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, 03:03 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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  #2  
Old 05-05-2006, 03:41 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, 04:35 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, 06:21 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, 06:24 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, 05:34 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, 11:52 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, 11:22 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, 03:39 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, 07:13 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 05-19-2006, 08:51 AM
formula1 formula1 is offline
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Hey Josko, no fair throwing in another species.

I see your point about stalking bonefish, however, I've found that fishing for tarpon recently in the Florida flats, and in talking to those who have recently, the tarpon have gotten a lot like bonefish. It's become much more demanding. A perfect cast is no longer a guarantee of a hookup. Presentation has to be spot on, and the ability to read the tarpon has become paramount if you want to do well. To each their own - that was the point of the posted question to see which aspect you like best.

As far as Marlin, I do want to pursue them one day but in some ways not as much fun - as Andy Mill said, you tease them up and after they're excited, it's pretty much flop your fly out there and it's a guaranteed hookup. Not to say I don't want to experience the fight as well - I most certainly do. But I do want the combined aspect of casting/presentation with a great fight. For me the bonefish do demand good stalking skills, but the fight it completely anticlimatic for me. I don't fault anyone who prefers the bonefish - I know a lot of guys who don't care to fight big fish either - plenty of room for all of us to enjoy fishing the way we want. Neither way is right or wrong, just personal preference.

Now time to go pack - leaving for Key West tomorrow morning. Time to jump some 'poons.
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Old 05-19-2006, 09:08 AM
JR SPEY JR SPEY is offline
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I don't know for sure, but I'd bet Andy said that about Pacific sailfish and not marlin. Believe me, that comment can often be true with sails. I have never found it to be true with marlin. I've had marlin up into the teasers several times and never had a hookup. A lot of times they're gone before you even get the cast out there. They don't tend to hang around anywhere near as long as the sails.

I don't think there are many that would put sailfish ahead of tarpon as far as casting and presentation goes. I do, however, agree with josko as far as the actual fight with a billfish being superior to tarpon, although with sails it usually doesn't last nearly as long.
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Old 05-19-2006, 01:51 PM
formula1 formula1 is offline
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Hey Jr Spey, actually Andy Mill specifically stated "Blue Marlin" in describing it as tease them up, pull away the teaser and throw out the fly and it's a bite (in the Chasing Silver series). As I understand it, and correct me if I'm wrong, Mill also has some experience fishing for billfish as well doesn't he?
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Old 05-20-2006, 10:12 AM
JR SPEY JR SPEY is offline
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As I don't have cable or a satellite dish, I know Andy only by his reputation and that's mostly with tarpon. I don't doubt that if he said that about blue marlin, he's probably found some place where it happens. I've had three chances at what were probably blues, but could have been stripers (striped marlin,) and only once did I even have the time to get a cast off. In my experience, limited though it may be, marlin just don't stay among the teasers but for a very short time. The one I cast to one in Costa Rica both the captain and the mate screamed "perfect cast" after I made it but the marlin just disappeared. It was only about 25 feet, but I guess I put it in exactly what should have been the right spot. Having had a lot more experience with sails since that trip I can tell you that about 90% of the sails would have eaten that same cast.
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Old 05-20-2006, 01:12 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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