How to Catch Tigerfish on Fly
Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is ideally situated on Impalila Island on the Chobe River in Namibia and offers a premium tiger fishing experience that’s hard to beat.
Words by recent guest, and avid fisherman Gero Lilleike. He shares his tips on how to catch a Tigerfish on fly.
If you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced fly fisherman looking to hook into Tigerfish, Ichingo Chobe River Lodge is the place to be!
Guests benefit from an all-inclusive stay which includes accommodation, food, drinks, a dedicated river guide and tender boat which is at your disposal to explore the Chobe River and the fish-rich Kasai channel in search of Tigerfish and other sought-after fish species.
There are a few basic equipment considerations and techniques to master if you want to maximise your tiger fishing adventure.
Take a look at some of the critical equipment and techniques required to catch Tigerfish on the Chobe River!
What fly fishing equipment do I need to catch Tigerfish on the Chobe River?
The amount of success you will experience fly fishing on the Chobe River will, in part, be determined by the equipment you choose to use. Fly fishing equipment is a personal preference for most fly fishermen and the following information should be considered to be a guide rather than a definitive solution.
Terminal equipment for catching Tigerfish on fly includes an 8-9 ft, 9wt 4-piece fly rod with a 9 wt fly reel being preferable. A fast sinking fly line with a straight 20-pound tippet (not tapered) and a short bite trace is advisable along with an appropriate fly of your choice.
It’s also advised to have a second fly rod equipped with a floating line at the ready should you choose to fish on the surface using a Flipper fly (see below).
What flies should I use to catch Tigerfish on fly on the Chobe River?
As a starting point, good fly patterns to consider include Clouser Minnows of various colours including purple/black, red/black, orange/black, brush flies (including articulated brush flies) and a flipper fly, the latter which is fished on the surface.
There are a number of Tigerfish patterns and combinations available to anglers and it’s ideal to have a wide selection of flies in your fly box to accommodate for various conditions. Your river guide will be able to provide guidance and advice based on local conditions during your stay.
What fly fishing techniques should I use to catch Tigerfish?
Your river guide will advise on the best locations to fish on any particular day and fishing by boat will give you the opportunity to explore larger tracts of water while providing excellent access to a variety of fishing locations. Fishing by boat will ultimately increase your chances of catching Tigerfish!
The fundamental techniques used for catching Tigerfish on fly are fairly specific and straightforward. Note that the techniques used are not the same as fishing for other fish species such as trout and anglers are therefore required to adapt their approach accordingly.
Tigerfish are vicious predatory fish that aggressively attack their prey (primarily bait fish) using their speed, power and sharp teeth to catch and devour their prey. Tigerfish have a bony mouth and setting the hook firmly on the strike is therefore the fly fisherman’s main challenge.
To achieve the desired result, the technique used is paramount.
You should generally aim to cast as far as you can and into areas where Tigerfish might be lurking (your river guide will advise you). Ideal locations include reeded banks, under or near structures, steep drop-offs, bays, drifts or in the main river channel. After completing your cast, allow your fly line and fly to sink into “the zone” (5-15 seconds depending on depth) before starting the retrieve.
You can vary the retrieve speed (slow, medium, fast) to find out what will work best but perhaps the most important technique is to always keep your rod tip pointed downwards and to keep the line and rod in a straight line direction when retrieving. If a Tigerfish decides to devour your fly, this straight-line approach will dramatically increase your chances of setting the hook firmly in the Tigerfish’s bony jaw. If you feel a bite, give your line a firm, straight strike to set the hook.
If the hook is firmly set, you will enjoy an epic fight!
Remember to keep your rod tip down and facing in the direction of the Tigerfish.
It’s very important to maintain your fly line and make sure that you don’t have any slack in your line. Keep the line completely tight and direct during the battle. If there is slack in the fly line, the Tigerfish will use the slack to unseat the hook and you will most likely lose the catch.
Read More on Fishing techniques here
How do I land a Tigerfish?
If your battle with the Tigerfish is successful you will have to land it using a soft catch net next to the boat. Your river guide will assist and advise you during this process.
Before handling the Tigerfish, allow it to recover sufficiently using a BogaGrip by keeping the fish’s head facing into the current for a few seconds. Using fishing pliers, you can unseat and remove the hook. Just remember to keep your fingers and hands clear of those sharp teeth!
Tigerfish are sensitive and need to be handled with great care. If you want to take a photograph with your prized Tigerfish, take care with how you handle the fish. Pick the Tigerfish up by its tail with one hand and place your other hand under and behind the pectoral fins and hold the Tigerfish horizontally. Never use the BogaGrip to lift the Tigerfish out of the water vertically. Safely release the Tigerfish back into the river as soon as possible.
Top Tip: Fly fishing for Tigerfish requires patience and perseverance. Change flies often to discover what works and never give up!
Please Note that Ichingo Chobe River Lodge operates on a strict catch-and-release policy on the Chobe River.