Tarpon Fishing Tips : Lure, Bait

Fly Fishing in Nicaragua

Our tactics for the Tapam are based on patience, practice, and observation. We fish this waters 365 days year. What method is the most effective ??? It depends on the day.

You can perfectly fly fish for the  Tapam with success, use artificial lures or if you wish to try with live bait for a more relaxing experience. Our methods for  Tarpon fishing are completely respectful with the environment, we only practice Catch & Release and we try not trolling baits because besides this method is the less effective method for fishing Tarpon, honestly, it disturbs fish environment and fuel and engines kill the environment.

For the last five years, we have used the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust organization sizing charts to measure our specimens. This way, we obtain the experience and a clinical eye to learn their approximate weight. In the same period of time, none of our team participate in any Fishing Competition based in Nicaragua that involves killing or disturbing the habitat of the Tapam.

We do not bring specimens on board. We are also in disagreement with the IGFA regulations on the world records about killing for a record, want to stress that we do not believe in the necessity of killing animals.

In this case, talking about jungle tarpon we emphasize this point. Catch and Release.

It is important to note that the use of light equipment can prolong the battle with the fish which can lead to harming the fish. This is why we are capable of doing reviving techniques so that the Tarpon can live.

We recommend the use of adequate equipment according to the necessities of our environment. Do not hesitate to ask us about the kind of fishing and techniques to use.

It is incredibly important that in all of these fishing techniques for the Nicaragua Tapam , to place the hook in the fish’s lip or it will let go when it jumps. Sometimes, when the hook is placed too late, the Tarpon escapes. There have been times in the sea when even in a short throw, some different Tarpons went after it.

The Tapam Lodge in the South of Nicaragua

We have always been fishing guides, with years of experience guiding our customers along the bright blue Caribbean coast and river waters of the Jungle to the very best spots for catching the giant silver Tarpon fish. Tarpon is what we’re known for, so we call ourselves a Tapam Lodge. We are definitely in the very best spot.


Tapam Fish Nicaragua

Tarpon on Live Bait: Sardines

When using live bait for Atlantic Tarpon like sardines in the sea one should use circular hooks. Depending on the season, we can find up to seven different kinds of sardines in our current location, including other fish that the Tapam eats. We try to simulate the Tarpon´s prey in each situation.

An 8/0 can be a good model when there’s a large school of fish or if the water is murky. And big Tarpons are present. If not, one must downsize and change its presentation.

Tapam Fishing

Tapam with Artificial Baits: Lure Fishing

When fishing with artificial lures for catching Tapam thinking about Jerk Baits, Swimbaits, Stick baits.. one must consider that many of them have hooks that are not appropriate for fishing the size of the Tapam that we have in this waters.

One could think that the use of single hooks or other tactics can increase the Catching Ratio when fishing for Giant Tarpon. Single hooks can easily penetrate the fish mouth so these can´t be easily extracted when Tarpon jumps.

But these are not the key factor when fishing for the Tapam in Nicaragua with artificial lures. It is important to avoid quick snaps that always fail and fish notice them for sure. But there are many other factors that only the experience of your guide will show you the method for increasing strikes.

Tarpon Fly Fishing

Tarpon Fly Fishing Techniques

It is crucial in Tarpon fly fishing to use straight hooks selected for Tarpon of a particular size: 5/0 or 6/0 and brands recommended for their quality. We prefer the Tiemco 600sp or the Owner Aki. Because if not your fly hook could probably break.

Tropical fly fishing lines adequate for Nicaragua’s climate and the water temperature, which averages 27 degrees. Tapam on fly is a challenge for all anglers. More if you are dealing with a big one.

Fly Patterns that work in the same way are baitfish and prey imitations they are effective flies like Tarpon Toads, Lefty Deceivers, Flat Wings…  These flys vary in color according to the environment in which we are fishing. These flys do not change a lot from others used in other areas. The movement and size of the fly are crucial here, each fly has its own day and spot. Tapam loves flys.

