Species: Hampala macrolepidota (Hampala barb)
Many people often refer to this as ‘jungle perch’ (although it is not a perch species) or ‘sidebar barb’. It is better to use the correct vernacular sebarau or hampala (barb).
They are a very fast swimmer and a hard hitting fish, and at times referred to as river wolves as they often hunt in packs causing the water surface to literally “boil”.
The sebarau is an excellent fish to target with artificial baits such as lures, spoons and flies.
Sebarau does not possess teeth. No wire trace is necessary. Thickness of leader will depend on the environment and if heavy structures are present.
Tippet or leader strength of between 12 to 20 lbs are often used.
Tying braid directly to lures are possible. However, we suggest connecting a leader of between 1.5 to 2 feet in length. This will give some shock absorption during hard strikes on light tippet or leaders, less tangle between braid and hooks when casting – and abrasion resistance against structures.
Sebarau are nearly always in or close to structures waiting to ambush passing prey. So casting very close to or better still, into snaggy areas will usually yield more action.
From personal observations, sebarau are only ever seen in open water during feeding frenzies. Otherwise, you’d have much better chance of catching them by casting into or close to likely fish-holding structures.
It is best to practice casting accuracy to increase catch rate and minimise frustration on the water. Getting hung up on structures cannot be avoided but can be minimised. Remember also that every time you move in to clear or retrieve your lures will also mean spooking the fish.
Hampala barb are usually most active early and late in the day, although we’ve also seen big fish caught in the middle of a hot day.
Watch: Old but gold sebarau fly fishing video with Nick of Tacklebox Adventures
South East Asia (Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sumatra, and Java, and southwestern China.
Smaller river basins, lakes and reservoirs. Predominantly a riverine fish preferring clear, well-oxygenated, running water with substrates of sand, gravel, rock or mud.
During the rainy season it is known to migrate into areas of inundated forest to feed and spawn.
Often converge among submerged tree trunks and branches.
- 500 – 700 mm (1.5 – 2+ ft)
- Weigh in excess of 5 kg (11 lbs)
Hampala are voracious feeders especially when in numbers. Water surface will literally boil when a shoal is feeding.
The genus currently consist of seven species some of which are:
- Sebarau (H. macrolepidota) is the largest-growing of the group – easy to identify by its colour pattern comprising a dark vertical band and the black marginal stripes in both lobes of the caudal-fin
- H. dispar possesses only a single dark blotch-like marking on the body and has less well-defined marginal stripes on the caudal lobes
- H. bimaculata aka two/three-striped/blotched sebarau are found in the East Malaysian state of Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo
It’s worth noting that the body markings often fade in very large specimens of all Hampala spp.