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Migratory Tarpon

The number of variables that come into play for an angler to successfully land an adult, migratory tarpon are many, and typically the fish wins, swimming away before coming to hand. The game starts with simply finding the fish, and this is not always a given. Tarpon require incredibly accurate casts and precise retrieves to be enticed to strike. Once fed, there remains the challenge of hooking the fish; again, not an easy task. If the angler makes it this far, next is the task of fighting the fish, as it takes to the air and sometimes hundreds of yards into the backing. But if all goes well, the reward is momentous. For those anglers up to the challenge, we recommend the destinations below.


Island of the Youth, Cuba

Isla de la Juventud (Island of the Youth), is the largest island in the nearly 4000 islands that surround the Cuban mainland. The habitat here is pristine, and seldom visited, except for a few intrepid divers, lobster fisherman, and anglers in the know. With mangrove islands, tannin stained interior bays, and close proximity to the deeper water to the south, tarpon flourish here as juveniles, and return as adults during their migratory months.

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Casa Blanca, Mexico

Located at the southern end of Ascension Bay in the heart of the 1.3 million acre Sian Ka’an biosphere preserve, Casa Blanca has established itself as Mexico’s premier saltwater fly fishing destination. For nearly fifteen years Casa Blanca has mesmerized anglers with its endless expanses of turquoise flats and its exceptional service. The fly fishing guides here are among the most experienced anywhere, and many have dedicated the majority of their lives to learning the subtle intricacies of this prolific fishery.

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Belize River Lodge, Belize

Having operated in the region for more than twenty years, Belize River Lodge has a vast and varied saltwater fly fishing program that can target all of the region’s species, including bonefish, tarpon, permit, snapper and snook. The habitats surrounding Belize River Lodge are equally as diverse, with rivers harboring large, rolling tarpon to jungle creek fisheries that are home to juvenile tarpon and snook, to a vast array of outlying cays and flats where permit and bonefish may prowl.

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Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

Jardines de la Reina is a remote archipelago of islands lying some 50 miles off the southern coast of the Cuban mainland. This is a protected marine area with a limited number of catch and release anglers, divers and eco-tourists allowed to visit annually. The habitat here is pristine and untouched, enabling bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda, jacks and snapper to flourish. With a total fishing area greater than the Florida Keys, anglers are given a large area per skiff to fish, ensuring that they rarely see other fishermen.

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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!


When choosing tackle for adult, migratory tarpon, there is a necessary balance of fish-fighting capability along with general ‘fishability’. By this, we mean that the outfit must be capable of adequately pulling on 100+ pound fish, but also have the finesse to accurately present flies while at the same time being lightweight enough to not tire out angler before the day is done. Our experience suggests an 11-weight, fast action rod for the task at hand, matched with a strong, reliable yet lightweight 11-weight sized, saltwater-specific reel. For fly line, a floating, weight forward line with a mid-length head (40 to 50 feet) and tropical water coating is right. For leaders, we recommend hand-tied versions tapering to a maximum of 20 pounds with bite tippets of 80 lb fluorocarbon. Working together with our friends at Sage and RIO Products, we’ve put together this customized setup to ensure your success.

Fly Water Favorite Migratory Tarpon Setup:

• Rod: 9′ 11-weight Sage SALT HD (1190-4)
• Reel: Sage SPECTRUM MAX 11/12
• Line: RIO Products DirectCore Tarpon WF11F
• Leader: RIO Products Tarpon Pro Leader, 20 lb Class/80 lb Bite
• Tippet: RIO Products Saltwater Fluoroflex, 40 – 80 lb


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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