Re: Tarpon

[Bulletin Board]

Posted by Tim Hoover on 2006-05-25 19:45:53 in reply to Re: Tarpon posted by Jim Vincent on 2006-05-09 10:51:32

I'd like to chime in here one more time. I must agree with many points Jim Vincent added to this conversation. especially about the tarpon toad not being NEAR as effective as it was ten years ago. Tarpon get wise when every brothers cousins uncle throws the same fly at them. Lets face it, they live a long time and during the later ocean migration, few if ANY tarpon get through the gauntlet that we set up for them nowadays.
That being said, I have to add a few insights.... Years before gary merriman tied his first toad, he caught MANY, MANY tarpon with me on a fly EXACTLY like the toad with the exception of the "crab" head being spun with deer hair and trimmed to the exact shape of a merkin head. The simple change to yarn for the head was quite simply an easier way to get the same effect, with half the effort. Gary is a GREAT flyfisherman, and we fished many days together and made a good account of ourselves in some of islamoradas tournaments as well as just having fun catching tarpon, bonefish, and permit.
As I said before, the toad was a culmination of many different people and was an effective "secret" weapon for alot of years. It still catches fish with DEADLY effect if fished properly, but even I have ended up with flys that I like much better nowadays.
I actually recently went back to my original deerhair head and found in some situations that its more effective simply because if trimmed right it will slip beneath the surface and STOP sinking, allowing u to work the fly with tiny moves yet not move the fly out of a laid up fishes strike zone.
Many baitfish patterns have been developed that are down right deadly as well. But I must say from experience that you do NOT have to be Andy Mill to crush your share of Poons with the toad. A 74 year old man (not stu) that Im currently fishing and have always fished the ENTIRE month of may AVERAGES 75 tarpon jumped or caught each 27 day stretch he has fished with me for the last 12 years. Thats pretty impressive considering bad weather and other factors. Before the toad those numbers were less than half, when the fishing was TWICE as good. He hasnt caught a fish on anything but a toad since he started fishing it. So I think its safe to say the fly still is slightly special.
The moral of this story is that even if the toad isnt the end all of tarpon flys anymore, its still tough to beat. As good as Andy Mill is, hes not so naive as to not try ALL the tricky new baitfish, squid, needlefish, and even micro one feather tarpon flys. He has, and still does. Theres a reason why he continues to return to the Toad. He catches more fish on it.
On a side note, he doesnt lip gaff every fish he catches, not even close. The weight fish in the two applicable tournaments, and maybe one or two per year for the photographer that may accompany him on a random trip. Thats less than five percent of his yearly catch. The rest are carefully handled and the fly removed after a maximum 15 minute battle. I felt it necessary to defend him on this considering that I understand his feeling that a tarpon that has been "leadered" and broken off is not even CLOSE to being caught. 90 percent of fish lost in a REAL catch is lost after the leader is touched. But if everyone tryed to land them the way Andy does, the tarpon would be abused and more often not survive. I believe most of his do survive.

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