The Secret To Catching Tarpon On Butterflied Mullet


You can catch tarpon and other big fish in a lot of different ways.

Dead bait, live bait, and even frozen bait all work.

But fresh, dead, cut mullet sitting on the bottom is almost a sure thing any time of day.

(Yes, even in the middle of the afternoon!)

In this video, you’ll learn from our very own Capt. Hollywood:

  • How to prep butterflied mullet
  • What NOT to do when rigging and casting cut bait
  • Tips on landing big tarpon
  • And more

Check it out below!

Catching Tarpon On Cut Mullet [VIDEO]

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Equipment Used:

How To Butterfly Mullet

To prepare the mullet, you want to butterfly it.

Start from the tail end, slicing right along the bone, and go all the way to just behind the pectoral fin.

Do the same on the other side.

Pulling the tail, remove the backbone along with the guts.

It’s going to be stinky, oily, and will broadcast that scent throughout the area!

How To Rig Butterflied Mullet

Hook the mullet through both lips and into the head with your 8/0 Owner Inline Hook.

You’ll want to use a heavy leader such as 100 lb Ande Monofilament with at least a 1 oz egg sinker, creating a knocker rig.

How To Cast Butterflied Mullet

You are not going to be able to sling this bait like a Slam Shady.

Do an underhand lob really nice and easy.

As soon as it hits the water, let it sink to the bottom.

You don’t want any slack in the line.

Finally, go ahead and set your drag (you’ll want it tight).

Fishing With Rodney

The line is tight, bait is on the bottom, now put the rod in the rod holder (that’s Rodney).

Trust me, you’ll know when it gets hit!

While you soak bait and wait, you can up your chances of getting a bite by putting out a live mullet on a cork behind the dead baits.

The cork will keep the bait where you can see it and will help with not getting tangled in your dead bait lines.

I recommend putting out two dead baits and one live bait.

Tarpon Fight & Release Tips

The best technique to fight a tarpon hard is to keep your rod just at or below parallel to the water.

Wind down, pull up, repeat.

If you get the head up during a tarpon fight, do everything you can to keep their head up because this is your chance to land it.

Once you have the tarpon landed, make sure you properly revive the fish before releasing it.

Get water moving through its gills for a couple of minutes until the fish is ready to go.

It’s very important to protect these fish so please take the time to revive them before releasing them!

If you want to get in on the action, book a trip with Capt. Hollywood at


tarpon on cut mullet

If you’re looking to catch big fish like tarpon, goliath grouper, barracuda, sharks, jacks, and even sawfish, then fresh-cut mullet is a great option.

Cut mullet puts a ton of scent in the water and big fish cannot resist!

Have any questions about how to rig up cut mullet for monster fish?

Let me know down in the comments!

If you know someone who uses bait to catch big tarpon, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

And if you’re in The Keys and want to go out with Capt. Hollywood and his crew, you can find them at

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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Jack Macaluso
1 year ago

Were you using 30 lbs. braid main line? Thank you.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jack Macaluso
David Martinez
1 year ago

Excellent video with very worthwhile tips and techniques. What time of the year was this?

1 year ago

@saltstrong Cut bait works in Islamorada because of all the fish used to being fed at Bud&Marys. I have yet to have luck in the CC/FMB area with cut bait for Tarpon. Would like to see what you do in SWFL/Lee Island Coast. Also, are you using offset circles or straight?

1 year ago

What type and brands of gloves are recommended for handling tarpon

Chris Crawford
2 years ago

Loads of tarpon in and off St Joseph Sound right now. On Thursday, I sight casted to 3 schools and lots of 1’s, 2’s and 3’s swimming along the beach in about 3-4′ of water. No bites though, I was not planning on fishing for them. I threw live pilchards and pinfish, a white and red bucktail and a silver spoon at them.

On the inside, I threw good size chunks of lizard fish on a cork right into a school of tarpon. That bait got crushed and I thought I was going to get spooled on a 5000 reel. Whatever it was it didn’t jump and it didn’t feel like a shark. It cut the line clean after a couple of minutes. I threw another cut piece to the same spot with same result. Screaming run, no jumps, clean cut line, no abrasion.

Any ideas on what was running with those tarpon? TIA.

Scott Ferguson
2 years ago

See that the Rod for this one is custom. What would the rest of us use that may not be able to afford a custom rod?

Franklin Valencia
2 years ago

Amazing catch Luke! Wow whatta beauty! That Tarpon gave you some muscle baby! I love it when you guys come down to the keys! What pound mainline braid was that? You didn’t specify it on top.The footage is always fun to watch with Captain Hollywood! I’ve also took a break from the Kayak fishing and loving the action down there lately! So much fun fighting fish down there.

Last edited 2 years ago by Franklin Valencia
David Rollins
2 years ago

Great video. I fish for tarpon often but have never tried the butterfly on the bait. Anxious to try it. One tip for any new tarpon fisherman. Be careful and alert when unhooking. On more than one occasion I’ve had big hammerheads stalk the tarpon and come up right next to the boat at release time (in less than 6 feet of water.) I keep my hands in the boat as much as possible. If you cut the line off close to the fish the circle hook in the jaw will eventually work its way out without hurting the fish.

Nothing like the rush of catching a 100 pound + tarpon.

Dennis Abella
2 years ago

Good informational video. Really enjoyed it.



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