Barbel on Fly





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Thread: Barbel on Fly

  1. #1
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    Default Barbel on Fly

    I see a few of you are keen to target barbel on fly.

    That's great news as it's one of the most accessible species to target in SA and there's also a good chance of getting a really big fish.

    As my friend and "barbel mentor" Terry Babich says, "how far must you travel and how much money must you spend to catch a 40lb plus freshwater fish anywhere else in the world?"

    Fly fishing for barbel is hard, dirty work but the reward is worth it.
    On a good fishing day at Bloemhof we've managed to hook and land over 27 barbel in an afternoon of which 7 went over 14kg.

    The best places to fish for them up here are the Vaal dam, Bloemhof and Baberspan. All three venues have dirty water and aggressive fish which is perfect for the splashing technique we use.
    In the Free State we always fish Kalkfontein dam which has some VERY big barbel and our best to date is 27kg.

    So... put photos, information on venues, questions etc about barbel on fly and so on here on this thread.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Tackle

    To target barbel on fly you'll need the following equipment...

    Rod: 9 weight minimum. You can get away with a 5 or 6 weight but if a big cat takes your fly you'll regret it very quickly. Barbel fishing is hard on equipment so leave your R13 000.00 Sage Salt fly rod at home and rather take your Stealth Bomber. I've caught hundreds of big barbel on a R475.00 Elbe rod.
    The swing weight of your rod should be as light as possible. You can make 2000 casts in a day and a heavy swing weight will be a disadvantage.

    Line: As with the rod, buy cheap line because it's going to need replacing every year if you fish a lot.

    Reel: This is where things change. Buy the most expensive reel you can afford and make sure it's capable of stopping a big fish. Personally I use the Shilton CL6 reels for barbel fishing as they also have a lot of backing capacity. A big barbel can easily take 200m of line on it's first run and I've seen how a brand new Galvan reel got seized up by a big barbel that was in a hurry.

    Tippet: About 9 feet of 15 - 30lb Maxima Ultra Green is all you'll need.

    Diving Booties: Those neoprene diving booties are the best footwear you can buy for barbel fishing.They don't come off in the mud and protect your feet from glass, old tins etc.
    Do not use wading boots as you'll only ruin them.
    Last edited by Geelvis; 2018/03/13 at 11:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Nice thread Geelvis or should I say Katvis

    I have a fair amount of experience fly fishing for trout however Ive never targeted Barbel. Where I live I have access to big old dams that im certain hold many Barbel.

    Besides the tackle which you've covered already can you suggest what sort of structure to look for in the dam, what flies would you recommend to start with?
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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Do I smell a fly fishing clinic gtg?

    Geelvis, what say you?

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommyknocker View Post
    Do I smell a fly fishing clinic gtg?

    Geelvis, what say you?
    Just not in Zululand dams/ rivers please, we have big flat things with teeth here that inhabits our rivers and dams. They tend to eat you when wading..

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    How does this work?

    In my mind the technique calls for the fly to be "trawled" or reeled in after a cast.
    Barbel are mostly bottom feeding fish, how do you get them to the surface?
    What am I missing?

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Quote Originally Posted by Rustie View Post
    How does this work?

    In my mind the technique calls for the fly to be "trawled" or reeled in after a cast.
    Barbel are mostly bottom feeding fish, how do you get them to the surface?
    What am I missing?
    Barbel are predators. They also hunt.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    You thrash the water to lure them in.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    I think it was in Lake Sibaya where scientists discovered ( in the 70's I think) barbel using a herding technique to "compress" baitfish and then get them to the shallows where they are easier to hunt.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Quote Originally Posted by RobH View Post
    You thrash the water to lure them in.
    Still don't get it.
    You mean you splash around and they rise to the surface to investigate?

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Quote Originally Posted by Rustie View Post
    Still don't get it.
    You mean you splash around and they rise to the surface to investigate?
    Correct. You cast a fly onto the same spot / general area. No point in being delicate about landing the fly either, water is generally muddy so they hunt by feel.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Interesting!
    Would really like to try this. For obvious reasons tryoing this at say the Vall River won't be very sucessfull.
    This is more for dams right.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Quote Originally Posted by Rustie View Post
    Interesting!
    Would really like to try this. For obvious reasons tryoing this at say the Vall River won't be very sucessfull.
    This is more for dams right.
    Still deeper waters on the Vaal, especially under trees with weavers or herons breeding works great!
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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Geelvis - do you splash/lure them with your rod tip, or how??

