Going For the Grand Slam

Nothing rewarding in life comes easy, which is why catching a permit, bonefish and tarpon—in a single day—remains one of saltwater fly-fishing’s ultimate goals.

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Permit, bonefish and tarpon in a single day

Most saltwater fly-fishers have caught bonefish. Some have tamed the mighty silver king. And these days, with advances in tackle and tactics, a lot of people are catching permit on the fly. But how many can claim they’ve caught all three on a fly, in a single day?

For many saltwater anglers the “ Flats Grand Slam” is a benchmark moment in their fishing careers, deserving of high-fives all around. To achieve the slam, and the acknowledgment that comes with it, requires two significant elements: plenty of patience and a solid dose of luck.
Going for the grand slam is all about delegating time. If you are going to catch each species you’ll need to target them methodically.

Permit are the princesses of the ocean and also the most problematic of the “Big Three” flats species. They spend their days hanging around beautiful coral reefs, then flood onto the flats to dine on crabs and other forage. They are highly spooky and can quickly spit out flies. Once hooked, permit often saw off an angler’s leader on sharp coral heads.

Our best advice for permit is to make friends with the wind. Most of our successful permit days involve less than ideal conditions, when the wind runs 12 to 18 knots. Casting can be problematic at best and the fish can be difficult to spot with chop on the water. For those reasons, when going for the slam we always target permit first.

Unlike permit, most tarpon are quite willing to eat a well presented fly, and while accuracy is very important, you often cast to an area, trying to intercept a fish, rather than casting directly to it.

Bonefish are the easiest of the Big Three to catch. But, for some reason they never seem to show up when you need them most, for instance, just after you’ve landed an permit and tarpon and now can’t seem to find a bonefish anywhere. Your guide may run to one spot, then quickly another, and repeat that process multiple times, trying desperately to get you a fish. At this point, size doesn’t matter—they all count as one.

If you’re looking for your first grand slam, visit destinations that have awesome permit fishing. Why? Well, it’s simple; permit are difficult to catch wherever you are, so picking a spot that is permit focused helps stack the odds in your favor.

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