Published Feb 28. 2006 - 18 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 29. 2023

La Muerte

You need luck, a good guide and skills to catch a tarpon. We can't supply the luck. You'll have to go there to get a good guide. The skill... well, you'll have to hone that yourself. But a good fly pattern, that's something we can help with.

La Muerte

Los Campiones

Martin Joergensen - Claus Paludan
During my most recent tarpon trip to Mexico I had little luck with the large members of the species. I caught plenty babies, but no biggies.

Opposite Lars Mathiessen. Lars had good luck... ehr... showed excellent skill with the big ones and was by far the angler in the company who hooked and landed most large tarpon in the open ocean. He also did fine on the babies, but with the big fish in the ocean he severely outfished the rest of us.

Now it might have been luck. It might also have been a good guide. It is more likely to have been skill. And it might have been the fly. A combination is probably the right answer.

What I can supply
Now I can't supply the luck.
The guide—Carlos—is still in Rio Lagartos and you'll have to go there to get him.
The skill... well, you'll have to hone that yourself.
But the fly pattern, that's something I can help with. First of all because Lars was very open about the fly and opened his box to us during our afternoon rhum-on-the-porch sessions, and secondly because it's a fairly simple and generic pattern.

I have baptised the fly La Muerte because I nicknamed Lars "El Muerte" during our stay. Since the gramatically correct way to say this is "La Muerte", this is now my name for the fly. Lars earned this honorable name because he rubbed a very dense, white sunscreen on his skin every day, which left him looking quite ghost-like.

The fly is a variation of the classical splayed feather-tail tarpon fly as found in many patterns devised by many different tiers. Splayed tail, a couple of hackles and a long snout. Much like the Splayed Alive Pike Fly actually.

Candy box

La Muerte strikes again

Martin Joergensen - Claus Paludan

The tying instructions are uncomplicated and most people would easily be able to fill their boxes with this pattern. Lars used nothing else, so you can trust that it works. He had luck with the blue and white flies, but also had some red and white ones in his box.

La Muerte
Pattern type: 
Warm saltwater fly
Lars Mathiessen
Saltwater, straight eye, size 2-4/0
6/0 - color to match body - or just white
A few straws of flash, four soft, white hackle feathers, two soft, blue hackle feathers
Soft, blue hackle feather and a soft, white hackle feather
Tying thread
Doll eyes
Poly yarn cut into 1 cm pieces.
Poly yarn
Skill level/difficulty: 
  1. Start the tying thread at the hook bend
  2. Tie in a few straws of flash extending rearwards
  3. Select four large white hackles
  4. Strip off the barbs on the stem of the feathers. Aim for a length about 4-6 times hook shank length
  5. Tie in two white feathers and one blue on each side of the hook
  6. The feathers must sit vertically curving out and to the very rear of the hook
  7. Prepare two hackles, one blue and one white
  8. Tie in the blue one first and wind it forwards followed by the white one
  9. Create a long, tapered head on the front part of the hook
  10. Stick two doll's eyes to the rear part of the head
  11. Varnish or epoxy the head over the thread and eyes

As the originator Lars Mathiessen notes in his mail to me about the fly: "Finish the fly with good sprinkle of luck. You will need that if you want to catch a tarpon - even with this fly"

10 kilos or 20 lbs. - at least!

The man, the fish

Claus Paludan
Promising sundown


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