Hat trick. Triple-double. Grand slam. No matter the sport, there’s a special language reserved for the transcendent moments, when it all comes together—sometimes seemingly against the odds—and you finish the day with so much more than you expected at the outset. We rarely set out with anything like a grand slam in mind, but the beauty of the flats is that endless expanses of sand and mangrove, reef and turtle grass will always surprise you when you least expect it. Perhaps it starts with a bonefish caught with its pants down on the sand. Then a laid-up tarpon that didn’t know it wanted to eat a fly that day until you put one three inches from its face. At that point, what do you have to lose? The tide is right, the rays are on the prowl, and there’s a certain flat where you know, at the very least, you’ll get a shot at a permit. You may get the grand slam, or you may simply come close. At least it’s not ending in a shutout.
They’re there and then they’re not. Tailing, cruising, happily hoovering up every fly you put in their path—then looking at you like you’re crazy to expect them to eat that silly concoction of feathers and fur. We love bonefish because, if the flats are a world where bringing you’re A-game is a requirement for entry, they will occasionally settle for your B-game, (and, let’s be honest, sometimes your C-game), and it’s hard not to feel a special kind of affection for a fish like that. A happy bonefish is like a great teacher: they see mistakes as opportunities, as if to say, “You know, that was actually a pretty poor cast. Why don’t you try again? Practice makes perfect after all!” Thank you, Mr. Bonefish. I’ll do my best not to let you down with this next one.
PERFECT SETUP | BONEFISH
Bonefish are almost like a Henry’s Fork Rainbow or Delaware Brown Trout – they can be real picky – but once you figure out what they’re eating and how they want it, they quickly become your best friend. The SALT R8 890-4 is a go-to bonefish rod with enough power to fight a strong crosswind, but plenty of sensitivity for delicate presentations in skinny water. Paired with an ENFORCER 7/8 and RIO Elite Bonefish WF8F fly line, this setup is ideal for the ghosts of the flats.
What is it about permit? No other fish has garnered so much attention while offering up so little of itself. And yet we keep coming back, day after day, telling stories about just seeing permit as if seeing them is the whole point, and catching them is just an afterthought. But, of course, it’s not just an afterthought. Because feeding a permit—making the cast, bumping the fly past its nose, seeing the pregnant pause and dip—is truly one of the pinnacles of our sport. Permit may not care how realistic the tie is or how precise the cast. But they’re open for business and humble pie is on the menu, with the very occasional side of redemption, and damn, it sure tastes good.
PERFECT SETUP | PERMIT
“This is my go-to rod for Permit hands down. The SALT R8 990-4 has a plenty of power to send a seventy-foot cast into the wind for sure, but the most attractive aspect is that it loads quickly for that short thirty foot shot when a fish just appears out of the glare late in the day. The SALT R8 has a powerful butt section which comes in handy for fighting fish and picking up massive amounts of line off the water for a quick second shot. And with the softer tip, it will deliver your fly with a delicate presentation - imperative to successful Permit fishing. The SALT R8 990-4 rod has a very impressive casting range - from 25 feet out to 80 feet with ease. On this rig I'm usually fishing a 16’ leader and a crab pattern paired with an ENFORCER 9/10 reel - set for most encounters.” - Matt McCannel, Palometa Club
"Margaritaville" with the guide’s whisper-yell of directions as accompaniment; the smooth flow of the push pole followed by the briny explosion of silver scales. Permit may be maddening, but at least they provide plenty of quiet space within which one can process the frustration. Tarpon afford no such calm. A passing string, though outwardly silent, may as well be a freight train for all the cacophony pressing in on your brain. The soundtrack to tarpon is a genre all its own. Press play and let the good times roll.
PERFECT SETUP | TARPON
Tarpon fishing requires a delicate balance between sensitive touch and brute strength. Enter the SALT R8 1190-4. Sensitive up top and pure power down low, the 11 weight SALT R8 is the ideal stick when targeting the Silver King. Paired with a THERMO 10-12 and RIO Elite Tarpon WF11F fly line, this setup is perfectly tuned for Tarpon fishing on the flats.