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Everything You Need To Know About Tarpon

Author: Bullbuster Team

Best Tarpon Baits

Tarpon Underwater
This photo was captured by #BullbusterAmbassador and marine artist Alex Wexler.

Below you will find a list of the best tarpon (silver king) baits including pros and cons. 

1) Shrimp

If you have ever heard the saying "elephants eat peanuts" , apply this saying to tarpon and you get tarpon eat shrimp. Some of the biggest tarpon ever landed were caught on small shrimp.  One great thing about the shrimp, is that they are easy to get and everything loves eating them. 


- Easy to find since most bait and tackle stores carry them

- Inexpensive

- Easy to keep alive before and after your fishing trip.


- Don't stay alive well after multiple casts

- Get picked away by fish that aren't your target species

- Can be hard to get to swim right with the wrong hook, especially if you are trying to get them into the zone. 

2) Crabs

Photo from #BullbusterAmbassador Landshark Fishing's latest permit fishing article.

Crabs are one of the tarpons favorite snacks.  Their tongues are designed to crush crab shells on the roof of their mouth.  One great thing about the crab is that most fish won't try to eat them, so you are more likely to get your target species. 


- Many bait stores carry them

- Don't usually get picked at by fish that are not your target

- Very hardy (they will survive multiple casts)


- More expensive than shrimp

- Harder to find than shrimp

3) Mullet

Captain Jeff has probably single handedly made the mullet the most infamous baitfish out there. 

Mullet is one of the most iconic baitfish for tarpon.  They have been made famous and part of the fishing culture by the Likes of Lunkerdog and his "HogLeg" crew as well as by BlacktipH who shocked the world with his first of its kind intense drone footage of the mullet run. 

Check out this epic footage by BlacktipH of the mullet run.


- Easy to cast net since they travel in schools

- Very lively 

- Can survive multiple casts

- Stay on the surface naturally (you will not need a float)


- You have to catch them unlike shrimp and crabs

- Hard to come up with another con. 

*Well.. they may jump out of your baitwell or bucket (so get a lid)

4) Pinfish

The pinfish is an excellent bait for tarpon.  Not only do tarpon love them, but they are hardy and easy to find. 


- Easy to catch

- Hardy 

- Tarpon love them

- Can find them in some bait stores 

- Can catch them with a cast net

- Can catch them with a trap


- Need a float as they will often head straight to the bottom

- More expensive than shrimp 

- May prick you in the hand (it will be worth it for the poon)

5) Threadfin Herring

Threadfin Herring
Photo courtesy of the fish identification blog.

Threadfin herring are a more delicate bait than most other tarpon baits. But if you happen to get one in front of a tarpon, there is no turning back. 


- Tarpon will not turn them down

- Easy to catch with sabikis

- Usually easy to find


- Harder to catch then all of the baits mentioned above

- They are not too hardy, so you will not find them in most bait stores

- Not found in too many land based locations

- Better to sabiki them then cast net since they are fragile

Do I Need Fluorocarbon For Tarpon Fishing?

tarpon fishing from a paddleboard

Over the years many people have asked us whether they need fluorocarbon to catch Tarpon.  The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t help!

 Advantages Of Fluorocarbon For Tarpon Fishing

Many anglers don’t use fluorocarbon and catch Tarpon, but there are many advantages that of fluorocarbon that these Tarpon fishermen may be missing out on. 

  1. Abrasion Resistance-  Fluorocarbon is a lot harder then monofilament because the plastic it is made from is A LOT harder than regular monofilament.  More abrasion resistance your line will last longer against the sand paper like mouths of Tarpon. 
  2. Visibility -  Fluorocarbon is a lot more dense then monofilament which lets light pass through it more easily.  This means that it is virtually invisible underwater.  If the Tarpon bite has been slow and the water is clear, try switching to fluorocarbon. 

Want To Learn More About Choosing Your Fishing Line For Tarpon?

Bullbuster Ambassador and marine artist Alex Wexler with a nice Tarpon on Bullbuster Mono

We wrote this article for those who are spooling up their setup to catch tarpon. This is a quick read that will tell you exactly what you should buy to target tarpon. 

What Braided Fishing Line Should I Use?

We recommend using 50-65Lb braid for fishing for tarpon. You can fish 20-30Lb braid if fishing for tarpon in the 10-30Lb range. 

Get The Braided Line Capacity For Your Specific Reel Or Reels Here

What Monofilament Fishing Line Should I Use?

