The best flyfishing in Belize

Flyfishing for bonefish, permit and tarpon at Turneffe Atoll

Try for a Grand Slam when you flyfish in the shallow coastal waters of Turneffe Atoll, one of Belize’s premier flyfishing and bonefishing destinations.


Belize - a renowned flyfishing destination

Belize is renowned as a flyfishing destination, with opportunities along almost the entire length of the country’s Caribbean coastline. With tides, weather and the phases of the moon being some of the most important factors in a successful flyfishing trip, the fact that Belize has a very consistent year-round climate definitely helps. It’s not hard to see the appeal of Belize to people who enjoy flyfishing – the many shallow stretches of warm, crystal-clear water are a joy to boat across or wade through, and the most sought-after species are abundant.

This is due to Belize’s forward-looking approach to conserving the most important game fish species. Since 2009, the most popular species all fall under mandatory catch and release rules, so they must be returned to the ocean after you’ve taken your pictures. These rule changes have resulted in increased fish stocks and larger average catches. 

Did you know?

Tarpon can live in saltwater and freshwater, and can breathe air

© Turneffe Island Resort


Flyfishing at Turneffe Atoll

Of all the flyfishing spots in Belize, Turneffe Atoll is perhaps the most legendary. It’s known as a great year-round fishing spot, and is especially productive. The fish here are often found in larger schools, and tend to be quite relaxed. This means that they can be approached in a shallow-draft boat with the engine turned right down, and you may even get the chance to make multiple casts towards into the same school. The fact that Turneffe Atoll is a well-managed Marine Protected Area contributes to the quality of the flyfishing experience – and by visiting to fish, you are contributing to the financial viability of the MPA.

For novice & experienced flyfishers alike

Turneffe Atoll attracts both novice and experienced flyfishers, and the guides here have years of experience in finding the perfect spots to cast. As the largest coral atoll in the western hemisphere, Turneffe Atoll is essentially an isolated coastal marine coral ecosystem. As it lies offshore, it is also less affected by changes in the weather. The variety of habitats at Turneffe Atoll can be explored by wading, or in shallow-draft boats or skiffs. Either way, you should expect an early start

© Turneffe Island Resort


A fishy tale

The ultimate goal for anyone who loves flyfishing is a grand slam. Definitions vary, but as specified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), it involves catching (and releasing) a bonefish, permit and tarpon in the same day. Successfully landing all three species between sunrise and sunset tests all your skills – feathering little flies, bringing them down gently in front of wary fish, and taking time over your approach and presentation.

You’ll need to select the correct flies, from a little toad fly for tarpon to an unweighted shrimp pattern for bonefish, and then perhaps a heavy crab pattern for permit

Did you know?

When you achieve a flyfishing grand slam, you receive an exclusive certificate from the IGFA. 

© Turneffe Island Resort


Know your quarry

Bonefish are a nervous species, and tend to live in shallow inshore waters. Their wariness makes them tricky to fish for – and the larger specimens found around Turneffe Atoll are particularly wily. The bonefish is also known as the “grey ghost” due to its stealthy behaviour. Although permit are known to be even harder to catch, more people catch their first permit at Turneffe Atoll than perhaps anywhere else in the Caribbean. Seeing their long fins poking out of the shallow waters of a lagoon or flat is one of the greatest thrills you’ll ever have whilst flyfishing.

Tarpon are easily the largest of the grand slam fish, and are well-known for their ability to leap out of the water. Their hard, bony mouths mean that they are difficult to securely hook, while their impressive size (up to 2.4m in length, and up to 120kg) makes for an awesome post-catch picture.

Other species which are regularly caught whilst flyfishing in the lagoons, shallows and flats, and the extensive backreef channels of Turneffe Atoll include snook, barracuda and triggerfish.


Living to fight another day

At Turneffe Atoll, all flyfishing guides adhere to the Keep Fish Wet principles, a series of science-based rules designed to minimise stress and injury for fish. These principles apply to catching, handling and releasing fish.

Keeping fish wet means minimising their time out of the water, and never touching them with dry hands so that their protective mucus layer is not damaged. Fish that are “kept wet” are more likely to survive the experience of taking a fly and being landed.


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