Over the past few years we have been fishing at the southern end of the Mexican Caribbean Coast near the town of Xcalak. If you are headed to the Yucatan- or going with us on one of our hosted trips here are some notes and recommendations on what gear to bring along. We have recommendations for Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Jacks, Barracuda.
Rod – 9’ 7-8 weight Medium Fast to Fast Action. Dave has had fun fishing a saltwater 6 weight in calm conditions. Our favorite Rods- Scott Meridian Fly Rod, Scott Tidal Fly Rod, Sage Motive, Echo EPR, Echo 3 Saltwater. Options – Redington Predator, Echo Boost , or Echo Ion XL
We do a fair amount of wading for bonefish. Unless the wind is really strong, then the rod doesn’t need to be quite as fast. Having a rod that loads and casts accurately at 30-40 feet is a good thing when wading for bonefish. If the wind really picks up, often times I will use my 9 weight.
If you think you will be fishing with an 8 weight often splurge on a Scott Meridian. I love this rod in the 9’ 8 weight. The Sage Motive and Scott Tidal are great options for medium priced rods (and they are made in the USA!). Don’t forget that these rods work very well back at home for warmwater fishing – carp, bass, and pike. There are solid options too at the lesser price point too- the Redington Predator and Echo Boost are very good for the price.
Reel- Large arbor reel with solid drag capable of holding at least 100 yds of backing. We like Hatch, Sage, Redington, or Lamson Reels.
Line- Rio Bonefish Line. This is my favorite bonefish line. There are other lines out there that are quite good, but I’ve settled on this line. I’m tempted to try the new Amplitude Bonefish Line from SA.
Leaders- 9’ Rio Saltwater Fluorocarbon 12lb
Tippet- 12-10lb fluorocarbon
Bonefish Flies- Gotcha size 6 Small Bead Chain Eyes, Crazy Charlies Tan or White, Bonefish Scampi, Rubber Leg Gotcha, Pink Puff, EP Mantis, Veverka’s Mantis
Typically, our best fly for bonefish on sandy flats have been smaller lightly weighted gotcha patterns. Smaller versions of the EP Mantis and the EP Spawning Shrimp are good options too. Have a few flies that break away from the sandy tan coloration and trend more towards light grass or olive in color. When fishing along beach flats with more turtle grass green or light olive flies are a good choice.
Permit Tackle and Flies
For permit fishing I prefer a 9 weight. The larger line weight turns over the weighted and air resistant crab patterns better than an 8. The added backbone also helps when fighting a permit. When fishing in a boat with the guide I typically have a rod rigged for bonefish, one rigged for permit, and a heavier rod rigged that can be used for tarpon, barracuda, or jacks. If I am wading DIY on beach flats I typically just bring the 9 weight since I generally like to fish for permit. I can switch to a bonefish fly on the 9 if I run into good numbers of bones. However, I did have some luck last year having a bonefish rod rigged and attached to my backpack. I would switch back and forth depending which species I was running into.
Wading shots at permit can be pretty close in. Be prepared to make longer casts when fishing permit from the front of the guide’s panga. If the wind is blowing a 10 weight isn’t out of the question for permit fishing.
Reel: Large arbor reel with solid drag capable of holding at least 100 yds of backing. We like Hatch, Sage, Redington, or Lamson Reels.
Line: Rio Permit Line or Grand Slam Scientific Anglers. Airflo Tropical Punch
I have had very good luck with the Rio Permit line. Great casting line that turns over a crab or heavy shrimp pattern very well. We fished the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Grand Slam last year and casts and shoots very well.
Leaders: 9’ Rio Saltwater Fluorocarbon 16-20lb
Tippet: Rio Saltwater Fluorocarbon 16-20lb
Permit Flies: EP Ascension Bay Mantis!! Turneffe Crab, Raghead Crab, EP Crab, Drum Majorette Crab, Bauer Flats Crab
Surprisingly our best permit fly in Mexico has been the EP Ascension Bay Mantis in Sand. The mantis has produced the most takes and the most fish landed for us on our trips to the Yucatan. If you tie your own flies, then check out Rob Mukai’s (Acocote Eco Inn Owner) Drum Majorette Crab pattern. This is an awesome crab fly. Rob developed it in Xcalak and has caught good numbers of fish on it. Several guests of the Inn have also had success with this fly. Dave caught his second permit on a Drum Majorette Crab.
How to Tie the Drum Majorette Crab Fly for Permit
How to Tie the Ascension Bay Mantis Fly for Permit
Tarpon/ Jacks/Snook/Barracuda Tackle
Rod – 9 weight – 10 weight for bigger fish. Rod Options- Sage Salt HD, G Loomis NRX Saltwater, Scott Meridian, Sage Motive, Scott Tidal, Echo EPR, Echo Boost
Reel- Hatch or Lamson
Line: SA Grand Slam, Rio Tarpon, Airflo Tropical Punch
Leaders- Rio Tarpon for Tarpon, Rio Light Shock for Jacks and Snook
Tippet- 60-80lb Rio Fluorocarbon Shock Tippet
Flies- EP Peanut Butter, Devil Bunny, Pencil Poppers, EP Baitfish, Needlefish, Barracuda Flies
On most of our trips we have had shots at some Tarpon. This past trip we found more tarpon, including some in 40-60 lb range. We saw one fish that was at near 100lbs! While catching tarpon on our Mexico trips isn’t a given, there are reasons to have some heavier gear along. There are baby tarpon in the lagoons along with snook. You don’t need the 10 weight for these fish, but if you encounter bigger jacks or tarpon out with the guides you will be happy you brought a 10 weight along. A 10 weight can also be used for chasing barracuda. If the wind is really howling, then having a big stick can make life easier.
- Pliers- Dr Slick , Rising Big Needle, Rising Ultralights- Make sure pliers are under 7” for airline regulations if you are going carry-on only.
- Good Nippers- Simms Guide with Lanyard, Hatch Nippers
- Waterproof Pack, Sling Pack
- Waterproof Camera
- Simms Sun Mask, Simms Sun Hood, or Buffs
- Sungloves- Simms or Buff
- Simms Solarflex Hoody
- Simms Superlight Pants
- Simms Zipit Booty II
- Neoprene Wading Socks- lightweight
- Hook Sharpener- Dr Slick or Rising
- Line Cleaner, Line Cleaning Pads- the Rio Line Cleaning Pads are great
- Rod Tube that hold 2-3 rods, or Fishpond Dakota Carry On Case- holds all your rods and reels