Tarpon are the ultimate sport fish, known around the world as the silver king, and easily one of the most difficult fish on the planet to catch successfully, even after you’ve managed to hook one.
These legendary fish haven’t earned that reputation for no reason, and every tarpon we’ve caught has lived up to it. That’s why it is so important to keep the best tarpon lures possible in your tackle box wherever you go.
There are a lot of different tips and tricks to catching tarpon, but it’s always important to start with the basics like packing the right gear.
We’ve included only the best of the best lures on our list; all of these lures have been tested out in the field on countless tarpon and in various fishing conditions with effective results.
You can count on these lures every time you come face-to-face with a silver armored giant.
Best Fishing Lures for Tarpon
- Savage Gear Pulse Tail Mullet
- Dr. Fish Saltwater GT Popper
- D.O.A Shrimp
- Rapala X-Rap Twitchin’ Mullet
- Heddon Super Spook Topwater
- FishLab Mad Eel
- D.O.A Swimming Mullet
- Hogy Original 10”
- D.O.A Bait Buster
- Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe
Savage Gear Pulse Tail Mullet
When chasing after a legendary silver king, it’s important to remember that these are incredibly active hunters who prefer a nice mullet over almost any other bait.
If you’re sticking with artificial, then it makes sense that the best tarpon lure overall is going to be one based on a 3D scan of a real mullet.
This lure comes in either a 4-inch, ⅔-ounce version, or a 5-inch, 1 ⅓-ounce version that we prefer for deeper water and larger fish, but both lures are effective for catching tarpon.
This is an extremely versatile lure, as well. The Pulse Tail Mullet has a top-facing single hook⸺ideal for getting that crucial hookset in the upper lip of a giant tarpon⸺as well as an option to add a bottom-hanging accessory hook, perfect for a treble hook if you’re jigging or another single hook if you’re trolling this lure.
One of the primary reasons tarpon are such sought-after sportfish, aside from their size, is their tendency to leap great distances out of the water in stunning displays of raw power and blinding speed while attempting to violently shake the hook from their mouths.
A topwater lure like the GT Popper can mitigate a tarpon’s ability to do this by using treble hooks and inducing a strike at the point where the fish breaches the water’s surface so its mouth will be closed in the air while it thrashes about, rather than far below where the fish will be able to open its mouth before it reaches the surface of the water.
Dr. Fish’s Saltwater GT Popper is one of the best tarpon lures for this purpose because it’s simply massive at 8 inches long and extremely heavy-duty, so it’ll hold up to the biggest poon out there.
As far as saltwater fishing goes, it feels like no list of best lures would be complete without the D.O.A Shrimp.
The original 3-inch, ¼-ounce version of this lure has always been an all-around amazing lure for any fish, but the 4-inch, ½-ounce version is easily one of the best fishing lures for tarpon, specifically.
These larger 4-inch D.O.A Shrimp are absolutely perfect for the bigger tarpon that would otherwise swallow or destroy the smaller 3-inch lures.
One feature that helps them perform well against these beasts is the way that the soft bait shrimp separates from the hook and slides up your leader once you’ve hooked something, keeping the soft part of the lure from getting damaged.
Rapala X-Rap Twitchin’ Mullet
Rapala is a name that’s been trusted by anglers for many, many years and they continue to offer quality fishing products still today, including their X-Rap Twitchin’ Mullet, one of the best tarpon lures on the market for landing those tricky juveniles.
The Twitchin’ Mullet probably isn’t going to land you the next state record tarpon, but it can definitely help you catch the smaller juvenile tarpon that you can see rolling in the marinas and canals of places like Southwest Florida.
Thanks to the use of single hooks on this lure, the Twitchin’ Mullet is great for those speedy retrievals through grassy flats or other places with a lot of potential hang-ups where you need to reel in quickly to head off the lead fish in a school.
Heddon Super Spook Topwater
Another classic lure that should be a mainstay of any experienced angler’s tackle box is the Heddon Super Spook Topwater, and it’s one of the best fishing lures for tarpon because it’s so incredibly easy to use once you get the hang of it.
Learning to “walk the dog” is an essential skill that fishermen usually learn pretty early on and it’s exactly what you need to do with the Super Spook in order to provoke a tarpon into taking it.
