Written by: Lex Hochner
As is the case on a patented basis with all ?stacked? synthetic fiber crab fly patterns, the Defiant Crab is a variation upon a theme of Del Brown?s Merkin Crab. The Defiant Crab was primarily designed as a permit pattern, but it has also been highly successful in taking bonefish and redfish. Aside from the realistic marriage of materials, the aspect of this fly which sets it apart from other crab patterns is the unique body trimming method. When at rest between strips, this pattern ?stands up? in a defensive posture simulating the same tactics employed by a natural crab. The Defiant Crab has morphed and been ?tweaked? over a period of four years. The end results is a reliable, but simple design, which unfortunately is time consuming to tie.
As per the fly?s effectiveness on permit, I personally have borne witness to over three dozen hook-ups in the Caribbean watershed. The pattern has also taken permit in the Bahamas as well as Cuba. I am also proud to say that on two occasions friends of mine have popped their permit cherry using this fly. The numerous flats guides who have seen and used this pattern love what it does in the water. The following is very, very important: The correct way to fish this fly is with medium speed strips commencing at the stripping guide of the rod and continuing to the reel seat with the immediate repetition of this exercise with as little lag time as possible between strips. The vast majority of flats anglers make the fatal error of employing three inch ?bunny-hop? strips, which when factoring into the equation an almost constant wind component, effectively insures the angler of not being in ?contact? with his/her fly.
Permit are notorious for their ability for taking a fly and spitting it out before the angler feels the take. Therein lies the source of many a permit fisherman?s lament, ?God, he tipped up on the fly and I can?t believe he didn?t eat.?
In many cases the fish did eat, but the angler was not aware of the event due to faulty presentation mechanics. "Educated bonefish" and redfish need to be fished over using the exact same tactics. As far as a success story attributable to the Defiant Crab; during the course of three days spent in the Yucatan at Boca Paila, I watched my son hook eight and land five permit, the largest being just a shade under twenty pounds. Many anglers have fallen in love with this fly and have used it in different locations and under varied conditions with a great deal of success.
Added by: Mark Bachmann
The Olive Crab is one of the most reliable Permit Fly types on the southern end of the Belize Reef, arguably home to some of the best permit fly fishing in the world. Here size-6 will often out produce size-4, and you will want both. Small olive crab flies are bonefish candy around bottoms with structure, such as grass or coral.
Wind direction makes a huge difference in any fly presentation, and a taught leader is usually preferable to a slack one when fishing the flats...for the reasons mentioned above. The Defiant Crab pattern can mimic prey that is running for its life in a defensive posture, which can happen in areas where there is little sea bed structure to hide in. Many of these kinds of bottoms are light colored. The Defiant Crab sinks quickly despite its bulky appearance, and the drop-it on-their-nose routine can work well, especially on tailing fish or permit that are following rays or mudding bonefish.
There are several types of fish that live in the shallow talc bottom lagoons that border the western Caribbean. Many of these ancient places incorporate hundreds of acres of water that is only inches deep. Often silt has collected for hundreds or even thousands of years and the bottom is like stepping into a vat of freshly mixed, knee-deep mortar. Wading any distance is exhausting. Most of these lagoons are surrounded by, or interspersed with patches of mangroves. Daily tidal fluctuations are usually less than a foot so even the finest particles tend to stay put. An extra foot of water can make a huge difference in places where at low tide the depth is only eight inches. A fairly large Permit can move around, making very little disturbance in twenty inches of water. To the unpracticed eye these shallow open-water lagoons appear lifeless. A guide with special eyesight and boat handling skills is required. Patient examination often reveals patrolling Permit, some times in schools, but often as singles. Calm days are usually easiest to sight fish, but require stealthier casting than the wind-blown days, when the lagoons can turn to chocolate milk. Jack Crevalle and Groupers can also be found in these lagoons and they also eat crabs. Here crabs tend to burrow rather than run. Drop your fly four to six feet ahead of a cruising permit and when it gets two feet from the fly, give it a couple of sharp twitches like a crab backing down into the mud. Once again a line and leader with minimal slack is of major importance. Many brownish crabs live in this soft mud. Head-on shots are best.