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tiger fishing gear
tiger fishing gear

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Tiger Fishing Gear

My favorite part of any fishing trip (other than being there) is seeking out and buying new fishing  gear!  In this section I am going to give some ideas as to what to buy/take on your trip. Most lodges will supply tackle, some charge, some don’t but most of our clients take additional “weapons” to tackle the tiger and other species.

tiger fishing gearFishing Rods

Let me state upfront, most lodges have rods on offer but if you are like me, you prefer to use your own stuff.

For fly fishing, a good nine weight fly rod is my personal choice, it can be any nine weight, from “the ultimate” Sage to the more affordable Explorer Guide Series or Stealth brands; Rise, Magnum and Bomber which do the business. Always try and get a 4 piece fly rod, as today’s technology ensures they are just as strong as a 2 piece, and it makes transporting your rods that much easier.
From a spinning and bait fishing point of view I will always recommend the Shimano NEXAVE rod, simply brilliant and works just as well shore fishing at the coast.
 
tiger fishing gearFlies
Come April each year, I invade the numerous fly shops in and around Johannesburg as the Zambezi tigers-on-fly season is just about to begin! But there are so many choices to make - where to start?
Here my golden rule of thumb… Early morning fly fishing sessions; I prefer dark coloured flies: blacks, browns, dark reds etc. Then moving onto mid-day I bring out the exotic bright colours: greens, yellows, bright reds, red/white stripes, chartreuse pinks etc, you name it tigers should nail it.
The afternoon session we switch back to the dark colours again, the same rules apply as per the morning session. Any decent fishing shop will sell flies pre made up with piano wire leader. The leader is a critical part of the fly when targeting our Zambezi toothy critters, however some fishing mates are going naked and wireless…
 
All of the above flies seem to work quite well for predatory bream but casts must be made very close to the river bank and the fly must be allowed to sink before your retrieve. As a rule of thumb, the dirtier, less clear the water, the darker the fly pattern you use, and the faster and deeper the water the heavier the fly you use.


tiger fishing gearLines
 

Fly fishing: Take a fast sinking line and an intermediate or if you are fishing in the shallow rapids a good floating line will suffice. Remember that with sinking fly line, your line memory is typically a lot worse than floating or intermediate line. This line memory obviously makes the line tangle as it lies on the deck while you are trying to cast out. This is often exacerbated when the deck is hot as the line gets sticky. A stripping basket helps with this, and some clients use a camping collapsible washing basket available at Outdoor Warehouse. This product stands about waste high, and even though it looks dorky, it prevents a lot of those  problems with line snagging on something on the deck, or your feet or just blowing into the water and trailing down the current....all problems that can make casting frustrating.

Spinning: go with either braid or conventional line - it’s your choice as either work well; 20 lb. breaking strain....

tiger fishing tackle
Leaders

There is only one "made up" spinning leader that I use and it's an Aussie brand called Halco, the others are not  just worth their salt. Talking of salt, the rule of thumb when using leaders is to use black or dark brown ONLY. Silver salt leaders just don't work on the Zambezi River, period!

tiger fishing tackleBoga Grip

 This is a handy little Yank device that allows you to
 handle and weigh your fish without putting too much pressure on the fish. It’s also good to keep those sharp teeth away from you.

tiger-fishing-gear-lure-heading.jpg (22 KB)Lures

There is a HUGE selection of lures on the market. I am a great fan of the Salmo lure brand, mix it up between shallow and deep runners, add Salmo Perch SDR (Super Deep Runner) and Green Tiger patterns into your mix, you won’t go wrong.
 Lures are also used for trolling and this method usually demands a shallow running lure to avoid hooking up on hidden underwater structures. Over the years I have added some lure variation to my tackle box: FZetts, Rubbers (not the ones you are thinking about!), Mepps and jigs, are all proving to be irresistible for a hunting tiger.
On a recent fishing trip to Lake Kariba I picked up on a “new” Zimbabwean method. The Zimbo’s put some
fresh fish fillet (sourced from local fishermen) on the back hook of a Tiger Wakka lure.
I tried it ... devastating!

 
tiger fishing tackle
Reels

Fly fishing: I recommend a Shilton just because it is made in SA and although quite expensive, it should never let you down no matter the size fish. It is comparable in quality to the much more expensive Abels and Hardy’s and is simply a stunning fly reel. More affordable options include Explorer, a great quality reel that should live up to most fly rodders expectations.
It is relevant to know that any 9 weight reel you buy, should qualify for salt water fishing as well i.e. it must be treated against corrosion. If you are going to spend the money, rather get a reel that can be used for multiple conditions.

Conventional:
I go with Shimano double handle loaded with braid and mono, 20lb should suffice.
 
tiger fishing tackleAdditional Info
Most lodges will supply a good landing net, cooler box for beer and bait plus a guide that knows how to take that “big knuckled” tiger pic that you have lusted after. I also take a finger shield for fly fishing and a beanie in winter!