Fly Fishing FAQ

These questions and answers are mostly directed towards the fly fishermen that are new to tarpon fishing and saltwater fly fishing in general.  These represent my most commonly asked questions.

What tackle do I need to bring?

For full size tarpon I prefer 11-12wt rods.  Reels with at least 250yds of 30# backing.  Lines: I really like full sink clear intermediate lines.  Sink tip lines will work, but in the swift current the full sink works better.  Floaters have their place, but I recommend them as a secondary choice only.  I know…I know…everyone else uses floaters…

Many rods have a reputation for blowing up while fighting large tarpon.  You can’t go wrong with G.Loomis or Sage.  Call or email and we can discuss your choices if you are buying a new rod for the trip.

For juveniles, 10-40#, an 8wt or 9wt is perfect.  I really like the Cortland Liquid Crystal tarpon taper floating line for these lighter setups.

Flies: I will supply all of the flies we need.  If you like to tie your own give me a call or shoot me an email and we can talk about exactly what you need for the occasion.  Hooks (the most important part!), materials, size etc.  I will be more than happy to share photos and recipes ahead of time so you can be prepared.

Leaders:  I tie all of the leaders custom to our needs.  I got you covered

What tackle do you use personally?

For everything but my 8 and 9wt I use G. Loomis CrossCurrent Pro-1 rods.  If you have the arm to load them they have serious power casting in the wind.  As far as strength goes, I bet I can pull my boat on the trailer with the 12wt.  Seriously…

For tarpon reels I use mostly Nautilus Monsters and CCFx2’s.  I do have a couple Abel’s and Tibor Gulfstreams as well.

I am new to the game of saltwater fly fishing.  How well do I need to cast?

The further and faster the better.  Accuracy, distance and speed are essential for fly fishing in saltwater.  In my opinion 60′ is minimum for tarpon fishing.  If you can cast 60-70′ with two to three back casts and put the fly in a hula hoop or close to that is a good place to start.  The short game is very important as well as the ability to drop a fly accurately on a back cast.  Trust me, looking at a 100+ pound tarpon will make any fisherman’s knees knock and decrease your casting skills a bit, I know it does mine.  (if it doesn’t you might be dead or need to take up golf…)  On a tarpon flat with fish cruising by, busting and finning on the surface is not the place to learn to cast.

So are you saying I have to be an expert to fish with you?  What if my casting skills with a 12wt are not up to par?

Be honest about your skills when you book the trip.  I would rather see you catch a tarpon than not.  I would rather you have a chance sight casting with a spinning rod than turn your trip into a very expensive casting lesson.

I hate to have to write a section for my website like this.  Catching a tarpon on a fly rod is quite possibly the most challenging of any species on the planet.  Over the years I have had countless clients book a fly fishing trip to be disappointed because out of 50 shots at fish they were able to make 3.  Simply hiring a guide does not guarantee you will catch a tarpon on fly.

It is so important to have realistic expectations of what you are trying to accomplish on this trip.  What to expect from yourself and most importantly your guide.  No guide, no matter who they are, can turn you into Andy Mill or Billy Pate during the course of a fishing trip.  Communicate this to me and it will help make this trip live up to your expectations.

Fly fishing as a guide all I can do is make sure your knots and equipment are good, make sure you have the right fly, get you close to a fish and watch.  The rest is up to you.  Any experienced saltwater fly fisherman would tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way.  That is why most of us do it.

Lefty Kreh said it best, “If you can’t shoot you shouldn’t hunt.”

If you can not cast adequately I can not catch you a tarpon on fly.

I have been in the outfitting business for over 30 years.  I have listed here a couple questions I get asked a lot and potential problems that some people face when planning a fly fishing trip.  I am being honest with all suggestions and answers.  I am not trying to sound negative or blow smoke up your, well you know what I mean.  I take fishing in general very seriously, as it is a way of life for me.  Fly fishing for tarpon has been a passion of mine since childhood.

I would book a lot more trips if I didn’t have this page on my site, but I want to make sure I book the right people for the right reasons.  I will not bullshit anyone just to make a buck.
I have found that many people unknowingly decrease their chances at catching fish before they even get into town.  No matter who you end up fishing with, there are a few common problems that relate to all who are booking a fly fishing trip.

Potential problems that can decrease your chances at catching your targeted species on fly and solutions to greatly increase your odds:

Problem:  I am looking to catch my first tarpon on fly.  I have never caught a tarpon before.  I want to book a one day fly fishing trip for tarpon.

Solution:  You need to give yourself and your guide a chance to make it happen.  Time to get used to the scenario, time for a few mistakes and not to mention time for the fish to show.  Tarpon have many ways to frustrate, humble and piss off even the most seasoned angler. (The tarpon guys know EXACTLY what I mean…)  To have the time to get it together overnight and start over the next day is priceless.  Well worth the cost of the extra day.

Problem:  I am coming down to your area and want to catch a tarpon on fly.  There will be two of us, the other guy (or girl) does not fly fish.  Can we do both?  Why not?

Solution #1:  The best of both worlds, get two boats.  Targeting any species on fly is different in many aspects to spin/conventional fishing.  Approach, presentation and the most important part, areas you choose to fish.

Solution #2:  Fish with spinning rods instead of fly.  Then everyone gets a equal shot.  Tarpon are a blast on a spinning rod too!

Fly fishing for tarpon or any other species is best one on one, just you and your guide.

Sure we can bring a few spinning rods and a fly rod or two.  You will probably end up casting a fly rod at some tarpon while your buddy casts a spinning rod and not actually fly fishing for tarpon.  There is a difference.  Trying to do both in the same day can mean a tougher day for both of you.

I have fished with a lot of different guides over the years, rarely have I been successful.  What makes your approach any different?

It might not be.  Granted there are a lot of Bozo’s in this business, you know who I mean, guys who have a nice boat and know how to talk the talk but couldn’t catch their ass with both hands (oh, you have met him too! …lol).  I actually fish for a living.  It has been my only source of income since 1992, over 30 years.  Tarpon fishing is what I do.  I do not fish for anything else.

You don’t seem to fit the mold of the other fly guides I talked to.

If you are looking for a witty well dressed pretty boy fly guy that will joke around all day and make excuses there are literally hundreds to choose from.

I am definitely not one of them.

Tarpon fishing in the Florida Everglades with Captain Mark Bennett
Tarpon fishing in the Florida Everglades with Captain Mark Bennett
Tarpon fishing in the Florida Everglades with Captain Mark Bennett
Tarpon fishing in the Florida Everglades with Captain Mark Bennett
Tarpon fishing in the Florida Everglades with Captain Mark Bennett

If you are looking for a experienced, patient, easy going, fun and knowledgeable guide


If you are tired of going fishless while hearing excuses all day


If you are frustrated booking guides for a tarpon trip and then they take you fishing for snook, redfish or trout


You are just plain sick of going with everyone else…

I just might be the guide you have been looking for.