As I write this we are in Cancun waiting to fly home. We've just spent a week at Isla Holbox, Mexico, for tarpon of all sizes. Isla Holbox is a lovely island, great lodge, great fishing. One of the most appealing aspects of Holbox is the fishing for baby tarpon (ranging from about 7 to 30 pounds) in the lagoons and rivers the crisscross the island. And during the migratory tarpon season there are big tarpon on the flats outside the island.
We use Sage Xi3 rods, 9 weights for the baby tarpon and 12 weights for the big tarpon. Any good size tarpon from about 15 pounds up is going to put up an impressive fight, and will jump with all his might again and again. It's explosive, fast moving action and you have to be ready to let him run while still keeping tension, get the line off the deck and out through the guides without any snafus. Having good gloves, stripping fingers, and/or tape will save your hands from line cuts. The line comes off the deck with such speed and friction that it's impossible to hang onto it without some protection on your fingers. And, if there is any sand on the line it will cut your hands as well.
We would sit at breakfast sharing stripping fingers and tape. Most of us prefer the stripping fingers as the tape sometimes loosens and it often starts to lift and then you've got an edge that the line can hang up on. When I do use tape, I find the best is the tape used in equine barns to wrap the hoofs of show horses. It comes in about 5" rolls and often costs less than $5 a roll. I cut it into about inch-wide strips and wrap my fingers. The tape is sticky and holds pretty well, but the stripping fingers are still best. My favorite gloves are Dr. Shade gloves with Polyurethane palms. The PU on the palms helps me get a better grip on the rod with wet hands and it wears better than nylon palms. They also help when working with fish. I find these gloves combined with stripping fingers are the ideal solution.
When that fish takes off, you want to be ready to get things under control immediately. You can't do that if the line is burning cuts into your hands. Protect them from line cuts and you'll enjoy your fishing even more.
Barry and Cathy Beck
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