Seaducer (and the Tarpon Tango)
Flies With a Story

Story By: Rich Frailey
Fly Tied By: Peter Frailey
Home: Spokane, WA

I was honored when my brother Peter, the originator of this Web site, requested that I contribute to "Flies with a Story".  Pete and I are both fishing fools, but because he's in Massachusetts and I'm in California, we rarely fish together.  I had difficulty deciding whether to contribute the Tarpon Tango story below or a story about a day we enjoyed fishing together for sunfish.  Hmmm - maybe I'll write "Pete's Gurgle Pop Popper in the Land of the Nuclear Sunfish" anyway and see if he'll let me make two contributions.


The Fly:


Hook: Size 1/0, Mustad 3407
Thread: White Flat-Waxed Danville
Weight: 7-8 wraps of .015 lead wire just behind the nose of the fly
Weed Guard: Mason hard monofilament, 20 lb., tied in first at the back of the shank
Tail: Four white hackle feathers, cupped inward, two on each side
Body: White saddle hackle, tied in at the back of the shank by the tip, and palmered forward over 2/3 to 3/4 of the hook shank.  The overall length of the fly should be about 3 inches.
Collar: Red saddle hackle, tied in front of the finished white hackle and wrapped forward
Head: White thread over the monofilament weed guard and finished with several coats of head cement. (The Weed Guard is completed by inserting the loose end into the hook eye from below and folding it back over the top of the shank.  Snip off the excess after tying the head with thread, over the mono.


The Story:

The Tarpon Tango

It's August, and my wife and I are in Belize enjoying a few weeks at our lodge. She’s spending the day diving while I poke around the mangrove swamps looking for tarpon with "Pops" Cabral (one of our most experienced guides and namesake of the "Pops’ Bonefish Bitters" bonefish fly). Taking turns fishing, Pops and I have caught two tarpon and a mess of mutton and mangrove snapper for the table, all with my favorite salt water fly – a white Seaducer with collar of red hackle, tied weighted and weedless. However, we’ve just found about 20 tarpon crashing a school of bait fish in 36 inches of crystal clear water, and the fly is about to get yet another workout.

The tarpon are berserk and mindless of us and our skiff. They’re feeding all around us. It's Pops' turn so I jump up on the poling platform and he takes the 10 weight rod to the bow. The fish are everywhere. A long cast isn’t needed so Pops simply splats the white Seaducer on the water 15 feet away. A tarpon immediately heads for the fly, opens its mouth wide enough to put your head in, and sucks in the fly and a bucketful of water. Pops tightens the line, gives it a pull to set the hook, and the Tarpon Tango is underway!

The choreography is simple: When airborne – give slack and bow to the fish. When under water – pull the line tight and make the fish work hard. The rhythm of give line/take line/give line/take line continues for several minutes. The tarpon jumps repeatedly, shaking its head and rattling its gill plates. The sight of silver dollar sized scales sparkling in the sunlight as they sail through the air is something no tarpon angler forgets. However, on its next jump, the tarpon throws the fly and Pops’ line goes slack. The first dance is over.

But the fish are still berserk, feeding heavily around the boat. Pops quickly retrieves line to make another cast, but the fish won’t wait. He barely retrieves three feet when another tarpon takes the fly. Tarpon Tango Two!! Give line/take line. But this fish also evades a solid hook set and throws the fly after several minutes and several spectacular jumps. Pops once again retrieves a few feet, and a third fish picks up where the second left off. The tango continues. The dance repeats with a fourth partner after another few minutes and half a dozen more jumps. And then a fifth. The rhythm keeps repeating itself. Give line/take line, spit out the hook, pick up a new dance partner, and give line/take line all over again.

About 20 minutes later, Pops has not yet made a second cast, but has just begun the Tarpon Tango with his sixth partner. The fish are still crashing bait all around us. The sixth tarpon is solidly hooked and we can see the white Seaducer firmly imbedded in the corner of its mouth. This dance partner will not throw the fly. When Pops’ partner begins to tire, it makes a long run under the boat and, in an instant, all the fish except this one are gone. No tarpon. No bait fish. Faster than you can blink. Just Pops and tango partner six, and me standing on the poling tower laughing my ass off. After I release his fish, I simply lay down on the deck, smiling at the sun as we let the adrenaline drain away.

I love this fly primarily because I can see it under the surface and therefore I can usually see the fish take the fly. Tied about 1˝ inches long on a size 2 hook, its perfect for large or small mouth bass. About 3 inches long on a 1/0 hook it’s a killer on salt water fish like tarpon, dorado, bluefish, striped bass, or small tuna. My Belize fly box usually holds about 20 flies for this type of fishing. About 15 are white Seducers and the other 5 are a mix of other patterns. I always start fishing with a white Seaducer and I hardly ever use anything else. With a 4/0 version and an appropriately heavy rod, I’ve hooked billfish and larger tuna.

How many fly patterns have hooked up six fish on one cast? This is a fantastic fly.

--Richard Frailey


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