8 Tips To Fight Tarpon (And Land Them Quickly & Safely)


It’s tarpon time!

Have you heard stories of people bragging about how long it took them to wrangle in a massive tarpon they recently caught?

Sure, it’s cool that they caught a big fish, but it’s actually really bad for the fish when the fight takes that long.

After an hour or two of fighting, that fish is totally exhausted and has no energy left to hunt for food or escape a big shark that might try to eat it.

But here’s the good news: there are some things you can do to land them surprisingly fast.

By landing a fish in 15 minutes instead of an hour, it’s much better for the fish, plus you can go out and try to catch another one.

In this video, we’ve got Capt. Mark “Hollywood” Johnson from Florida Keys Fun Fishing walking me through how to bring this 100 lb. tarpon I had on the line to the boat.

It’s a really fun video, plus he shares a ton of tips on how to quickly and safely land a tarpon.

Check it out below.

How To Land A Tarpon Fast [VIDEO]

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The goal when you’re fighting tarpon is to break their spirit.

If you do that, the tarpon will give up and come to the boat much easier.

If you don’t break their spirit and give them too much freedom, they’ll fight until they’re totally exhausted, which could be fatal when you release them.

So since it’s so important to bring tarpon to the boat quickly, here are eight tips to do that:

Tip #1: Bow to the king

If a tarpon jumps, point the rod tip toward him.

When they’re in the air and they shake their heads, they can easily spit the hook, so to try to not put too much tension on the line, point your rod tip toward them.

Tip #2: Use the motor to chase them down

By chasing them down, you’ll able to reel more line in and have more leverage on the fish.

Tip #3: Put the butt of the rod into your hip to get leverage

A 100 lb. tarpon is no joke so to give yourself some extra leverage when fighting them, plant the butt of the rod into your hip.

Tip #4: Wind down and lift up

When you bring your rod tip down, that puts a little slack in the line, so be sure to reel up that slack and gain some ground on the tarpon.

Then, lift the rod tip up to pull them closer, and again reel in as you lower your rod.

Tip #5: Palm the spool when they aren’t accelerating, but let off quickly to let them run

If the tarpon isn’t accelerating in speed, you can palm the spool a little bit to turn them and break their spirit. But when they start to accelerate, be quick to take your hand off the spool to let them run without any added pressure on the line compared to the normal drag.

Tip #6: Use heavy gear

Tarpon are big fish so you need to step up your gear to get them in quickly and safely.

I was using 30 lb braid and a Daiwa BG 4500 reel to bring this tarpon to the boat.

Note: After landing the 7 ft hammerhead and now this 100 lb tarpon on the Daiwa BG 4500 reel, it’s now my favorite for targeting tarpon because it is proven to handle big fish and costs only $130 (just over $100 for Insiders), which is MUCH less than the reels I used to buy for tarpon fishing.

Tip #7: If the tarpon goes one way, you pull the other

By not giving the tarpon any freedom, you’ll break their spirit and get them to stop fighting.

Then, you can bring in quickly and let them go safely.

Tip #8: If the fish tries to go under or around the boat, you go around the front of the boat

Between the motor and the Power-Pole (if you have one), there are just too many things that could cut the line in the back of the boat.

So if the fish goes under or around the boat, make sure that you go around the front of the boat to follow them.


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What a fun fight!

I hope you can put some of these tips into action next time you hook into a big tarpon and bring them to the boat quickly and safely.

Have any questions about fighting and landing big tarpon?

Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re in the Florida Keys and want to book a trip with Capt. Hollywood and his crew, you can find them at FloridaKeysFunFishing.com.

And if you know someone who wants to learn how to land tarpon fast, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

P.S. Want access to our best fishing spots and tips, plus discounts to our online tackle store? Click here to join us in the Insider Club!

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Don Colbacchini
2 years ago

Any tips on unhooking such a big strong fish if it hadn’t come off by itself.

james sauer
james sauer
2 years ago

I can’t keep them hooked up

Rick Daniel
2 years ago

Fantastic job on getting that beast to the boat! What a beauty!

Mike Wiltfang
2 years ago

Captain Mark is the twin brother of YouTube star Steve, of Steve’s Small Engine Saloon. Steve lives and works in Nanaimo B.C., and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s landed a Chinook or two. It would be a hoot to see him and Hollywood Mark together on a boat.

Jonathan Getz
2 years ago

Yeah I’d like to hear about the bait choice. It’s a bucket list fish for me as they are uncommon on the upper coast of Texas.

2 years ago

Nice catch Luke! What rod were you using matched with the reel?

Jorge Tena
2 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Hey Luke, what were you using as far as leader size, hook size? What knots?

Dan G Burnside
2 years ago

Did not land that fish, no picture takin, I’d be pissed, he should have grabbed that fish for the guy and got a lifetime picture. Very nice Tarpon

2 years ago

Jealous, Jealous, Jealous, congrats on a great catch and release. That is definitely a bucket list fish.

Paul Hulsberg
2 years ago

What are you guys using for bait? We have a residential cove in Naples, about 16 ft deep, and it is pretty much a guarantee every time we will see at least 5-10 large poons rolling around us. Problem is we cannot get them to bite anything. Have tried live pins, live crab, cut mullet, and every artificial I can think of. They are beautiful to watch but sure would be nice to catch one!

Guy L
2 years ago

My daughter was in Key West tonight doing some snapper fishing with some friends….and watched a school of Tarpon swim by. She texted me to rub it in! Ha ha. She was out fishing all of her friends. They asked her “How are you catching so many more than us?” some of them were guys) and she said “My Dad taught me well!” That’s my baby girl!!!!
As for Dad…he gives a ton of credit to Saltstrong for everything they’ve taught me over the last 3 years that I’ve been able to pass on to my adult daughters! Thanks Guys! Now….time for me to get down there and get on em!!!! Nice work Luke and Joe and thanks for the great tips Capt Johnson!


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