Fly Fishing In Belize: What Gear To Bring

Two anglers fly fishing from a boat in Belize.

Belize is a diverse paradise of sun drenched cayes, lush jungle, impressive mountains, expansive flats and reefs, and a great chance of experiencing a grand slam — catching permit, bonefish and tarpon in a single day.

Fly-Fishing Bags

Keep them compact and waterproof.

A small, waterproof duffle will keep your gear and clothing clean and dry on the flats boat. Skiffs have limited room, so try to keep your baggage to a minimum. Soft bags are easier to fit into tight spaces.

A waterproof waist pack will serve you well as your “fishing vest” while wading. Use it to carry extra flies, leader, sunblock, a camera and water.

Fly-Fishing Gear

Be prepared for the variety of fish species with strong, light rods and reels with dependable drag.

Bring at least two fly rods of good quality that are specifically designed for saltwater. Four-piece rods will be easier to pack and transport. They can fit into carry-on luggage, which will help you avoid the inconvenience of lost or delayed bags.

Rinse off your gear with fresh water every evening to keep it performing at its best.

  • Fly-Fishing Rods: Two 9-foot fly rods. The 8- and 10-weight are the most versatile and popular. These will handle bonefish, small tarpon, barracuda, and jacks. If you anticipate shots at large tarpon, add a 12-weight rod to your arsenal.
  • Fly-Fishing Reels: High-quality reels with a disc drag in mid or large arbor are recommended. The hard fighting fish you’ll encounter will put your reel to the test and you don’t want to lose fish during your dream trip because of poorly made equipment. Often bonefish will make a run towards you, and you’ll appreciate the rapid line retrieve of a large-arbor design. It’s a good idea to practice removing and replacing the spool on your reel so you’ll be prepared forof any adjustments you may need on the water.
  • Fly Line: The reels should be loaded with 15-200 yards of 20 lb. backing in the 8-weight and 30 lb. backing ion the 10-weight. Tropical, saltwater weight forward floating fly line is recommended for bonefish and permit and barracuda. For tarpon, use weight forward floating and intermediate sinking are used. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring extra spools of fly line in case your line is damaged or cut. Fly lines are rarely available at the lodges and there are few fly shops in Belize.
  • Leaders: Clear, fluorocarbon leader and tippet offer the best stealth and abrasion resistance. For bonefish: 9-14 foot leaders tapered to 8-10 lb tippet. Bring an extra spool of 10 and 12 lb. tippet. For permit: 10-12 foot leaders tapered to 10-18 lb. tippet. Bring an extra spool of 16 and 16 lb. tippet. For tarpon: 4-6 foot leaders with fluorocarbon shock tippets. 16-20 lb. tippet with 60-100 lb. shock tippets. Bring an extra spool of 20 lb. mono and 80 lb. fluorocarbon shock tippet. Check with your guide before the trip, as large tarpon are only targeted during particular months.
  • Flies: Specific colors and details will vary according to the area that you fish, but in general, these fly patterns are proven winners: Gotcha, Crazy Charlie, Spawning Shrimp, Merkin Crab, Christmas Island Bonefish, Tarpon Toad, and Black Death.

Fly-Fishing Clothing

Cool, breathable layers will protect you from tropical sun and showers.

Long days on a skiff or wading the flats on the best days mean extended sun in without a breeze for relief. The worst days bring wind and rain. In either case, temperatures will remain in the 60’s to 80’s range. Fast drying, loose fitting fishing apparel will keep you comfortable and protected from elements and bugs. 

Long sleeves and pants serve two purposes — sun protection and insect protection.

Don’t forget the tops of your feet and your hands. You’ll be standing on the deck barefoot for long periods, so apply sunblock every few hours. I often wear socks – it may not be a fashionable look, but after experiencing blistered feet in the past, I’m willing to look a bit silly. Sun gloves also serve two purposes. They protect your hands from sunburn and your fingers from the friction of the fly line. You’ll be stripping the line in repeatedly which can cause pain and cuts.

  • Fast-Drying, Breathable, Long Pants: Zip-off styles will do double duty as shorts and give you options as the weather changes during on days of fishing.
  • Long-Sleeved, Fast Drying, Breathable Shirts: Bring along two or three fishing shirts. If you wear collared shirts, be sure to choose a style with buttons to keep the collar from slapping your face during boat rides out to fishing locations.
  • Hats And Face Protection: Lightweight wide brim fishing hats will help shade your face as well as your scalp. Remember, even if you have a full head of hair, your scalp can get burned. Buffs provide excellent neck and face protection. You’ll be zipping across the flats in a skiff, so remember to use a chin strap for your floppy hat. A baseball cap can be secured by pulling your buff up over the crown.
  • Rain Jacket: Choose a lightweight, waterproof, windproof jacket in a light color. Dark, heavy wading jackets that may work on a trout stream will simply be too hot and stuffy in the humid, topical climate. In Belize, you can expect at least a brief rain shower every day, with the possibility of a heavy downpour. You’ll find the wind protection useful on runs out to reefs and back to the lodge.
  • Polarized Sunglasses: Eye protection is an essential addition to any fisherman’s gear, regardless of where or how you fish. When hooks are whizzing through the air, there is a real danger of catching one in and around the eye. Not only do sunglasses protect your peepers, they can go a long way in helping you catch more fish. Because saltwater fishing on the flats is a sight casting game, choosing the right lenses is a must. Wear brown or copper colored lens for normal conditions on the flats, and an amber or yellow for cloudy, overcast conditions.

Additional Fly-Fishing Accessories

The following are little extras with big benefits:

  • Sun gloves
  • Socks
  • Sun block
  • Insect Repellent
  • Camera

These tips will prepare you for a great fly-fishing experience in Belize. The welcoming people and wonderful food will do the rest to make put this unique destination on your top-ten fishing vacation list.

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