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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, Off to Cuba,(mcg) in 2 weeks. Would love to get a Tarpon any size on a popper. One thing thats obvious, is that Tarpon jump a lot, and often throw the hook. The African Tiger fish also spends a lot of time airborne, with often the same result. Our "fish landed to hook up ratio" improved noticeably when we changed the trebles to singles on the popper.
I was thinking of trying this in Cuba. Has any one tried this approach with Tarpon? Just a thought? I have not yet worked out why it worked with the Tiger fish? Would be interested in anyones thoughts on this.
 

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This has definitely been tried by the GT crowd and (perhaps more relevantly to your fishing) seems to be preferred by guys targeting sailfish. It could be that the larger gap/bite of a single gives you a better hold on the fish, and some forms of rigging give the fish less leverage when it twists on the lure.
 

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Let me start by making clear that I’ve never fished Cuba and only ever caught Tarpon – in other locations - on live and deadbaits, plus flies – all using singles. In fact the only one I’ve ever had take a lure equipped with trebles was on a small Rapala Sliver in, of all places, some 40 odd miles out in the Pacific fishing the shoreline of Jicharon – Isla Coiba archipelago – in Panama. That 120 pounder, on light tackle, stayed attached for 1 3 /4 hours before its gill cover sliced through the line above what was a rather short, light leader.

But, generalising, have you firstly considered soft baits? They can be very effective. This url - Best Sellers: Tarpon Lures | Hogy – is well worth looking at, especially the linked videos. What do they say, a picture paints a thousand words!
Another link, albeit relatively brief, is this one - Central Florida Tarpon Fishing Tips . Chris, a Florida guide, used to regularly post to WSF. Again it focuses on soft baits, this time from the DOA range. But those and the Hogy lures all utilise singles.

Then hooks? Well there’re two schools of thought here. Tarpon have mouths - I often heard likened to a cinder block – full of bony plates. And the majority of guides do tend to sharpen hooks. However a really successful Key West I used to fish with was insistent you should use singles ‘straight from the box’. His theory was that unsharpened hooks would ‘skate’ around until they found a firm hold in the tissue between those plates.

Also - and this related to encounters with what were often 200lb plus fish in Gabon, West Africa – when trolling with lures some of our members would remove the trebles completely and soft wire on the bend – copper rigging wire – a big single to its nose. That was designed for, once they started jumping, the wire to break and the lure to be flung clear, to prevent the lure’s momentum levering out the hook.

Finally remember, BOW TO THE KING! More will stay attached.
 

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In the latest - February - edition of Sport Fishing (a US publication) there's an article entitled 10 Top Tarpon Lures. Although it features a mix of lures, equipped either with singles or trebles - none are poppers; they're all designed to swim just sub-surface or shallow dive, like the Rapala Crystal 3-D Magnum.

Your poppers cranked fast will obviously work for the Jacks but make sure you take along some swimming lures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replys so far, I have to agree that soft baits seem a better option, with singles. I am inclined to think when they jump they can use the trebles in hard poppers like a lever? I have read no end of posts on here, of people loosing good fish after a few minutes contact, when using large poppers. Pilar point being a reg place for loosing good Tarpon. Where you have to cast a long way to reach the feeding fish, i am sure there are alternatives. Was thinking of trying some of the Bulldog lures used for Pike, taking off the trebles, and putting on large singles. They are quite expensive and wouldnt last long with toothy Cudas?? Still unless you try, ???
 

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However a really successful Key West I used to fish with was insistent you should use singles ‘straight from the box’. His theory was that unsharpened hooks would ‘skate’ around until they found a firm hold in the tissue between those plates.

Finally remember, BOW TO THE KING! More will stay attached.
Good points Dave (read your US trip report with great pleasure btw). One of the guys I fished with years ago flat out didn't sharpen his lure hooks and achieved pretty decent results hooking billfish with them on a light drag. I have never been able to stop myself getting my hooks razor sharp, but there are definitely a couple of other approaches than the one in the text book.

Re your second point: the power that a jumping/head shaking fish can generate against the line is flat-out amazing. It goes against everything you've ever been taught to keep the line tight but sometimes you must do the opposite.

