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There are many tarpon fly patterns, but we strongly recommend Enrico Puglisi’s flies. The reason is simple: the flies he offers are all tested in fishing zones to ensure that hooks, sizes, and fly patterns are correct.
In my opinion, one should never go without the Peanut Butter fly box, or my favorite, Puglisi’s Tarpon Diver in size 2/0.
It’s important to share your fly box with your tarpon guide, as he or she will select the correct flies. Each guide has a preference in color—and each one will have their own Secret Fly.
Typically tarpon guides carry their own flies, but before traveling we recommend contacting Campeche Tarpon staff for last-minute suggestions or colors and patterns that will be most effective during your visit.
What To Bring
- Rods: 8 and 9 weight
- Reel: Saltwater reel holding 200 yards of 20-pound backing
- Fly Line: Weight-forward Floating
- Leader: 9–12 feet 20 pound fluorocarbon tapered leaders
- Tippet: 30–40 pound fluorocarbon leader material
- Flies: #1 – #2/0. As many as you like, the more the better. Tropical clothing is a must and please bring plenty of sunscreen along with comfortable shoes. I strongly recommend 2 caps, 2 sun gloves, 2 buffs, and definitely a rain jacket. It is a very good idea to bring 2 pairs of Polaroid sunglasses (just in case you lose one).
Rod & Reel
Although I strongly advocate taking a backup fly rod in case of accidental breakage, a good 8-9 weight saltwater rod is all that you will need. It will allow you to cast in windy conditions and has more than enough backbone to handle even the largest of the baby tarpon.
In my opinion, in this type of fishing, the reel functions only to hold the line. Fishing among the mangroves requires immediate control over the tarpon, and you seldom have the opportunity to get the fish on the reel. I think of it as hand-to-hand combat of the finest
kind. The exception is if you move away from the mangroves and fish the deeper water of the flats. Even then it is rare that you would need to get the tarpon on the reel. Most of the tarpon’s fight is vertical; they really aren’t known for long runs. by Steve Jensen
You need both a floating and a sink tip line, although more than 90 percent of your fishing will be with the floating line. Personally, I’m a big fan of the new, crystal-clear lines currently being marketed by Scientific Anglers and Airflow. I think they make a big difference when casting to fish in shallow, clear water.
Leaders can be as simple or complex as you wish to make them. Many of the locals use a single 8- to 11-foot piece of 40-pound monofilament.
I favor a leader consisting of 5 feet of 30 pound, 4 feet of 20 pound and a 2-foot bite tippet of 40-pound. I find I can present the fly more accurately with the tapered leader. I also prefer using fluorocarbon for my leaders, but my friend Alex,
jefe(boss) of Campeche Tarpon, tells me that fluorocarbon material sinks too quickly. It is important to check your leader for abrasion after every fish.
Many different flies are effective for attracting baby tarpon in the Campeche region. The characteristics that successful flies have in common are their relatively small size(size 1 or 1/0 hooks), sparse dressing and liking to swim in the upper portion of the water column. I particularly like four of his sparsely tied Tarpon Toads(chartreuse, red/white and banded), a purple/black EP Tarpon Streamer and, my favorite, the Black Gurgler. I credit the Gurgler with 70 percent or more of the tarpon I landed. by Steve Jensen
Special Thanks: International Federation of Fly Fisher http://www.fedflyfishers.org/