Fly Fishing For Blunttooth Catfish In South Africa

How To Catch The Blunttooth Catfish On Fly

Blunttooth Catfish Illustration

Blunttooth Catfish (Note the fin between the dorsal and the tail)

The Blunttooth Catfish (Clarias ngamensis), often spelt Blunt-tooth or Blunt Tooth Catfish, is a freshwater fish species belonging to the Air Breathing Catfishes family, of which there are 3 species found in South Africa. The Blunttooth Catfish is very similar in appearance to the Sharptooth Catfish, more well known as the Barbel, but the way to tell the difference between the Sharptooth and Blunttooth Barbel (Catfish) species is that the Sharptooth Catfish (Barbel) has a long dorsal fin that ends just before the tail, whereas the Blunttooth Catfish has a long dorsal fin, then another flesh-like fin between the end of the dorsal fin and the start of the tail. Unfortunately this cannot be demonstrated in the image further down the page, as the photo of this fish had been cut off.

More Information On The Blunttooth Catfish

Juvenile Blunttooth Catfish

Juvenile Blunttooth Catfish

The Blunt Tooth Barbel is more well known as a fish species that joins the Sharptooth Barbel in the annual Catfish run in the Okavango Delta, and during this time it becomes very aggressive, and also forms a large part of the Tigerfish diet. It can grow up to 6 kilograms or so and is quite an aggressive species, and a predator fish. It feeds on crabs, freshwater shrimp and mussels, insects, molluscs and of course, fish.

The Blunttooth Catfish has a limited range in South Africa, one that includes some rivers that flow into the Kruger National Park, Limpopo River, the Pongola River (Phongolo) and Lake Jozini. They don’t grow as big as their cousin relatives the Barbel, but they often hunt in shoals, and can grow upwards in length of 1 meter. They can be a challenging, but rewarding species on fly.

They prefer well vegetated areas in flood plains, marshlands and shallower waters of dams that are densely populated with structure. They are also at home in rivers, and often hunt as an ambush predator.

How To Fly Fish For Blunttooth Catfish On Fly?

The Blunttooth Catfish (Barbel) is an inquisitive and aggressive species… They can be tough to catch on fly, but once you find the technique, you should catch quite a few. First you need to locate them, and they often hang around with Sharptooth Catfish (Barbel), so this is the most challenging aspect of fly fishing for Blunttooth Catfish. You need to arm yourself with a 6, 7 or 8 weight fly fishing setup, and floating line. You need this heavy setup in case you hook a Sharptooth Catfish (Which is highly likely) and to help you fight the Blunttooth Catfish, as they love heading for structure, and can fight quite dirty. Use a strong leader, 15 – 20lbs.

You can use a calling method (Where you splash the fly a few times in the water to “call” the fish), or you can sight fish – where you look for them in the shallows (They often tail or sip on the surface) – for them.

Have a look at our article on the best Barbel flies, this can help when targeting the Blunttooth Catfish.

The best flies to use for the Blunttooth Catfish are:

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