Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Backlash Bill

Favorite line/leader for under-the-bridge tarpon

Rate this topic

4 posts in this topic

It is nightime, new-moon dark, and breezy under the key's bridge.You are on the bow of a flats skiff and your guide is holding the bridge pier while you both look for tarpon to come sliding along the shadow line just a few feet in front of you. Your shot, when it comes, is going to be relatively short and quick. What line leader set up did you chose and why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seeing as no one else has responded I will give it a throw.

 

Never had the chance to try for Tarpon but your situation is one of my favorites when it comes to bass. A good bass in current with lots of structure to rub on will wear down your gear pretty quick. I love watching and fishing for fish working a shadow line in current. I have seen and lost some really big fish in that situation. I am usually fishing from the shore adjacent the bridge casting to the bridge or on the bridge itself so my mobility is limited to where I can walk and limited back-casting room due to wires, trees, and embankments. I like using a floater that will easily load the rod with a short amount of line out for single back-cast, no particular brand or model just something heavy. When there is wind blowing perpendicular to the bridge it seems to be funneled and sped up blowing underneath the bridge so the heavier line seems to help. This really isn't the place to be using 70+ dollar lines. I prefer to use a cheap line so if it gets wrapped around a piling with all those sharp barnacles and when I get it back it looks like someone hit it with a cheese grater or half the head is missing it's not a big loss. I like the floater because it lets me navigate over and through eddies better, it gives me a longer mend, to a fish feeding on station along the shadow line. It is also easier to see that my fly is drifting to a targeted fish. Even on the darkest night there is a street light on somewhere nearby creating that shadow line

 

For leaders I like a straight shot of 30 or 40 pound test of hard mono with a short 1-2 foot section of 30 pound braided mono as a butt attached to the fly line. I get good abrasion resistance and its stiffness gives me a little more control over the fly. For fish near the surface my leader is shorter and for fish deeper my leader will be longer. Four to six feet is the average length but that can vary a bit based on conditions. I like 30 or 40 pound but even they will wear or cut on bridge abutments. The heavy leader also gives me the ability to put some heavy pressure on a fish. I am not afraid to point the rod at the fish and lock the reel to try and keep a fish from going to a piling. Some times the fish stops, sometimes the hook pulls, and sometimes the leader gives at the braided mono. More times than not the hook will pull or bend out first.

 

Fish and conditions are going to beat on your gear fishing bridges no matter how careful you are. I find that if you are not fishing close and hard into and under the bridge you are not going to have nearly as much opportunity to try and catch some really nice fish. Long ago when I mentioned my concern of losing or destroying a fly line to an old timer I was told politely "if you are more worried about trashing your gear than catching fish you should stay home and wax it (the gear)".

 

Landing a fish in those locations seems to be one part skill and one part major luck. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The guy to ask is Capt. Jake Jordan, one of the two guys who have developed the night fly fishing techniques in the Keys. He has 35 years experience guiding out of Marathon, is a world class fly fisherman/teacher, ran a fly reel company, designed rods for Loomis when Gary was still there and for Temple Fork now.



 



I've been doing the night fly fishing thing with him for tarpon for six years and it is incredible fishing. He tends to fish well away from bridges in feeding lanes, but at sometime during the fight we usually end up close to or near one of the bridges, and most of the casting is blind or to a spot where a tarpon just slurped a crab or shrimp off the surface. He uses a very specific fly pattern and it is deadly.



 



Most of the time we use TFO 12 WT 8-1/2' rods, Mako reels loaded with short heads, about 100 feet of 50 lb. mono and a mountain of 50 lb braid for backing. Leaders are IGFA legal 20 lb tippets and he ties each and every one. You can reach him at jakejordan.com and he will answer any questions you have. He is also the guy who runs the Sailfish School out of Casa Vieja in Guatemala, all billfish all fly rods.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i fished with Jake last April we used a couple of 12 wts. 9 or 10 foot leader 50 pound butt and Mason 20 pound for the class tippet and 60 or 80 pound for bite and Rio Tarpon Floating lines. The only time we got close to the bridge was when we could not turn a fish in time. We were using black surface flies the leader turned over fine or at least it felt like it. Night time is a great way to hook and fight plenty of big tarpon ---you can learn a ton from Jake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to register here in order to participate.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.