Known as “Permit Alley”, the cayes, flats, and reefs of southern Belize are home to the world’s highest concentration of permit. Yellow Dog Flyfishing offers some of the region’s best lodges and guides, solidifying our presence as the pusher of great experiences for someone needing to feed their permit addiction. But you won’t have much chance at the good stuff without packing any of these top five flies for southern Belize.
1. Bauer Crab
Created by the late Will Bauer, the Bauer Crab is an essential crab for any angler heading to Belize. Bauer himself has landed over 100 permit on his namesake pattern. This fly has knotted square rubber legs that face rearward, giving it a realistic silhouette. The square legs also remain still in the water and will not tangle. The fly sinks quickly sit there until the angler wants to give it a twitch or two and is best fished on small, broken, or mixed coral. The black-tailed devils of Permit Alley tend to enjoy the green and gray combo with gray back legs. From Turneffe Atoll south to Punta Gorda, the Bauer Crab is always worth having at the end of your line.
2. Camo Crab
Very similar to the Bauer Crab, the Camo Crab, is a southern Belize staple. Small in size—oftentimes no bigger than a nickel—but big on versatility, the creative folks at SS Flies have created an effective and easy-casting fly. The Camo Crab’s body is of contrasting colors and its legs are round. Tied into the body is SS Flies’ unique weighting system tied in-house at SS Flies. This pattern sinks well and fished with a twitch or two at the right time, any permit angler can have faith this pattern may elicit an eat.
Peter Smith, the owner of SS Flies and the creator of the SS Camo Crab, says the inspiration for the weighting system came after listening to guides fantasize about the ultimate permit crab. He adds: “The button weight makes a quiet plop when it hits the water and balances the fly so it drops quickly without twisting.”
3. McKnight’s Danger Muffin
Not all of Permit Alley’s best patterns were created in southern Belize. Doug McKnight, a renowned fly tier, created the Danger Muffin from his experience chasing permit in the Caribbean. Then he cast the fly to permit in southern Belize…and since anglers and guides have been much happier. Tied with laser-cut synthetic claws designed by Super Fly’s Pat Cohen and then a body of McKnight’s unique blend of deer hair and rabbit fur, the Danger Muffin is designed to swim while being stripped allowing it to stay in the danger zone longer, which means it is more likely to be eaten. This fly can be your wingman anytime for a Belize saltwater flats trip.
4. EP Crab
Enrico Puglisi (EP) is known as a creator of flies that catch fish. His EP Crab is no different. The EP Crab is tied in two variations—a standard and a “micro crab.” The micropattern is best suited for situations when a delicate presentation is required, whereas the traditional EP is larger and heavier and ideal for deeper waters. Tied with Puglisi’s specially crafted and blended “EP fibers” the body’s slightly contrasting colors create a life-like appearance. Both patterns use appropriately matched Sili-legs, providing life-life swimming, or fleeing actions. Guides from Dangriga to Placencia always have plenty of standard or micro EP Crabs for pursuing permit on the fly.
5. Chicone’s Contraband Crab
A potpourri of all the best elements of three popular patterns—Bauer, Scotch-Brite, and McFly—the Contraband Crab is the result of Chicone’s experience chasing permit. The Contraband tweaks the body and legs of a Bauer, it makes more durable the legs on a Scotch-Brite and reduces the overall size of the McFly. The Contraband also uses the Scotch pad to create a realistic texture and look of a mottled crab and the large, central dumbbells help it sink and not rotate on the strip. Lastly, the materials in a Contraband hold color very well and can be modified to a different color if necessary. Permit junkies headed to southern Belize will be thankful for Chicone’s creativity to re-hash three of the best flies out there into one successful pattern.
If you’re new to chasing permit or your affliction is years in the making, choosing the right fly is a giant leap towards wrapping your hand around one of these beautiful fish. Choosing to fish with Yellow Dog Flyfishing at one of our southern Belize destinations is both a good decision and the first step towards a cure for the permit ailment…if you want to be cured.