Crab flies like the McCrab fly pattern 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.
INVERTED HOOK CRAB PATTERNS. Hook size 6 & 4 - $US each
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.
When luck is on your side and your guide has spotted a permit off the wing of a ray, it almost doesn't matter what fly you throw. The permit is looking for almost anything that the ray disturbs off the sand. That is my most productive tactic. One time, in Abaco, I had on a shrimp pattern, "King of Abaco" while plying for bones, and lo and behold, here came a ray with a permit just off its wing. I thought the ray that the guide was excited about was a rock, closer to the boat. Finally, I saw the ray and permit, roll cast the shrimp, and I never saw anything swim so fast at the fly. In the excitement, I did not slowly strip the line tight as the permit sucked it in and spit it out in one heartbeat. The guide fortunately, is a very patient man. Such is permit fishing. - Chris Travis
GOOGLE+ READER'S COMMENT
I have caught a ton of Redfish and Snook on this crab pattern. I do a lot of sight casting for redfish in 6 to 12 inches of water and we throw 3 feet in front of the school and just before the fish get there we use 3 short strips. - Capt Jim Lemke, Tampa, Florida, USA
FACEBOOK READER'S COMMENT
Crabs are weighted so it can sink quickly to bottom when you spot an approaching permit. Permit will take a live crab floating in current, but rarely an imitation not on the bottom. If imitation hits bottom a few feet in front of searching permit, you have a shot! If he goes by and does not eat, give the tiniest twitch. Clear intermediate line. Flats boat. Chris Simonds, Eastern USA