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Tarpon Leader - Gary's FP

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Paul Arden
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Tarpon Leader - Gary's FP

#1

Post by Paul Arden » Tue May 22, 2018 9:04 am

http://www.sexyloops.com/index.php/ps/a-tarpon-leader

Hi Gary,

thanks for another interesting page! I've been wondering about why are tarpon leaders generally so lightweight, ie around 20lbs. I'd assumed this is a throwback from setting records on tippet sizes? When I fish for Snakehead which might be 1/10th the weight of a Tarpon :p I'm using leaders that break at just under 30lbs (The fly line breaks at 35lbs, I'm told) and I want the weak point to be the fly knot (or a straightening of the hook, but that hasn't happened with my set up).

I'm sure with Tarpon and a stronger fly line, one could realistically go to 30lbs or even 40lbs and still break off. You'd probably need to get rid of some of the stretch, especially if the fish is a long way away, but just jamming down on the reel with a straight line pull should pop the leader, even at this strength. I do test my leaders to breakage.

Just some thoughts!

Cheers, Paul
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Tarpon Leader - Gary's FP

#2

Post by sms » Tue May 22, 2018 5:53 pm

Some do use thicker/stronger than 20lb. Some people think that using non-IGFA legal leader is not fly fishing.

It is not a problem to break a fish off with stronger lines. I once had to break a tuna off since I had a knot in the running line that would have destroyed my rod. So I grabbed the line with all I had and broke the 50lb leader.
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#3

Post by Bernd Ziesche » Wed May 23, 2018 12:14 pm

Hi Sakari, hi Paul,
I agree about a (let's say) 40-50 lbs. leader beeing possible to be broken when needed to.
BUT, if that moment comes to one's surprise all of a sudden (when the line between the fish and for example your finger + your arm) are straight already... it gets very tough to break it!
I tried to break my 130lbs. Tarpon leader being connected to a 100 lbs. core Tarpon line. Man, that stuff (in an sudden emergency case) is impossible to be broken for me.
Now let's imagine a significant less experienced (maybe as well older) guy than us three youngsters. :p
As I guide I would feel much better, if my client would have a class tippet in the range of 30 lbs. but not much more.

One of my clients got pulled under water by a large GT. He was fishing a very strong leader. Luckily (as he told me) his guide was able to grab his feet. His two fingers (wrapped in the line) looked terrible (half a year later).

Paul,
what are the advantages you get with such strong leaders?
Regards
Bernd
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#4

Post by Paul Arden » Wed May 23, 2018 12:17 pm

Good stuff from Bernd - http://www.sexyloops.com/index.php/ps/f ... iscussions

175lbs sounds interesting. However I don’t see much point in going much over hook straightening/busting force unless there is structure.

I do however think that 20lb is massively undergunned. I actually don’t think that most anglers really fight Tarpon, instead they chase them around until they tire out from swimming. The technique of rolling a Tarpon (or any other fish) upside down by using rod angles is most certainly fighting a Tarpon - try it on trout if you haven’t!

I think it would be extremely difficult to break 20lb leader by using the rod as a lever, and anyone who hasn’t done so would be well advised to connect their line to a set of electronic scales to see just how little force is being applied to the hook when “fighting the rod”.

I don’t suppose that Tarpon fly anglers are using Spectra for tippet yet but I imagine this will change in the future. Certainly it’s changing the way I fight fish.

The fly line really is in danger of becoming the weak link in the system but I see no reason why 11 and 12wt lines can’t have 100lb core strength.

I would argue that what you really want is for the hook to be the weak link. A hook that is tempered to straighten at for example 40lbs (it could be designed in a way that enables this - perhaps a set of pliers can be used to off set the point so that it straightens into an s-shape) would I think be the best of all worlds.

I do believe that there are right and wrongs in this game. If a fish cannot be landed in less than 20 minutes then we probably shouldn’t be fishing for them. Better still would be 2-3 minutes. Fish are fish and if you put massive pressure on them then they give up. The key is not to let them run/ get momentum. It’s a completely different fight. The problem I have with Tarpon is they might just be too powerful, which is why bend-away hooks and strong Spectra leaders will be my approach when I live on the sea.

I think Partidge might have something.

