The Best Lure To Catch Backcountry Juvenile Tarpon


It’s tarpon time!!

Juvenile tarpon in backwater creeks are a blast with their aggressive strikes and acrobatic jumps.

But catching them is different than most other inshore species.

Here’s why:

  • The lure that I use to target them is unique (I don’t really use it to target other species)
  • Jig head color seems to really matter (whereas, it doesn’t seem to matter as much for other species)
  • And they’re never really dialed into one specific retrieve technique

Check out the video below to see what lure I use to catch these tarpon, the two best color jig heads, and how to retrieve your lure to catch them.


The Best Lure For Juvenile Tarpon [VIDEO]

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When I’m fishing the flats for redfish, snook, or trout, I usually use a paddletail or a jerk shad.

I can catch juvenile tarpon with these lures, too, but if I really want to focus on catching them, I’ll tie on a white 4″ Gulp Swimming Mullet.

I like to rig it on a Saltwater Assassin Pro Elite jig head in the 1/8 or 1/4 oz size, depending on the depth.

And one thing I’ve noticed with tarpon is that jig head color seems to be very important.

They have really good eyesight, so this is probably why jig head color matters for these fish more than it does for other species.

If the water is relatively clear, I’ll use a red jig head, but if the water is dirty, I’ll use a chartreuse jig head.

And now that you know the best lure for these small tarpon, here are three tips on catching them:

  1. Look for them in backcountry creeks
  2. Switch up your retrieve technique (try fast, slow, pauses, twitches, etc.)
  3. When they jump, point your rod tip towards them to take a little bit of tension off of the line


best tarpon tips

If you find yourself in a backcountry creek and there are small tarpon around, tie on a 4″ Gulp Swimming Mullet rigged on a red (if the water is clean) or chartreuse (if the water is dirty) jig head.

Have any questions about catching juvenile tarpon?

Let me know down in the comments.

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Thomas Hall
19 days ago

Great Report Tony! Thanks for the tip on the Gulp Swimming Mullet. Each time I fish the Tarpon Bay area near Isle of Capri, I spot tarpon breaking the surface… I see them during low incoming tide at the mouth of the inlet leading into Tarpon Bay and then I see them on the flats as the tide near high tide… usually in groups of 2 or 3. I have tried getting their attention with the moon walker and slam shady 2.0 and an Owner Twistlock 1/8 oz and have been ignored.

Salt Strong! Thomas

1 year ago

good catch

Ron Whetstone
1 year ago

I have caught tarpon on the Gulp swimming mullet also. But my favorite go to tarpon lure is a DOA Terror Eyz. The regular and the Tinny ones. The best all around color for me has been root beer/gold glitter for both sizes. The best color for the tinny is the purple/silver glitter. Have also done well with the gold glitter/green back and gold glitter/black back. I would just get 1/8 oz red head for the tinny and get all three red head sizes for the regular bodies. These lures are amazing for baby tarpon. The regular size will catch some big tarpon though. The baitbuster is a great lure for bigger tarpon.

Victor Gatell Jr
1 year ago

I will certainly try those lures, I actually have some on hand. Where I see “juvenile tarpon” (translation; T HEY HAVE NO MANNERS!) is on my neighbor’s dock, everyday at high and low tide they wait at the canal cross intersection. Their favorite trick is to hit the bait, jump, toss the hook, and keep the meat. How they actually do that, and on a regular basis, is beyond me. I can get them to hit the dead mullet or catfish, but I would love to get one on the lure.


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