Best Fly Rods for Belize Plus Flies & Reel Suggestions!

August 14, 2023
Best Fly Rods for Belize Plus Flies & Reel Suggestions!
Published on  Updated on  

Best Fly Rods for Belize Plus Flies & Reel Suggestions!


Belize is a top destination for saltwater fly fishing, with good reason. Turneffe Atoll and similar areas are teeming with Permit and Bonefish as well as Tarpon and many other interesting fish like Snook (all these fish are native to my home state of Florida as well, especially in the Keys near us). 

*Want to just skip directly to the rods? Want to shop by different categories like fish species: Browse Our Best Rods & Reels Here

Because of the diversity of fish species in Belize, you will see a wide variety of rod suggestions and arguments about which rod weight is best. Don't worry, this article could be summed up right here: Get at least a 9wt, better yet an 8wt and a 9wt!

*Or if you feel confident in your casting in wind, go ahead and get a 7wt rod instead of the 8wt. Maybe the 7wt is also more likely to get used in freshwater for streamers later on when your saltwater trip is done, so that could be a factor too.

That's it, you are set. Guides telling you adult Tarpon are around? 10-11wt time. For baby/juvenile Tarpon a modern saltwater 9wt can most likely handle it if you buy a very good reel. You can get away with less beefy reels for Bonefish and light Permit duty but you will need one of the better saltwater reels to fight Tarpon (the new Sage Enforcer is great, and above that Hatch or Shilton, for example). 

The good news is nearly every single saltwater rod is "fast action"* at this point. Almost all are 9'0" and 4-piece which is best for travel. Brands we carry are the brands we recommend, but remember: We carry these specific brands for good reason. We own these rods, we use them, and most importantly we have tried everything else so you don't have to. 

*Some rods might even be considered "extra fast" although you should think of those more as just overly stiff for most people. I assume someone reading this is relatively new to saltwater fly fishing which is great. You don't need to buy every rod size (but at least bring a 9wt). I set people up for Belize trips nearly every single day, it's currently the most popular saltwater destination and Permit is the hot fish this year. Last year it was Baja and Roosterfish claiming "most popular" fish and destination. A few years ago it was Golden Dorado that was red hot. I set people up with gear for all of these and there is a fair amount of overlap, which brings me to my next big point: Before you buy a bunch of gear for one trip, consider where else you might want to go eventually.  

Going to the Bahamas or maybe Cuba? Pack basically the same as Belize. Most popular would be 8/9/10wt for Cuba, maybe do 8/9/11wt if the larger Tarpon are around. Similar rods will work in the Florida Keys too. How about Peacock Bass in the Amazon? You can definitely bring your 9wt rod from Belize but a 7-8wt would probably be under-powered (unless it's a very stiff/aggressive rod like a T&T Exocett which wouldn't be as much fun in flats fishing but is a beast). A 10wt is actually not unheard of for big Golden Dorado and the largest Peacock Bass as well. That rod size is great in Belize for baby Tarpon or huge Permit (although these days many people opt for the lighter 9wt rod for Permit, 10wt used to be the gold standard). The trick with 11wt rods is they are pretty much only used for Tarpon (but awesome for the Keys near us). 12wt is almost exclusively for the largest Tarpon and/or Giant Trevally. Some light offshore uses but very few people are doing that (based on what I normally get requests for). Still, you want to catch a Sailfish on a fly? You can with a 12wt.

Still reading? Did you buy a 9wt yet?

Sage Salt R8, Scott Sector, Thomas & Thomas Sextant. That's the top three. *There are some new toys coming soon from another brand I carry but I can't say what yet as of the time of this writing. As I test new rods they will get added to my list if they are worthy. Feel free to call me to discuss what to get or if those first three options don't satisfy you yet. But I will tell you these are as good as it gets. Why? 

Warranty: Everyone worries about this, but you don't need to sweat it. All high-end fly rods and reels carry a lifetime warranty. Sage for example, even if it's your fault you broke a rod, the repair fee is literally only $50 for any current models of rods. And that's if it's your fault. Manufacturing defects (if there ever were any) would be free. 

All of the rods I mentioned cast the majority of popular saltwater lines very well so you have options there (I have tried everything there is that's good on all of these rods). The Sage and T&T are probably a little easier to cast well than the Scott Sector but the Sector is phenomenally good if you have a decent cast and timing.

Basically if you choose anything we carry in a 9wt, but especially the rods I mentioned, you will be totally fine in Belize. 

Reels are a more complex subject than rods, you have various types of designs which have pros and cons. Without wanting to put anyone to sleep here I will say the same about reels as I said about rods, we have carefully tested every saltwater reel on the market for many years. We know what works, we know what customers complained about in the past so we don't carry those other brands anymore. We want happy customers AND very low return rates (we are a business after all) but those two things go together. We curated our entire selection of gear on this site based on many, many years of customer feedback, guide feedback, and frankly our own feedback from testing everything over and over and over in the saltwater. We are fortunate to be able to have the Florida Keys as our testing ground. We are barely 100 miles from Cuba, less than 200 from the Bahamas. We have all the same fish species as those two mega fly fishing destinations. The Keys are actually where most world records for Tarpon are set and quite a few records for the other popular species as well. 

We are always happy to help and answer any questions you may have, so give us a call or shoot us an email and we will get right to work. Thank you for choosing to shop with an independent fly shop instead of the "big box" online stores. Your support allows us to continue being the best saltwater fly shop on Earth. 






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