On my July trip to the Island of Youth I got to test out some of the great gear available in the fly fishing world today. Saltwater fly fishing for tarpon, bonefish and permit test your gear. The following is a discussion of the gear I used.
SAGE SALT 890-4
The 9ft 8wt Sage Salt Rod is the perfect bonefish and permit rod in my mind. We used heavy flies on our recent trip, the Avalon Fly and EP Descendent Crab with a 12ft leader require a powerful rod that will turn over line, leader and fly with accuracy speed and power. The Sage SALT delivers these qualities beautifully. I think the 890-4 is on the heavier side of an 8wt compared to another favorite the Scott Meridian but on this trip we used the rod more for Permit than bonefish.
Scott Meridian 9ft 10wt
I had a 10wt clear tropical outbound line on rigged on the 10wt Meridian all trip and it was fantastic. The rod is super light in the hand for a power house 10wt. It’s “easy to feel” tip section rockets long casts with larger rabbit and EP tarpon flies. No troubles fighting fish on the Scott 10wt either. Tarpon hooked on rocky reefs required some “pull back to the boat” to keep them on the line and headed to hand. No problem for the Scott Meridian.
I called Kristen Mustad of Nautilus Reels last August and asked him to trick me out a Silver King reel. He sent one in blue with tarpon graphics, red parts and hooker fly holder. I knew I would love it well before it came to me. The Silver King has a mega retrieval rate and while it looks larger than some other 10wt reels it’s not heavier so why not get the retrieval rate and the reduced line memory for a tarpon reel. If you are looking for a reel in the 10-12wt capacity range take a good look at the Silver King. Large drag knob, easy spool release and great looks! I used three other Nautilus reels this trip. The N/V series and CCFX-2 Silver King worked perfectly!
Hatch Tapered Leaders, Tippet and Shock Tippet
We used 9ft 16 and 20 pound Hatch Fluorocarbon Tapered Leaders for Permit. If added length was needed we used 16lbs Hatch Tippet. 60lbs and 80lbs Hatch Shock Tippet formed our larger two part tarpon leaders. Hatch fluorocarbon material cinches down clean and smooth, the outer coating of the material allows knots to tighten completely and form streamline knots. I have been using the Hatch brand material for the last couple of saltwater trips without failure. Good Stuff!
Mastery Titan Taper Intermediate Line
My new favorite tarpon line! The Titan Taper 450 grain was great on my Winston 12wt rod set up for tarpon. We used it both in deeper reef situations and on the flats. The line seems to get down and hold in that mid level “tarpon eat zone” really well. The taper of the line is not so aggressive that it creates a splashy presentation or a super hinge effect when casting.
Patagonia Sunshade Shirt
Patagonia makes a ton of great fishing clothing. This years Sunshade Shirt iteration is has a high UPF rating, great fit and a handy vertical chest pocket for a phone/camera. It was really hot all trip and I fished the Sunshade crew and hoody exclusively. They worked great!
Best Flies -EP Flies
Our EP flies rep has been trying to get me to carry Enrico Puglisi flies for a couple of years now. I fished a few over the years and really liked how the EP fibers shed water and are light to cast. I ordered a bunch for this trip and loved all the flies that we fished.
Shauna’s first cast to a Permit with EP’s Descendant Crab yielded a fish. This unique fly is a realistic crab pattern that reminded me of the successful pattern last year at Cayo Cruz. It’s super durable and super “crabby”, complete with EP Crab Claws. All of the Tarpon flies worked well particularly the Yellow/Chartreuse Bunny pattern. Our guide was adamant that it imitated a bait-fish that was available to Tarpon in the region at this time of year.