Skip to main content
Permit On The Fly, Trachinotus falcatus

Permit on the fly: Permit, Trachinotus falcatus, utilizes a wide range of habitat types throughout their life-history. They are found throughout the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and as far north as Massachusetts in the Western Atlantic. Although popular as a game fish and harvested throughout their range, little is known of their population status due to a paucity of information on their basic life-history parameters, spatial distribution, movement and spawning behavior. We are currently examining the spatial and temporal dynamics of permit. Photo credit University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, FL 33149-1031. Email:

Looking back, it’s still Trachinotus falcatus that eludes

Skip Clement, New Zealand.

By Skip Clement

More than one game fish qualifies as a fish of a thousand casts, not just the steelhead trout that earned the early title. Those who beat the proverbial bushes all day hoping to get even an acknowledgment like a tail bite from a steelhead qualify for nothing mentionable except a consoling sip or two of a fine malt beverage.

Those who have caught steelhead streamside or permit on a sandy bottom saltwater flat on a fly are regal anglers among us. Nothing, except a marlin caught on a fly, has earned a résumé worth mention at the lodge cocktail hour or job interview to become a FBI agent.  

Yet, in all fairness, other fly fishers, who will never be regal in any sense of the word, are worthy players because they support the still beautiful habitats in which their tormentors choose to confound us.

I’ve never ‘landed’ a permit on the flats  

I admit to being in the ‘other fly fishers’ category because, in 75 years of fly fishing, I’ve never ‘landed’ a permit on the flats.

Catching them over wrecks with fast sinking lines on 12-weights, wire bite guards, not International Game Fish Association [IGFA] rigged, and random GPS sweeps do not qualify as regally done.

However, who would not wish for a bar room brawl in open water with a 40-pound [Trachinotus falcatus] sewer cover that has a 90 HP rated forked tail?

NOTE 1: If you caught a permit on the flats with a fly but were not IGFA rigged, you do not qualify. In some camps, you are not even considered to be fishing if you are not IGFA compliant.  I’m not making that up.

Permit flies for fly fishing

Del Brown’s permit crab pattern is called the Merkin, it was designed by him and remains one of the most popular permit flies, holding the reputation of Del having landed more permits with the fly than any other angler ever recorded. The Merkin is a yarn crab style and plays the first violin chair as a bonefish fly. Image screenshot of Del’s Merkin Crab as tied by Charlie Craven for Intheriffle. For tying instructions, click here . . .

Some top IGFA permit-on-a-fly record holders. The distinction does not tell between anywhere and on the flats, the pinnacle of achievement

Line class~weight~location~date caught~Angler

12lb ~ 24lb ~ Key West, FL ~ 2004 ~ Diana Rudolph [Read more]

8lb ~ 41lb,8oz ~ Key West, FL ~ 1986 ~ Del Brown [Creator of the Merkin Crab]

12lb ~ 36lb,8oz ~ Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas ~ 1993 ~ Carl Navarre, Jr. 

NOTE 2: Several competing permit catches were recorded in the 2013 ‘IGFA World Record Game Fishes.’ That would include:

  • All Tackle 60lb ~ Brazil/2002   
  • Line Class [Conventional Tackle] 56lb,3oz ~ FT Lauderdale, FL/1997
  • Tippet Class [Fly Fishing] See above
  • Junior & Smallfry 48lb,12oz ~ Delray Beach, FL/2017

NOTE 3: All Trachinotus falcatus World records on a fly were caught in the Florida Keys except for one in the Bahamas. Also, with a new children’s category, catches are reported on the coast of Florida, being in the 40lb class. All assumed offshore wreck caught. 

Ruben Martin's epoxy crab

Ruben Martin’s epoxy crab has features that get the fly down, seats properly, and when twitched to escape it makes the proper mimic to attract an eat. Click here if you want to tie this pattern.

Where and when? Ask the pros

The florida keysKey West permit fly fishing contacts:

  1. Tom Rowland

Interesting Podcast ~ Tom interviews Dr. Mike Larkin

‘Mike Larkin, Ph.D., is a fisheries biologist and knows much about why tarpon behave the way they do. We go over his research, including tracking tarpon and how we can use that information to become better anglers. We learn why tarpon rolls, where to look for them, their biological history, and much more. If you like what Mike had to say, be sure to subscribe to the podcast because we have multiple episodes with him coming soon.’ — Tom Rowland

Permit ilustration

Permit illustration by award-winning watercolorist Thom Glace. Visit his site here . . .

2. World Angling ~ Will Benson

‘It’s never easy to explain the love of fishing and being on the water. The passion we share for the sport, and the reasons we obsess about it are as crystal clear as the waters we navigate. The subtleties of nature, the comedy of frustration and the joy of shared success with our best friends provides a feeling that can’t be expressed in words. World Angling’s mission is to attempt to capture and ‘‘share these experiences – those moments that inspire and feed the passion.’ — Will Benson

Fly Fish Bahamas Yellow Dog Fly Fishing

Fly Fish Bahamas Yellow Dog Fly Fishing logo


Giant Abaco permit on the fly on the Bahamas

Abaco permit. Photo credit Yellow Dog.

Bahamas permit fly fishing contact:

Yellow Dog Fly Fishing  – 21 choices in the Bahamas

The Bahamas islands comprise a 100,000 square mile archipelago that covers more than 500 miles of clear, pristine water and a gigantic network of unspoiled flats that form the country’s main angling attraction. Fish for The Big Three — bonefish, tarpon, and permit — along with barracuda, sharks, mutton snapper, mangrove snapper, and jack crevalle. With gin-clear waters and endless flats with hard white sand bottoms, the Bahamas are among the best locations in the world for sight fishing and wade fishing.

Abaco Lodge back better than ever

One of the nicer overall operations in the Bahamas, Abaco Lodge is the perfect destination for those seeking “just a little more” from a saltwater fishing lodge. Strategically located in the highly productive Marls area on the eastern side of Abaco, this high-end lodge offers immediate access to an extensive and well-protected flats system loaded with unbelievable numbers of bonefish. With exquisite furnishings, a top-notch executive chef, and secluded rooms, Abaco Lodge is hands down one of the most beautiful establishments of its kind anywhere in the Bahamas.







Author Skip

More posts by Skip

Leave a Reply