We recommend 25-30Lb monofilament for tarpon fishing if you want to fish mono.  However we feel that braid is a lot more effective for tarpon fishing since it will allow you to put the pressure you need on the fish with lighter tackle (quick releases make for healthy releases).

Find Out How Much Monofilament Fishing Line You Need For Your Specific Reel Or Reels

What Monofilament Leader Material Should I Use?

For days when the bite is slow scale back to 40Lb mono leader , but for most days we recommend keeping 50,60, and 80lb leader material in your tackle bag. 

What Fluorocarbon Leader Material Should I Use?

Fluorocarbon can make a big difference when the tarpon bite is slow. For days when the bite is slow scale back to 40Lb fluorocarbon, but for most days we recommend keeping 50,60, and 80lb fluoro in your tackle bag. 

Check Out Other Tarpon Fishing Resources: 

Tips For Catching Tarpon In Tampa Bay - Top 3 Tips for catching more tarpon in Tampa Bay. 

Study Shows Tarpon Avoid Areas Where Bullsharks Congregate - Cool study with results from satellite tagging both tarpon and bullsharks. 

Tarpon Fishing From A Paddle Board - This is a whole different ball game. 

3 Tips To Catch More Tarpon In Tampa

The tarpon, one of Florida's most sought after sport fish, can be often times difficult to catch or even get a bite. When targeting tarpon off the waters of Tampa Bay and Anna Maria, I like to focus on 3 points. These 3 points consist of using the right equipment, using the right baits, and presenting your baits properly. When targeting tarpon use these 3 points to help increase your odds of catching a tarpon. 

Florida Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon Tip #1 - What Tackle Should You Use For Tarpon Fishing

Using the right equipment is a vital factor when targeting the tarpon. Personally, I have narrowed my equipment down when targeting the migration schools of tarpon off the Gulf Coast. These tarpon typically range from 50-180 pounds. I have found that using an 8 foot 30 pound outfit paired with reels ranging in size from 8000 to 10000 have worked the best. I spool these outfits with 50 pound Bullbuster braid. I have also had the best success using 60 pound test Bullbuster fluorocarbon leader. The hooks that have given me the best catch and release ratios are circle hooks that are 5/0 in the mutu style. Using the right equipment will help you increase the odds of landing a tarpon.

Tarpon Fishing Tips

Tarpon Tip # 2 - Choosing The Right Bait For Tarpon Fishing In Tampa Bay

Secondly, using the right bait is a crucial factor when fishing for tarpon. Tarpon are known for eating a wide variety of baits. When I am fishing off the waters of Tampa Bay, I have had the most bites on thread- fins. I like to use thread-fins when I am fishing in the passes or fishing off the beach. Depending on what the fish are doing really will tell me what to use. I like to use pass crabs if the tarpon are consistently rolling. When I am fishing the bridges for tarpon I like to use a large pinfish or a large pilchard. Although tarpon may be hesitant at what you will use for bait, do not be afraid to try different baits while fishing for them.

Tarpon Jumping In Florida

Tarpon Tip #3 - Presenting Your Baits For Tarpon In Tampa

Lastly, presentation is key. Presenting your baits in a stealthy manner will increase the odds of getting a bite. Presenting your baits may seem hard at times, but set up your positioning of your baits to the fish in a natural way. If you are fishing areas with high currents, drift back your baits to the fish so they have the highest chance of eating your bait. Finding the right way to present your bait will result in the odds of hooking your next tarpon.

Tarpon Lands Jump

Given these points, following these 3 steps can increase your likelihood of hooking or catching your next tarpon. Using the right equipment, using the right baits, and presenting your baits properly will increase the chances of you catching your next tarpon.

We hope that you enjoyed this article by #BullbusterAmbassador Evan Soudijn.   The Bullbuster mission is to use our brand direct business model and technology to help you #SpendMoreTimeFishing. Start spending more time fishing by getting a hold of the worlds first brand direct fishing line here on

Buy Monofilament Fishing Line Online Now!

Other Articles On Tarpon Fishing Can Be Found Here: 

Check out the page below to read more about tarpon, learn their migrations, get tackle tips, fishing reports, etc!Tips For Tarpon Fishing

Other Articles On The Bullbuster Community From West Coast Of Florida:

Summer Redfishing On The West Coast Of Florida - #BullbusterAmbassador Big Bully outdoors doesn't just catch big tarpon and sharks.  The have found that Port Charlotte redfishing can be on fire in the summer months!

