Tarpon Fishing In Southwest Florida


Captain Jack

Each summer the annual tarpon run in Southwest Florida brings amateur and professional anglers alike to test their skills against some of the greatest sport fish the world has to offer. Starting mid-April through mid-July thousands upon thousands of adult tarpon make their way to the beaches of Southwest Florida, meaning world class fishing is just a short paddle away.


Best Equipment To Use


Whether you’re an experienced angler or just a novice looking for to chase the thrill of sport fishing; the biggest question is what equipment will I need? Choosing the correct setup largely depends on the type of fishing you intend on doing. The purists will claim that the proper way to catch tarpon is using a fly-rod; many others use conventional gear. We’ll cover all of the basics. Looking for a fishing kayak?

Fly Fishing Setups For Tarpon

If you’re fishing for juvenile tarpon – medium sized (up to about 30 pounds or so) we recommend the standard go-to rod for saltwater fishing, the 8-weight. With an 8-weight you’re going to be able to fish for bonefish, smaller stripers, red fish, and just about anything else you can think of. An appropriate setup would be as follows: at least 150 yards of backing of 20 pds, floating flylines, leaders of 10 ft, a shock tippet of 40 pounds, and 1/0 – 2/0 flies and hooks. Check out our product reviews here.


If you’re going after larger Tarpon 80 pounds or more you’ll need something a little more heavy duty. The standard go-to of old was a 12-weight, and while there are still anglers who prefer the 12, we recommend the 11, and here’s why.


12-weights are heavy and can be extremely difficult to cast all day, while an 11-weight is lighter than a 12 but stronger than the 10. An 11-weight is almost the consensus choice amongst guides in the Keys. An appropriate setup would be as follows: 10-12 weight, reels with at least 250 yards of backing of 30pds, shock tippet of 80 pds preferred possibly even 100 pds or more, 4/0 and 5/0 with various patterned tarpon flies.

Spinning Reels For Tarpon

For the anglers looking to sight-cast at adult fish I’d recommend a 7-7 1/2 foot spinning ride with at least 250 yards of line. Less experienced anglers should start in the 20 – 30 pound class, while the more experienced who know how to properly apply pressure on a fish with lighter gear can opt for something in the range of 12 – 17 pounds. For those fishing for smaller tarpon located in the mangroves of Southwest Florida you can scale down considerably, and get away with using reels with less capacity. It’s doubtful that a baby tarpon will run 250+ yards. Check out our favorites here.

Tips For Tarpon Fishing

  1. Sharp hooks are vital to catching Tarpon.
  2. Understand where the tarpon is and how it is facing, remember to cast in front of the fish as only predators come from behind.
  3. Trust Your Guide, let them get the boat in the proper position and help you zero in on your target.
  4. Water Clarity; clearer water means you need to lead the tarpon a bit more approximately 15 feet.
  5. Factor in any crosswinds into your cast trajectory, presentation is key to ensuring a strike.
  6. Calmer water calls for the need to present the fly further away from the tarpon.
  7. Your fly should never move towards the fish, unless you’re trying to spook them.

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