The Best Bait For Tarpon: How To Choose

Best Bait For Tarpon

Soon, tarpon will move back inshore to the passes, bays, flats, and channels that the Silver King’s large schools of fish made famous. Dead bait like a piece of ladyfish or mullet works best for tarpon fishing.

You’ll discover that dead bait on the bottom is how the majority of large tarpon caught each year in different parts of the world are caught. 

A List Of The Best Tarpon Baits


If you’ve ever heard that “elephants eat peanuts,” then you know that tarpon also eats shrimp. Some of the largest tarpon to ever be brought to shore were caught on tiny shrimp.  The shrimp are easy to come by and everyone enjoys eating them, which are of great quality. 


One of the tarpon’s favorite foods is crab.  Their tongues are made to break up crab shells on the inside of their mouths.  The majority of fish won’t try to eat crabs, so your chances of catching your desired species are higher. 


The mullet is likely the most infamous baitfish in existence thanks to Captain Jeff, who probably did it all by himself. 

One of the most well-known baitfish for tarpon is the mullet.  They have become well-known and an important part of fishing culture thanks to people like Lunkerdog and his “HogLeg” crew and BlacktipH, who shocked the world with his groundbreaking, intense drone footage of the mullet run. 


The pinfish makes a fantastic tarpon bait.  They are not only popular among tarpon but also hardy and simple to locate. 

Threadfin Herring

A more delicate bait than the majority of other tarpon baits is threadfin herring. However, there is no turning back if you manage to get one in front of a tarpon. 

Best Bait For Tarpon

How To Choose Your Bait For Tarpon

Keep Baitfish At The Top Of The List

It becomes abundantly clear from studying tarpon feeding habits that baitfish are by far the most effective approach.

When hungry, tarpons rip through swarms of thousands of baitfish, pursuing the weakest or closest prey. This is how they typically eat, and it is truly amazing to watch.

Here is some incredible drone footage of some tarpon attacking a school of mullet in case you’ve never seen anything like it.

In light of this, it is clear that small fish species make the best tarpon bait. whiting, ladyfish, minnows, herring, mullet, sardines, pinfish, mackerel, poggies, etc.

It’s a good bait to use as long as the baitfish is small and the tarpon can swallow it whole.

You should be good to go if you cut it in half or more if it’s too big. In general, you should cast close to nearby schools of baitfish and wait for a tarpon to find you. Casting past the school and then slowly reeling in is a better method.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you should always prefer baitfish that are plentiful or migrating in your area. Other prey will undoubtedly be taken by tarpon, but if you throw something they are accustomed to seeing in a flurry, your chances are better.

Shellfish Can Also Be Rewarding

There are other options besides baitfish when tarpon fishing. Crustaceans, shellfish, and crabs are all excellent options.

Yes, tarpon typically feeds by chasing baitfish inside of schools, but that doesn’t mean they won’t also eat other nutrients if they come across them on their journey.

In deep water and strong currents, crabs in particular frequently outperform baitfish.

It can be challenging to mimic how baitfish deal with currents when using your bait. On the other hand, crustaceans are less active, making it difficult for tarpons to determine whether they are moving naturally or being propelled by something.

Other Things To Consider About Tarpon Bait

When baiting tarpon, size is the most crucial factor to take into account.

Generally speaking, you ought to stick to big baits. Numerous smaller species, including rockfish, bluefish, and ladyfish, are common prey for tarpon. They all eat mullets, minnows, sardines, pogies, etc.

Therefore, if you use small baits, your offer is probably stolen before the tarpons get to it.

However, when you keep it large, you eliminate the majority of smallmouth fish and thus raise your chances of catching tarpon. So always lean toward large baits. The standard tarpon bait typically ranges in size from 5 to 8 inches. It’s what I do and what I observe other people doing.

Having said that, take note that using large baits also invites larger fish to the meal.

Where tarpon hold, sharks are frequently aplenty. If your bait is properly sized, they run the risk of stealing it.

The main issue isn’t this one. The real issue is that when sharks attack, your leaders may be cut. For this reason, when going after tarpon, you should keep your leader thick. In the event that your bait is taken by a fish with sharp teeth, you need something that can withstand abrasion.

How Should I Hook My Tarpon Bait

Cut bait has a straightforward and simple-to-remember rule. Where it is least likely to break apart or fall off, pierce your bait. The section closest to the tail of the baitfish is typically the firmest. The eye contour is another strong spot where your hook will hold quite well.

The corner of the shell is typically the best place to look for crabs and other similar crustaceans. However, because shrimp is a soft bait, it might need to be tied to the hook with magic thread.

The eye and mouth are typically the best locations to pierce the hook in live bait. Retrieving live bait after it has been head-hooked gives it a natural appearance and gives the impression that it is a wounded fish having trouble swimming.

Related Posts