Tarpon Fishing Grab & Go Tackle Bag

Tarpon caught by #BullbusterAmbassador Alex Wexler. 

If you have read other articles on the Bullbuster Community you may have seen us mention the “Term Grab & Go Bag” a few times.  A grab an go bag is a fishing bag with your tackle for a specific type of fish.  You do not invade the grab and go bag to fish for other species, but simply have it ready to go for your specific species and make sure your other grab and go bags are ready as well. 

What Should Make Up Your Tarpon Tackle Bag/ Box: 

We hope that you enjoyed this article on the Bullbuster Community.  It is our mission to help millions of anglers spend more time fishing and that starts with YOU!



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tarpon caught by two goons

Need To Get Spooled Up For Tarpon?

For most situations braided fishing line is the go to fishing line for tarpon fishing.  Braided lines allow you to fight the silver king with relatively light tackle by allowing you pack a ton of heavy line (40-80Lb braid) on your reels. 

tarpon caught by two goons

Fishing takes time, the more you have the better you will be.

Went out on a buddies boat last night with high hopes that the fishing would be good again. We also had some more time to fish than the previous night so that was nice. 

We got to the spot a little early and prospected around for a bit. As soon as we saw the shrimp start moving we knew the fish weren't far behind. Our first bite was the right one. A nice 30lb fish came up jumping. In the following half hour we released 3 tarpon, 1 snook, and a few snappers. What was weird was that just 2 nights before in this same scenario we were getting pretty non stop bites by lady fish. Last night we didn't get a single ladyfish bite at that spot.

mouth of the fish

The bite slowed after that initial push and we decided to another spot and wait out the tide. We saw some small busts and birds working the shadow line so were pretty sure we would get bites.  We caught a few mangroves and ladyfish. 

shiny tarpon

The last ditch effort pays off.. at least it did this time.

After that we were feeling pretty tired and decided to give the first spot we were at a ten minute drift.  We knew the tide was going to be more right so we thought it would be worth it.  It was a good thing we did! Right away we got a bite and jumped another off. Right after that I hooked up and got another to the boat. We did another drift and ended up with a double header. One of the fish we got to the boat was about 50lbs, the other one pulled the hook not far from the boat. He looked a little bigger based on a jump he did 15 ft from the boat. 

release of the tarpon

We set up again with just a few baits left. I landed a small one and we caught two more snook and a few snappers. Tired and stoked we called it a night. We ended up going 6 for 9 on Tarpon, 3 snook, some keeper snappers, ladyfish, and a few jacks

some guy who can fish, and a snook.

I went with my light tackle set up to make things interesting. Was fishing 25lbBullbuster Braid tied to 40lb Bullbuster Flouro and a 6/0 Circle hook. 

Tight Lines!


We hope this article got you pumped to get out on the water. It's our mission to help you spend more time fishing. 

Get a hold of our brand direct fishing lines to join a movement. 

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Want To Learn More About Tarpon FishingClick the picture below for everything tarpon fishing.  Learn about the latest techniques, get reports, learn about their migrations and more.  This page has TONS of resources on tarpon fishing!

Need To Get Spooled Up For Tarpon?

For most situations braided fishing line is the go to fishing line for tarpon fishing.  Braided lines allow you to fight the silver king with relatively light tackle by allowing you pack a ton of heavy line (40-80Lb braid) on your reels. 

Austin Porter

Lower Keys Tarpon Fishing

Hello all,

Weekend of Mother's day I headed to Bahia Honda in search of the Tarpon. Woke up both days Saturday and Sunday and got to the bridge about 5:45am. As soon as the sun creeps up their is literally tarpon everywhere rolling.

How to:

Tarpon Fishing Bahia Honda Bridge

You want to set yourself up on either side of bridge depending where current is (Bay side on outgoing and ocean side on incoming) and you free drift a crab on a float literally like your yellowtailing. Once the float is on other side you reel it in and do it again. 

Once you hook up:

As soon as you get a hit you have quick release option on your anchor and you try to force them to other side in open water. The tarpon will try to get through every piling their!

The catch:

Hooked Up To A Tarpon At Bahia Honda Bridge

As soon as you touch the leader try and release the fish as quickly as possible, a weak fish at that bridge is shark bait for those monster hammerheads that roll through their.

We ended the trip with 4-6 tarpon and by 9am both days the bite was slow so we came in. 


Sorry for the terrible quality, you have to pay attention to every piling their so filmed few clips with the iPhone. 

I used mono but you need BRAID for when the Tarpon hit the pilings.

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