Nicaragua Fly Fishing Tapam

Nicaragua Fly fishing the Tapam

Fly Fishing Tarpon in rivers and lagoons in Nicaragua, what we call Tapam fishing offer a staged and a magnetic environment for this sort of activity. Contrary to what many  might think, not all rivers that connect to lagoons and channels of the Indio River are the same. The water in the northern part of the Indio River runs from waterfalls located in the mountains and its tributaries have very clear water.We have seen Tapams in places near Rio Indio Birthplace.

There are places here where Tarpon swims freely and coexists with other species. When we began our activities, these areas were protected exhaustedly given our ideology of absolute respect for the communities that live there and their environment.Catching any of these Tapam fish in the jungle requires silence, observation and the ability to blend in with the nature that surrounds you.

You can  fly fishing for Tarpon,Rainbow Bass, Tiger Bass, and more, but also Jack crevalle in nearby lagoons and tributaires of main rivers  when the tide is high or when they chase schools of fish down the rivers.

Fishing Giant poons in Nicaragua

The Nicaragua jungle poons, which you might hear referred to as Sábalo or Tapam, is a beautiful creature. Trophy tarpon fishing is what most guests come for. We call it “Royal Sabalo” but there are all sorts of other outstanding fishing to be enjoyed. Rainbow bass and trophy snook live all of them, around the lodge, as well as machaca, tilapia, and gar. (See a complete list of Jungle River´s species)

The fish are big. Enormous. And there are plenty of them. To be fair, “Royal Sabalo” is fair about every angler’s odds, noting that the fishing is tough. Known for their gleaming silver scales and their insane acrobatic tricks, landing a Nicaraguan jungle poon is a fight, which is why it’s so popular among experienced anglers. Once hooked, the fish can efficiently fight back for hours.

Tarpon that stays year-round in the river are known as Tapam, and while some of them may not be as silvery and shiny as their ocean-dwelling brethren, are as acrobatically talented. It appears that some of them never leave the lagoons and its estuaries, preferring to gorge themselves on the abundant schools of mullet, sardine, snook, mojarra, guapote, guavina and shrimp that spawn here.

Tarpon fish travels over a thousand miles in the open ocean, and they can dive down to 400 feet to lay eggs, you can find adults OFFSHORE or NEARSHORE over wrecks, reefs, and ledges. They thrive in the perpetually warm waters of the Caribbean.
They live primarily in coastal waters, lagoons, and rivers, and can grow into monster adults weighing up to three hundred pounds. Males can live up to fifty years, and females up to eighty. But Atlantic Tarpon lives to that age because they are pretty smart. We are trying to protect them.

In fact, everything about this fish is amazing. In the very early morning, you can see their enormous silver bodies pushing out of the water to gulp air. The tarpon has a unique trait – it can fill its bladder with air to breathe, like a small lung. Once it has extracted all the oxygen from the air, it expels it in one great sigh, causing these bubbles I had seen. It’s a genuinely surprising evolutionary trait that allows the fish to thrive in even low oxygen waters. We are convinced that our surroundings have one of the largest population of tarpon in Central America.

If you have never experienced one of these massive poons blasting out of the water after being hooked you will not believe your eyes the first time you see it! Watching one jump out of the water with its famous acrobat’s skill is gorgeous. Often the Tarpon will leap 12 feet and jump 5 or 6 times before you get him near to the boat for the very first time.

The sound the silver body makes as it slaps the water is thrilling. If you have had the pleasure of experiencing the unique thrill before, then you can join me is saying “hold of for the thrill of a lifetime!”

That’s the real allure of fishing for Tarpon. Hooking one of these giant beauties is akin to wrestling a bear. Besides their size and strength, jungle poons are champion jumpers, known for deliberately throwing themselves against the water to try and dislodge the hook, or tossing the line like a bear with a chew toy. Whether you’re fishing the Caribbean or the river, the sound of tarpon jumping and beating the water is sure to fill you with excitement. Battling these creatures is an unforgettable experience you’ll be sure to come back for again and again.

