permit with fly in its mouth

The fishery in Belize is robust with numerous different species to target on any given day. The fishing grounds are also diverse from the backcountry lagoon systems, white sand flats, coral pancake flats, and deeper reefs. With this in mind coming prepared with the proper Belize fly patterns is paramount to having a successful outing. Flies can vary from the species you are targeting to the specific area you are fishing. For example, in the backcountry lagoon systems when you are targeting tarpon you will most likely be using different fly patterns than you would be when you are targeting tarpon on the sand flats or deeper channels. If you are unfamiliar with the fly fishing opportunities in Belize, be sure to check out the Complete Guide to Fly Fishing Belize. Below we have outlined the best flies for Belize.

The Best Flies for Belize: Permit

chris holding up a big permit

A permit can be the most finicky of all the target species down in Belize as even a well-presented fly can get the eye of rejection from a feeding permit. So having the right permit fly pattern for each situation is important. Permit in Belize have two main sources of food, shrimp and crabs. Having a proper selection of both is important. 

  • SS Merkin Crab, size 4, and 6. Del Brown’s pattern that has probably accounted for the most permit caught out of any other permit fly pattern. The lead eye fly pattern is designed specifically for permit in mind.
merkin crab picture
SS Merkin Crab – Image courtesy of
  • Bauer Crab (Tan), size 4, and 6. The classic Belize crab pattern, best for tailing finicky permit in clear conditions. 
  • EP Crab, size 4 and 6. Enrico Puglisi (EP) flies are known for their realistic action in the water, making this pattern a must-have for every permit anglers box. 
  • EP Spawning Shrimp,  (Tan/Orange), size 6, and 8. This is a must-have for any angler fly fishing Northern Belize. It is a confidence fly for all the guides in Belize as it can be fished in deep water, shallow flats and it can be stripped or left alone. 
  • Avalon, size 4 and 6. Another shrimp imitation, the very visible Avalon has lead eyes and long legs giving it a lot of action in the water. It is a great deep water pattern. 
  • Other patterns include SS permit crab, size 4 and 6, SS B-Turd, size 4 and 6, Mantis Shrimp, size 6 and 8, Strong Arm Crab, Ultra-Shrimp, size 6 and 8, and Squimp, size 6 and 8.

The Best Flies for Belize: Bonefish

holding up a bonefish

The bonefish in Belize are plentiful and are not the pickiest of eaters but still will refuse a fly if it’s not the correct pattern. Like permit, a bonefish’s diet consists of shrimp and crabs, but since they are typically targetted in shallower water shrimp are the main patterns that anglers will use. Coming prepared with different sink rates and sized Belize bonefish patterns can be more important than a variety of specific patterns. 

  • Christmas Island Specials, (Tan/pink, tan/orange), size 6 and 8. A deadly and very generic bonefish fly pattern. The bead chain eyes allow the fly to drop in front of a feeding fish.
  • Bonefish Bitters, (Tan, olive), size 6 and 8. Unlike other common bonefish patterns, the bitters have epoxy heads and elk hair. They are perfect for smaller schooled up feeding fish.
  • Gotcha, (Tan, Pink, Orange), size 6 and 8. Another classic bonefish pattern that should be in every saltwater box in a variety of colors and sizes. 
  • Other patterns include the Mantis Shrimp, (Tan), size 6 and 8, EP Spawning Shrimp, (Tan/Orange), size 6, and 8, Squimp, size 6 and 8, Bonefish Clouser Tan/white, size 6, and 8, and Crazy Charlies, (white, pink, tan), size 6 and 8.

The Best Flies for Belize: Tarpon 

holding up a tarpon above the water

Unlike permit and bonefish fly patterns, tarpon fly patterns are almost exclusively unweighted as tarpon eyes are situated on the tops of their heads and feed on prey that is above them. So when presenting a fly to a moving fish you want it to stay up in the water column.

  • Tarpon Toad, chartreuse, white, purple/black, black/red, size 1/0-3/0. Developed by Gary Merriman the toad is a lightweight slow sinking all around Belize tarpon fly pattern. Specifically, it works great in the backcountry lagoon systems and along the mangroves. It is also a great pattern for snook. 
  • Black Death, size 1/0-3/0. The black and red fly is a staple for almost every Belize fly fishing guide, this tarpon fly pattern is a classic and for a good reason, it does the job. 
  • Cockroach, size 1/0-3/0. Another classic like the Black Death, the cockroach is known for it’s more natural imitation of a shrimp or baitfish. The grizzly hackle tail feathers have been the signature of attracting big fish to this pattern. 
  • Other patterns include the EP Minnow – (white, tan/white, chartreuse/white) size 1/0-3/0, Tarpon Bunny, (purple/black, black/red, white) size 1/0-3/0, and Big Eye Orange/Grizzly 1/0-3/0.

The Best Flies for Belize: Barracuda

holding a barracuda up

The Barracuda in Belize love to feed on needlefish. A quickly retrieved needlefish fly pattern can be all that it takes to entice a barracuda to eat a fly.

  • Cuda Fly, (Green), size 3/0.

The Best Flies for Belize: Jack Crevalle and other game fish (snapper, ladyfish, cobia, and snook)

holding up a snook

Other game fish encounters are very common while fly fishing in Belize. General baitfish attractor patterns will work well for these specific encounters. 

  • Clouser, (Chartreuse, Red/White, Blue/White, Tan/White) size 4, 1, 2/0, 3/0. 
  • Deceiver, (Chartreuse, Red/White, Blue/White, Tan/White) size 4, 1, 2/0, 3/0. 
  • General Surface Poppers in a variety of sizes and colors, size 1/0-3/0.

Things to consider:


While specific saltwater patterns are important, the “sink rate” of a specific fly is also extremely important. The sink rate is how fast the fly will sink in the water column. So if you were to be fishing a permit flat that is 6 feet deep you would want a fly with a faster sink rate versus if you were fishing a 6-inch sand flat you would almost want no weight. Saltwater Belize fly patterns can be categorized into three different “weight classes” based on their sink rates, lead eyes, bead-chain eyes, and unweighted. With tides changing landscape of the flats all of the time it is important to have a variety of these different sink rates on your fly box to be prepared for the different types of fishing grounds.

bill casting into the water


With always changing conditions, different locations, and a variety of species having the right fly for every situation can aid in catching a fish of a lifetime. The guides at Blue Bonefish are happy to assess the fly patterns that you have and will help you navigate the decision making of choosing the right fly for the job. Hopefully, this guide of the best flies for Belize will help in preparing for your saltwater fly fishing trip to Belize.

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