Tackle and Technique

Permit

Permit is by far the most difficult, picky, frustrating fish you will encounter on the flats. They have superb eyesight and a well developed sense of smell, some fanatical anglers rumour them to be a higher life form in a fish’s body.

 

Unlike bones permit are excessively finicky about what they eat. They will often charge your offering, only to stop at the last mo- ment and snobbishly refuse. Do not become discouraged. For the fly fisher, permit is considered as the ultimate flats species. The bottom line is, unlike the bonefish (which has an empty stomach for a brain), permit always seem to be immediately suspicious about that little ball of hair and epoxy you’re trying to make look like a crab.

 

Tailing fish are more likely to take a fly but cruising permit are most commonly encountered, so you must be prepared to place the fly well in front of the fish, allow it to settle to the bottom and patiently wait. When the permit is several feet from the fly “scoot” the fly along the bottom in a slow, deliberate, crab like fashion and then stop the fly completely. This will be the moment of truth be- cause the fish will either turn on the offering or proceed as though the fly simply never existed.

 

If the permit appears uninterested, you must possess enough selfcontrol to attempt to persuade the fussy critter into reconsidering your offering. At this point, do not begin madly stripping the fly liked a crazed bone fisherman – think like a terror stricken crab and slowly retrieve the fly as if it is trying to inch its way out of the per- mit’s vicinity. The trick is to try to keep the fish interested, catching it’s attention and then leaving the fly motionless. The majority of the time, permit prefers to take a motionless fly.

 

TACKLE FOR PERMIT

Rods | Should be the same as aforementioned bonefish recom- mendation but a bit heavier to handle larger flies and fish. The ideal permit rod is 9 or 10 wt.

Reels | Those listed for bonefish should fare well against permit, but make sure to have at least 200 yards of 20lb backing.

Lines | In most case, a floating line will suffice because most per- mit flies are heavily weighted.

Tippet/Leader | Again, follow the bonefish guidelines but use a slightly stronger tippet section (12-14lb).

Fly Selection | Permit files are generally larger than bonefish patterns because permit seems to prefer a slightly meatier meal. Although there is much debate over the best permit pattern, the best advice is to stick with one that the guide recommends and endeavour to persevere.

Patterns | Permit have a particular weakness for small crabs (espe- cially live ones) so the majority of the productive patterns are crab imitations. The most productive in the area, are the “Casa Batida’s “crab. Light color, size #2 and #4. Puff patterns #2 to #4 light colour. Many Casa Batida permits have fallen to a bonefish fly as well.

NB: Appropriate Saltwater Tackle is free to borrow!

 

Bonefish

Bones are the most popular and numerous in the line up of flats species. Its attributes include a great eagerness to take flies but they are best known for their astonishing and reel- stressing runs.

 

Bonefish have three basic modes of behaviour, which you are likely to encounter. The angler’s presentation will be determined accordingly:

”Tailing” – While feeding with their snouts buried in the bottom silt, bonefish will often stick waving tails or flash their on the sur- face. As this occurs, the angler can usually cast a fly or lure almost directly on the top of their head without spooking them.

”Mudding” – On the deeper parts of the flats, bonefish will often stir up the bottom as they grub for food. This cloud of mud tends to make the bones feel quite secure and often the angler can catch one after another without spooking the school.

”Cruising” – Are generally the most difficult fish to present a fly
or lure to because they are not necessarily interested in feeding. Cruising bones are much more aware of their surroundings, and extreme care should be taken in presentation. When casting, place your fly well ahead of the fish and let it settle until the fish is right on top of it.

 

TACKLE FOR BONEFISH

Rods | For bonefish, 8 – 9 ft. graphite for a 7-9 weight line.

Reels. Should be anodised, corrosion resistant saltwater models that will hold a full fly line, plus approximately 200 yards of 20lb backing. Reels with high quality, waterproof, smooth drag are es- sential to prevent break-off from the blistering runs of hooked fish.

Fly Lines | Floating weight-forward fly lines are all that are neces- sary. You can try even an intermediate line.

Leaders | Clear 9ft tapered leaders in the 10-12 lb. range are recommended. We cannot emphasise how important is that lead- ers be clear, even at Cayo Santa Maria. Dark leaders lower your chances, especially if you are casting to larger, more wary bonefish. At Cayo Santa Maria, you will usually have the opportunity to cast to many tailing fish. If you are in an area with a lot of tailers, we recommended switching to a 7 weight line or to a 12ft leader with a long 8lb tippet.

