Teaching Someone to Flyfish for Tarpon [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Teaching Someone to Flyfish for Tarpon

02-25-2011, 08:06 AM

So I'm taking my Dad to the middle Keys with me in May to flyfish for Tarpon. I go every year but he's never fished tarpon before. He does a lot of freshwater flyfishing and even more saltwater light tackle but no saltwater fly. I'm trying to think of what to work on before going down there. I think casting a 10 or 12 with wind a long way is the most important because it's a little different than cast a 4 wt 20 feet on a stream. Also strip striking and bowing to the fish. Anyone have any other ideas? I think teaching the double haul will be the biggest challenge.

02-25-2011, 09:22 AM
The double haul will be easy in a way if you make sure he starts with very short strokes..... also have him do the movement without the rod in hand...this can be done well before your trip even sitting in a chair watching TV....the timing will then start to reinforce....also...Andy Mill just wrote a book on tarpon Fishing published by Wild River Press which is suppose to be the bible on this and all methods in fishing for them.

02-25-2011, 11:27 AM
Sounds good! I didn't realize Andy Mill had written a book. I saw him on "Chasing Silver" and he seemed like a real character

02-25-2011, 02:14 PM
I'd work with him on casting accurately to fifty feet with wind from all different directions using at least a 10 weight rod, though early on you could start a little lighter. Distance isn't nearly as important as accuracy in the wind. And have him use a big game leader and a tarpon fly minus the point when practicing. Unless a double-haul is quite well advanced it can be more of a hindrance than a help. If he hasn't learned it up to this point, I think that 2 months+ might be pushing it. It is entirely possible to hit your target at fifty feet without hauling if the rest of your stroke is good. I'd also work on getting him to start the casting process from the ready position. Being able to load the rod early from the ready position minimizes the need for 3 or more false casts. Only you know your dad, but if it was me I'd forget about putting much emphasis on clearing line and bowing until you're there. Sure, he'll probably drop his first fish or two, but we all do that early on even when we know what we're supposed to do. Too many instructions and things to remember can be worse than too little.

Have a great trip and let us know how it goes.

02-25-2011, 02:58 PM
thanks I will. I'm taking the still and hd video cameras so hopefully I'm get something worth looking at.

02-25-2011, 05:37 PM
The distance, wind, accuracy are all key. If you would like to learn how to do it on the lawn first that is great. Cast three or four times a week for three weeks leading up to your trip. I can not tell you how many people wish they had done that when the fish of a lifetime gets infront of them. Next take the recycling container and flip it over. Then stand up on it while you cast. In florida we have small flats boats witch are very tippy and you don't want to rock the boat around when fishing for shallow water fish. Next take some branches and sticks (lots of them). Place them in a pile infont of the recycling container on the ground. Practice catsting, and then stripping in the line, while watching the area where the fish would be 40-100' infront and try not to tangle the fly line in the branches on the ground infront of you while you are doing it. The flats boat deck is almost always behind you and not 10' behind you. I love it when someone can cast, and then can stack the line on the floor (not in the water) and is ready to make another cast.

02-26-2011, 08:06 AM
I agree with JRSpey. you will probably not need to cast too far but 50-60ft with a 10wt is very different to 20ft with a 4wt.

I don't know if you can teach it but keeping cool and not panicking is very important.

02-26-2011, 03:34 PM
If tarpon were salmonids I wouldn't fish for anything else.

02-26-2011, 07:03 PM
Assuming the casting comes along, the next biggest problem he will have is not "trout striking". IMO the best way to handle this is to talk calmly to him during the retrieve: tell him how he is not going to raise the rod.....point the rod at the fish, wait for the tension, then tighten, then pull back hard.

02-27-2011, 06:54 PM
Make sure he knows to watch and keep his stripped line free and clear to run.

When it happens, it happens FAST.

(Same for bones).

02-28-2011, 08:36 AM
Yep that's sure true!

alan caolo
02-28-2011, 10:03 AM
Boatdrinks - try to get a copy of Fly Rodding for Tarpon with Billy Pate (3M, circa 1986). It should be available through a number of sources, including WorldWide Sportsman in Islamorada (a Johnny Morris / Bass Pro affiliate - with catalog), or through online retailers, such as Amazon. Though over 20 years old now, this video is classic and other than fly pattern and hook improvements/evolutions, tarpon fishing is just the same today as it was when Billy and 3M made this tape. I suggest watching several times before you go . . . and practicing a lot (in the wind) with a 12-wt outfit rigged with a practice fly that's close to what you'll actually be tossing at the fish (that is, don't practice with nothing attached to your practice leader . . . put a wind-resistant bug on there).


02-28-2011, 12:15 PM
Thanks guys. Is that an instructional video? I love watching tarpon fishing videos. They're just such a good fish to film. "Chasing Silver" and "Tarpon" are two of my favorites.

02-28-2011, 02:50 PM
Quick and accurate seems to be one of the things I hear a lot of guides say often when it comes to any type of sight fishing. Have him practice making casts with as few false casts as possible.

03-01-2011, 05:20 PM
I love the old videos with early fly rods and reels for Tarpon...

Great New Book called "High Rollers" by Bill Bishop.. I had the opportunity to talk to Bill and thanked him for writing the book. I think it is a great book for people who are interested in Tarpon fishing to learn more about the complex topic and he has spent many years working on it himself.

03-02-2011, 07:44 AM
Sounds good, I'll have to check that out. Some of the scenes in "Tarpon" of the guys just hanging out talking are pretty priceless too.

03-02-2011, 10:34 AM
Striking the buggers and having the hook stick is a big deal for me. I hooked more than 20 baby tarpon on my trip to Belize and landed none. Mistakes I made: trying to put the fish on the reel rather than keeping the line tight until the fish ran out all the slack; not "bowing to the king" soon enough; not setting the hook often enough. Even when I did do all these things properly, the damn things still got off. I've heard that barbless hooks penetrate those concrete-lined jaws better. Next time I get a chance, I'm going to try that.



03-02-2011, 07:33 PM
For a number of years I lived several months a year down in the 10000 Islands/ENP area, and fished for Juvy Tarpon (with an occaisional big fish around) almost every day. My experience with the 20# and under was that I had a higher "stay-stuck" % on flies using Gami Circle Hooks. With the fish above say 40# (a lot fewer of them), I felt I had better % with flies tied on the Owner Aki.

03-05-2011, 08:35 PM
I've heard that barbless hooks penetrate those concrete-lined jaws better. Next time I get a chance, I'm going to try that.



I've found that with fish that jump as often as tarpon that micro barbs are better than barbless. Like vtloon I tie almost all my tarpon flies on Owner Aki hooks and they seem to stay stuck. I was six for seven on fish from 60# to 100# last season (covering nine days fishing.) All were caught, as well as some smaller ones, on the Aki.

03-06-2011, 12:36 AM
OK -- I'll give the Aki's a try. What specific model hook and hook size are we talking about here? Owner Aki is totally unfamiliar to me. Looking at their website, I see bait hooks....

03-06-2011, 08:47 PM
Read Jaworski's book, follow this link for details. I worked with him for an hour, this book is the best in my opinion.... His 4 basic principals are more than solid.


03-07-2011, 07:13 AM
OK -- I'll give the Aki's a try. What specific model hook and hook size are we talking about here? Owner Aki is totally unfamiliar to me. Looking at their website, I see bait hooks....

They're simply called the Aki, and in fact, are considered a bait hook by Owner. I'm to the point where I only use 1/0 and 2/0 for tarpon flies and rarely even use the 2/0 anymore.