    What flies work??

    Sounds like GREAT fun, I'm keen to try this.
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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tuw9Xr-1oTc

    And:

    http://www.fishingowl.co.za/flyfish2.html

    A slow twitch, twitch just under the water surface with a big, water shifting fly - that can really cause a pressure wave; often results in a heart stopping strike. More often than not it is necessary to strike very firmly (barbel have a very strong jaw clamp and often just hangs onto the hook without the barb really biting into flesh!)

    or:

    Cormorants and egrets always sit on the same branches - (these roosts can easily be found by looking for the whitewashed branches below these roosts). Barbel gather under these branches and scavenge everything that the birds drop (even their droppings).When activity is seen under these spots (swirls or bubbles). We drift silently into casting distance - now a sinktip line comes into play - a white fly (even a lefty's deceiver or marabou) is cast into this spot and then the angler does NOTHING - JUST WAIT!

    etc.) with a loud plop, then the water is softly stirred with the rods tip - The sequence that works best for me is - plop the fly hard into the water - shake your rod with just the front guide in the water, do this for 8 to 10 seconds, now slowly lift your fly out of the water and allow it to drop back into the water exactly where you stirred, repeat the drop 3 times - now allow your fly to sink - it should hang motionless for 2 to 3 minutes if you don't get a strike, try once more in the same spot and then move on (once a fish has been caught in a spot you must also move on - hardly ever will you get a second strike in the same spot).The reason for this action is that barbel are very alert and home in on any unusual commotion that can possibly supply them with a meal. The stirring of the water gets their attention, the plop, plop, plop of the fly then confirms their suspicion - and then they start searching - and believe you me - they WILL find your carefully tied Fly and proceed to destroy it.



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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Have Stealth Bomber, will travel.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    The Splash

    The splashing technique is something that was perfected by Terry Babich.

    Barbel are super predators and can pick up the slightest vibrations in the water.
    The splashing "simulates" a fish or creature in distress and Mr. Barbel then comes to investigate.
    You won't believe how often it happens that when you let the flies sink, that fish is waiting right under your flies and the rod nearly gets ripped from your hands.

    This is basically how it works...

    The New Zealand style trace used for barbel consists of 2 flies. A big Triple B (Babich Barbel Bomber) and a smaller Carp Tugger, or similar tied about 50cm below the BBB.

    The aim is to cast the flies onto the same spot 3 times (knocking on the door) and then to let the flies sink.
    This is the splashing we are referring to. Splash, Splash, Splash, Sink... Splash, Splash, Splash, Sink and so it goes. The dirtier the water, the louder you splash and visa versa. Loud splashing in cleaner water scares the fish off.

    The take can be anything from a soft bump to an all out attack where you have the fish swirling around looking for those flies. In that situation. Splash once and let it sink. If he can't find the fly, splash once again and so on.
    You'll either get him or he'll spook and move into deeper water.

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    So we are going to de hoop campsite (nothern cape). Will this also be worth a bash for first time fly fishing ?

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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Louis vd Westhuizen is (was?) one of the best authorities of catching big barbels on fly. If you can get a copy of ''Fresh and salt water Fly Fishing on Southern Africa'', by Charles Norman, there is a whole chapter devoted to the subject....
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    Default Re: Barbel on Fly

    Where

    We typically fish large dams like the Vaal and Bloemhof, so we look for quiet, shallow bays well away from other people. DO NOT park your car right on the water as the vibrations will send the fish into deeper water before you even get there.

    As with all fishing, spend some time scanning the water. Look out for swirls, whiskers sticking out of the water or for darker patches in the water that might be mud stirred up by the barbel.
    Carefully wade through the water making your casts. Some days the fish will come looking for the fly, others you have to hunt them.

    It's always better to have a muddy bottom vs sand or rock.

    My personal favorite areas to target are shallow bays with some grass or water plants in the area. These plants are little food factories and the barbel come looking for bait fish, frogs etc in these areas.

    The links already provided have great information on barbel behavior in rivers but remember that there are far more snags in a river than in a dam. It's quite rare to land a very big barbel on fly in a river due to all the underwater obstacles.

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