Every angler worth his salt waits expectantly for the annual tarpon migration. For many of us, it is the most revered game fish. Therefore, it is no wonder that some anglers spend their entire fishing career chasing this trophy fish. The entire off-season is spent coordinating the schedule according to the migration and carefully selecting the best lures for tarpon.
Tarpons are native to the Atlantic Ocean, but the Gulf of Mexico also has some good reserves. This fantastic game is a champion at swimming as it as at jumping. The thrill of reeling in one of these fishes can only be matched by witnessing its majestic leap in the air.
If you are on the quest for curating the best lures for tarpon, you have hit the jackpot. Today I am talking about the lures that I think are the best for these game fish. A section where I tackle the frequently asked questions is also added towards the end.
So don’t miss it! Check out the most popular fishing lures on my blog as well.
Let’s dive right in.
Best lures for tarpon fishing
- Heddon Saltwater Chug’n Spook – Editor’s Choice
- River2Sea Whopper Plopper – Best reviews
- Aorace 3D Minnow Fishing Lures – Best product for the money
- Bomber Badonk-A-Donk High Pitch Lure
- Gulp! Sand Eel
- Strike King Saltwater Flats Jig
Keep reading for my full review!
Heddon Saltwater Chug’n Spook
The first spot on my list is for this fantastic lure from Heddon. This standard size lure is special because of its excellent design and performance. Similar to the Zara Spook, this one is perfect for walk-the-dog action in the water, despite the cupped mouth.
You will love the cupped mouth that chugs and spits water, almost like live bait. The surface action it creates is something that few fishes can resist.
The double treble hooks are sharp as they are premium in quality. When it comes to the design, this lure is a total winner. With a redhead and a silver body, it has an appearance of quality. A wide combination of colors is also an excellent addition.
- Comes in two versions – freshwater and saltwater
- Measures 4.7 inches in length and weighs 45 gm
- Two treble hooks
- Cupped mouth
- For walk-the-dog action
- Different colors options are available
- Creates fantastic surface action in the water
- Good cranking depth
- Excellent quality
- Great quality hooks
- Shipping is not available in the state of California
- Limited options for international shipping
What other customers say about Heddon Saltwater Chug’n Spook.
The Chug’n Spook has stellar reviews on Amazon. More than one customer calls this “excellent,” while others say this “works great” and is a “definite hit.” Still, another says that the “quality is amazing,” and another calls it “beautiful.”
Similarly, another customer says it is “effective,” and another highly “recommends it.” Unlike other lures that come with negative comments and reviews, this one has a solid five-star rating, which is a testament to its quality and performance.
Best price and deals!
River2Sea Whopper Plopper
The second spot on my list of the best lures for tarpon belongs to the Whopper Plopper. First of all, the color on this one is impressive. With the dual-color appearance, it looks great, especially in the water.
But the best part comes from its design. It has a rotating tail that vibrates and also creates a disturbance in the water. This works great at attracting the tarpons that are passing by. Moreover, it is made to withstand harsh blows and bites from aggressive fish species. The lure is made of plastic, but it is durable and reliable as well.
The Whopper Plopper is also easy to cast, which adds to its plus points. However, I must add that the hooks are not the best. You might need to swap the hooks for better performance. Interestingly, a friend of mine who also bought this lure had top-notch hooks. So, in this regard, the hooks can be a hit or a miss.
- Soft and pliable plastic body
- Rotating tail
- Double hooks
- Available sizes range from 3.5 to 7.5 inches
- Weight ranges from 10.6 to 56 gm
- 21 colors options
- Easy to cast
- Produces varying sound in the water
- Rotating tail can withstand hits and blows
- Soft and pliable body
- A bit pricey
- Hooks on some units are not great
What other customers say about River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
Except for a solitary customer who did not find these lures as they were advertised, this lure also seems to be a favorite of customers.
A verified customer says that this lure is a “vicious strike machine,” and their action is “unbelievable.” Another customer says that this “plopper lands the whoopers” and that it “slays” the topwater blowups.
In addition, a customer from Canada called this lure “great” while also mentioning that the hooks are “insanely sharp.”
Best price and deals!
