Ok, what's your preference, Tarpon or Bonefish? - Fly Fishing Forum
Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 05-05-2006, 02:03 PM
formula1 formula1 is offline
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Ok, what's your preference, Tarpon or Bonefish?

Okay, just wanted to start a thread here and see what kind of answers we get. Basically, which do you prefer to fish for, tarpon or bonefish, and why? There is no wrong or right answer, just wanted to see the views here. I will present a couple of views as well - I know that although Lefty Kreh has described the tarpon as perhaps the most exciting fish around, his favorite fish to stalk on a fly is bonefish due to the challenge of getting a hookup. On the other hand, Dan Blanton has relayed that he prefers tarpon and admits many anglers like bonefish and tarpon better because of the technical aspect of feeding them, he likes tarpon because there is no guarantee you will land one after a hookup whereas most permit and bones are pretty much foregone conclusion once you hoook up.

As for me, I prefer tarpon for the same reason - the main reason I like saltwater is the challenge of light tackle fishing against a fish where you are never sure that you will land it. I like fighting fish that are 8-12 times the size of my tippet and pushing my equipment to the limit, and sometimes past it. I like the toe-to-toe slugfests I get into with a fish, and the getting to the breaking point to see who blinks first, me or the fish. Tarpon exemplify all that I love about SW fishing, including beautiful surroundings, but most of all the slug fests where sometimes, as I put it, I have to get "street-fighter mean."
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Old 05-05-2006, 02:41 PM
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It's a terrible thing to make one choose!!!

I can't do it I have to have both.
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Old 05-05-2006, 03:35 PM
SteelBoneguy SteelBoneguy is offline
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Hmmm This is beyond hard to choose. I'm going Swiss style on this one! However....

At the keys a year or 2 ago, I fished 2 days guided. First day all we fished for was tarpon. I was so freaking frustrated I could kill someone. The fish would not eat.

Second day did half bones and half tarpon. Caught first bone. Still have not caught a key tarpon.

Tarpon are much more frustrating b/c they feed mainly at night time. Yes you can catch them during the day, but they feed most heavily at night time, gorging themselves. For that very reason while at the keys I prefer bones.

But you really can't compare totally different fish.

You could say do you prefer Keys bones, or Bahama Bones.

Keys tarpon or Costa Rica tarpon.

I love them ALL!
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Old 05-05-2006, 05:21 PM
Eddie Eddie is offline
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That's like choosing betwen trout and sea run fish.
Trout and bonefish aare feeding and migrating tarpon and searun salmonids are not said to be feeding. They are in a spawning cycle, so instead of fishing with an artificial bait (a fly that represents food eg. crab or mayfly), you are insighting a strike with a nonfood attractor fly (like a toad or signal light). I think that this represents a whole different mind set. When a bone fish or a trout eat, you know why (they were hungry) but no one might ever know why a salmon or a tarpon eat. I think that this mystery is addicting to some and frustraiting to others. I think that bone fishing has more in common with trout fishing than with tarpon fishing.
I like both because they are so different.
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Old 05-05-2006, 05:24 PM
formula1 formula1 is offline
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Hey Steelboneguy, I feel your pain...I know that Keys Tarpon can be hard to feed since they are pounded on so much these days. When I first began they were easier - I had hookups my first trip and I jumped a few but no landings. They have become in many ways 100 lb. permit - tough to feed. However, they do have their days - I've just read a couple of trip reports and one guy reported 43 hookups in 10 days and my guide reports they've been averaging about 5 hookups day as well - this could be one of those banner tarpon years. The other thing I'd say is that it's difficult to book only 2 days and expect a hookup - if the a cold front comes through, it's almost impossible to hook up unless you're name's Andy Mill. That's why whenever I go on a fishing trip like this I rarely book less than 5-7 days. Last year I had a bad year but the year before was excellent.
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Old 05-08-2006, 04:34 PM
Backwater Backwater is offline
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Tough question. I think I have to say Tarpon. I don't care if you jump a small one you have that weak in the knees feeling that you don't quite have with Bonefish. Also, the tackle for Bonefish is pretty much equal to the fish. I normally use a 10lb test leader when I fish Andros and that is pretty much the biggest Bone I could expect / hope to catch. Tarpon very quickly out tackle you, so I'd have to give the sporting nod to the Tarpon. Even small ones are tough to keep on the hook.
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Old 05-10-2006, 10:52 AM
SteelBoneguy SteelBoneguy is offline
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Thanks F1. I'll hook up one of these days...
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Old 05-10-2006, 10:22 PM
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That's a tough choice--both awesome fish. I think I would choose bonefish though--if I had to choose, which thankfully I do not. I really enjoy stalking bones in skinny water, something you don't normally get with tarpon. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when stalking an 8-10 lb tailing bone--what an adrenaline rush-even if you don't hook up. And if you do hook up, look out!
And while bones don't jump, and don't reach the size of even medium sized baby tarpon, pound for pound they may be as strong, or stronger, than tarpon. Might be faster too.
What does everyone think--are bones faster than tarpon?
What if we tied two 10 lb fish together, who would take who for a ride?
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Old 05-11-2006, 02:39 AM
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For me it's not necessarily the type of fish that is the issue but s targeting single fish.
To cast into a school and hook up with something is OK but there is nothing like casting at a single cruising bonefish with a floating gummy minnow and seeing the fish come up and take the fly. Or casting a bunny pattern to a laid up tarpon and twitch twitch and it come up slowly sucks the fly in you try to set the hook and then it jumps.

I don't know what this has got do do with religion but the normal reaction is "Oh my god".

Casting a fly at a tailing permit is similar only they don't normally join in and the reaction then is "Oh ****".


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Old 05-18-2006, 06:13 PM
josko josko is offline
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For me it would be bonefish. I like the whole sightfishing aspect: seeing, stalking, demanding casting, and instanf feedback on any of the many possible errors. The run is nice, but that and the subsequent fight is not the 'ultimate moment' in my opinion.

As to actually fighting a fish, I would vote for a billfish over a tarpon. I think both speed and aerials are much more spectacular with a marlin at the end of a flyline.
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Old 05-20-2006, 12:12 PM
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I have to go with the silver king (tarpon) bones are fun but poon's (baby) are much more of a rush when hooked
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Old 05-23-2006, 03:00 PM
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Having not had the chance to hook a tarpon on the fly yet, I still feel compelled to respond. I've popped a few boners in my day (although not nearly enough), and find that they continue to be THE fish that continue to dream about. Being a NW bugslinger I'm lucky to have steelhead in my backyard. That said, I'm still amazed at how powerful and exciting bonefish can be. If I could book a trip anywhere right now, I pretty sure bones would be the target.
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