Cheers Paul
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#5

Post by Paul Arden » Wed May 23, 2018 12:26 pm

Cross-posted Bernd!
what are the advantages you get with such strong leaders?
For Snakehead?

1) when I break off it’s either the fly knot (Snakehead) or the hook straightening (Gourami).
2) if I point the rod at the fish I can simply jam the line and the fish will not take line. If you can prevent a fish from running approximately three times he will give up.
3) I will land the fish in a matter of minutes and not the 20 minutes it can take others. This is good for the fish.
5) if I hit a snag I still am in the game. With 20lbs it’s game over.

For Tarpon though, having fished it now for two years as my Gourami leaders, I would be trying Spectra. I also use it for streamer fishing for Jungle Perch.

Cheers Paul
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#6

Post by Bernd Ziesche » Wed May 23, 2018 4:01 pm

So, are you going to cut your client's line in case he crosses the 20min dead line? :)
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#7

Post by Paul Arden » Wed May 23, 2018 5:12 pm

No need. Here if they don’t stop the fish from running they lose it. When the jungle was flooded it wasn’t deforested first. Any fish that gets momentum is a lost fish - a snagged Snakehead will pop a 40lb leader on a stump like a hot knife through butter. If Gourami snag the hook straightens. 20 minutes would be ridiculous; the longest fight is 3 minutes. Gear fishermen use 80-100lb braid for Snakehead.
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Tarpon Leader - Gary's FP

#8

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Wed May 23, 2018 11:16 pm

Paul, Bernd, et al.

Sometimes when I read things here on SL I am reminded of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Context is so important!

As to why use a 20# class tippet for tarpon I would suggest it is because anything heavier is unnecessary. It may well have stemmed from folks attempting to set records and then realizing just how hard it is to break 16# with a flyrod.

With the caveat that I will not be responsible for what happens, I suggest to anyone who has not tried it, do the pail full of sand over a pulley test. Or use some other method that will allow you to accurately try to pull (and maintain) with upwards of 10# of strain. For the uninitiated, I guarantee it will be an eye-opener. But… again… please do not hold me accountable if you break your fly rod before the leader. Technique and a good understanding of how (or not) to use the rod to fight big fish is tremendously important.

Paul, you are in a great situation to try this… tie a 16# class leader to a tree and step back a bit, then put over 10# of strain on the leader with the rod. Learn the feel, or even better, incorporate a digital scale to record the strain. Then, launch your boat and drift a short distance from the shore and repeat the same strain test with the leader still attached to the tree. Let me know if you could repeat the same strain you recorded. BTW… you are not allowed to anchor your boat.

The tarpon fishing I do is limited to shallow water. It is a completely different part of the elephant if the tarpon gets into deeper water.

No one that I fish with likes to fight a tarpon for over ½ hour. Now, I am not going to suggest that all the fish are laying over at boatside by that point, but in almost all cases the “good stuff” is done by then. Once the battle has degraded into the plow-horse stage it is no longer much fun and definitely not beneficial for the fish.

I can assure you that a large tarpon can tow a small flats skiff with two anglers aboard for hours and hours unless advanced tactics are employed by the angler AND the boat handler. And yes I mean with a 20# tippet.

In addition to the fact that this is a shallow water fight, it should also be realized that stopping the tarpon is not necessary or even attempted early on. You just let them go, then close the gap, and hopefully get them to sprint again. Jumpers/sprinters are the ones you like as they tire quickly, unfortunately, the bigger they get the less likely they are to jump or panic. Unlike snakeheads (or snook in the mangroves) you do not need to stop ‘em, at least early on. Conversely, later in the fight, your goal is to stop them, if only temporarily, as that really bothers ‘em and will likely spur them to sprint again.

Large tarpon, for all the fun that they offer, are not what I would consider quick fish. They make long powerful runs, especially when first hooked, but they usually settle in pretty soon after. And once the fight gets up-close and personal they telegraph when they are going to run or jump again. An experienced angler with a light drag is seldom broken off by the fish. Now, on the other hand, smaller tarpon are much quicker and unpredictable. I have had the same 20# tippets smashed much more frequently by them.

