Tiger Fishing on the Chobe River

Tiger Fishing Techniques

Ichingo Chobe River Lodge offers a premium tiger fishing experience and these voracious predatory fish put up a mega fight when hooked. To ensure a high success rate and to get the most out of your tiger fishing adventure, anglers targeting Tigerfish should take note of the following fishing techniques.


Fly Fishing Technique

Fly fishing is a specialised angling method using a fly rod, lightweight line, and artificial flies to mimic natural prey. It requires expertise in fly designs, casting, and reading water conditions to imitate fish feeding patterns successfully.

Use the right equipment

A 8-10wt fly rod should be sufficient in combination with a 9wt reel fitted with a 9wt fast sinking line and a 20-pound tippet.

If you can, it’s advisable to have a second fly rod fitted with a floating line should you choose to fly fish on the surface with a Flipper fly (see below).

Fly selection

Ensure that you have a prepared selection of suitable Tigerfish flies that mimic bait fish at the ready, including Clouser Minnows, Brush flies (including articulated Brush flies) and Flipper flies.

All flies must include a short bite trace. Use darker-coloured flies in darker/murkier water and brighter-coloured fly patterns in clear water. Change flies often to find what works best for current conditions.

Ask your river guide for assistance if needed.


Aim for long casts and try to place your fly in areas where Tigerfish might be lurking i.e. along reeded banks, steep drop-offs, drifts or in the main river channel.

Allow some time for your fly to sink into “the zone” before starting your retrieve.


Always keep your rod tip down during the retrieval.
It’s advisable to experiment with various retrieve speeds to increase your chances of a bite.

Retrieve methods may include: slow, medium and fast or you can also try and vary the speed and amount of line retrieved simultaneously for added variety.

The strike

If you get a bite, give the line a hard and fast straight strike and remember to keep your rod tip down towards the water.

Tigerfish have a boney mouth and the above technique is important to set the hook firmly which will increase your chances of landing the Tigerfish.

Enjoy the fight of your life! 

Rod and line management

Keep your rod down towards the water surface and keep the rod tip pointed directly in the direction of the fish.

Importantly, don’t give the Tigerfish any slack line. Keep the line tight and maintain line tension at all times.

If you give Tigerfish slack, it’s likely that the fish will throw the hook from its mouth and you will lose the catch.

Landing the Tigerfish

Tigerfish are sensitive and should be handled with utmost care during the landing. Ask your guide for assistance if needed.

Use a soft landing net to keep the Tigerfish at the side of the boat and let it recover for a few seconds before attempting to remove the fly using fishing pliers.

Note that a BogaGrip can be used to revive (recover) and release the Tigerfish. A BogaGrip should never be used to lift the fish out of the water.

Rather grip the Tigerfish by the tail and hold it horizontally behind the pectoral fins. To avoid injury, keep your hands and fingers clear of the Tigerfish’s sharp teeth.

Tiger Fishing Using Conventional Tackle

Spinning Technique

Spinning is where an artificial lure is cast and retrieved to imitate the movement of bait fish, the primary source of food for Tigerfish.

Use the Right Equipment

Terminal tackle for Tigerfish spinning includes a 6.6 – 7ft spinning rod with a 4000 size reel fitted with a 30-pound braided line, 20-pound leader, short bite trace and a lure / rapala of your choice.

Choose a lure

A spinning lure will mimic bait fish and there are many variations of suitable lures on the market.

In addition to using a variety of bait fish lures, make sure that you also have a selection of spoons and bucktail jigs in your tackle box.

Ask your fishing guide for advice to suit local conditions and don’t be afraid to experiment with a wide range of lures to increase your chances of success.


Aim to cast your lure in areas where Tigerfish may be feeding.
Areas to fish include reeded banks, drifts, main river channel, bays and across steep banked drop-offs.

Vary the Retrieve

Changing the speed (slow, medium, fast or staggered) and rhythm of the retrieve can help to imitate the movement of live prey, making the lure more attractive to a nearby Tigerfish.

If you get a bite, keep your rod tip down and keep tension in the line. (See above fly fishing technique for landing a Tigerfish)

Drift Baiting Technique

Drift Baiting is a fishing technique using “Bulldog” bait fish, also locally known and “Nimbele”. The bait is cast out to “drift” in the current, giving this method its name.

Use the Right Equipment

You can use a 6.6 – 7 ft spinning rod with medium flex combined with your spinning real fitted with either 20-30 pound braided or monofilament line.

The Bulldog is dressed with 2 hooks on a steel trace and is presented as dead drift bait.

Ask your fishing guide for assistance.

Rod and line management

Keep the reel bail open but keep a finger on the line.

Tigerfish will take the bait and move off with it for a distance before swallowing it head first, which means the angler must give the Tigerfish enough line and time to swallow the bait before preparing to strike.

The Strike

When you sense that the bait has been swallowed, close your bail, keep your rod tip down and strike when your line draws tight.

Keep the line tight and avoid giving the Tigerfish any slack as this will likely result in the loosening of a solid set. (See above fly fishing technique for landing a Tigerfish)

Trolling Technique

Trolling is a fishing technique where a lure (or fly) is towed behind a moving boat.

Consider the following techniques for trolling for Tigerfish:

Use the right equipment

You can use either your fly rod or spinning rod for trolling.

You can also consider using a baitcasting or multiplying reel.
Always use a bite trace (see fly fishing and spinning equipment above).

Choose a suitable lure

Experiment with a range of bait fish lures of varying sizes and colours.

Darker lures may be more effective in murkier water while brighter lures will typically yield better results in clear water conditions

Ask your river guide for advice if you’re unsure.

Vary the Speed

Start trolling at idle speed on different sections of the river i.e. next to the bank, main river channel, upstream and downstream.

Increase the boat speed incrementally as you cover more water.
Finding the correct boat speed is a case of trial and error on the day and your river guide will be able to assess the conditions and apply the appropriate strategy.

Vary the line distance

Changing the distance between the boat and the lure is worth experimenting with.
Start at 20 metres and increase the distance up to 80 – 100 metres.

Pay Attention to the Rod

It’s important to pay attention to the rod while trolling.

Keep the rod tip up and watch for any sudden movements or dips that could indicate that a Tigerfish is on the line. You can choose to have either a tighter or looser drag while trolling.

Keep Moving

Trolling requires constant movement, so keep the boat moving at a steady pace. Make sure to cover a wide area to increase the chances of finding the fish.

Don’t be afraid to change the trolling pattern or location if you aren’t finding success.


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