Tarpon Picture
Tarpon fly fishing Nicaragua

Catching Giant Poons on the Fly

We are convinced that ours is an outstanding poon fishery but not an easy one. Catching poons on the fly can be a lot of work and will enjoy but we ask that you do not overexert yourself. Please stay hydrated and help each other reel in big fish if needed.

We fish in 4 ft. to 20 ft. of water. Running lines with shooting heads are a must. Have a variety of different weights and shooting heads to adjust for current and tides. For example: at 28 grains per foot, have 10′, 15′, 20′ and 30′ shooting heads.

Fly fishers should bring a variety of lines from intermediate to running lines and shooting heads in a variety of weight from 450 to 650 grains. Intermediate sink tips can be added if more depth if needed. Backing should be of 25- 30 pound (heavier is nice) and a minimum length of 150 yards.

(2) Quality 12 wt. to 13 wt. fly rods and fly reels
A floating line matching rod’s weight
Extra fly lines in case you get spooled or break one
(1) Spool of Ande 20 lbs test tippet material (If you are fishing with Class Tippet)
(1) Spool of 100 lbs test for shock leader + (1) Spool of 50 lbs test for butt section
Boat bag (waterproof is preferred, keep your gear dry)
long-sleeved UV protective shirts
Quick dry pants/ shorts
Sunscreen/ face shield/ sun gloves

Artificial Flies for Tarpon

3/0 – 4/0 hooks, Whistler pattern in red & white, yellow & white, chartreuse & white (with bunny strip tails for added action, is deadly) Many other fly patterns have worked well and it is our opinion that flies are the most deadly bait for catching tarpon.

Tarpon fly box/ Tarpon baitfish box (we recommend bringing more flies than not enough)
When the hook is set, the Tarpon will react by blasting full speed ahead to the top of the water creating a heart-pounding aerial show that you will never forget.

Fly fishing for tarpon is tricky, and it’s important to come prepared unless you want to spend a whole day staring at an empty river. More about Fly Fishing tips and tricks…

Use the right fly. An obvious one to any experienced fisherman, but Tarpon is peculiar about what they will bite on. You must match the hatch of the Tarpon´s prey in every moment. You must be ready to place your fly close to the fish fast.

Manage the fly line
Never cross the fish with your fly line, or have your fly moving towards the fish. The tarpon will catch sight of the shadow, and tarpon prey never moves towards the fish so that either move will spook the skittish fish, always reel up the excess fly line on the reel. It is also for your safety.

Nicaragua fly Fishing
Greytown Nicaragua sunset

Keep attention to your fishing guide. These are people who have been living with these fish for decades, and it is their job to help you. So when your guide spots a fish, don’t wait to see it yourself. Get in position.

Sun protection sunscreen, face shield, and stripping fingers. Nothing in the world will be as precious to you as the sunscreen because of the glare of the water.

Use the right Tackle, always bring extra equipment. When you finally hook one, it could more than probably break your rod. Have a backup rod. Many tarpon photographies are lost as well as rods are broken because anglers stop applying pressure on the fish once their guide gets a hand on the leader. Tarpon is a powerful fish and challenging to handle.

Tarpon Fishing Equipment

It is important to use the right equipment, not too light but not too heavy. Heavy equipment for Tarpon can cause irreversible damage in the Silver King´s  mouth or in other parts of its body. This is why we do not recommend trolling baits.

On the other hand, the use of very light equipment can make the fight unnecessarily long. Fishing equipment changes according to the kind of fishing one want to practice.

Tarpon Fishing Rods

Sometimes, fishing rods can break due to too much pressure applied when not needed or when trying to pull a Tarpon from too deep. It depends on the brand, kind of fishing rod that you expect to use but as quick guide fishing Rods around 25 pounds test are more than enough for a good fishing day. If the blank is a quality brand, it can work well for fishing. We recommend you wear an eyeshade or a cap not just for sun protection but if a rod break, it can hurt your face. Also one should adopt the right postures so that the rods work accordingly.