Fly Selection, some general guidelines | It is important to match the fly’s overall colour with that of the bottom. The food items that bones prefer are also expert in camouflage and will match to their surrounding perfectly. Then again, there are days when light colours are the only colour that will work. When in doubt, ask your guide for recommendations.

Flies Sink Rate | You will need flies with three sink rates: non- weighted, slightly weighted, heavy. Normally, non-weighted, eyeless patterns are used in the shallow turtle grass; intermediate/ small-eyed flies are used in 1 to 2 feet of water, and heavy flies, 4 to 6 foot of water or when the fish are mudding.

Bonefish Flies | You should consider taking 3 to 5 dozen of the as- sorted flies listed below for a week’s fishing. You need not include all of these. Half should be in size #4 and half in size #6.
Crazy Charlies in light colour (brown, cream, pink, yellow, white), Gotcha (excellent), Mini-puff, Snapping Shrimp, Crab (imitation light colour).

NB: Appropriate Saltwater Tackle is free to borrow!

 

 

Tarpon

Tarpon are the largest, strongest and most acrobatic of the Casa Batida fish. Even juvenile fish will put your angling skills to the test. The tarpon size in Casa Batida range from 15 to 200 lbs. A large number of these fish, especially the mid size, remain in the area throughout the year. Migratory fish begin to show up in the beginning of April and, the number increase significantly from April to August.

 

Most tarpon will be encountered in the tidal channels connecting the flats, in most circumstances, fish are seen rolling and the angler will try to approach within casting distance. In the south of the “cayos” in 4-5 feet of water, tarpon can be found cruising along the shore.

Once cruising or rolling fish have been spotted, it is important to quickly and accurately place the fly in front of the fish’s path. Tarpon are not easily spooked and you can place the fly quite close to them. A distance of about three to five feet is perfect. Allow the fly to sink to the level of the fish and then begin to strip it back with a slow retrieve. This is the moment of truth. If all goes well and the tarpon is in the dining mode, the fish will greedily take the fly, wait until it turns the head before setting the hook. By doing this, the tippet will slide into the corner of the fish’s mouth (the softest part) which theoretically sets you up for the best possible hooking angle. Tarpon have concrete-lined mouths, so a super shark hook is paramount necessary. Correct hook setting will also help put the odds in your favour. Point the rod tip at the fish and firmly set the hook with your stripping hand only. Then keep your rod tip close to the water (to eliminate slack) and pump the rod sideways with short sharp tugs as you pull on the line and the rod simultaneously. This sounds very nice on paper, but if you have not caught one of this giant primeval giant before, the sight of one inhaling your puny fly will turn you into a bumbling ball of nerves.

 

TACKLE FOR TARPON

Rods | The flies you will use are not that big, nor are they heavy, so you will not need a big rod for the fly, it’s for the fish. The ideal rod for Casa Batida is 10wt. From April to August a 12 wt would be better.

Reels | Tough, no-nonsense reels are a must when you are playing tarpon. Anti-reverse, with a strong, reliable drag is a vital. Tarpon reels should hold your line plus at least 200 yards of 30-lb backing.

Lines | Floating lines are generally all that are needed but a inter- mediate- and a sink tip line (T300 to T500 or fast sink head) can be very useful to fish the deep channel.
Leaders and Tippets: Very simple leaders are best. Start with a perfection loop, then 7 feet of 50lb line, finishing with another perfection loop. Attach 24 lb. class tippet with a perfection loop or bimini twist with a loop to loop. Now is the time to attach the shock leader of 80lbs which can be connected with Albright knot or a very simple surgeons loop. Then tie the fly with a perfection loop or Rapala knot.

Flies | A selection of the following should cover you in all condition ( tied in sizes 2/0- 3/0- 4/0), Toads and Tarpon Bunnies, Cockroach, Chico’s Shallow Water Tarpon(burnt orange/grizzly, yellow/grizzly), Stu Apte (Apte Tarpon), Lefty’s Deciver (various color), Deceiver (red/yellow, chartreuse/white), Clouser Minnow (various colour). Popping bugs are very effective all year around.

NB: Appropriate Saltwater Tackle is free to borrow!