Permit crabs

falconer57

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Ok guys, I have an upcoming Bahamas trip in Feb. Main target is Bones but I want to have a 9wt in the boat at all times with a permit fly on it. Because I'ma bit anal and have some time, I've set up a test tank and have been throwing my current stock of crab flies in it just to see how they sink/swim/look. Most of them (9 out of 10) get to the bottom wrong side up and just look shitty when "stripped". Who wants a hook digging into the bottom? What is the GO-TO bahamas crab fly? The best looking thing I've seen in my test tank is the Avalon. Now that looks edible! Full disclosure: I don't tie flies (yet).
 

bigjim5589

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The Avalon has become one of the top Permit flies for that very reason. It's really supposed to be a shrimp pattern, but Permit don't know that and will eat shrimp too. I've never fished for Permit, but have tied that fly, and now tie a few in crawfish colors for targeting bass. It's the fly you want! 👍 👍 :)
 

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falconer57

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Thanks Jim. I've only got 4 tropical trips under my belt and have thrown a fly at just one Permit, no take, no joy. A friend recommended SS Flies to me and I've ordered their crab. I'll throw it in the test tank too. One of my commercially tied crabs on a 1/0 hook weighs 3 grams! I'll have to tie that one on and see if I can even throw it with a 9wt.
 

bonefish41

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February in Bahamas good chance you'll have wind on ocean flats unless you are in the Bights of Andros and your guide has you in the lee...so here's the problem... your 8 is in hand with typical bonefish #4 or 6...permit shows up...no time to grab 9 and cast... so you cast what you have in hand or go with the 9 in hand and a #2 Avalon for bonefish and hope for a permit and buy some of Peter Smith's flies S&S crabs flies they drop right or Dave Skok's Strong arm crab which works for both bonefish and permit in the Keys. My experience is Andros and West End,,, only recently have the younger Andros guides given in to permit so you really have to ask...they are more inclined to have you catch a dozen bonefish and then put you on large bonefish...However, I've only caught one Permit on Andros on a Puff about 30 years ago ocean flat Big Wood but ocean flat Permit on Andros are big 25 plus...and February is a good time for big fish.
 

osseous

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The wrong rod- wrong fly problem is real! Particularly when wading. One trick is to carry the permit fly (and Avalon is a great one!) On a section of tippet with a loose Uni knot pre-tied in the end. I put the loop of the Uni around a button on my shirt and tuck the fly inside. Permit is sighted, pull out the permit fly and tighten the Uni around the bend of the bonefish fly. I have done this previously for Cudas- with a foam popper as well. Just use knotable wire instead of tippet.

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falconer57

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My strategy is bit different. We fish for bones only by wading. If a Permit is seen while wading, well, you have to throw what you have on hand. But in a 7 hour day, you'll be lucky to have good wading for 4 or 5 hours. The other time can be spent searching for permit in the skiff. Down on Acklins, the best fishing lies in the lee of the island from the predominant easterlies. But you'll always have some windy days there.
 

osseous

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Caught my first- and by far largest- permit, wading solo at Acklins in '99.... on a size 4 tan Clouser. "Smoke em if ya got em"

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cdcdun

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I recently started a thread regarding how many commercially available crab flies sink improperly. Of all the commercial flies I tested, the SS flies permit crab was by a good margin the most consistent at landing right side up and looking good when stripped. I dissected his fly and tied several myself. I believe they're tied on an SC15 hook. The size 1 hook is a good size to throw for permit if it's on a dedicated permit rod. I tied up a good number of size 2 as well with appropriate weight and the permit liked those quite a bit, but it was also a great bonefish fly. They do tie a size 2 at SS flies, but I believe it has bead chain eyes and this likely keeps it from sinking hook up. I tied mine with an XS wapsi lead eye and it landed softly, but still sunk fairly quickly. I wouldn't hesitate to buy flies from SS flies. They are well tied and inspire confidence. I would imagine if you gave them a call and asked for some size 2 permit crabs with lead or brass eyes, they'd tie some for you. I have a trip to Casa Blanca coming up in April and plan to fish a lot around the lodge after the guide day is done. I know they often get shots at bonefish around the lodge, and the occasional shots at permit. My plan is to fish a size 2 SS flies permit crab.

Jake
 

osseous

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There are some great podcasts about Permit- from guys like Will Benson. Insight on behaviour, fly design, tactics.