Aorace 3D Minnow Fishing Lures
These 3D lures are a fantastic choice for many reasons. It is well designed with ABS plastic, so it is sturdy and durable. However, the coating on the body of the lures is the center of attention. It is bright yet very subtle and looks very premium.
In addition, the metal hooks are incredibly sharp and good quality. A steel ball inside the lure body balances out the weight and assists in swimming and casting. With 3D eyes and a rattle, these lures are just what you need to catch a prized tarpon.
Depending on the style, you get eight to ten lures in a pack. So you simply cannot beat the price on this one. The lures work seamlessly in both fresh and saltwater and are definitely one of the best lures for tarpon in my books.
- ABS plastic body
- Double treble hooks
- Built-in steel balls for weight balancing
- Size ranges from 3.3 inches to 9.5 inches
- Comes in different colors and styles
- Excellent design and colors
- Good quality hooks
- Even weight distribution
- Different sizes available
- Very affordable
- Some units are defective
- International shipping may be limited
What other customers say about Aorace 3D Minnow Fishing Lures.
The 3D Minnow lures have mixed reviews from its customers. Those who reviewed this positively say that it is a “great buy” and that these lures “work.” Another customer says that these lures “travel well.” Some customers also praised the “nice colors” and “decent value,” while others say these are “awesome tropical lures.”
On the other hand, some customers seem to have had a negative experience with this lure. Someone says that the lures’ sizes are too small while another says that the quality is not good and therefore is not functional.
Best price and deals!
Bomber Badonk-A-Donk High Pitch Lure
This high-pitch tarpon lure moves with a sporadic motion that attracts the fish. Moreover, the design on this one is top-notch with excellent quality materials. The hardware, as well as the other components, can withstand the harsh saltwater. Moreover, the color options are realistic, and the lure brilliantly imitates a live fish.
You will love using this topwater lure even in windy conditions. It produces high-pitched frequency vibrations, so it also works if the water conditions are not clear. However, there is a low-frequency version, so you can use it as well.
The hooks on the Badonk-A-Donk are fantastic. The double hooks are sharp and corrosion-resistant. Nevertheless, you can also swap it without any problem if you want. This lure has the right weight so you can cast it at a distance. It is a feature that can be indispensable while fishing a tarpon. If the lures land to close to the fish, it can spook the entire school minimizing your chances of landing the prized catch.
- Heavy-duty components
- Comes in high and low pitch frequency versions
- Four different color options available
- Available length is 3.5 and 4 inches
- Great design and quality
- Sharp and reliable hooks
- Produces high pitch frequency
- Works even windy conditions
- International shipping options may be limited
What other customers say about Bomber Badonk-A-Donk High Pitch Lure.
A lot of customers have left five-star reviews about the Badonk-A-Donk. One verified customer says it is a “great bait,” while another says it is “a great choice” and is “bigger than expected.”
Another customer also says it has “excellent action” and also appreciates the “good hardware.” Other customers also say that the “price is excellent,” while others say it is “high-quality.”
Best price and deals!
Berkley Gulp! Sand Eel
I couldn’t leave the Sand Eel out of my list of the best lures for tarpon because of its outstanding quality. You can easily mistake this for real bait; it is that good.
Apart from its outstanding quality, this bait comes with proprietary Gulp! Scent. This feature exclusive to Berkley makes the bait a tarpon magnet. The scent also disperses very rapidly that adds to its effectiveness.
In addition, the bait is pliable and soft, which makes it effortless to use. However, you need to remove them from the hooks after fishing as they can become very hard, making it impossible to remove them.
Learn more about how to clean your lures here.
- Measures 5 inches in length and weighs 9 gm
- Two-color options available
- Soft and pliable body
- One packet contains 6 baits
- Gulp! scent dispersion
- Outstanding quality
- Quick scent dispersion
- Diving action is excellent
- Very affordable
- The effectiveness of the scent is reduced with time
- Hardens considerably after use
What other customers say about Gulp! Sand Eel
The Sand Eel is a hit among the customers on Amazon. They have nothing but good things to say about this bait. One of the verified customers simply calls it a “great bait,” while another says it is “perfect.” Others voice the same opinions and call it a “great lure,” and others appreciate its “great price” and “good value.”
A verified customer from the US says that the fish “can’t resist” the scent on this one. Others also say it improves your chances of catching more fish.
