What are the characteristics of a good Permit rod

FreeFlyFreeFreeFlyFree Posts: 121 Officer
Hi guys,

I'm about to start fishing saltwater flats here in south florida...thinking in chasing reds and bonefish...but I've heard of people always carrying a 10wt in case of Permit, and I was wondering, realistically, what kind of presentation is needed when they show up...is it a quick and short cast? or a quick and long presentation? I'm thinking in what kind of line and rod to buy...is clear floating that important?

Thanks,

Felipe

Replies

  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Where you going to be fishing? You have a boat? Wading? I wade a lot and just use an 8 wt. My fly is very heavy so my casts aren't too pretty, but the fish don't mind.

    Obviously, the farther you can cast across a 20 knot wind, the better. Ironically, those are the conditions when shorter casts are most often called for. Generally speaking, the calmer the weather, the longer the cast required. As said, I wade a lot and this greatly lowers my silhouette on the water, which helps too. I also had a few flats in the back country dialed in so well that I could cast out maybe just 50 ft. and 10 ft. in front of the fish (glassy calm conditions), but where I knew they would eventually be and just let the fly sit on the bottom until they arrived. Higher up from a boat in 10-15 knots and you're looking at at least 70 feet to be safe. Obviously, there are exceptions to that.

    Nobody agrees with me but when it comes to the "big 3" (bonefish, permit, tarpon) I have always been a firm believer in catching one's first 2-3 fish on a spinning rod with bait. First of all, your success rate goes up exponentially. But most important is that there is so much you can learn about the species itself, presentation, fighting habits etc., it is unbelievable. When you think about it, the only real difference between spin and fly, is the degree of difficulty in making the presentation. The fish doesn't know the difference, so the fight is the same, although it is generally held that with two fish of equal size, the fly hooked one will be boatside before the one hooked on spin.

    By far I think the most popular pattern for permit is the crab fly. This is a real Catch-22, because these flies are tied to imitate a natural food...and yet if you have that, it has to look natural in the water. Generally speaking, a permit will not eat a dead crab (legs not moving) or a live shrimp that spins in the water when retrieved. Both these conditions will not only result in refusals, but more often than not, will spook the fish as well. The standard fly fishing retrieve does not lend itself well to mimicking the natural swimming action of a crab.

    IMO, your best chance to get a permit to take a crab fly, is as it sinks to the bottom. If he doesn't take it on the way down, you're usually screwed. Lots of times they just watch it fall and just nose it as it sits on the bottom. If you don't do something fast, they'll know it's dead. I use a special retrieve called the "hand-twist," that I borrowed from my wet fly and nymph trout fishing days. This is a lot less "jerky" and more imitates a crab crawling over the bottom. I think this is your best bet for a take, after the fly has hit the bottom.

    Another genus of patterns are the shrimp patterns. You have the same problems again, in making this realistic looking hunk of material act like the real living thing. Fortunately, the normal stripping retrieve is similar to a fleeing shrimp. Only problem is how these flies are tied, with the head at the eye of the hook. How many live shrimp flee head first?

    Fly fishing for permit is a crap shoot. The most potent weapon you can carry with you, is your own experience. Each opportunity, even the "misses," will add to your mental library and aid you in the next one. No two of those opportunities will ever be exactly the same. I know of two people, both who have contributed here, who took years to catch their first permit on fly. Now, 10 years later, for them it is almost (relatively speaking) routine. It was the same way for me. Good luck.

    As for rods and lines, you'll get as many opinions as there are members of this forum. FWIW, I still use my antiquated Loomis IMX rods (a 10 footer for wading) and standard Sci. Ang. grey line. The fish don't care. Reel is a #2 wedding cake. I have confidence that I will usually produce as well as anyone else with this old stuff.
    .......Rick
  • tarpon41tarpon41 Posts: 188 Deckhand
    F: What rod and line combo works for you...Permit out of a skiff, it's delivering the Permit fly to the fish 30 to 70 feet with minimum false casts. Typically the best opportunity, skiff fishing, is 10-15 kts wind...with good vis. Not as spooky with some wind. As noted above if it's glass then get out and wade unless you can make an accurate 90 plus cast with the fly going straight and a nice soft landing with all that thick flyline slapping the "glass" If you can deliver in 10-15 with 9,10,or even an 11 that's it. After all your work to get fish on...don't fight your first Permit with a low rod like a Tarpon...high rod almost a high stick...they may look stupid as in short dumpy not lithe like bonefish or tarpon or even porker reds...they may be only slightly faster than a jack, they will look for sticks to snag like others but given a chance particularly with a low rod they will flip on their side and scrape or cut you off on the bottom...the high rod for Permit was not my idea but that of a KW Permit guide softly suggested to me when the first Permit was on.
  • Carl BlackledgeCarl Blackledge Posts: 674 Officer
    Free,

    You aren't going to like my answer or even possibly agree with it.

    The absolutely best characteristics to a "good" permit rod is the guy casting it. Just remember a good caster can cast a "junk rod" and make it work, and on the same token a "lousy caster" couldn't cast the best rod in the world and make it work correctly. This same theory is true with fly lines-flies and even reels. perhaps your question should be pointed in the direction of what's some of the most popular rods-reels and lines for permit, the answers to those question should get you in the ball park, then adjust your casting stroke and line choice for the best results.....my 2 cents....been there done it.

    Carl Blackledge
  • FreeFlyFreeFreeFlyFree Posts: 121 Officer
    LOL Carl! I absolutely agree with you 100% I heard a saying when I was a kid that I apply it to fly fishing..."it's not the arrow, it's the indian shooting it" hehhe.

    Permit Rat, thank you for sharing your knowledge, what a great post that was.

    As far as my method of fishing, I'll be carrying an A frame step ladder and I'll drop tubes of PVC with holes in them and stuffed with shrimp so I can chum them withing casting distance....ok maybe not! but I read it some where in the interwebs!

    I'll be polling out of a canoe shapped kayak...

    Thanks for thre replies!

    Felipe
  • Carl BlackledgeCarl Blackledge Posts: 674 Officer
    Free,

    There is no substitute for being a very good caster, I go to the casting pounds all the time and see some really pretty casters, Now after that being said, when I'm standing on the front of a flats boat and I see a string of Tarpon coming right down the alley , and there is a 15-20 mph wind in my face, If I can't make that cast and lay that fly right where it needs to be, it won't matter what fly rod-line or reel I'm using if I don't have the skill....It's not just one component, whatever brand or models you choose, using it to it's full potential is all that really matters. my 2 cents

    Carl Blackledge
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    FreeFly.....Hate to burst your bubble, but permit (Keys permit at least) don't respond to chum. Bonefish, yes. I have heard of exactly ONE permit coming up a chum line in all my years of fishing/guiding in the Keys. The closest I came, was one day chumming bonefish and far off, about 150 feet, a permit swam by at more or less right angles to the line of the scent. When he reached the scent, he turned up current into it for about 3 seconds, but swam no further. After 3 seconds or so, he turned away and just kept on going. In deep water, it's a different story. Why, I don't know. So unless the permit have changed over the past years, you're going to have to hunt them. But I still would not use a ladder. You want to keep your silhouette as low as possible, unless it's blowing a gale.
    .......Rick
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