Any lure specialist who pursues the Silver King should remember these key facts.
Have sharp, strong saltwater hooks. Tarpon have huge, hard, suction-creating mouths as their feeding tool. This means your lures should be outfitted with ultra sharp and strong saltwater hooks.
Try to remain invisible as possible. Tarpon have such large eyes, so it's no wonder that these gamesters are primarily sight feeders whether they're swimming on shallow flats, ocean inlets or backcountry lagoons. For that reason, you need to keep lures as natural looking as possible by using fluorocarbon leader, which is the most "invisible" material presently available.
Since shallow water tarpon often jump when they feel the sting of the hook, you'll want to do two things. Firstly, remember to "bow" to the fish to create enough slack that the fish won't fall on your taut line and more importantly so it won't have the tight line "leverage" to use the weight of your lure to throw it out of its mouth. Secondly, I depart from common opinion by advocating the use of monofilament line (versus braided line) because the inherent stretch in "mono" diminishes "thrown" lures when tarpon jump. I base these observations after having caught and released countless tarpon in comparison conditions.
Now that you have those tips on how to here are some great lures to get in on the action.
I love using swimming plugs as "search baits". They're simple to use since all you do is crank and the lip on the plug gives it the action as well as the running depth.One of my favorites is the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow and I find that at night or low light I prefer a red and white colored plug. During the day, I like a natural silver white finish. If you are bridge fishing for tarpon at night, cast your plug slightly in front the uptide shadow line and reel. When the strike comes, hit back hard a few times to sink the hooks!
Soft Plastic Replica Baits
My favorite lure in this category is the D.O.A. Baitbuster. This lure simply needs to be reeled in for the double tail to flutter enticingly. I use the silver finish to resemble a finger mullet. When I am fishing to tarpon crashing bait in the surf or rolling just offshore of the beach, this is my go-to lure. I rarely use the surface model since the tarpon are generally in four feet of water and deeper.
White Shrimp-Tipped Bucktail Jig
During the Miami winters, as well as in the Yucatan and Belize year-round, tarpon can stage in deeper water basins and in mini-channels to catch the flow of bait brought out from inside waters by the falling tide. And the bait here is often shrimp. My first choice for bucktail is the SPRO Prime model in a white color. For maximum freedom of lure movement, I tie this jig to the leader with a Duncan Loop Knot.
The deeper the water, keep your casts well uptide and upcurrent of the feeding tarpon and reel in the jig with a slow sweep and pause. A piece of fresh shrimp will get more hits if the water is slightly turbid. And remember, with a bucktail jig a tarpon strike can feel like a light bump. In all cases when this happens, reel tight and strike immediately.
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