“I’ve just tied up 10 more mega clousers, bru,” came Ewan Naude’s words late last week, following a phone call to James Williams from Wildman Fishing co.

Tigerfish clousers

Ewan’s mega clousers

“Basically, like I would be tying if I was fishing for Geets off Mozambique – I wrapped the shanks in copper wire, plus they’re all loaded with heavy dumbbells,” Ewan continued.

The rugged man that he is, he’s still not too sure how he is going to cast them on his 10, but where we are heading there is bound to be a lot of ‘just lob them out and throw some mend’ …

The area near camp up at Sioma Falls (c) Sioma Barotse Safaris

In a week’s time myself and Ewan will be on the Zambezi River with Wildman Fishing co and Royal Barotse Safaris to fish around the Sioma Falls (the second largest Falls on the Zambezi). The two big attractions for us both (having caught tigers in various locations in Southern Africa, mostly from boats) is that there is the opportunity there to target good fish from shore. And, the chance at some Zambezi Yellowfish.

The tigers are deep at the moment. Well deep. This is the word from James and his team and the reason Ewan and I both went back to the vise for some more heavier patterns. There haven’t been many fly-fishers in camp the past few weeks, but the spin fisherman have been doing really well at around 4m and deeper even.

So, we are in for some ‘heavy days’ (the good kind) in the strong currents of the gorge.

Packing-wise the standard for Zambezi applies with full-sink and sink-tip lines at the top of the list (partnered with the heavily-weighted patterns).

Says Ewan, “Tigerfish are a species that I know very little about and have only fished for once before. It feels quite strange being out of your comfort zone and having to learn a few new tricks. I’ve done a bit of research on lines and for this trip and the Sci-anglers sonar custom ticked a number of boxes for me. It comes with a 30ft sink tip that sinks at 7.75 inches per second.”

This comes as a 460 grain line and can be cut down and customized to suit your particular application. “I’ve cut mine down to around 360 grain which may be at the top end in terms of weight on my 9wt but the beauty is that I can adjust accordingly on the river,” Ewan says.

I am also going with 9WTs (loaded with various Rio lines), including a test outfit from Frontier Fly Fishing, the Horizon 990-4 TSS. Horizon bills this value outfit as ‘not just a great all-round saltwater rod for the South African coast but is also the ideal rod for species in exotic destinations like the Seychelles and Mauritius. It is also the perfect rod for tigerfish in the Zambezi River and other environs where they are found.’

It has the look and feel of a rod twice the price and I’ve had two initial sessions with it at a local estuary and was well impressed with handling ease and casting distance.  The ultra-fast action suits my casting style and it seems to handle managed big flies well. Those outings were all with an intermediate line (producing juvenile garrick) so it’s going to be interesting on the sink-tips and full sinker.

Yellowfish nymphs

LeRoy Botha’s Zambezi Yellowfish selection

In contrast to the HEAVY DAY prep for tigers, we’re going lightish (5 weight outfits) and packing nymph and crab patterns for Labeobarbus codringtonii.

The Upper-Zambezi Yellowfish is found in the Zambezi above the Victoria Falls and in the Okavango. Bigger specimens have rubberlips and are more orange in colour and the plan is to put in good time for them in riffles and rapids.

Zambezi Yellowfish (c) Garth Wellman

For the yellows I’ll be relying heavily on Ewan and his vast Orange River and Clannie experience as well as a neat box of nymphs tied by my Garden Route brother, LeRoy Botha.

LeRoy Botha’s Goldminer, tied on a stouter hook (than he would tie the same size fly for trout) to handle the Zambezi yellows


The ECOastal Stripping Basket – a biodegradable collab between Sondergaard and Scientific Anglers recently landed in our test pool. Since Ewan is packing his shopping basket for the land-based stuff and I was initially highly skeptical of the design, The Mission editor Tudor Caradoc-Davies thought it the perfect opportunity to give it a proper outing.

I’ve already swallowed half my critical words just handling the ultra-light foam item. The ergonomics are unrivalled, the rod holder holds a 9 snug and scratch free and the spikes don’t hurt your hands. Water time will tell the rest.

The spikes are removable and I have a feeling it will take some customization to get the configuration right while ensuring the line doesn’t spill out the front. Looking forward to using it next week.

Sungloves are another must-have on the Zambezi. I’ve spent countless hours on a bicycle wearing bike gloves so have gotten rather critical when it comes to these.

These minimalist items from Orvis recently landed at Mavungana Flyfishing, they offer 50+ UPF, are breathable and quick-drying.