Fishing for tilapia has always been a bit of a black art. They are wary and have good eyesight so it’s best to use very light tackle. I had previously tried several different rigs, techniques and bait but nothing I tried was very successful. A friend recently showed me a technique he uses (thanks Mr H), I copied it as best I could with the tackle I had with me and it worked a treat.
First of all a stopper is put on the main line followed by a float and another stopper, a weight then a bead is threaded on then the swivel tied on. As tilapia have good eyesight use a very light leader tied onto the swivel. I used 12lb mono because occasionally striped catfish would take the bait but use as light a line as you can get away with. I used a size 6 hook with a leader of around 12″ (30 cm). Set the float 18″ – 36″ (45 cm – 90 cm) above the swivel. Put two small polystyrene balls on the hook to make it float off the bottom of the pond.
Squash and wrap a small piece of bread around the hook with a view to it staying on there. Grab a small handful of breadcrumbs and squeeze them round the hook. The idea is that the breadcrumbs form a cloud of bait attracting the tilapia but the lump of bread stays on the hook for the tilapia to suck in.
When fishing for tilapia only cast a few feet out from the bank, they seem to prefer the shallow water close in and there is less chance of hooking a striped catfish.
You could also try some of the special bait mixes made for catching tilapia, the powdered stuff is made from ground rice husks.