The Tampa Bay Times

Tarpon receive most of the attention when we talk about exciting fly action for large fish in our area. Earlier in the year as the water warmed and baitfish became more prolific large tarpon followed their forage and populated most of our local water. Following the tarpon were fish that consider tarpon as their favorite food. These top of the food chain predators are a variety of sharks. Waiting patiently for a tarpon that will take a fly can make for a very long day. How many times, especially in shallow water, have you seen sharks patrolling your tarpon hot spot? If you cast to them with a tarpon setup and did get a hookup, a frayed leader was usually your reward. A slight modification in your tarpon setup is needed. Ideally have a second rod already rigged to save time and not ruin your tarpon chances. A 10 wt fly rod, 200 yards of 30-pound backing, and a leader with a 4 ft 60-pound butt section, twenty-pound class tippet, and a 1 ft wire bite tippet will attach to the fly. Use a Bimini twist to double the section next to the 40-pound single strand wire. Attach the wire to the double-strand leader with an Albright knot. The bright orange or red fly size 3/0 will need a haywire twist to complete the connection to the wire leader. Cast ahead of the shark and work the fly with a slow, teasing erratic motion. A hookup will need several serious strip sets low and to the side, then hang on! If not familiar with some of the knots, an internet search is needed. When using single-strand wire, a right angle back and forth motion will break the tag end of the wire with a clean smooth finish. Using a tool to cut the wire will leave a very sharp result that will injure you or cut your leader while playing the fish. Catch and careful release is encouraged.
Fly fisherman and casting instructor Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at and (727) 504-8649.

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