Tying for Tarpon

I’ve caught one tarpon in my life at this point. I’ve hooked a few more, but I’ve only landed one. I’ve tied a great number of bonefish flies, but not so many tarpon flies.  Some techniques I have not mastered and almost all the patterns are new to me.  That said, I’ve been trying to get in the groove with my tarpon tying and I’ll bring you into that experience.

First… almost all the patterns are bunny patterns with a little marabou thrown in for good measure. Bunny is just a joy to tie with and the patterns come out looking damn fine. On the down side, I know when I’m out there casting them they will hold water more so that the synthetic materials will. I’ll have to see if that is a real bummer or not.

The desk, set up for tarpon tying.

I have a desk dedicated to tying.  I can close it up and put it away, but these days I’m leaving it open and ready. Thoughts of tying beckon often.

Pile O' Bunny

If you can palmer a bunny strip, you can make a tarpon bunny and since that means just wrapping the strip around the hook… I can palmer a bunny strip.  So… I have a lot of bunny strips.

Another one done


A few of the finished products, ready for Cuba.

An assortment of flies that are ready for Cuba. 1/0 to 3/0 and damn strong hooks. I can’t wait to see some of these spit back at me by fish bigger than my daughter.

I just like the look of these flies.

Now, the fuchsia might be a bit much, but the concept is pretty solid, I think.  I think, but I don’t know.

Simple and Sexy.

We’ll seen in a couple weeks if any of these make the cut.

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  1. In the Keys we use 1/0 SC 15 hooks as the ocean side tarpon are big fly spooky.

  2. another problem with rabbit is that it tends to wrap around the hook bend. nothing like making the perfect cast, but the fish refuses the fly because it’s just a blob. for where you are going, tie some charteuse-and-yellow patterns. i’d tie some toads, too. and check out this pattern – http://vimeo.com/38404259 easy to tie in any color combination.

  3. Great Flies! Try more small one as well 1/0 hooks. Yellow/chatruse, all Chartruse, tan/orange/white & all white. The toad/bunny patterns with an EP fiber head, marabou body and bunny tail should be a deadly combo. Try tieing a short loop of stiff 40# mono at the bend of the hook under the bunny strip to avoid the issue Aaron mentioned. Extend the loop an inch or so behinde the hook. Helps keep the tail from fouling. Also some small standard roaches in black/grizzly. Jump a bunch!

  4. Thanks Aaron, that’s a nice pattern you tied there. One thing I’ve seen is tying in something called a “Snarfle Guard” which is basically a few wraps of thread on the base of the bunny tail to keep it from wrapping around the hook. I did that on a few of them, but I’m betting I could go back and do something like that on the other flies already tied.

  5. Thanks for the tip Adam. I’m tying up some toads too and tying a lot in 1/0.

  6. Great selection and brilliant advice from Adam and Aaron. I also tie some smaller ones (1 and 1/0) using craft fur as the tail with a palmered body. The craft fur is great because you can then use markers to add stripes of various colors.

  7. Yo, gotta put in my piece here. To keep bunny from fouling you tie in a loop of mono extending from the shank of the hook HORIZONTALLY. Basically it is supposed to extend the shank… it kinda works. What works better is hitting the underside of the bunny strip w/ crazy glue for about 1/4″ past where it attaches to the hook. So basically from the point of tie-in back. Stacking a few thread wraps to kick the tail up does very little w/ bunny because it gets too waterlogged and just plain WANTS to foul.

    I agree w/ the 1/0 comments. You don’t need that big of a hook to catch tarpon. The bigger the hook the thicker the wire (and bigger the barb… which I always crush, even for tarpon) and the harder it is to set the hook in a tarpon’s hard mouth.

    Finally, my favorite material for tarpon tails is ostrich herl. It’s amazing stuff and a lot tougher than you’d think. It almost never fouls (if you kick it up w/ a few thread wraps), seems nearly iridescent underwater, and has amazing movement. I like chartreuse.

  8. Hey Bjorn,

    Do yourself a favor and bring a handfull of Crease flies and Gruglers in sizes 2, 1 and 1/0. Much of your early morning fishing will be for rolling Tarpon in channels and against mangrove banks. They can’t resist a slowly twitched bait on the surface during low light and the strikes are just EXPLOSIVE!!!…jump jump F–K!!! he he!


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