The "Black Death" tarpon fly is one of the most productive here in Belize. There are times and locations, however, where other flies will do the job and sometimes do it better.
The Black Death fly pattern accounts for many of the tarpon we land, and while this is a very productive fly, there are times and locations, where other flies will do the job and sometimes do it better.
Sometimes lighter patterns work better than Black Death's. So you should have a selection.
On many of our tarpon flats the bottom is white sand, and in this environment, the lighter flies tend to be my personal favorites. Patterns like the Green Hornet, Sardine ( Sardinia ) and the White Angel are great producers. If you are tying your own, you want to make sure you include plenty of tinsel flash. The flash seems to be of primary importance. Often this fly seems to be more visible to the fish, and they frequently seem to 'see' it out of the corner of their eye and will often change direction to eat.
Another consideration is hook size. While we usually use 3/0 or 4/0 hooks on the Black Death patterns, I have found excellent success with 1/0 hooks for these lighter patterns with flash. With a smaller hook, you can cast farther. Many times you get only one shot at a fish, especially if it's moving away and that extra 10, 15, or 20 feet can make the difference between the fish 'seeing the flash' and not seeing it resulting in either success or failure.
While the subject of hooks ( J versus Circle ), the choice is yours. There are advocates of each, and you should use the hook that instills the most confidence.
Leverage your guides knowledge on the water. Their experience in our local waters is unmatched.