Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tarpon On Topwaters

My favorite topwater is the Super Spook Jr., a smaller saltwater version of Heddon's famous Zara Spook bass lure.   If you know how to work one properly, everything that swims around here will hit it.  It has been a hard sell for our juvenile tarpon so far this season but they do seem to be reacting to it a little better over the last few days.

There's nothing more entertaining than watching big fish smash a topwater and tarpon do it better than just about anything.  Unfortunately they tend to hit them a little too violently and often send the lure flying into the air before the hooks can find their mark.  I watched this happen a couple of times this morning with Spooks and my angler lost a nice fish yesterday after a few jumps because the hooks just didn't dig in enough. 

There are a few things you can do to up the odds of keeping a tarpon stuck if you're throwing a Spook or any other topwater.  For starters, work it slow, about half the speed that you'd normally use for snook or reds.  Tarpon don't like to work hard for their food in the daytime so a slow retrieve is more inviting to them.  Keeping your rod tip pointed low and right at the lure will also help give better control of the action and a stronger hook set after the strike.   And make sure your drag is tighter than normal.  You can always back it off quickly if the tarpon you hook is more of a runner than a jumper. 

One last thing about the hooks on the Spook Jr.  They really suck.  They're fine for trout or smaller reds but it you hook a big fish those two treble hooks are glorified paper clips.  I've posted something about this before and still have the same complaint.  If you're using Spooks for tarpon, swap out the factory hooks with a pair of 3/0 Owner ST-36s.  That's what's on the lure in the photo above and don't worry about the corrosion you see on them.  You want hooks that will rust out of the fish's mouth if your leader breaks, and that happens all the time with tarpon.  The only time I use stainless steel is for bonefish flies.  Hope this helps. 


Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Cool Stuff From ICAST

The guys from Clutch Fly Rods got my buddy Alexander Leslie seriously hooked on fly fishing and set him up with one of their brand new TSX 7-wt rods. 

Alexander making some great casts at the demo pond.  It always impresses me how an 11-year old can pick up a fly rod for the first time and be excellent with it two days later. 

Tibor Reels.  The best fly reels ever made.  It was great to see Ted Juracsik in person and remind him how much we all love his gear. 

A handful of new color combinations from Tibor along with some great custom engraving.

Love my Yeti cooler and check out the ultimate beer tub on the left.  That's the new Yeti tank cooler a must own for anyone in the south. 

The Fly Reel Company is based in the UK and while their name might sound rather generic, there is nothing ordinary about their product.  These are some truly innovative anti-reverse reels that have a remarkably simple design but manage to be light weight and saltwater tough at the same time.  They're not inexpensive but neither is a Bentley.  There aren't too many great anti-reverse fly reels out there and this one is really worth a look. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Beavertail Elite At ICAST

ICAST is the world's largest fishing trade show and my friends Will and Liz brought two of their newest skiffs to Orlando this week.  I had a blast up there with them today and got to reconnect with a bunch of old friends from the Key's, too. 
A new 2014 Elite that will be heading to Islamorada Boats in the Upper Keys this weekend. 

A very slick BT Elite with the breakaway tongue Peterson trailer.  This 17'8" skiff will fit in any garage. 

I love this huge front casting deck.  The largest one in it's class. 

The Elite's front storage hatch with the powder coated and fully removable fuel tank. 
A two tone, rope-wrapped and powder coated steering wheel.  This isn't standard but well worth the extra cost. 
The combination back rest/lower platform mounted to the rear storage hatch.  This is a very cool feature that kills three birds with one stone.  The engine on this particular skiff is the new Merc 90 4-stroke. The price for this Elite with the full Kevlar hull and added features is still in the low $40k range. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Keep Your Tarpon In The Water

This is the best way to handle and photograph a tarpon.  In fact, for any big tarpon caught in Florida, it's the only legal way to handle and photograph them.  If the fish is over 40 inches in length then removing it completely from the water is considered possession and that requires a $50 state issued tag to be placed in their lower jaw.  If the fish is small enough, like the 30 incher I caught in the photo above, you can quickly pull it from the water for a picture on the boat.  Just remember to hold it gently with two hands and don't put pressure on it's abdomen unless you want a nice coating of tarpon poo all over yourself, something your really want to avoid on a hot day.  Trust me on that one.