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Juvenile Tarpon

Mother Nature needed a fish that jumped high, was adorned in stainless steel plates of armor and attacked flies with reckless abandon. She needed a durable fish that induced shock and awe from all that encountered it, was capable of migrating thousands of miles and was comfortable in murky oxygen-depleted water. She needed an ambush predator with a bucket-sized mouth that could chase, strike and devour prey with a simple flick of its tail. She needed to create the fly angler’s dream quarry and a fish that had the potential to thrill, infuriate and addict anglers from near or far, and so she created the tarpon; specifically baby tarpon! The Yucatan Peninsula’s northern coastline extending from Campeche City to Cancun is the world’s premier destination for targeting juvenile tarpon on the fly. There, expansive open-water turtle grass flats and mangrove estuaries create some of the most productive habitat found anywhere on Earth for rearing tarpon. Three destinations in particular stick out as truly special places to encounter baby tarpon.


Tarpon Cay Lodge, Mexico

Healing Waters Lodge is in many ways the classic Montana fly fishing lodge. Located 1.5 hours from Bozeman in the heart of the Ruby River Valley, the lodge overlooks its own private pond where guests can enjoy an evening cocktail while watching trout rise peacefully to an evening hatch. Owner Mike Geary is a fun and engaging host and presides over the lodge’s diverse fishing program. Guests here likely have more angling choices within easy driving distance than at any other operation in Montana.

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Isla Del Sabalo, Mexico

Fly fishing for trout on the Deschutes may be one of the most unique angling experiences to be found in the American west. The fish are all native, wild “redsides.” This is a distinct sub-species of rainbow trout that tend to be some of the hardest fighting trout, for their size, you’ll ever find. Add to that the size of the river these fish swim in (3,500 – 5,500 cfs) and you’ve got a real battle on your hands!

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Campeche Tarpon, Mexico

Located just outside of the regional capital of Coyhaique, an area widely considered Chile’s trout fishing mecca, this first-class modern facility sets the standard for premier fly fishing lodges in Chilean Patagonia. The lodge’s program offers a diverse and exciting array of excellent trout fishing opportunities, including lots of private access fishing properties, as well as a wide range of outdoor experiences including hiking, mountain biking, rafting and horseback riding.

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Please give us a call at 800.552.2729 or send us a message HERE if you’d like to chat more about any of the destinations above!


Juvenile, or “baby” tarpon are typically 5 – 30 pounds in weight. While they do not require the same rod strength during the fight as an adult of ~100 pounds, the flies are similarly sized and casting dances are comparable. Our choice for a baby tarpon rod is a fast action, 9-weight. When paired with a floating, weight forward, tropical water specific fly line and a reliable, adjustable drag reel, the angler is ready. We prefer hand-tied leaders tapering to a maximum of 20 pounds, with bite tippets of 40 to 60 pound fluorocarbon. Working together with our friends at Sage and RIO Products, we’ve put together this customized setup to ensure your success.

Fly Water Baby Tarpon Favorite Setup:

• Rod: 9′ 9-weight Sage SALT HD (990-4)
• Reel: Sage SPECTRUM MAX 9/10
• Line: RIO Products DirectCore Tarpon WF9F
• Leader: RIO Products Tarpon Pro Leader, 20 lb Class/60 lb Bite
• Tippet: RIO Products Saltwater Mono, 20 – 40 lbs & Saltwater Fluoroflex, 40 – 60 lbs


Fish Globally and Shop Locally – Find Your Local Fly Shop

Fly Water Travel encourages our clients to support their local fly shop. To find a shop near you, click the link below or give us a call for a recommendation at (800) 552-2729.

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