SHARPTOOTH CATFISH (Barbel, Baber)




SIZE: Up to 35 kg, plus
SPECIES: Indigenous
DISTRIBUTION: Widespread throughout South African stillwaters and rivers. Prefers warmer waters.
DIET: Omnivorous (This is a scavenger and predator all in one! Will feed on whatever is on the menu).
TACKLE REQUIREMENTS: RODS: 7wt to 8wt, at least 9 foot in length. Some anglers also prefer a 10 foot rod. Where really big fish are present, a 9wt 9foot rod is recommended. These fish are brutally strong!
REELS: 7/8wt Reels, with a good drag system especially in stillwaters where the fish can run you into your backing. Or pair with a 9/10wt reel is fishing with a 9wt rod.
BACKING: Reels must be able to take at least 150m of 30lbs backing.
FLY LINE: Floating line, either 7wt, 8wt or 9wt (matched with rod) and and intermediate line of the same weight classes.
LEADERS: At least a 9 foot leader, tapering down to 0X. Leaders with Bimini Twists are an advantage.
TIPPETS: 1X, 2X. (Tippets used of 0X is not uncommon).
FLIES: STREAMERS: (#4 and smaller) - Wooly Buggers (in Olive, Black, Brown, Purple/Black, Purple/White, Red/Black), Zonkers, Crystal Buggers, Dragonfly nymphs.
METHODS: Sight fishing is most productive for these fish. Be wary and very stealthy. Cast the fly no more than a metre in front of the fish. Try to retrieve it right past it's mouth. Strip-Strike when the fish takes. Get ready for a fight!
TIPS: Barbel are wary...if the water is clear, keep a low profile. Wade stealthily if you have to wade into the water.
Always de-barb your flies. It's easier to remove them from the fish's mouth and your skin. (in case of a miss-timed cast!)
Use STRONG hooks! Saltwater hooks are recommended.
Use a soft mesh net, with no knots.
Be careful when trying to "lip-land" these fish with your bare hands. They have small, sharp teeth that feel almost like very rough sandpaper, and can take your skin off your fingers if you drop the fish.
Always wet your hands before handling a fish...your hands can remove their protective mucous on their skins.
Never under-gun your tackle...don't use 4X tippets when 6kg plus fish are around!