One of the most commonly used expressions when people are fishing for tarpon is, “bow to the king!” This is basically telling the angler to drop their rod tip when the fish jumps. To most this is a very counterintuitive statement. When fighting a fish, slack is normally the enemy, so why try and intentionally give the fish slack?
It is no secret how powerful tarpon are and the jumping ability they possess. When you see the fish about to break the surface, you want to drop your rod tip and point it in the direction of the fish. I like to get my entire body low and even extend my arms fully along with the rod. In return, it decreases the amount of pressure on your line and lessens the chance the fish throws your hook. When a fish like a tarpon jumps, it doesn’t just leave the water, it cartwheels in different directions while incorporating violent head shakes. Bowing is especially important if you are fly fishing. Fly lines have extra tension with the drag on the water causing the need to relieve some of the pressure on the line to be that much greater.
To land a fish like a tarpon, you need to do a million things right, and still get a little lucky. Some hooks just find the rare soft spot in a tarpon’s mouth while some of the best hook sets don’t even penetrate it. If there are little things you can do to increase your chances of landing the fish I am all for doing my absolute best to handle the things that are in my control. If you see the fish charging towards the surface, get ready to drop down and point your entire rod at the fish! Once the fish returns to the water, go back to a normal bent rod, but be ready for another jump!