What's hot: Tarpon get most of the attention when we talk about exciting fly action for large fish in our area. Earlier in the year as water warmed and baitfish became more prolific, large tarpon followed their forage and populated most of our local waters. Following the tarpon were a variety of sharks, which consider tarpon their favorite food. Waiting patiently for a tarpon that will take a fly can make for a long day. How many times have you seen sharks patrolling a tarpon hot spot? If you cast to them with a tarpon setup and get a hookup, a frayed leader is usually the result.
Equipment: Ideally, have a second rod rigged to save time. 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 or haywire 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.
Technique: Cast ahead of the shark and work the fly with a slow, teasing motion. A hookup will need several serious strip sets low and to the side.
Tips: When using single-strand wire, a back-and-forth motion will break the tag end with a smooth finish. Cutting the wire will leave a sharp result that will injure you or cut your leader while playing the fish. Catch and careful release is encouraged.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.