May has overall been a better month that I expected. The tarpon population is abundant all up and down the Keys. For the most part the fish are willing to eat a fly if it is presented correctly. This past week we went from wind good enough to kite board in to calm clear water and plenty of fish.
Presenting a fly to a tarpon takes more precision than you might think. These gentle silver giants see well but they are focused and usually will not turn too much out of their way to look at anything. The fly has to get there on the first try if you can and it has to come within a few inches of their nose to even matter.
Some essentials for tarpon fly fishing that will help make the most of your trip to the Keys.
- Learn to double haul. If you are not sure if you are doing it right, look it up on YouTube. Here’s a great one from our friend Peter at Orvis…
- Practice Accuracy. Once you have learned the double haul effectively and can put out a 40 to 60 ft cast with some accuracy, practice the accuracy part. If you are in a grassy area use a frisbee or something about that size and practice casting to it. Change your position to get the most of any scenario that you might encounter on the water.
- Practice in the Wind. Don’t always practice when it’s a nice calm day. Practice in the wind too. I’d suggest using the full line, leader and a fly with the hook cut off. In the Keys and most other tropical destinations the wind can come from all directions and some days it can be a stiff wind even for an expert fly caster.
- Get the fly out there quickly. Some anglers can take 4 to 6 false casts before getting enough line out to get the fly to the fish. In saltwater the tide is moving, the boat is moving and the fish are moving so those extra false casts just might cost you a great shot on a great fish. Try getting it to your optimum distance (with accuracy) with two or less false casts.
- Use a Practice Rod. If you don’t have the time to practice outside, practice the motions while you are indoors. There are some great practice fly rods out there to help you improve your stroke.
Tarpon are amazing fish and this is the time to be here for them. Once you do find some and can pick a fish to make your cast to, listen to your guide’s instructions. Strip short, strip long and strip strike (no trout striking allowed!).
The tarpon area really here year round but the big boys are here generally April though June. There may be some stragglers in July, August and September.
Good luck out there!