Feb 1st, 2020
Permit are widely considered the most challenging and frustrating species anglers can target with a fly. Likewise, the anglers most devoted to their pursuit tend to occupy a space where the lines between sanity and madness are at best blurred. As legendary author and angler Thomas McGuane wrote, “The most successful permit angler has very few catches to describe to you.” Anyone who has spent time targeting permit will have stories of incomprehensible refusals, days with a complete lack of opportunities, as well as those magic moments when skill and luck combine to make an indelible experience larger than the sum of its parts. Fly fishing for permit is the ultimate saltwater flats sightfishing challenge and the following destinations will put you in the game. Are you ready?
In 1997, iconic Belizean fly fishing guide Lincoln Westby started Blue Horizon Lodge on Northeast Caye. For decades Blue Horizon Lodge was the destination for hardcore permit anglers looking to fish the famed flats of central and southern Belize. Over the years, Lincoln and his guides developed into some of the most experienced and skilled permit guides found anywhere in the world. With literally thousands of permit landed out of Lincoln’s skiff over the years, Lincoln’s knowledge of his home waters and the fish that inhabit them are legendary.
The Garbutt brother’s fishing lodge is located in the small village of Punta Gorda near Belize’s southern border with Guatemala. Scully, Eworth and Oliver Garbutt are master permit hunters and focus on the prolific waters of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. This rich, 847 square kilometer network of lagoons, islands, reefs and flats provide for some of the most diverse and little pressured permit grounds found anywhere in the world.
For years Turneffe Flats has been known as one of the Caribbean’s premier saltwater fly fishing destinations. The diversity of their saltwater flats fishing sets them apart from other destinations and the opportunity to catch bonefish, permit and tarpon on a given day makes Turneffe Flats one of the rare spots to pursue a “Flats Grand Slam,” the landing of all three species in a single day.
Jardines de la Reina is a remote archipelago of islands lying some 50 miles off the southern coast of the Cuban mainland. This is a protected marine area with a limited number of catch and release anglers, divers and eco-tourists allowed to visit annually. The habitat here is pristine and untouched, enabling bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda, jacks and snapper to flourish. With a total fishing area greater than the Florida Keys, anglers are given a large area per skiff to fish, ensuring that they rarely see other fishermen.
Located on a ten mile long white sand beach on a small private island in the heart of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve just south of Ascension Bay Mexico, Playa Blanca is uniquely situated to access the fertile and seldom fished waters of the Bahia Del Espiritu Santo. The fishery centers on sight fly fishing for permit, bonefish, and juvenile tarpon but snook, snapper, jacks and barracuda are also present.
La Pescadora is a small, family run operation located in Punta Allen on the Yucatan’s famed Ascension Bay. With a maximum capacity of only 8 anglers, La Pescadora is the perfect option for those seeking a casual, affordable and family-run home base for accessing the vast populations of bonefish, permit and tarpon of Ascension Bay. Together with her husband and head guide Jose, lodge manager Lily Bertram offers a welcoming and budget friendly operation that works with some of our favorite guides on the Yucatan.
Please give us a call at 800.552.2729 or send us a message HERE if you’d like to chat more about any of the destinations above!
When fishing for permit, of utmost importance is the ability to deliver the fly quickly and accurately. Given that the flies are typically weighted and that the wind is usually blowing to some degree, a powerful rod is necessary; we prefer a fast action 9-weight. Of equal importance is the fly line. Presentations to permit can be at distances of 50+ feet, so having a weight forward fly line with a head long enough to control line at this distance is key. The other benefit to a fly line with a long head is that an angler is able to pickup long lengths of line for repositioning the fly. For reels, a saltwater-ready reel with reliable, adjustable drag is necessary. Long, tapered leaders ending in 12 to 16 pound fluorocarbon are the remaining ingredient to a good permit setup. Working together with our friends at Sage and RIO Products, we’ve put together this customized setup to ensure your success.
Fly Water Favorite Permit Setup:
• Rod: 9′ 9-weight Sage IGNITER (990-4)
• Reel: Sage SPECTRUM MAX 9/10
• Line: RIO Products DirectCore Permit WF9F
• Leader: RIO Products Saltwater Leader, 10′ 16lb
• Tippet: RIO Products Saltwater Fluoroflex, 12 – 16 lb
Fish Globally and Shop Locally – Find Your Local Fly Shop
Fly Water Travel encourages our clients to support their local fly shop. To find a shop near you, click the link below or give us a call for a recommendation at (800) 552-2729.