Permit Hook Secrets

Partridge Sea PrinceThe closing of the last hook shop in Redditch, England this week reminded me of a semi-secret hook style I’ve always used for permit flies.

For those who don’t know, Redditch was the center of British hook-making for what is likely to have been hundreds of years.  It all likely started with needle-crafting technology, which then translated to fine hook-making.  As the Partridge of Redditch Web site notes: “It is not easy to establish when this started, but according to one likely theory it started with the existence of a large monastery at Redditch. The monks were reputed to have been skilled artisans, and when Henry VIII dissolved the brotherhood the monks were taken in by leading Catholic families in the area, who obviously put their skills to use. From there processing of steel and specialised metal work were developed and refined.”

Redditch was sold to Mustad in the 1990s, then later to another company, but they continue to produce my favorite permit hook of all, the Sea Prince.  I began tying permit flies on the Sea Prince #1 in the 1980s and have never found a reason to switch.  What makes the hook unique is its slightly recurved point.   Whether it is the recurve or the confidence I’ve had in the hook I’ll never know, but I’ve never had a permit come unhooked using this hook–except for once when a permit crushed the hook and spit it it out.  This hook also happened to be Jose Wejebe’s favorite tarpon hook for a number of years.

Del Brown and I were fishing Ascension Bay in the late 1980s and he was fishing his standard hook, a straight-point O’Shaunessy from Mustad.  During the first two days of our trip, we each hooked five or six permit.   He lost three, and I didn’t lose any.  (At which point I stopped fishing.  You know, guide/client relations and all.)  Del had many more fish come “unbuttoned” during the years we fished together.

On first glance, one might think that stainless steel, rather than carbon steel, would be too soft. It certainly is for tarpon hooks, in my opinion.  But for permit flies it has two advantages, especially in the Sea Prince. First, it doesn’t rust, and if you’re like me, you’re happy to throw a permit fly that works at more than one fish on more than one day.  Second… well, it sticks.