When riggin up your line for a Super Spook, we recommend using a loop knot in order to allow more free movement when popping it from side to side while walking the dog. If you do it correctly, you’re sure to entice an explosive topwater strike from a silver king down below.
FishLab Mad Eel
The FishLab Mad Eel is 7 inches long and weighs 2¼ ounces, making it one of the best tarpon fishing lures when you’re out at night in deep water, dropping down near a structure like a bridge piling.
The Mad Eel has a large, shiny metal head with reflective eyes to catch the attention of tarpon, even in low-light conditions.
We prefer the black ice color for our Mad Eels because at night the black color helps obfuscate its appearance as a lure to the sharp eyes of the tarpon and makes the Mad Eel more closely resemble a real eel.
One great feature of the Mad Eel is the utter durability of the lure. Unlike many other jighead and soft-bait setups, the Mad Eel has a compartment in the jighead that you can fill with super glue in order to prevent the soft tail of the lure from detaching after a powerful strike.
I definitely recommend some strong braided line if you’re using this one!
D.O.A Swimming Mullet
It’s no secret around here: we love D.O.A, and we think that their Swimming Mullet is definitely one of the best tarpon lures thanks to the massive holographic eyes that make it stick out to predators under almost any circumstances.
The D.O.A Swimming Mullet, unlike other lures, does not require any rigging other than simply tying on your leader, so it’s basically ready to go when you buy it, making it ideal for any novice fishermen looking to land their first tarpon who aren’t too sure where to start.
Cast it, troll it, or jig it: the Swimming Mullet will perform adequately for pretty much any method of tarpon fishing, so it’s a great idea to always keep one of these bad boys on hand.
Hogy Original 10”
Hogy fishing lures came about in 2004. Since then, they have been producing some of the best soft lures for tarpon fishing that we’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
The beauty of the Hogy Original 10” comes from its unapologetic simplicity and boundless versatility. There are no frills, no bright colors, and no built-in rattles on this lure, but it gets the job done better than many of its pricier competitors at a fraction of the cost.
You can rig this lure several different ways, so it really comes down to user preference for this one, but we usually opt for an offset hook to minimize snagging.
D.O.A Trolling Bait Buster
The final D.O.A lure on our list is the famous Bait Buster, specifically the trolling version.
While the shallow runner and deep diver Bait Busters are also quite effective, the trolling version allows for slightly more versatility since it can be used for both trolling and casting, depending on the scenario.
The trolling version of the Bait Buster is a bit heavier in weight than the other 2 versions. This extra weight allows the Bait Buster to sink quickly and stay submerged even at the higher trolling speeds that are necessary to attract larger tarpon.
Don’t be afraid to use this trolling lure to cast out and jig, however, if you find yourself fishing in water that’s deep enough and suspect a poon to be lurking somewhere below.
Thanks to the extra trolling weight, this Bait Buster will sink through even the toughest of currents that can be found near tarpon hotspots like bridges and passes.
Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe
Last but not least, the Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe is a lure that you cannot leave home without when you’re on the hunt for silver kings.
The High Speed Vibe is one of the best tarpon fishing lures when you need something tough and high-quality that can be either casted or trolled with great results.
You can troll this lure up to an impressive 15 knots, plenty fast enough to entice one of these gargantuan predators into a lively chase.
Once that tarpon is hooked, they aren’t coming off; the High Speed Vibe uses 2 deadly treble hooks near the head and tail to ensure a secure hookset no matter how hard they thrash.
The Yo-Zuri High Speed Vibe comes in 9 different color choices, so you can get one for just about any water color and visibility. We always recommend the holographic black color for tarpon fishing, however, because of how closely it resembles the colors of a mullet.
You can’t come unprepared when you’re on a mission to catch the greatest inshore game fish in the world.
It’s absolutely crucial to keep the best possible tarpon fishing lures in your tackle box if you want to have any hope of landing one of these magnificent creatures because they are incredibly swift and athletic, so they do not give up without a massive fight.
Every one of the lures we’ve mentioned on this list has been put entirely through its paces to ensure that they are capable of holding up against the hardest-fighting inshore fish in existence so that you never waste your money again on ineffective tarpon lures.
Tarpon are fantastic fighting fish, but have you ever wondered about eating one?