The English Fly Fishing Shop
Saltwater Permit Crab Flies
$US each - Worldwide postage is FREE!
Click the name of each fly to see a close up photograph
CRAB1. McCrab Tan Crab
CRAB2. Tan Fur Sand Crab
CRAB3. Olive Fur Crab
CRAB4. Del Brown's Merkin Brown Mud Crab
CRAB5. Del Brown's Merkin Tan Sand Crab
CRAB6. Del Brown's Merkin Olive Crab
CRAB FLIES ALSO CATCH BONEFISH & JACKS - CLICK BELOW TO SEE MORE SALTWATER FLIES
Bonefish Flies Lefty's Deceivers Clouser's Deepwater Minnows Crazy Charlie Bonefish Flies Seaducer Tarpon Flies
CRAB INVERTED HOOK PATTERNS
Crab flies have been responsible in the upturn in the number of anglers catching Permit. Crab flies are also worth while for targeting , stripped bass, tarpon and other fish who prey on crabs. Hatches of crabs cause feeding frenzies. Stripers go mad when they find small calico crabs, some not bigger than the coin in your pocket, along the coast of new England. These crab flies are not just for use in warmer waters. The best way to success is to try and match the color of your local crabs and they must be made of a soft material to prevent a hard noisy splashdown in the water. Too much noise in shallow water will spook your target fish
The best Permit flies look like, but also act like, a permit’s favorite meal – a small, juicy crab. Crabs don’t try to out swim predators with jaws agape. Instead, they immediately drop to the bottom, claws up defensively and start burrowing as fast as they can for added protection. You need a fly that quickly dives on a slant towards the bottom like and alarmed crab. To catch a permit you must cast aggressively close to the fish. They are a hard fish to catch. For years they were occasionally caught whilst hunting other prey. To succeed you have to be confident and patient. Permit do not go for the attractor patterns that are used for tarpon and bonefish. Permit eat crustaceans and you need to cast crustacean patterns that match the local sea life. You must not give them enough time to examine your fly thoroughly or they will reject it. They have very good eyesight. Do not use the same six to eight foot leader you would use for a tarpon or bonefish. The Permit will only eat a fly that has the look and movement of what it thinks is food.
Your cast has to land inches away from the Permit. Do not be afraid of spooking this fish. If you do spook it you know you are casting in the right area. The Permit will take a fly as soon as it hits their field of vision. As the fly is weighted it should be descending at the correct angle and the movement of the hackle or legs should suggest that your fly is alive. If the silhouette is correct it will give the image of a fleeing animal seeking cover on the bottom. Do not retrieve the fly immediately as a real crab or shrimp will try to hide in the sand and stay motionless trying to hid from a predator. If nothing happens give the fly a small twitch to mimic it trying to hide in the sand and wait before re-casting. Never have slack line. You must always keep contact with your fly as the Permit takes. This fly is an inverted hook pattern. It is designed so that the hook rides above the shank in the water. The idea is that the hook does not get caught on the bottom.
One little tip is to keep your hands clean. These fish have a powerful sense of smell. They can smell crabs and shrimps they cannot see. They can also smell, insect repellent, beer, sunblock, gasoline and aftershave. I wasted a whole days fishing. I was using a lot of sunblock because I did not want to get sunburnt as I had very white English skin that had not seen the sun for five months. I was getting frustrated an being the only one not catching fish when my guide pointed out my error. After I thoroughly cleaned my flies my luck changed. Another tip is to be aware of your location in relation to any coral reefs. There is no excuse to step on live coral and kill thousands of of living organisms. It is too precious. It provides a hiding place and food source from many different fish. A healthy environment leads to good fishing grounds. Another reason for not treading on coral is that it can rip your footwear to pieces and an even better one is that coral cuts fishing line. When you finally hook a fish the last thing you want is for your line to be severed. On my first Bonefish/Permit trip I made the mistake of using a fly rod that reflected the sun. It spooked the fish again and again. I now use a dark matt carbon rod with no shiny parts. Fish that are very prone to aerial predator attack get very spooky.
WHERE TO FIND PERMIT
I have found the best location for catching permit is in the Ascension Bay area of the Yucatan Peninsula. There are some large ones but most are smaller. If it is your first time trying to catch permit this would be the place I would recommend. For good chances at large permit around the 20 pound mark then try Belize. For a chance of big permit of 25 pounds and over then go to the Florida Keys from the southern end of Biscayne bay all the way down to Key West
STING RAY TIP
When ever you see a ray swimming near by it is always worth casting just behind it. Even if you cannot see any following bonefish they will follow in its wake. The movement of the Rays wings as they glide over the surface disturb the sea bed and dislodges shrimps and crabs. The bonefish and permit love an easy meal.