Best price and deals!
Strike King Saltwater Flats Jig
This jig head can be quite deceptive, in a significant way. It does not look much, but you will be surprised by how well it performs underwater. It features a black nickel that is a chemically sharpened hook, which is top of the class in sharpness and quality.
Its bright colors and 3D eyes also facilitate its visibility in the water. Contrary to how it looks, the paint in the bait is chip-resistant so it can withstand a heavy beating without losing its colors. In addition, the bait keeper barb is perfect for keeping your baits in place.
One of my favorite ways to use this jig head is with the Gulp! Sand Eel. The visibility of this jig combined with the scent from the Gulp is something that no tarpon will dare to miss. However, many tarpon fishing areas prohibit the use of hooks with bait for fishing tarpon, so you first need to check with the local fishing guidelines.
This jig head has a very affordable price, so it easily finds a place in my list of the best lures for tarpon.
- 3D eyes
- Bright chip-resistant paint
- Black nickel hook is chemically sharpened
- Bait keeper barb
- Four color options available
- Measures between 14 and 28 oz
- Excellent quality hook
- Very well designed
- High visibility in the water
- Very sturdy and durable
- Affordable pricing
- The 3D eyes on some jigs turn up defective
- International shipping is not available
What other customers say about Strike King Saltwater Flats Jig.
This tarpon jig is reviewed positively by many customers on Amazon and a few negative ones. Let’s take a look at the positive ones first.
A verified customer from the US calls this a “great product,” while others say it is a “quality jig” and “good value.” Others recommended it, saying that the eyes are “realistic” and “lifelike.”
On the other hand, one customer says that you can get them at a lower price in local stores. Another customer also mentions that the price is steep.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tarpon Fishing
Where are the best locations in the world for tarpon fishing?
Some of the best locations for tarpon fishing over the globe include:
- Florida – This fantastic location in the US has some of the best spots for tarpon fishing. The most popular ones are Miami’s Biscayne Bay, Key West, Everglades, and Islamorada, which is also referred to as the tarpon capital of the world. There is no end to the schools of massive tarpons in this part of the world, especially during their migration.
- Costa Rica – Manzanillo, in particular, is home to some 100 pounder tarpons, so you do not want to miss out on this location. But Rio Colorado is also not far behind.
- Puerto Rico – The lagoons of San Juan also holds fantastic tarpons both in terms of quantity and size.
- Cuba – If you don’t mind the hassle of travel documentation, the Jardines de la Reina in Cuba is also a fantastic fishing spot for tarpons.
Is it legal to catch tarpon and keep it?
In many areas, these king silvers are exclusively catch-and-release. So, yes. It is illegal to keep the tarpon after you catch them. Of course, you can hold them for a certain amount of time for photography, measurement, and sampling for study.
However, this might be an exception during the harvesting season. During this time, one person can usually keep one tarpon. Even so, the tarpon should be within the prescribed weight limit and have proper tags.
These laws and regulations are not isolated to one country. Different countries have their own federal and local laws. So, you need to have a good understanding, so you do not get into trouble in a foreign country.
What important things do I need to know for tarpon fishing gear?
- In many places, gear for tarpon fishing is strictly hook-and-line only.
- Snagging, spearing, and snatch hooking is strictly prohibited.
- Using multiple hooks at once with artificial or live bait as weight is also not allowed for tarpon fishing in many areas.
Learn when and how to use weights with lure the right way.
- Tackles that have some weight are recommended. This is important, so you don’t exhaust the tarpon and make it vulnerable to predators.
Nevertheless, if you are new to a fishing location and unsure about the fishing guideline, the best solution is to call or speak to some local authorities. You might also get tips on the best lures for tarpon from the locals.
What is the best season for tarpon fishing?
The tarpon calendar looks a bit different from one location to another. But generally, it begins from the late part of March and extends to July. However, the migration reaches its peak in May and June. So be sure to get your gear and itinerary ready.
Niels Thomas is a wildlife expert and fishing fanatic that works with major fishing brands like Deeper Sonar, Abu Garcia, Berkley, PENN, BassPro and Pure Fishing. Through sharing the best fishing tips, tricks, gear reviews, locations and much more he hopes to inspire fishing fanatics to start their own journey towards becoming the King of the Catch!