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The Black Death tarpon fly is a true classic. It’s been around for many decades and has been a goto for anglers and guides targeting tarpon. The color combination is a great attractor for tarpon, particularly on dark days. This saltwater fly is tied in what is known as the Florida Keys styles tarpon fly. The tails of the flies are tied as far back on the hook as possible to prevent the tail materials fowling on the cast. Another distinct feature of the style is the bare shank just behind the eye on the flies. The reason for this was that the bite tippets used for the flies tended to give the flies a poor presentation and so angler began to snell the flies. The front ½” or so of the fly was left bare so that the line could be snelled. This persisted over the years and line technology progressed, the feature remained as an artifact in the fly patterns. Today, many of the shanks are covered with thread and coated with cement or resin.
For such a simple fly, there are an incredible number of variations out in the wild and no real standard. So much so that I feel the “Black Death” is more of a named color variation rather than a fly pattern much like the red and white Daredevil or the light blue and Black Blue Moon seen in steelhead patterns.
Black DeathFly Pattern Recipe
Hook: Gamakatsu CS15 #1/0-4/0
Thread: Black 210D FWN
Tail: Nyat hair black
Flash: Red mylar flash (Flashabou)
Collar: Red rabbit zonker
Head: Black thread to eye tapered into the collar
Eyes: Silver or white with a black pupil
Coating: Bone Dry UV coated on head x2
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