How-To: Fishing the Edges for Key West Tarpon

How-To: Fishing the Edges for Key West Tarpon

We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Ryan Sansoucy to discuss fishing the edges of the Florida Keys for Tarpon with the Hogy Originals. Here's what we learned...

Location: Lower Florida Keys 

Tides: Half way through the outgoing tide through low slack.

Approach:Look for fish in skinny water; depths of 2 – 4 feet are best. Tarpon will patrol areas with a sand bottom that features contrasting colors and short vegetation. Small patches of structure such as gravel patches, shells or small rock piles should be targeted. Perfect conditions are a light wind against the tide with the sun at your back, from morning into early afternoon. The fish will be most often found where there is contrast along the bottom or in places with slight changes in water depth.

Rigging Selection: For a shallow water – weedless presentation, the 5/0 Unweighted Swim Bait Hook is perfect.

Bait Selection: The Hogy 7-inch Original.

Why This Bait? The 7″ Original Hogy has enough weight to be thrown long distances, which may be necessary, and the size perfectly imitates many of the baits that big tarpon prefer.

Colors: Bone white and bubblegum are a dead tie as far as I’m concerned, but amber is a great option due to its natural, life-like color.

Retrieve:  Use a fast walk-the-dog retrieve – the faster the bait is moving, the better your chances to trigger a “fight or flight” response from the fish. A fast moving bait will not allow the fish to see exactly what is swimming by and this can trigger a violent strike. If you find that fish are following your bait all the way back to the boat, try speeding up your retrieve until the tarpon commits.


Rod: Any 7′ Medium-Fast Action Spinning Rod will work.

Reel:  Quantum Cabo 40

Line: 30-pound test Power Pro

Leader: 60-pound test fluorocarbon leader material with a triple surgeon’s knot.

Reading next

Pro Talk: Big Swim Bait Techniques for the Cape Cod Canal
Pro Talk: Jigging Soft Baits for Gulf Red Snapper

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