BLACK DRUM FISHING
A really big North American Gulf Coast. crab eating fish is called the Black Drum. It is a thick scaled bottom feeder, known in Texas as just a ‘drum’. It shares the red fish’s basic build and habit making large underwater noises whilst mating. It is identified by barbells on the chin and the absence of the red drums tail spot. The red fish looks an attractive fish where as the black drum is the opposite. It is notoriously hard to take on the fly, but the beauty about the black drum is its size. In the North American Gulf area there are lots of 50 pounders swimming just off shore and they can grow up to 100 pound. The only way I have been able to catch these monster fish is with crab imitations.
Permit has been called the holy grail of fly fishing. They are reflective and light absorbing at the same time. Their silver sides are like mirrors but their back, tail and fins are gray to sooty black. Many anglers don’t hook a permit the first time they try for one. A lot return home empty handed even after a second and third days fishing. They are haunted by the memory little dark tails and fins mocking them just out of casting range. Anglers who manage to catch one become the focus of envy by others at the fishing lodge. The most annoying thing to happen is when a novice fly fisher returns from a Bonefish trip having unintentionally hooked a permit and they announce, “I thought Permits were hard to catch!”
They are one of the most challenging fly rod sport fish. They live in places where the water is crystal clear. You see every fish you cast to. You might have to stalk the same fish for some time before you can send out your first cast. You must try and get it perfect because you may not get another one. This long range target casting can be very demanding. Long casts are the norm as it is hard to get close to your target Permit. A fly that is allowed to fall or glide to the bottom in front of a patrolling or tailing Permit will often produce a strike. As the fly touches the bottom I give the line one or two very short sharp strips. The motion is like a crab digging in to hide. If you can get the fly flicking up debris it is even more realistic. If the fish picks up your fly set your hook but if he ignores it do not retrieve your fly until the permit has past.
These fish have very good eye sight and excellent hearing. They are unpredictable in mood and direction. They are constantly on the move. A feeding cruising permit will cover a large area in a relatively short period of time. You must wade softly but quickly whilst watching the permit. If you take your eyes of it, even for a second, it can disappear never to be seen again. Permit often travel and feed in schools. You may be able to see all the fish but sometimes you may only see one and make the mistake of casting for the one you can see and dropping your line over the backs of the submerged ones. You will only do this once as your reward will be an explosion of water as the permit vanish. You must use polarized sun glasses and study the surrounding water. I am a catch and release supporter but I am told that looking at the contents of a Permit’s stomach will not help you work out what they are eating. Permit do not have teeth. They have crushers in the back of their mouths. These crushers turn everything they eat into a fine mush. Their main food are crabs but they also eat shrimp, minnows and urchins. The fish act in a different way depending on what they are feeding on. Permit tailing are crab hunting, whilst ones that are cruising are bait fish hunting. A good Permit fly fishing guide will be able to tell you what fly to use in each circumstance.
To make the most of your precious time (and money) when on the water you must practice and practice casting. You want to aim to get your fly in the space of a large dinner plate 60 feet away again and again in different wind conditions. If you do not live near water go to a local park. You may get some strange looks but your skill will improve so you can place a fly accurately. You can then start feeding permit. If you play golf you practice so you do not look such an idiot the next time you play a round. The same applies with fishing for permit. Permit do not only eat crabs. They like to eat shrimp. If you cast a shrimp pattern into the path of a permit, allow it to settle then start to slowly strip it away. As the permit notice the movement and home in for the kill speed up the retrieve to imitate a shrimp fleeing for its life. A crazy charlie is an ideal choice of fly. Match the colour to that of the sea bed.
When out fishing for bonefish look for 'Permit Mud'. What am I talking about? Sand and silt is kicked up into suspension when a group of bonefish root along the bottom searching out food. They 'color' the water along the area of the beach. The water looks all cloudy. 'Permit mud' is a great indicator of activity and an easy way of locating permit. Cast your fly into this location.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – Casting on the flats
"Bonefish 40 feet 3 o'clock moving left". If you have been saltwater flats bonefish and permit fishing and have had problems getting the fly in front of a moving fish that has been pointed out by your guide, read on. The guide has done his job by finding you the elusive fish from his elevated position and punted you within casting distance. Now all you have to do is land your fly in front of its face quickly without spooking these very jumpy fish. You have to get your casting skill to a level where you can deliver the fly using two false casts or better still a single. Find an old plank and put it on top of a small log. Balance on the plank to mimic casting on a boat. Get a friend to roll a trash can lid, large plastic plate, or hoop in front of you and try to hit it. If you do this in your front yard or local park you may get some funny looks but your skill level will increase so you do not waste the time you spend on the water. Last time I did this in a park I had people come up to me and ask if they could have a go as it looked like a lot of fun.
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