Tarpon are on the move and it won’t be long before the migration heads north along the Atlantic and west into the Gulf. Revered as one of the top inshore game fish, these trophies will take a variety of lures and flies. Here are the top tarpon lures to have in your tackle or fly box:
This mullet imitation has a fluttering tail action and a comes in a couple different sizes. The Shallow Runner works well for quick casts at rolling or waking fish, while the heavier Deep Runner gives longer casting distance and sinks quickly. Black back/silver sides or chartreuse/silver sides mimic finger mullet and pilchards, respectively. The classic white body/red head has scores of tarpon to its credit, too.
This weedless swim bait is available in several color patterns, although the bunker/menhaden version is very lifelike. A jointed tail imparts realistic action and the weedless hook placement lets it snake through floating grass without fouling.
Another classic with untold catches to its credit, the MirrOlure 77M twitch bait sinks several feet, making it ideal for channels and drop-offs. Short twitches on the rod tip impart irresistible darting action. Available in several natural and eye-catching patterns.
The model 11 saltwater Skitter Walk is the lure to tie on during those early morning or dusk forays when the fish are rolling on the surface. This 4 3/8-inch long plug is rigged with beefy treble hooks and emits plenty of seductive noise with its oversized internal ball bearing. Available in a variety of color patterns.
With a realistic design and swimming action, this plastic eel is tough for tarpon to resist. The six-inch version with 3/4-ounce head casts well and sinks quickly to get in front of cruising fish. The stout Mustad hook can handle plenty of punishment.
Shrimp are a favorite in the tarpon diet and this fake version will fool the curious. The internal 1/2-ounce weight gets it into the strike zone and short twitches make an alluring presentation. Many guides modify the lure by swapping out the factory hook for a heavier replacement like an Owner Aki 3/0.
Long a staple in any fly angler’s stretcher case, the cockroach pattern with its barred hackles is designed to imitate a fleeing shrimp. Lead the fish with the cast, give short strips to bring the fly into the strike zone and hang on. But remember to bow to the king when he goes airborne!
Named after the synthetic material creator Enrico Puglisi, the EP Minnow fly can be tied in a variety of color patterns and hook sizes to match the local baitfish. Chartreuse or olive with pearl is a favorite, along with purple and black. The large eyes add another element of realism.
The Toad fly is another popular synthetic pattern in today’s fly box. Designed to float on the surface, it makes a delectable snack when sight-fishing cruising fish. The Toad can be tied with various bead chain eyes, colors and materials to add more attraction.