I do not fault the angler who fights their first large tarpon to the boat for the “grip and grin” photo. I think almost everyone does that once. Hopefully, only once. Somewhere I have an embarrassing photo of myself in that exact situation. However, the best part, by far is the foreplay and the adrenaline releasing eat. The early pyrotechnics are simply the icing on the cake. After that, most folks I know almost hope the fish throws the hook early so the game can be reloaded and started again.
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#9

Post by Paul Arden » Thu May 24, 2018 4:49 am

Hi Gary,

The first thing I do when someone joins me for fishing here is I ask them to wrap the line around their hands while wearing a glove. I then show them a 45 degree rod pull which they can feel and a 90 degree rod angle. This is around 7-8lbs and 1.5lbs respectively. And then I point the rod straight at them and try to pull them off their feet with my line hand.

The reason I jumped from 20lbs to 30 and sometimes 40lbs was because I was breaking off on the 20lbs trying to hold trophy Snakehead in the stumps. Breaking 20 is not that difficult and has been one of my testing strengths in knot offs with Biminis etc.

One of the difficulties with measuring breaks - which I have done many times of course - is that to measure the break on scales you need a slow pull, but it’s easier to break and more realistic with a fast pull. However the slow pull is how I discovered that the core of the tropical SA sinking lines is only 23lbs :laugh:

This is why I’ve since maintained that the main purpose of using the rod as a lever in fish fighting is to reduce pressure not increase it and if you really want to stick it to the fish you point the rod at the fish and fight with a straight pull 1:1.

Sakari is doing something different with glass hybrid rods and getting pulls at the fly end of 25lbs with a rod a 90 degrees. This seems like a lot of hard work for Sakari but possibly necessary because I mostly fight with the rod over the side of the gunwales, pointed straight down, submerged to the cork - which is easy to do here on my boat, but less practical and possibly dangerous where he is fishing.

However there is a very great difference to what I’m doing and Tarpon fishing in that my tippet is minimum 2 but usually 3 or 4 times the weight of the fish. 15lb fish, 40lb leader. And so for a lot of the fight I can point the rod straight down and literally hold on. I think that’s why I’d be looking at braid.

I see essentially two ways of fighting a fish. One is to play it such that it tires itself out and the other is to break its spirit. I’m pretty sure that with 40lbs Tarpon and 150lb braid you could fight them like I fight Snakehead - which would be incredible - however big ones I think are just too big - which is why I mentioned soft hooks!

Cheers, Paul
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#10

Post by Bernd Ziesche » Thu May 24, 2018 7:16 am

Hi Gary,
in my fp I compared the leaders you are using for large Tarpon with those Daniel uses in Nicaragua.
As you mentioned, the Keys are shallow all over. So the Tarpon usually runs off like hell once he's hooked. In Nicaragua, where I fished for them, they did go 15 - 20m deep and then just moved slowly there. I dodn't really know, if I theoretically would have been able to directly lift them up again without pulling the hook out. Didn't try that by pulling as hard as I theoretically could. Need more experience here.
Compared to my (little) experience in playing Tarpon in the Keys, they were fighting significant longer and slower in Nica since they didn't tire themselves out so fast.
As a guide I fish with many beginners. Usually they need significant longer to land a fish as very experienced anglers. What I don't like at all, are guides never stop telling the client to make more pressure and how to do it all fight long. That in my experience takes away the joy of fighting the fish and putting the client under mental pressure, which usually doesn't help at all. If I would want to best possible safe the fish, I would stop fishing. Definetly I would not aim for large Tarpon with a fly rod. :p :cool:
I remember Billy Pate. He had HUGE experience in playing Tarpon, huge Tarpon as we all know. I like his video tapes he made with Scientific anglers about fly rodding for Tarpon. He explains how to fight them.
What do you think he did so wrong since he usually needed hours to land the fish?
And what do you think a beginner would do so much better?

About breaking the leader with a fly rod you and Paul miss an important factor in my experience:
On a long run (lots of line out) the fish can put much more pressure to the leader as will ever arrive at rod tip position!
I remember large Bonefish in the Keys to be able to break an 0,30mm nylon leader within less than 1 second after the hook up. It felt like no pressure on the rod tip, but the leader was broken by a dramatic start off. Much faster than Usain Bolt. :p
A tarpon of course may not be able to start that fast. But still I am pretty sure we would be surprised how much more pressure there is often to the leader as it will enter the tip. The fly line provides lots of resistance especially when fish run a curve. Well, that's just my experience of course. :cool:
Regards
Bernd
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