release”. Perhaps I have worshiped at the Church of the Eternal Cast.....

I reflect on these things and many others as I clamber from the river and begin the climb back to the road. I look back at the river as I reach the top in order to complete the memory of that moment. I mark it well...I will return here again...

F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone
Developed by Mikael Frodin to work perfectly at the front of the F.I.T.S. tubing. These wide profile cones create a vortex at the front of your tube fly. Our test reveal that flies tied with Turbo Cones maintain a three dimensional profile while being fished under tension against the current.

These cones add live action to your flies. They allow you to use the softest imaginable materials. Yes, the turbo cone gives your flies unique swimming properties. Let your fly push away as much water as possible, thus creating its own turbulent water stream that will make even the softest materials move and maintain their volume, even in the slowest and hardest of currents. Tie the softest marabou flies and they will maintain a volume and a lifelike action you never thought possible. Without the turbo cone they would turn into a thin, dead string of hairs in hard current.
These Cones are adapted to the FITS tubing system. The Turbo Cone is developed to optimize the properties of your tube flies, but there are endless options and possibilities. Line one with a small piece of tubing and slide it in front of any fly. These cones transform a boring Wooly Bugger into a tempting, swimming killer.
The cones are sized to fit the FITS tubing and the wing size.  Use XS for micros on XS tubing with wings of 1-2 inches.  Use S for wings of 2-3".  Use M on XS tubing with wings of 3-4 inches.  Use L for S tubing with wings of 4-6 inches. Packages of 10 cones.
Item Description Size Price To Top
45081-23XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Orange X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-23S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Orange Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-23M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Orange Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-23L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Orange Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-22XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Yellow X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-22S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Yellow Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-22M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Yellow Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-22L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Yellow Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-25XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Chartreuse X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-25S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Chartreuse Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-25M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Chartreuse Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-25L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Fl. Chartreuse Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-00XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone,  Black X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-00S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-00M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-00L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-29XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone,  Silver X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-29S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Silver Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-29M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Silver Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-29L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Silver Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-28XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone,  Gold X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-28S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Gold Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-28M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Gold Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-28L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Gold Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-05XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Chartreuse X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-05S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Chartreuse Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-05M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Chartreuse Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-05L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Chartreuse Large $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-03XS F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Orange X-Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-03S F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Orange Small $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-03M F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Orange Medium $6.95 SALE ENDED
45081-03L F.I.T.S. Turbo Cone, Black and Fl. Orange Large $6.95 SALE ENDED

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