Reading Gary's fine front page about his leader design for chasing big Tarpon in the Florida Keys made me think. That is because some days ago Daniel Götz published some rules (leader design included) as a "should apply to everyone" fly fishing for large Tarpon in Nicaragua. Both (Gary's and Daniel's) leader designs are as different as they could be. Gary uses a 60lbs. fluorocarbon bite tippet connected with a 20lbs. class tippet and a 60lbs. butt section, while Daniel uses a 175lbs. fluorocarbon fly to fly line leader. Both are targeting big Tarpon though.
Daniel believes, that every Tarpon angler fighting a Tarpon (no matter how big it may be) for more than 60 minutes does it wrong. In order to be able to pull as strong as possible with his fly rod and to then grab the leader to pull the Tarpon up when it gets close, he uses such a tough (thick) leader when fishing for Tarpon in Nicaragua.
Gary instead believes that he has found a fine leader setup for himself but does leave it to everyone him/herself to decide which leader maybe the best.
Now it's fair to summarize, that the water is much clearer in the Keys, where Gary mostly fishes for big Tarpon. Therefore and because of the high fishing pressure Tarpon probably would run off when facing Daniel's 175lbs. leader. Since in Nicaragua the water is much less clear and yet the fishing pressure was lower as it was in the Keys one may use such a thick leader here. But the fishing pressure is increasing a lot right now here, too.
I believe that there will never be something like doing it right or wrong when it comes to figthing a Tarpon on a fly rod. There will always be another angler who can keep the fight shorter. Does that make him be right? Of course not.
We all have a learning curve and usually improve all our fishing (and figthing) skills throughout our fishing lives.
What counts the most (I think) is, that we all share the same passion for fly fishing. No need to think in terms of right and wrong for other fishermen. Honestly I often don't even know what is right and what is wrong for myself.
Back to Tarpon fishing I like Gary's leader design cause it makes it possible to break off the Tarpon in case a shark or a crocodile or whoever may get behind him. Oh, and I believe there easily may safety reasons for the angler (like the line being wrapped around a finger) come into play as well. So, having a leader setup supporting the leader to be breakable seems worth to be taken into account to me.
About keeping the fight as short as possbile... I prefer to land the fish in the first place. If I would believe the Tarpon to be treated wrong, when fighting them too long (whatever too long maybe), I would no longer fish for them. But hey, that's just me. I really hope you will make your own experience. Both Gary and Daniel most probably would agree with me, fly fishing for Tarpon being a fantastic experince well worth to give it a try at some point.
Besides all those leader discussions we had a blast fly fishing for Atlantic salmon last week. One of my clients landed his first salmon ever, which marked a fantastic moment. Sharing that moment made my week to say the least. How long the figth took him? I don't know. Didn't have a stopwatch with me. ;)
Strong (and all sort of) fights to all of you!
All my best
P.s.: Keeping the fight short means to support the chance of survival for any species of fish. To me they are ALL worth to improve one's figthing and (quick) releasing skills though. But all this comes with one's own experince in the first place.
Some pictures ...