Like most people in my age bracket, I grew up using monofilament lines for most of my fishing. Monofilament has come a long way and keeps getting better all the time.
The new braided Spectra lines have taken the line market by storm and with good reason. They offer a small diameter, incredible strength, abrasion resistance, and the ultimate in sensitivity. The first time you get a strike with "braid" after a lifetime of fishing mono, you will be amazed.
The no-stretch properties of braid allow you to feel everything your lure or bait is touching, to the slightest take or bite, and allows you to easily set the hook even from a good distance. Braided lines allow more line to be packed on a reel and are very abrasion resistant. When trolling a lure, the super small line diameter allows it to dig deeper and definitely allows you to feel a strike sooner.
Capt. George Tunison
Actually, at first you may lose some fish because of the increased sensitivity. Setting the hook too hard will cause pulled hooks. Setting the hook too quickly before the fish really has the lure, will result in misses.
For tarpon, fishing with live or dead baits, my Power Pro braided line tests at 80-pound with the last 10 feet doubled using a Bimini Twist or Spider Hitch Knot. This doubled main line is tied to a Spro 135-pound test swivel, then to a 10-foot long (120-pound test) fluorocarbon leader for bridge fishing and 60- to 80-pound test for open water fishing.
For casting tarpon plugs around structure my heavy action spinning setup uses 50-pound test Power Pro with the last eight feet doubled, tied to a six-foot, 60-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Always tie your leader to your plug with a strong loop knot like a Perfection Loop or many others.
Learn a loop knot that allows the tag end (the extra you cut off when you trim the knot) to point down or toward the lure, away from you. Many loop knots have the tag end pointing up from the lure which then collects weeds and grasses fouling the lure.
A tarpon can be caught at one time or another on just about any equipment - light or heavy. What I use for big tarpon that hang around all the river bridges is an eight-foot, heavy action rod with a Penn 4/0 reel. For open water I go much lighter, usually a spinning outfit with 50-pound braid.
If you are fishing bridges, snags, or heavy structure stay away from "sporting tackle." This is a place for heavy lines and leaders and a strong rod to try and help steer rampaging fish away from pilings if you want any chance of a picture with your silver king.
If sharks are present use an Albright Knot to attach a two-foot piece of wire to your leader, and then attach the wire to your hook with a Haywire Twist wire knot.
Many anglers like to fight and catch big fish on ultra-light tackle. It's fine to an extent and does require angling skill, but remember an already thermally stressed summer tarpon in 90-degree water, fighting for an hour or more on your light line, can very well die from exhaustion or become easy prey for sharks in its weakened condition.
I would rather catch a silver king on a little heavier rod, get him to the boat and watch a strong healthy release than wearing the fish out on 10-pound test to near death, just to stroke my ego.
Remember, a 100-pound tarpon can be 50-plus years old. It's pointless to kill it.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.