The ideal equipment differs when using bait or when using sardines. We recommend using equipment that weighs between 40 or 50 pounds because of monster Tarpons or Giant Jacks in rivers. A 50-pound and 7-feet-long fishing rod when fishing from the shores and 40 pounds and 8-feet-long when fishing on the beach.

To catch other river species like the Guapote, one must use lighter equipment, the same equipment used to fish the Black bass.

Fly rods for tarpon fishing don´t exercise the amount of pressure necessary and that is why the rods break more often than not, because of human error. It is very common to underestimate the fly fishing rod’s capacity to drag. One must remember that the majority of fish in these waters surpass 50 kg; this is why our fishing rods and equipment must be from quality brands.

Tarpon Fishing Rods
Tarpon Fly fishing Rod

Tarpon Reels

Tarpon Reels in Nicaragua can be filled with 30 or 50-pound braid. There is no need for a strong spool when fishing from the fishing boat, you can use bait cast or spinning reel, it is more important the size and the capacity that the spool can store and the operational capacity that it has during fishing.

We have tried different models and most of them have worked. When trying to control the fish, a good spool can make a big difference. We recommend the use of quality brands because if not, the simple spool friction won’t last too long.

From the beach spinning reels, it’s better to use spools of bigger capacity and braking capacity.  Today, spools like this exist. Friction on this reels could affect the fight and pressure to the fish.

We do recommend high-end tackle for these purposes because many times bigger fish are surrounding the coastline. You will not stop these Trophies with a standard reel, you will be spooled. The same, if you do not know how to set properly the brake of these reels is much better to let your guide to do so.

Tarpon Fly Fishing Reels

Tarpon fly fishing reels requires fly reels with great spools with a great line capacity.

When fly fishing for tarpon, is necessary to adjust the brake of the spool according to the kind of equipment. Do not buy low quality brands the spools will get out of your reel on the first run, and you couldn´t ever stop the fight even lasting hours. Your back will also appreciate this point. Balance your rod, use the right fly tackle this fishing is outstanding.

Tarpon Fishing Lines

A lot has been written about the use of knots and lines. According to our own experience, we stress that knots have to be well made. The use of mono or fluorocarbon line is a decision up to each fisherman.

We believe that fluorocarbon is better for live bait or sardines because it sinks better. The advantage of using fluorocarbon line with live bait is that it is easy to handle.

We tend to use Braid Line: Standard Dynema, Superslick or Hollow as our main line so that we can connect it to a thicker piece of a shock leader according to the size of the exit rings of the rod and it has the minimum size of a meter and a half. Again from quality brands If not your lines will not take long to start making a noise like the guitar strings and finally the line will break.

Tropical water fly fishing lines

If we do not want complications in fly fishing and there is a lot to be said about this one must note that there are full leaders of a certain brand that include certain class tippet so that,  the rods won’t break. Shooting heads in the salt are very Ok too.

Will be more about this topic on a blog post, anyways a ghost tip or fully transparent fly line works very Ok too. Any advices for equipment if you needes before your trip will be replyed. We want the best for you in your fishing days.

Tarpon fly fishing Reel
Tarpon fishing Lines

Artificial Tarpon Lures and Flies

There are thousands of different kinds of artificial lures and flies for Tarpon . Our main goal is to try and simulate the fish of each region or the kind of bait that our targeted fish prefers to eat. It is not an exact science, however; certain lure can be very effective during one day and completely ineffective on another.

Tapam fly fishing Flies

Tapam flies while fishing must simulate shrimp, crabs or baitfish. Depending on the time and environment, the Tapam changes its preferences from one kind of bait to another. Once you made your trip reservations, we will offer you all the necessary instructions so that your fishing experience can be incomparable.

Tying tarpon flies like Tarpon toad, Lefty Deceivers, Stu Apte´s.. is the way to go.


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