I am inclined to think when they jump they can use the trebles in hard poppers like a lever? I have read no end of posts on here, of people loosing good fish after a few minutes contact, when using large poppers.
I reckon the weight of the popper could have a lot to do with it. Heavy lure attached to a fish that can fling its head about with tremendous power is a receipe for disaster unless the hook hold is truly solid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Def like the look of those Halco slim sticks. Am going to have to look at my approach to lure fishing for Bass here in the uk. The trebles are coming off, far kinder to the bass. I am going to try singles for the Tarpon, and will report back my success or failures. A lot will depend on the Tarpon playing ball??? Does anyone know if there is a soft plastic popper on the market?
 

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I've only encountered tarpon about a 1/2 dozen times and that was always while they were on the feed. When active they smash most things....none of this tentative drop the bait business. They try to jam whatever you got down their gullets so the takes are strong. There has been some discussion in the trophy pike world if large hooks might have a lower hook up rate. I'm beginning to wonder myself. The stuff I use on tarpon is all Yozs and their hooks are pretty sharp. Losing these fish is more about them outworking you or being underpowered.
 

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We tend to put singles on all our heavy duty lures. They hold much better than trebles and most manufacturers now supply with heavy duty singles Australian Fishing: Halco releases Skim Stick 185

Australian Fishing: Single and swinging



Fishing World: Popping on a pittance
. They also do far less harm to fish that will be released. Many warm water pelagics these days (over 6-8kg) are released because of a bacteria called cigateura (here anyway), that can cause very severe food poisoning.
JonD
Firstly, let me thank you Jon for a great post - especially interested to see the single-shod X-Rap Magnums - I'm going to get some of those VMC singles as I've got a couple of box loads of the lures and have been told that they're sensitive to using singles - these hooks will allow me to make the change trouble-free. :clap:

I've got to correct you on the ciguatera thing though. This is actually a bio-accumulation of dinoflagellate algae caused by apex predators eating lots of prey fish who have ingested the algae. The toxin produced by the algae is one of the most toxic known to man (a large proportion of the top ten toxins are caused by alage - think of the damage caused by red-tide bloom die offs). Ciguatera poisoning causes symptoms that can, in rare cases last a lifetime and typically the timescale of effects cannot be accurately diagnosed. Ciguatera toxicity has killed people and caused long-term neurological damage - its really serious stuff. For this reason, in the EU and across the world, certain fish species are prohibited from sale due to the prevalence of these toxins in certain fish. (I'm a fish geek who works in the seafood industry as a food safety consultant, hence my uber-geek knowledge here!) :thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thats interesting. I read somewhere!!! that its not wise to keep Amberjack in Cuba, for reasons of harmful toxins built up in there flesh? Dont think it could be Ciguaera, as surly the cudas and snapper would be the same? What fish are banned from sale, would be interested to know? Cheers Bob
 

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Firstly, let me thank you Jon for a great post - especially interested to see the single-shod X-Rap Magnums - I'm going to get some of those VMC singles as I've got a couple of box loads of the lures and have been told that they're sensitive to using singles - these hooks will allow me to make the change trouble-free. :clap:

I've got to correct you on the ciguatera thing though. This is actually a bio-accumulation of dinoflagellate algae caused by apex predators eating lots of prey fish who have ingested the algae. The toxin produced by the algae is one of the most toxic known to man (a large proportion of the top ten toxins are caused by alage - think of the damage caused by red-tide bloom die offs). Ciguatera poisoning causes symptoms that can, in rare cases last a lifetime and typically the timescale of effects cannot be accurately diagnosed. Ciguatera toxicity has killed people and caused long-term neurological damage - its really serious stuff. For this reason, in the EU and across the world, certain fish species are prohibited from sale due to the prevalence of these toxins in certain fish. (I'm a fish geek who works in the seafood industry as a food safety consultant, hence my uber-geek knowledge here!) :thumbs:


Yes mate you are spot on, I just tried to keep it simple as often people won't read something if its to long. My wife is also a food tec, specialising in microbiology and if youve ever tasted beer from this side of the world :clap2: you will of probably sampled something that started in her lab.
I see ciguatera as a good thing personally as more of the big breeding fish get released.
JonD
 

