Higdalgo's Scorpion

Catching tarpon in South Florida's freshwater urban canals is a lot like the state lottery. Someone's always winning a few million bucks or jumping a couple of 60-pounders, but in either case it's never me.

Higdalgo's Scorpion 368x250

Higdalgo's Scorpion 368x250

Carlos Higdalgo

Catching tarpon in South Florida's freshwater urban canals is a lot like the state lottery. Someone's always winning a few million bucks or jumping a couple of 60-pounders, but in either case it's never me. I've spent many hours throwing all manner of feathers and fur at these picky poons (and many dollars on Lotto tickets) to no avail. Since I have no control over those numbered ping pong balls, I decided to increase my odds of catching these freshwater silver kings.

My plan was to tie a fly pattern specifically for this type of fishing. I wanted a weighted fly with a great deal of inherent action in the materials to interest these finicky fish. After a lot of deliberation and tests, I settled on rabbit strips as the ''magic'' material with the most seductive action. Many tarpon flies, such as Stu Apte's Too Plus and Mike Wolverton's Sea Bunny, are tied with rabbit strips, so I knew I was on the right track. After some more experiments, I applied lead dumbbell eyes to the fly in much the same manner as a Clouser Minnow. If you are going to borrow an idea, you might as well borrow from the best.

The resulting fly, which I call the Scorpion, is much more than I had anticipated. This pattern can be used in any situation where a Clouser is appropriate. The rabbit strip tail, however, gives the Scorpion a very unique yet versatile action. When retrieved in a quick, continuous motion, the tail flutters slightly and the fly resembles a wounded baitfish. When retrieved with short, quick strips, the tail breaks and gives the fly a very shrimp-like appearance. When the retrieve is stopped, the tail undulates irresistibly as the fly sinks. I have used it successfully on shallow flats with floating lines, in deep channels with sinking lines, and in the middle of the water column with intermediate lines.

These qualities, and the fact that it can be tied in a wide range of colors, makes the Scorpion appeal to many different types of fish. This pattern has caught everything that I've thrown it at. On the first day I used it, I caught a four-pound mangrove snapper with a chartreuse version. Given the snapper's keen eyesight and picky nature, I knew I had a special fly on my hands. Since then, it has consistently fooled snappers. The Scorpion has also caught redfish, ladyfish, jack crevalle, lookdown, and snook. Barracuda cannot resist it, and it is by far my most productive spotted seatrout fly. It has even fooled a small sawfish. I have not had a chance to throw a Scorpion at a bonefish yet, but I would make book that they would love one tied on a size 4 hook. And tarpon? The Scorpion has fooled tarpon from 5 to 50 pounds. All in salt water, by the way, where God intended for them to be caught.