Albula vulpes is one of about 15 different species of bonefish found in the world, but is the most prolific in the Caribbean and surrounding Atlantic. The information here can be applied to nearly every species.
The members of the Albulidae family of fishes, or Bonfish, as they are more commonly known, are one of, if not the most sought after species on the flats with a fly rod. The silver torpedo shaped fish with variably colored vertical stripes ranges in size from 2-19 pounds, with the average fish caught being between 3 and 16 pounds (depending on location).
There are many other words often associated with fly fishing for Permit but they will be excluded to keep profanities off the site. To quote a professional fly fisherman in the Miami area who's name and expletives are intentionally left out "after all these years, I'm done with that fish". He literally quit fishing for Permit after over 7 years of frustration but he really didn't. He caught his first Permit on a fly in July 2012.
Quitters never win and winners never quit. One of the flyfishbonehead staff members fished for 3 years and spent over $10,000 before landing his first Permit on a fly. Many ask how this can be if there are so many photos and instruction on how to fly fish for Permit. Actually many Permit are caught on live crabs with a spin rod and a much of the published information is just speculation, propagated rumor and scuttlebutt. There is some good information out there and fisherman that have significant success, but much information is hear-say and rumor.
The Giant Trevally a fish of many names is quickly becoming a premier target to hunt on the flats. It is an incredibly strong and ferocious reef fish that is aggressive and deliberate when hunting and takes no prisoners. It is a large member of the jack family and is also known as the Giant Kingfish, Pacific Jack Fish, Goyan Fish, Lowly Trevally, Barrier Trevally, Ulua in Hawaii, Mamulan in the Marianas, Rōnin-aji in Japan and just plain GT for short.
The Milkfish is a lesser known species primarily because of its appearance in the world but is gaining popularity as a fly fishing target species for its fight, willingness to eat a fly and feeding habits. Milkfish is an Indo-Pacific ocean species that is vey similar to a bonefish in many ways. They are a little skittish, very fast, very strong and they eat flies.
Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) (aka Dorado, Dolphin, Lampuga, Lampuki, Lapuki, Maveriko) If you're interested in catching super-strong, beautiful, not-too-choosy, leaping fish, here ya go. These are the saltwater equivalents of bluegills, except they jump, and they get big. Like as big as your aging retriever. The common English name "dolphin" causes much confusion and lots of hand-wringing. Let's be clear: this fish is not related to the marine mammal also known as dolphin (family Delphinidae).
General Information If not already fishing for tuna on the fly, we'll just ask....Why not? This is a serious Saltwater fly fisherman's target. It's big, hits your fly at 40 mph (75 kph) and is found in just about every fishing destination you could possibly think of. Tuna are incredibly beautiful and powerful predators that come is many many different flavors too: Bluefin, Blackfin, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Longtail, Dogtooth
This is the fastest fish in the ocean!
Individual Sailfish have been clocked at speeds over 70 mph which is the highest speed reliably reported in any water creature. Sailfish are two species of billfish, the Atlantic Sailfish and the Pacific Sailfish and live in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world.
There is no fight like the fight of a Marlin. This is the prized fish of most saltwater anglers all over the world. They span almost all of the waters of the globe and can be caught by a variety of methods at various times of year in many diverse places. Marlin fishing is considered by some game fishermen to be the pinnacle of offshore game fish, due to their power, size and the relative rareness. It is an expensive hobby, requiring considerable money to pursue on a regular basis, single day of Marlin fishing can cost over $1000. They are possibly the most well-known fish in the entire world which probably accounts for millions of dollars in commerce spent hunting them. The novel by Ernest Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea" chronicles the struggle of a Marlin fisherman who after 85 days of failure, ventures out to sea to change his luck and catch a Marlin. Hemmingway frequently fished for Marlin, quite successfully with his family. The Marlin is the largest of the billfish and comes in many variations: Pacific Black Marlin Pacific Blue Marlin Atlantic Blue Marlin White Marlin Striped Marlin
Bonefish and Smaller Species
Bonefish can be caught on a 6-8 weight. Most commonly used an 8 weight because most people have one, many prefer a 6 weight because its more fun to use little tackle in general. Again as long as wind is not an issue this is certainly ok. Use a floating line with at least 200 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9-15 feet long with at least a 10 lb tippet. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Small shrimp & crab patterns work well
Fishing for permit requires a 9-10 weight rod. We almost always use a 10 weight, mainly because it is very rare that there is no wind. You don’t want to miss a fish because you couldn’t punch your fly through the wind. Why take a chance. The extra lifting power of a 10 weight will also give you an advantage when trying to keep a hooked fish from getting into coral or diving into a deep channel. Anglers need a floating line and at least 300 yards of backing on your reel. Leader should be 9-15 feet with at least 12 lb tippet (we use 16-20 lb). The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which simply means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Small crabs with lots of movement
Giant Trevally (GT) & larger inshore species
Giant Trevally require a 12 weight. A 12 weight for the added lifting power & greater control increasing chances of landing the fish. It will also eliminate wind as a factor as even a novice caster has little difficulty punching a 12 line through the wind. You MUST have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means means tested & proven. It is vital to successful GT fishing. Your GT reel should have the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance Use a specialty floating line which has a braided 50 lb core. We also recommend 400 yards of 60 lb backing, you’ll need it. Leaders should be 6-9 feet with at least a 60 lb shock tippet. Our most popular is a 6 foot (2meter) piece of 60 lb. fluorocarbon with no taper. Just tie the fly right on.
GT Poppers – all white GT Baitfish & Streamers
Milkfish (& Queenfish) require a 10 -12 weight, use a 12 weight for the milkfish & a 10 for the queenfish. Queenfish put up a great fight but are usually acrobatic giving the angler a chance to gain line easily. A saltwater reel with a sealed drag made for saltwater fishing. Which is ‘bomb-proof” which to us means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance Clear floating lines are best and an intermediate sinking line is very useful to have if there is significant current or the fish are deeper in the water column feeding. Leaders should be 9 – 12 feet with anywhere from 15-20 lb tippet. Fluorocarbon is highly recommended when fishing for milkfish in crystal clear Christmas Island waters.
Milkfish Algae flies Milkfish Small crustaceans
Offshore fishing for billfish, mahi-mahi & tuna usually involves a 12 -15 weight. We prefer a 7 foot – 14 weight and there are some which even have a butt suitable for gimbel use. Again because we are all about control of the fish and landing the fish quickly which decreases mortality and injury after release. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. A ‘bomb-proof” proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
small minnow patterns like surf candy & eat me Marlin/sailfish: Poppers, Baitfish-mackerel & sardine patterns.
OTHER GEAR THATS NICE TO HAVE
Sun block (SPF30 minimum)
Copper or amber colored polarized sunglasses
Sun protection clothing: long sleeve shirt long quick dry pants breathable buff style headgear, hat or visor (with black brim on underside if possible) Wading boots with gravel guards.
fanny pack for wading
camelback or cool sac
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