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For this installment of F3T Behind the Lens, we sit down with the “4 of a Kind” crew to learn about the pursuit of the Permit Africanus in Oman. In the Costa and Livit Films production, you’ll see Jako Lucas and Oliver White battling through big swells to achieve their goal of catching this fourth and final species of permit. In this interview, we learn about the filming, fishing, and challenges of chasing permit on the Omani coast. 

Flylords: What was the inception of 4 of a Kind? Or how did this idea become a reality?

Costa: Oliver and Jako had brought up the idea in the past, along with Nick Bowles of Ocean Active Fly, and we jumped at the opportunity to help bring it to life. To be part of a pursuit like this with these storied anglers was too good to pass up, and we felt it was a story that should be shared.

Flylords: It sounded like this project was a bit of logistical nightmare, care to elaborate?

Costa: As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “nothing worth having comes easy”. While it certainly wasn’t the easiest project to plan, Nick Bowles and his team were invaluable thanks to their local knowledge and resources, and it always helps when you’re working with seasoned pros like Oliver and Jako. Step one was connecting in Europe en route to Dubai, and then ultimately heading to Salalah, Oman. The crew stayed in various spots, including Bedouin camps, along the way, which kept things interesting. Transportation was also a critical piece of the puzzle – planes, trucks, boats and camels were all amongst the modes of transportation on this trip.

Flylords: In the video, it looked like you guys were fighting some serious swells. Tell us about permit fishing in this different environment.

Jako and Oliver: Yeah, I mean, the crazy thing is, you know, the permit are in the swell, right. So the most honest reflection of the fishery down there is like, when you’re looking at this cliff wall coming down and meeting the ocean and there is a six-eight foot swell coming up. These fish are riding that swell and then eating on the top of these rocks and then getting tumbled and washed down.

Flylords: You both have fished for and caught other species of permit all over the globe. What was different or more challenging (maybe) about the Africanus?

Jako and Oliver: For sure, there are some similarities between the other three species of permit, like the Anak, the Blochii, and the Atlantic. But for the Africanus, you need a completely different technique to successfully target them. Like Oliver said earlier, fishing this bizarre landscape up against these muscle beds and crashing waves and not really stripping the fly. Like the technique is just kind of very, very unique.

Also, there’s always also been this big question about which specific one of these four permit species are the toughest to catch and which one is regarded as more difficult than the other? Which is a question I always got in the Seychelles when I was guiding there because somehow this whole story developed that Indian Ocean is are really easy place to catch a permit. Sure, but the way that I kind of describe it is like this: you’re fishing Oman or you’re fishing the Seychelles pr you’re fishing Australia…these are all really well looked-after, very low-pressure areas. Inevitably, those kind of scenarios that you’re gonna fish are gonna be easier to connect, as those fish are happier, less pressured, and have seen far fewer flies than permit in the Florida Keys, for example.

Also, I’ve chased Indo permit on foot for the most part, and that is kind of a controlled environment. Nick was a legend with the boat, like positioning us for the exact right place to make the cast for the Africanus. I think they’re all more or less the same. They’re all permit.

Flylords: I’m sure you all were doing a ton of research and trying to track down intel on this new permit species ahead of the trip, but how did that all match up against what you all experienced on the water in Oman?

Jako: For sure, initially we scoured the internet to try and gather as much information as we could. But in reality, when you go on Google and start looking at stuff, there’s very little information. The only thing that I knew about them, prior to actually knowing we could effectively target them, was that knew my dad caught one on bait in South Africa. So, I didn’t really ever deem them possible to target on a fly rod for sure. And yeah, it was just kind of a little bit daunting.

For the most part, we relied on our guides Nick and Stuart. Nick’s been there for ages, and he’s known about it for a while, but we definitely relied on their expertise for the most part.

Oliver: This was my second trip to Oman, and for sure the online research gets you enough to be curious. But the other guy that really put me on this path for the Permit Africanus was Ray Montoya, who is an expat and lived Oman for a bunch of years–super interesting dude. And you know, I’ve still never even met the guy, but I consider him a buddy. We chat on Instagram all the time, and he planted the seed for me and told me how they feed and how he was catching them.

But I think in this case, the real credit goes to Stuart. I mean Nick’s the man. Nick is the driver of the thing, and he brought in Stuart, who is stud of a fishing guide coming out of the Seychelles. And so putting somebody like that in a place like Oman where there’s still so much exploring to do and just kind of giving them the resources and tools to make it happen was huge. I mean, Stuart has a Chittum out there–he is like running around the Oman coast on a Chittum exploring, figuring sh*t out. He cracked the code, man. That was a total, total game changer.

Flylords: So, I wont make you guys divulge any bigtime secrets, but you had mentioned there was one fly that those fish really wanted….care to add some color to that?

Jako and Oliver: To be honest with you, we had like zero success with the other flies. But I know they have caught them in the past on the other permit-specific, classic flies that we all think permit will eat. But this one specific fly Stuart created absolutely dominates. It was like the Aphlexo fly for the Seychelles where it was just something where you’ve gone from catching a couple of fish, to now having fish immediately react to this new fly. It got to the point where we only had one of these magic flies left, and we were taking turns with it. Like I’m cutting the fly off my rod and tying it on to Jako’s rig, so he could get back in there. It was that disproportionately successful.

Flylords: Were there any frames/lenses that really shined fishing these Omani ocean cliffs?

Costa: There were multiple frames worn, but Jako mostly wore Santiago, from our Untangled Collection, while Oliver went with Ferg – both with green mirror lenses to better see the Africanus to get the job done.

4 of a Kind is a Livit Films, Patrick Rhea, production.

Photos by Hayden Dobbins and Austin Coit.

To see the full film attend a 2023 F3T Premiere, click here to find a local showing and purchase tickets.

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