Permit Question - Fly Fishing Forum
Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 03-03-2005, 03:30 PM
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Dave17 Dave17 is offline
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Permit Question

In previous outings in the tropics I've had great success with bones, but like many other people, no luck with Permit. I've spooked them, had follows, had a 'cuda get to a fly right before a Permit, but no takes. Every guide I've fished with has had me cast the charlie or gotcha that I was using for bones to the Permit saying the only thing that matters is "presentation, presentation, presentation". That it is more important to get a really good shot with a gotcha then taking the time to switch flies and get a rushed attempt with a crab.

If you watch Flip, Lefty Jose and the rest of those guys on TV they all say that Permit were uncatchable until the crab fly was invented.

So here's my question, from experience, if you were staring down on a Permit after a day of bonefishing do you make the cast with your bonefish fly or would you take the time to switch to a crab? I know fish are different in different locales but as a general rule......... Also let's assume wading with one rod so the only way to switch is to clip the fly and tie on another.

Wondering what everyone thinks, thanks for any feedback...............

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Old 03-03-2005, 05:22 PM
Eddie Eddie is offline
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If I was fishing for tarpon, and had a permit come along, I would throw a tarpon fly. It is not uncommon to see permit when tarpon fishing.
If you are fishing for bones, I suppose you could fish with a crab, but it seems that the bonefish are usually in shallower water.
I have caught permit on a bonefish fly called a peterson's spawning shrimp. It is a good permit fly that is not a crab (if the fish hits it, it is easy to hook up because you swim it). I suppose it depends on where you fish. If you are fishing with a guide, I woukld fish with whatever he says to.
One cast can change your day...maybe your life.

Last edited by Eddie; 03-03-2005 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:10 AM
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JusBones JusBones is offline
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I have had 2 shots at permit. One was a major "spook" shot , the other was followed and then refused. Since then, I keep a 9wt rigged with a crab pattern.
If fishing alone with a guide we reherse the rod handoff ....bone rod for crab rigged rod.....if not, I reherse the senario with whomever I am sharing the boat with.....with the understanding as we do our 30 minutes "on deck" that the crab rod goes to the man on deck....I can see where this technique would be worthless, depending on how much time is available, hence, I rely on the guides
to make the call......bone fly or crab fly.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:10 PM
SteelBoneguy SteelBoneguy is offline
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I have limited salt experience but I think the permit would be LONG gone if you were to try and change flies. Switching rods that has a crab fly is one thing but retying a different fly will not work. I think your only option is to throw the bonefish fly at the permit and hope all the starts are aligned in the sky and that he bites. Fishing a more dual fly for bones and permit would increase your chances. Mantis shrimp, spawning shrimp, and all crab flies.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:35 PM
BigDave BigDave is offline
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I would think if they are tailing and you had time to make the switch you would want to do that.

For cruising fish it doesn't seem like you'd have much of a choice but to stick with what you've got. The only ones I've seen were cruising and seemed too to stop and eat anyway...
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Old 03-04-2005, 07:24 PM
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Adrian Adrian is offline
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I've had several shots that have resulted in a miss. For the odd-chance fish when targetting bonefish, having a second rod rigged and ready to go makes a lot of sense. Re-tying for a cruiser would be futile. As others have said, the fish will either be long gone or aware of your presence.

One key to success seems to be making as long a shot as practical - the guides I've fished with on Exuma reckon that a shot inside of 70 feet is a waste of time - but I'm sure that experiences elsewhere are different.

I've had many shots all of which have failed for one reason or another. There are definitely certain times when they are a lot more cooperative but I've not heard an explanation.
When sight fishing, look over your shoulder from time to time, you never know who's behind you
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Old 03-05-2005, 06:34 AM
FishHawk FishHawk is offline
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I have never fished for either a Bone or Permit but here is my idea.
Why not fish a dropper system with a crab as the point fly? Just a thought.
Probably not done but sometimes you have to think out of the box to get the fish.
Just my .02 FishHawk
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Old 03-08-2005, 02:36 PM
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bonehead bonehead is offline
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I've had some experience with permit in the Caribbean, and (very small fish excepted) they have seemed to ignore standard bonefish flies that I've thrown at them. However, as soon as I switched to a Merkins or other crab pattern, I drew interest, takes, and eventually hookups.

If I was fishing an area for bones and knew permit were around, I'd probably stick with a small Merkins style fly (#6 - #4). Bonefish go nuts over these, and they land plenty quiet enough to present to fish in shallow water. (The rubber legs and soft yarn body slow the flies descent through the air and cushion its landing.) I have my clients use Merkins for tailing fish with great success and have fished flats in the Bahamas where bones refused everything but a crab fly.

Having said that, I did once have a permit eat a Bunny Gotcha after going through about 7 fly changes, including several crabs. The fish would carefully inspect each fly as it sank - its oversized eye seeming inches away from the hook - but calmly refuse each until the Bunny Gotcha. (Of course, I missed the hookset, but that's beside the point. I was young and inexperienced then.)

As for changing flies, that really depends on the situation. I've had times where I've got multiple shots at tailing fish and could have changed flies a half-dozen times if I wanted. Other times permit are cruising and even if you have the right fly you're lucky to get a good shot off. I also take some issue with the 70+ foot casts as a rule of thumb. Two of the permit I've hooked ate within 30 feet of me (while I was wading) and wouldn't spook unless they saw me. Of course, wading is much different than casting from a skiff which has a much bigger profile that is more likely to spook the fish farther away. Standing on a skiff over the clean, sandy flats of Exuma I can see how longish casts would be called for.

Good luck with your quest and remember, cast close, strip slow and read the fish's reaction.

Tight lines
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