By Zach Lazzari
Saltwater anglers can go crazy inventing different styles but a few basic staples will catch fish around the globe. Baitfish varieties, crabs, shrimp and squid are some of the most prolific food sources in the ocean and adjusting classic patterns to imitate the regional sizes and colors will produce fish just about anywhere.
The classic Clouser minnow is incredibly versatile. You can adjust the sizes and colors to match specific baitfish or go with combinations of pink and white or chartreuse and white as attractors. The dumbbell eyes help to get the fly down quickly, making it a valuable pattern for heavy surf and situations that require depth in a hurry.
Similar to the Clouser in some ways, this pattern is either tied with dumbbell eyes for weight or with bead chain eyes to fish on a sandy bottom like those found in the flats. The simple combination of flash and wing creates a deadly pattern for the flats, surf and for fishing through structure. The fly works everywhere and is flat out deadly for a large variety of species.
If you want a reliable baitfish pattern, look no further. Deceivers are simple to tie and they have a ton of action in the water. The saddle hackles give it swimming action while the bucktail forms a great baitfish profile. Add eyes and an epoxy head if desired or fish it with a simple thread head. This pattern will catch the predators like Jack Crevalle, Roosterfish and Dorado. It’s a light fly and fishing with a sinking line will help penetrate the water.
This pattern is pretty ugly to the human eye but fish flat out love it. The Tarpon Toad is a favorite and is tied on a heavy-duty hook but the original, smaller versions are excellent for bonefish and even permit. Green and yellow is the standard but you can play with colors to find new favorites.
Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp
Shrimp are a major food source for a huge range of target species in saltwater environments. Redfish in Texas, Triggerfish in Mexico, Permit in Belize and many more are keyed into shrimp. Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp is a great pattern to use on sand and grass flats around the world. It’s a hot ticket pattern on many days and is proven around the world. There are plenty of great shrimp patterns around and the most effective often use natural materials with a subtle addition of flash on the underbody.
Permit Crab aka Merkin
The classic permit crab is the go to flats fly for many guides and experienced saltwater anglers. It flat out works and will catch just about every species you cross on the flats. The fly is simple and delivers an incredibly realistic crab imitation that should be in every angler’s fly box. Fish it often on the flats and plan on catching bonefish, permit and anything else swimming with casting range.