What Is a Flats Grand Slam? Tropical Fly Fishing’s Holy Grail

A flats grand slam involves catching a bonefish, permit, and tarpon on the same day. These three fish are some of the most popular targets for saltwater fly fishers visiting …

A flats grand slam involves catching a bonefish, permit, and tarpon on the same day.

These three fish are some of the most popular targets for saltwater fly fishers visiting areas with good flats fishing.

While it is well known among saltwater fly fishers, what constitutes a flats grand slam it is handy to know it is officially set down by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as “catching the following species on the same day: bonefish, tarpon, and permit“.

Catching all three plus a snook on the same day is referred to as a Super Slam.

There is no defined size for each of the fish in the flats grand slam. What matters is the same angler catching all three on the same date.

Best Places to Catch a Flats Grand Slam

Flats grand slam bonefish
Bonefish are a popular game fish known for their speed, elusive nature, and challenging fighting ability.

Below is a list of good places with high-quality flats fishing for all three species.

  • Florida Keys, USA
  • Turneffe Atoll, Belize
  • Ascension Bay, Mexico
  • Ambergris Caye, Belize
  • Cayo Largo, Cuba
  • Jardines de la Reina, Cuba
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Tips on Catching a Flats Grand Slam

Flats Grand Slam Permit
Catching a permit as part of a Flats Grand Slam is a significant accomplishment in saltwater fly fishing.

You need luck on your side to catch the flats grand slam, also known to some anglers as an inshore grand slam.

But there are some things you can do to maximize your chances.

The first is to choose your location carefully. The above list provides a good starting point of destinations where many anglers have caught a flats grand slam and there is good fishing for each of these species.

Our second tip is to get used to casting in the wind. Flats fishing means you’ll often be dealing with strong winds. Couple this with the need to deliver accurate and well-timed casts to finicky permit or fast-moving tarpon and you can understand that it is far from easy.

Before you embark on your trip practice casting in the wind. Not just distance but accuracy too. And not just pushing up directly into the wind, but changing the direction of the cast even with a decent breeze blowing.

And finally, be flexible. Rather than setting out to catch the fish in a particular order, embrace the chaos of flats fishing – no two days are the same and things can change from hour to hour.

Generally speaking, bonefish are the easiest of the trio to catch and permit arguably the hardest to fool. If you are getting good shots at permit, it makes sense to persevere til you’ve got one before moving on to tarpon and bonefish.

Photo credit: IGFA/Jako Lucas caught and released a beautiful IGFA Inshore Grand Slam at Ascension Bay, Mexico in 202

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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