Ask Carter: How to keep your cool when targeting tarpon?

Learn to wait for that perfect moment to cast your fly

Top Tarpon Tips - 4

Artificial Alternative

As an alternative to live baits, you can also cast artificials off to the side. Try bouncing a white jig along the bottom with a long grub tail attached. You can also dredge with a fly rod spooled with a sinking line. Photo by Pat FordPat Ford

After more than 40 years of angling, when a string of 80- to 100-pound tarpon appear, my heart still feels like it could explode. This sort of sight-fishing allows the adrenaline, the anticipation, the anxiety, the fear, and the joy to twist into a feeling big enough to make the most experienced angler come unglued. In these moments, I remind myself to keep my cool, and wait for that perfect moment to cast. But even when the cast drops well, I’m not out of the weeds. Now I have to fish the fly correctly, read the tarpon’s -reaction, and respond in a suitable way. I always realize after missed opportunities that I have to get -myself -together, to slow my racing heart by remembering there will be another fish, another cast. If my head remains cluttered, I step down off the bow, drink some water, and make a couple of practice casts. Once the quiet returns, I step back up to the plate. I cast and strip and feed, and the entire experience becomes that feeling that I am such a junkie for.

Send your questions on casting, fish-fighting, rods, reels, lines, and all things fly-fishing to Carter Andrews via askcarter@saltwatersportsman.com.