Top 5 Crab Patterns When Fly Fishing for Permit
Thanks to Josh Graffam from Umpqua Feather Merchants for writing this post
Permit fishing is often described as both the most frustrating and most rewarding pursuit in all of fly fishing. With their huge eyes and massive nostrils, they patrol the edges of the flat, deliberately eating and exploring the bottom. At the end of the day anglers can describe every interaction, every sighting and at the end of most days they are counting the numbers of shots, sniffs, and looks rather than the number of fish they have landed. Because these fish are so challenging, anglers search constantly for something they can control in the pursuit. The most frustrating situation is when the fish rushes the fly, looks multiple times, and eventually refuses the fly. This scenario happens over and over and can send anglers into a downward spiral. Searching for the right fly becomes an obsession but with so few positive outcomes it can be hard to gain confidence in your pattern.
There are numerous permit destinations around the world, each location has its own set of unique situations and challenges. Here are a set of flies that you would never want to leave home without, regardless of the location. These are time proven patterns that have had success in every major fishery in the world.
Bauer Flats Crab
If you have been to Belize, you are very familiar with this fly. Generally fished in smaller sizes, 4 or 6, and in either Tan or Olive. This classic pattern mimics the small crabs that inhabit the pancake coral flats of central and southern Belize. Originally designed by Will Bauer fishing with his favorite guide Lincoln Westby, they are a must have in any permit anglers’ box.
Indo Pacific permit may be the coolest looking permit in the world, glowing yellow, swimming against bright white sand of the Indian ocean. The guides on Alphonse Island in the Seychelles designed a crab that has quickly become one of the most coveted permit flies. Alec Gerbec’s Aphlexo crab has a flexible tube body that allows it to keep the crab shape but sink at a quicker rate without as much weight. This crab has proven deadly in most of the major permit destinations and is one of the most challenging to tie.
Dropping quickly and resting on the bottom in a defensive position, this pattern can get swallowed up by a permit on the first cast. This is the kind of fly that I want to place right on the eye of the fish and pray I don’t spook it. If you can place this big clawed fighting crab right in the hoop, this fly will sink quickly just like a real crab trying to hide in the bottom and the permit tend to pin it down hard. Eddie Wyatt developed this crab to get noticed quickly with its oversized claws and painted tips.
Rag Head Crab
This is one of those tried and true classics that you cannot travel without. The original pattern is tied in tan with short white legs. These days you can find this pattern from size 2-8 and in a few different colors to match your bottom situation. This pattern is smaller, compact, has heavy lead eyes, it’s meant to get in front of that permit quickly when they are head down tails up. While not the flashiest, most realistic pattern out there, this one straight produces.
Drew Chicone designed a true must have combining, scotch brite pads, square legs, and large mono eyes, he gave it a great paint job and made one of the ultimate permit snacks. This crab has a realistic profile, with a sleek profile, getting down quickly in the permit zone. One of the keys to this fly is the balance of the weight, legs and claws, this fly plummets to the bottom evenly, hook up, so that when it rests there it can be stripped along the bottom sideways, just like a real crab.
Find all of these permit flies and more in our Bozeman Fly Shop