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falconer57

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cdcdun, I recently received my order from SS flies and put them in my "test tank". My tank is almost three feet long which is too short and only 14 inches deep which may not be enough to really see what's going on but it's all I got for now. The #1SS crab drifted to the bottom wrong side up over half the time. With hook down, it would sometimes right itself when stripped 4-5 inches at a time. But that is a hard plastic bottom and not a natural substrate. When stripped, it would land nose-down with the claws upright which looks like a defensive crab. Having zero experience hooking permit, I'm wondering whether they, more likely, feed off the bottom or grab stuff mid column like the jack that they are. In my test tank, the best sinking/looking crab to my eye is Umpqua's contraband crab. It lands right side up every time.

osseous, I'll have to look for those.
 

falconer57

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Did find that Will Benson podcast on the Orvis site. Guess one has to get into a very zen mood while humming ommm to hook one. How do you catch a permit? Go fish for one(repeatedly).
 

cdcdun

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Falconer57. Take all this with a grain of salt since I’ve only hooked 4 permit in my career. The ones I hooked were all mid column on the strip. One thing I’ve noticed about all permit crabs is you can order 3 of the exact same pattern and one will land right every time, one half the time and the other never. It’s so weird, tiny nuances to each tie will make it swim different. I’ve probably tied 60 alphlexo crabs and each one I feel I tie exactly the same. Only 75% sink the way I want them to. I tie my SS crab just a little different than the commercial one by putting one strip of lead on the top of the shank in addition to the brass eye. It seems to make a big difference. That said, the 3 I ordered from them all sank right and looked great. The contraband crab looked awesome in my tank and sank right every time. I tied it on when fishing and immediately noticed that with each strip and stop the fly would flip flop. I never saw it in my tank when stripped, only in real fishing conditions and it happened every strip. I had a permit follow and never commit and I suspect it didn’t like the flip/flop. All the permit I target were on the move, so I had to strip to keep up with them. I think it would be a great fly if I could let it settle and then drag it along the bottom.

jake
 

osseous

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The beaded keel on the Avalon fly is brilliant

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falconer57

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Thanks Jake. Here's another wrinkle. The guy from Aardvark Mcleod was talking about his 10 fav permit flies and went on to praise the Avalon because the angler could keep it moving and the permit would attack it with its lips. A static fly, like a crab sitting on the bottom is "inhaled" deep into the mouth to the crusher and spit out so fast one cannot feel it or set a hook. The lip take is like any other jack and much easier to feel/strike. I'm just trying to learn and be ready should it ever happen to me. I think I'll keep an avalon at the ready.
 

cdcdun

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After listening to many podcasts from the permit anglers in Florida (will benson, Nathaniel Linville, etc.) I think most of those guys are throwing crab patterns that they keep moving a lot more than a static crab. They seem to all favor a version of the inverted merkin. SS flies permit crab is a lot like what all those guys are fishing. Even the strong arm merkin is a variation of this theme. If you watch “black tailed devils” or “Satori”, you’ll notice they all are stripping on the eat. These are the guys winning the tournaments.

They also don’t use heavy crabs. The strong arm merkin, which seems to be really popular right now, is designed to hang out in the mid water column. It’s tied with XS wapsi lead eyes. All the permit I’ve caught were cast to and stripped and the fish ate mid water column. All hooked in the lips. The idea of a really heavy crab that is cast ahead of the permit and allowed to sink until the permit is within range, then tug just enough to move some sand probably doesn’t happen as much as we’re lead to believe.

It’s been my experience that permit are on the move. Cast to them, and start stripping to keep up with their movement. If they’re moving slow, you strip slow, once they turn on it and are coming at it you strip a bit faster. That’s what I like about the SS flies permit crab and the like. They’re light weight and easy to cast. They land softly, which is important because permit don’t like the splash of a heavy crab. They look great when stripped and because they’re lighter they stay at the right depth when stripped. They still sink relatively quickly, but you can keep them at a depth you want when you strip them. They can also be allowed to sink to the bottom and sit if you want. The strong arm merkin, if tied right is great because the claw’s main function (aside from looking awesome) is to make sure the fly flips over.

Also, don’t forget to have some shrimp patterns. Bead chain and small lead/medium lead eyes. The number one permit fly at the Xflats lodge in Mexico is the veverkas mantis shrimp. Size 4,6 or 8. This is also a great bonefish fly. Again, take this with a grain of salt as all my experience has been in Mexico. If you’re serious about catching permit though, I’d recommend spending a week targeting them. You’ll learn a lot!
 

osseous

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Move it on multiple fish. Park it on a single fish

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bonefish41

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New school(above noted) strip it... old school(Simon Becker) on the nose drop it. On the nose by your eye is actually short by about 2-3 feet water refraction which is a perfect cast...the old school method requires eye on fish when you cast and wait until you see it ...the new school will usually vector if you respond... can't see the fish...both methods work but old school sighted, on the nose, "park it" to drop for me is close to 90% in the boat but for me it does not happen that often...Nate Linville is an angler obsessed with time on the water; however, the last Del Brown 2019(2020 canceled) was won by a notable Mexican guide with seven fish guided by Will Benson and the runner up was another notable Mexican guide with seven fish guided by Justin Rea and the previous Brown 2018 was by same Mexican guide with Rea as guide. The 2020 Merkin Simon Becker guided the winning angler with three fish... three days, 24 boats, 14 fish total...it ain't easy catching Permit on a few, specific days.
 
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