Tarpon Fly Fishing in Mexico

Like many people suffering from winter ‘cabin fever’ I yearn for a sunny break during this dour time of year. This February my better half and I had the chance and some spare time to do it. On my fishing ‘bucket list’ is the dream of sight fishing for tarpon among the mangroves. So taking advice from friend a Rutland Water Fly Fishing member Frank Daley, a little island off the gulf of Mexico was chosen.

Beautiful sunset over a tropical Mexican seascape

Beautiful sunset over a tropical Mexican seascape

Many of us are in the same boat, going on holiday with the wife is never a fishing holiday, but I was lucky enough to pack the fly fishing equipment for a couple of hours here and there. I found myself out fishing for baby tarpon and bonefish….

Giant tarpon of 100lbs or so migrate to this area in the Summer, but baby tarpon can be found here all year round and are generally as spooky and as tricky to catch as their larger brothers and sisters.

Day one in cloudy and rainy conditions we sped across the ocean at 30 knots towards the mangroves which was over an hour away. The guide and I saw many pods of baby tarpon, often up to 15 or more milling around looking for food in the shallow water. These guys can spot a fish which to me looked like a stick on the bottom. Maybe after 20 years fishing here I will be able to spot them as well as the guides… Maybe!

The idea is to sneak up on them, without the engine, gently punting along the mangroves trying to spot them and if you see some, to generally cast around 3 feet in front of them with accurate and light presentation. The fly is best left to sink for a few seconds then a gentle strip to lure the fish into following. It’s almost like a one on one hunt. You and the tarpon… Just when you think it’s ignored the fly, there’s an almighty tug, which sends shock waves through your body!

You must set the hook immediately. No that’s not good enough. You have to set the hook as soon as you see the fly disappear as to wait for the pull is often too late. Strip strike with the fly line, not the fishing rod and point the rod at the fish till it’s firmly hooked. Then the thing goes ballistic.

The ratio of actually landing a silver king is 6:1, with many anglers jumping more than they land. Personally, I managed to boat three on this first day.

Robb Waddington getting stuck into his first Tarpon - on an Airflo Bluetooth nano rod.

Rob Waddington getting stuck into his first Tarpon

Day two and three were a disaster, two frustrating blank days with many fish missed and lost! Water temperature were lower than usual, causing the fish to go off the feed according to the guide anyway! What to do, call it a day and admit defeat? Or have just one more day? If you knew me, the answer was obvious… And what a day it was! With a low tide many of the areas we fished previously were almost dry land so we concentrated on the deeper channels of around 3-4 feet deep. As luck would have it so did the tarpon and we spotted fish continuously. I was casting at fish most of the day with frantic instructions from the guide… “12 o’clock, cast! 9 o’clock long cast!, 1 o’clock short cast!

I was recommended the Airflo Bluetooth Nano fly fishing rods by the Fishtec customer service team, along a matching chards tropical punch fly line – and to be honest, together, they performed brilliantly – punching out accurate casts even into a strong head wind.

The best fly of the trip, the Tarpon candy.

The best fly of the trip, the Tarpon candy.

Rob Waddington looking very happy with a nice baby tarpon

Rob Waddington looking very happy with a nice baby tarpon

I have to go back! The trip ended on a high, I have caught the tarpon bug and there’s some unsettled business with a 40lber that I’d jumped… Or maybe I’ll go in the summer sometime, after the real big fish!

I am a Rutland water based fly fishing Instructor and fishing guide, if you’re interested in a days guided fishing please get in touch.

Airflo Super-Dri Xceed WF5F – Customer Review

Super-Dri Xceed fly line

Super-Dri Xceed fly line

Genuine customer reviews on any fishing products are the best way to get a ‘true feel’ or insight for a product without the reviewers thoughts being clouded by affiliation to a company. With the new Airflo Super-Dri fly lines we thought it would be best for anglers to get the full lowdown straight from the horses mouth.

Lindsay Cargill purchased a WF5F Super-Dri Xceed from the Fishtec online shop and was kind enough to write a review from an anglers perspective with no link or affiliation to the company.

Here’s what Lindsay had to say about our new floating lines…

First impressions

The line has a slick but decidedly dry feel to and is very supple. Loops are present on both the head and running line are well formed and thin welded unlike those on other manufactures lines. The line has a ‘hauling zone’ section and this is light olive green colour and is designed to be harder wearing from the stress given by the eyes, ground and hinging.

Putting the line on a Orvis Hydros III spool that previously held a Rio Gold line I discovered I had to remove about a third of my backing line to accommodate the Xceed – not a problem but surprising, possibly due to being slightly heavier and the few added yards extra.

Performance

I predominantly fish dry fly on the Aberdeenshire Don, typically from ‘under the rod’ to 50 feet. Casting the line on my 9ft 5# Helios Tip Flex the line loads the rod effectively at close range, an extremely important point consideration for my fishing, but good distance was easily achieved when needed though it was important not to force it on the forward cast. Within the first few casts I could see that the line, including the tip, appeared to be above the water surface almost as if it was repelling water! As a result of this high float feature, pick up even at range was smooth and instantaneous – the Super-Dri Xceed certainly does what it says ‘on the tin’ in this respect. Line memory is non-existent which im very, very impressed about.

The different colour of the head from the hauling zone helps judge distance and facilitate control of line during casting. I was happy with the line in relation to my casting ability and requirements and the Pumpkin colour is nicely visible on the water. Over the course of the summer of 2013 I have had the opportunity to use the Xceed in windy conditions and its performance (on the Helios) has given me an early season outfit for Spring 2014 when conditions on the Don are often far from favourable.

Looking after the fly line

I like to look after my lines, though I do fish them hard, and one of the things I love about the Super-Dri is that they are low maintenance – simply soak the line in some warm water with a sprinkling of washing up liquid, rinse and wipe dry, job done! The ‘treatment’ to make this line float as well as it does is built into the line, so no more liquid preparations – It just floats.

Verdict

Other manufacturers produce very good ‘one size heavier’ lines to load faster action rods so what set’s the Xceed apart ? For me, it floats like no line I have everseen – I would have to be constantly using Mucilin on my other lines to get this level of floatability! Line pick-up and hook setting are definitely improved with this line. The taper also seems less ‘aggressive’ and more useful for when I need finesse with dries. The robustness and low maintenance of this line has also been impressive. At full price this line sits shoulder to shoulder with established lines by other manufacturers and certainly has the features to contend with any line – in my opinion. At the introductory price it is an absolute no brainer and clear winner.