How To Catch A Permit With A Spinning Rod




“Until that fish starts really taking off, you’re staying tight with him.”

Podcast Synopsis

Catching a permit on a spinning rod is one of the most fun things to do in all of saltwater fishing. So to start I’ll show you the outfit that I like; a summertime outfit and an all around go-to (which I use 90% of the time).


St. Croix Spinning Rod (Avid VIS70MHF Series) medium action 7ft rod - this one I feel like I can cast the most accurately with. I’ll pair that rod with the Daiwa 3000 Ballistic which can hold 20 pound J-Braid 320 yards of it. It is a very small and light reel with great drag, you can actually go down with it because it has good line capacity. I will tie 1.5 feet of fluorocarbon leader on the end of it which allows me to cast accurately so that the connection between the braid and the fluorocarbon is outside of the tip of the rod when I go to cast. If you have too much then you have to cast the knot (which is a Double Uni or J-Knot).

Then I will use Circle Hook for permit, I am a firm believer that his is the best hook for permit (I’ve seen J-Hook fail too many times with permit). I’ll use a 4/O circle hook (Offshore Angler short shank hook) which is my go-to hook and my second favorite is the Gamakatsu. And that is my go-to rig - it’s listed out here:

St Croix Avid Spinning Rod

Daiwa 3000 Ballistic

20 pound J Braid


The next important thing is the bait; and if you were to ask the best bait for tarpon you will get a lot of debate, but for permit there is not much debate, everyone tends to agree that live-blue-crab is the best for permit. In Florida it is great that we have such availability to get crabs in bait shops but the trick is to pick them yourself. For permit I like one that is 2-2.5 inches across the carapace (if the boat shop gives you a bunch that are 6 inches you won’t get any permit, and if they give you a bunch of tiny crabs you might not be able to throw it as far as you’d like). If you do have 2 inch crabs you might want to get some split-shot to help you throw it as far as you want, its not my favorite but it will help.


There is an area in the carapace that is like an earlobe, close to the point, where you can pierce this and not kill the crab. If you get into the white part your crab will not last very long. I’ll put the point of the hook through the edge and I’ll drill it back and forth so I don’t break the shell. Now that everything is set up you need to maintain the health of the crab, keep it wet either in a bucket or if you are moving slowly you can dip it in the water.

Do not practice cast with the crab, the more you cast the more you are going to need to change your bait. After you cast 3-4 times you are going to need to change your bait because he will stop moving as well. Initially the crab moves so much that his legs make a clicking sound which is what attracts the permit, the crab will move less and less the more you throw him.


You want to cast beyond the fish and then bring it back so that you crash the bait right into the permit’s face. One the permit tails and eats your crab you just raise your rod tip without moving the line, close the bail and just start reeling. I want to make sure that the permit does not turn - so I encourage reeling until the drag starts going out, then reel for 5 seconds after (which I learned from Mark Croka). Sometimes what happens is when you go down to set the hook the permit swims right at you and you don’t set the hook as well as you should.

That is how to catch a permit with a spinning rod, you can also use a jig with shrimp, or a bear jig or a fly rod… Maybe good topics for future How 2 Tuesdays, let me know if any of those interest you. If you are interested in my summer outfit it is below.

St Croix Avid 8 foot

10 pound J Braid

2/O or 3/O hook

This is because in the summer as the water is calmer the permit are more skittish and so you have to cast further. So I will also have a split shot on this outfit as well.

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See you on the water,

-Tom Rowland