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Thats interesting. I read somewhere!!! that its not wise to keep Amberjack in Cuba, for reasons of harmful toxins built up in there flesh? Dont think it could be Ciguaera, as surly the cudas and snapper would be the same? What fish are banned from sale, would be interested to know? Cheers Bob
Hi Bob,

Ciguatera is typically found in the Pacific & Indian Oceans and the Caribbean, but it's not as simple as a list of unapproved fish for sale in particular regions I'm afraid. EU regulations simply state that fish with CTX (the scientific jargon for ciguatera toxicity) are banned from sale in the EU. Some fish such as moray eels, are known to have high occurrences of CTX, and so it is very unusual to see these fish offered for sale.
I consult for fish processors in a number of tropical regions and typically suggest that they avoid buying apex reef predators of more than 15Kg eviscerated weight. This isn't fool proof however and most of my clients will warn their customers if they want particularly large reef fish, which carry a much greater risk. (FYI, 15Kg gives a good yield for processors, but has a statistically lower risk than larger fish, which have a - sometimes temptingly - higher yield).
As has been pointed out in this thread however, fish much smaller than 15Kg can have ciguatera-toxicity in their flesh, with the prevalence directly tied into the presence or otherwise of the (benthic) algae in the local ecosystem. For this reason, most of my clients carefully monitor local blooms and may reduce the 15Kg limit according to localised risk.
Pelagic species can be, but are much less affected by ciguatera. This is because their prey that swims in the open ocean is much less exposed to the benthic algae which are mainly (but not always) concentrated around inshore and reef structure.
 

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With regard to Cuba, ciguatera is well-known and there are specific species understood to carry a greater risk of harbouring the toxin. That seems to have absolutely no effect on what people eat there - it just seems to be part of the risk that people accept in return for cheap protein. Among these, I've caught two 90lb-plus amberjacks; several barracuda over 20lb; hogfish; and big cubera snapper. All ended up in fillets to be shared among locals - and I eat the cuberas too, which are delicious. The only thing they're slightly leery of is jacks; in Antigua, too, the locals absolutely will not touch jacks - unless, I was told, you want one to poison a neighbour's cat!
On the other hand, a taxi driver I used in Guillermo last summer had only just resumed working after 6 months stricken down with ciguatera, so it does exist there. He had no idea which fish had caused the problem, as he was a fisherman and ate a lot of the usual suspects; but he did say that it was extremely debilitating, and he still felt very tired and had a lot of nerve problems.
I'm not sure about apex predators generally, but I've read that fish scraping up reef detritus and coral, such as parrotfish and wrasse, are the main vectors of the toxin; I've a theory that mullet, the preferred choice of inshore amberjack, cubera, big jacks and barracuda, may also be involved. Either way, I think I'd still rather eat snapper I've caught off the pier than the vile farmed tilapia they serve in the buffet!
 

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Its strange how local islanders seem to eat the larger fish without problems. There has just been a case here where a family all tucked into a spanish mackerel around 20kg and all ended up in hospital. It seems the symptons can reacure at any time for life, not worth the risk if you ask me.
JonD
 

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How is cigateura identified, if possible??? Is there a list somewhere that I can access? I am off on an overseas trip soon and like to know what I can and can't eat...
 

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I'm sure somebody will correct me with a more scientific answer but I remember reading that it was very hard to test for and the local method was to offer it to a cat, if a cat refused it then it contained toxins, if not then salvage what's left from the cat and eat that :)


Does seem a particularly nasty condition though, reverses the senses so hot feels cold and cold feels hot !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
From what I have researched since this topic somehow started from single hooks on Poppers,!! You cannot test for it? The cat idea seems good Ha. As already said, the safest thing seems to be only eat the smaller fish. Bass in the UK eat lots of prawns and crabs. If you saw the test results I saw at CEFAS in Weymouth, on toxins in shell fish, you def would not eat bass or shell fish again??? But hey, I do eat the odd bass and am ok so far?
 

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Yes I know we have drifted of subject a little but I just wanted to make sure those who travel are aware of such a potential threat to health. Another case was in the news here again yesterday where the staff of a restaurant ate a 16 kg spanish mackerel and were all hospitalised.

Back on topic and even my tiny lures around 6g up have heavy duty singles, often you have to drop down to 30mm lures on tuna when thats the size of the bait they are eating. You also have to drop down pretty light to cast them.
JonD
 
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