The Tampa Bay Times

This is the best time of year to catch big tarpon on a fly. Stories of needing an hour and a half to get a silver side to the boat are not uncommon. Is this necessary or even good for both fish and angler? When a bucket-size mouth inhales your small fly, usually a size 1 or 1/0, and you manage a successful hook set, then what? The fish will instantly react, usually running and jumping and heading away from you. Your tackle should be adequate, 11 weight rod, good large arbor reel, smooth drag with 30-pound test backing. Many good guides will use a 40-60 pound shock tippet attached to the fly. Skipping the lighter class tippet, used mostly for record book work, will give you a mechanical advantage. Concentrate on keeping the fish off balance and confused. You must bow when they jump, giving some slack to prevent break-offs. All other time must be spent putting as much pressure as possible on the fish. When the fish goes to the right, with the rod tip low, apply pressure to her left side. Getting the line over the fish and off-balance is helpful. Keep a moderate bend in the rod using the butt section and your body, not your arms to shorten the fight.   

Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at and (727) 504-8649.

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