Line and leader choice is pretty simple when it comes to Permit because these fish are members of Carangidae, the Jack family, and thus swim like any other jack – powerful and fast! So not only are Permit very powerful swimmers by design, they are also one of the largest jacks, growing up to four feet long and 80 pounds. Generally, higher pound-test line than you would normally use inshore or on nearshore reefs will be required if you want to successfully land these big fish. Fortunately, Permit do not have any sharp teeth, so wire leaders are out of the question, and the leader strength is only dependent upon the size of the fish.
Fishing Lines for Permit Fishing
For line, you want to use at least 10-to-15 pound test inshore, and around 20-to-30 pound test offshore. Inshore fish can be allowed to run, tiring out the fish using the drag system on the reel. However, offshore fish are usually associated with structures. If you let an offshore fish run too much, it will likely result in a cut-off from running you under a sharp object, and so the higher pound test line will allow you to pull the fish out faster. As mentioned above, Permit do not have sharp teeth, and so the leader strength is only influenced by the size of the fish. A 20-pound leader inshore, and a 30-to-40 pound leader offshore is appropriate.
Monofilament Line for Permit fishing
Monofilament line is an O.K. choice for the main line on your reel because a good one will cast well, and is essentially clear underwater. Since it is basically clear, it can also be used as a thick leader, however it does not come close to the invisibility of fluorocarbon line as a leader choice. The downside to using monofilament line for Permit fishing is that it stretches, and the stretch is more problematic the more line you have out. Since Permit fishing requires far casts in order to not spook the fish, the stretch in the line when it is very far out will sometimes result in too little power for setting the hook, resulting in a weak hook-set and a lost fish.
Using Braided Line for Permit fishing
A good alternative to monofilament line for Permit fishing is braided line. Braided line has essentially no stretch at all, and so has excellent hook-setting power even when the line is casted hundreds of yards out. Braided line also casts farther and allows more line than either monofilament of fluorocarbon lines, because it has a thinner diameter. The only downside to braided line is that it is quite visible to fish underwater, and since Permit have excellent vision, a very long fluorocarbon leader is required to overcome this.
Using Fluorocarbon for Permit Fishing
Fluorocarbon line is the perfect material for Permit – it is virtually invisible underwater. Permit have such good eyesight that even the slightest things such as the visibility of fishing line can spook them. Since fluorocarbon line on an entire spool is rather expensive, the most efficient method for using this great material is to use it as a leader, which is the part that the fish mainly sees anyway.
Fly Line for Permit Fishing
Fly-fishing for Permit requires two things – getting the fly to the fish, and sinking the fly in a natural way. In regards to getting the fly to the fish, the heavier the line you use, the farther you can cast without spooking the fish. The greatest chance you have of catching a Permit on a fly is on the initial drop after the cast. To mimic the way an actual crab or shrimp would sink, use a fluorocarbon leader, as fluorocarbon has the greatest sink rate, with a small crab fly to get a steady sink.
Final Notes about Permit Lines and Leaders
Permit are powerful, large fish, requiring generally heavy line for landing. When choosing line, remember that these fish have one of the keenest eyes of all fish, and fluorocarbon is a must for leader material. Otherwise, braided line is preferred over monofilament because of the farther casting abilities and greater hook-setting power from far distances.