Casting to schools of bonefish and permit is a bucket list activity for almost every fly fishing angler who dreams of fishing saltwater. Bonefish, ghosts of the flats, are known for being spooky and hard to fool with flies, but once these torpedoes take your fly they give you deep runs.
Permit are even trickier to catch, known to ignore your fly no matter how perfect of presentation. Therefore, before heading out to the flats it is imperative to have an arsenal of flies that are proven to catch fish.
Shrimp are an extremely important food source for bonefish and permit, along with crabs, and having the right patterns can mean a world of difference. Here are a dozen necessary shrimp flies for bonefish and permit.
Yellow Dog’s Top 12 Shrimp Patterns
The Gotcha shrimp is one of the top producing fly patterns for bonefish ever designed and is a staple of flats fly anglers. This pattern comes in a variety of colors and sizes which makes it a fly for any occasion.
#02, 04, 06, 08, 10: Pearl, Pink, Tan/Pearl, Green/Pearl
- Crazy Charlie
The Crazy Charlie was tied by Bob Nauhieim to create a pattern that rides upside down to limit snagging the bottom. Bonefish love this fly and it can be fished in different weights and colors to match water conditions. The fly is tied with plenty of weight to reach the feeding fish.
#2-8: Pink, Tan, White, Chartreuse
- Bonefish Scampi
The Bonefish Scampi was originally tied to target large and picky bonefish in the Bahamas. The rabbit material in the fly provides increased movement that entices fish to take this pattern. The Scampi can be purchased with lead or bead chain eyes for differing depths.
#08- 02: Pink, Tan, Barred Tan, Barred Pink
- Bonefish Junk
The Bonefish Junk is another pattern created for alternate presentations to these finicky fish. This fly creates a larger profile in the water that is easier seen by feeding fish. The rubber legs add to the movement of the pattern as it is stripped through the water as well.
#06, 04, 02: Light, Dark
- Veverka Spawning Mantis Shrimp
Movement is at the center of the Mantis Shrimp’s design. Bob Veverka tied this fly with the intention to make it look alive while in the water. The movement comes from the rabbit fur that pulses at the slightest twitch of the line and the legs that are spaced throughout the body of the fly in the most realistic placement. The fly features spawning colors of pink or orange to further encourage fish to target the pattern. The fly lands softly in the water and sinks quickly, making it a perfect bonefish or permit pattern.
#02- 08: Tan/orange
- EP Spawning Shrimp
Enrico Puglisi’s Spawning shrimp is a must-have addition to the box, It works nearly everywhere and is a tough and durable fly. The pattern comes in a variety of color options and has fantastic movement due to the sili legs and brush.
#4, 1/0: Coyote, Olive, Rootbeer, Tan, Transparent
The Kwan is a versatile pattern for multiple species. While it is a great bonefish pattern, it can also be used for redfish. The lead eyes ensure the fly drops to the bottom, which makes it double as a crab pattern as it can imitate their behavior when they encounter a predator.
#04, 06: Tan
The Squimp acts as a small shrimp pattern that is the main food source for bonefish, but it also is extremely effective when targeting permit. The Squimp works well in shallower water, but it can be tied with lead eyes to increase the depth of presentation.
#08-02: Tan, Orange, Pink
- Lexo’s Pop-Up Shrimp
The Pop-Up shrimp is a multi-species nightmare. This realistic shrimp pattern catches redfish, permit, bonefish, and striped bass—carp even go crazy for this fly. As it settles on the bottom this shrimp stands up and the rubber legs wave in the current, creating a beacon for foraging predators.
#04: Brown, Tan, White
- McKnight’s Crimp
The Crimp is a shrimp-crab hybrid that works well for both bonefish and permit. With a life-like appearance and plenty of action in the water, the Crimp gets the job done on the flats.
- EP Christmas Island
The Christmas Island is a simply tied pattern for tricky bonefish and permit. The fly rides point up for ease of stripping across the bottom. The legs and fibers create a realistic retrieve and it is a great pattern to have in the box.
#08: Pearl/Shrimp Pink, Pearl/Shrimp Tan, Pearl/Transparent
- Beck’s Sili Legs
Beck’s Sili Legs’ key to success is the movement created by the flexible rubber legs used to tie the fly. As it is stripped in the water or moved by the current the legs flex and pulse, giving the fish an appealing visual that imitates their prey. Don’t leave home without this pattern.
#02, 04, 06: Tan, Chartreuse
Take a Trip to the Flats
Flats fly fishing can be an extremely rewarding experience. An angler needs patience, quick presentations, and accurate casts to catch bonefish and permit. Take your newfound knowledge of shrimp patterns and test them in a wide range of tropical waters.
Yellow Dog offers trips to Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Australia, Seychelles, Bahamas, and Cuba in search of trophy bonefish and permit. Yellow Dog can help find the right location for you, no matter if you’re a saltwater veteran or looking to book your first flat’s trip.
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