Tarpon get most of the attention when it comes to exciting fly action for large fish in our area. Early in the year, as waters warmed and baitfish became more prolific, tarpon followed their forage and populated our waters. Following them were fish that consider tarpon their favorite food: sharks. Waiting for a tarpon to take a fly can make for a long day. How often have you seen sharks patrolling your hot spot? If you cast to them with a tarpon setup and got a hookup, a frayed leader was usually your reward. Ideally, have a second rod rigged to save time and not ruin your tarpon chances. A 10-weight fly rod, 200 yards of 30-pound backing and a leader with a 4-foot, 60-pound butt section, 20-pound class tippet and a 1-foot 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 connect to the wire leader. Cast ahead of the shark. Work the fly with a slow, teasing erratic motion. A hookup will need several serious strip sets low and to the side. 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.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.