Permit fishing is a challenging and sometimes exhilarating pursuit that takes anglers to the flats and shallow coastal waters of tropical environments. The determined permit hunter will ignore all other species and have total focus on their much prized target. Some days there will be precious little casting and others will be filled with frustrating near misses from ill-mannered permit that rush your fly then turn away at the very last second.
Permit fly fishing demands a precise and delicate approach due to the skittish nature of these elusive fish. A 9 or 10-weight saltwater fly rod with a fast-action tip is recommended, providing the necessary power for casting often larger flies than would be used for bonefish. Its draws heavily on casting skills in potentially windy conditions while maintaining the finesse required for accurate presentations. A high-quality reel with a smooth drag system is essential, as permit are renowned for their powerful runs and the ability to peel line off the reel with alarming speed.
The saltwater flies used in permit fishing are designed to mimic the shrimps and crabs that constitute much of the natural diet of these selective predators. Crab patterns, such as the Del's Merkin or Raghead Crab, are popular choices, as are shrimp imitations like the Keel Shrimp or Homer Shrimpson. Permit have a discerning eye, so a well-presented fly that accurately mimics their prey is crucial. Tapered saltwater leaders with a tippet strength 16 or 20lbs are commonly used to provide the necessary stealth and strength when hooking into these formidable fish.
Patience, stealth, and precise casting are key elements in successfully tempting permit to strike. The challenge of fooling these intelligent and wary fish, combined with the stunning backdrops of tropical flats, makes permit fishing a uniquely rewarding experience for dedicated fly anglers.