What I like to use for tilapia is peas, corn or bread balls. I have caught them on small worms, wax worms. I even have caught them on small lures during their spawn. But this method has been the most consistent:
Once you find a lake, pond or body of water with some tilapia, buy some canned peas, corn or both. For the next few days, chum the lake or pond with the canned peas and corn in the area you see the tilapia. Now go get some frozen peas and corn. Keep them frozen even while you are fishing with them.
This image came from ModernFarmer.com - an aquaculture firm that produces food products.
Using two rigs, put one piece of frozen corn on a small hook just free-lined (no weight or float), and on the other rig, place one piece of frozen pea on a small hook suspended below a float. You should be fishing in the area you chummed during the prior days. Tilapia stay suspended so keeping the bait in front of them is key. If you see their beds, which are almost perfectly round, deep, bowl-like holes, keep a bait in the bed on the bottom and one suspended in the bed. I also like to move the bait to the edge of the bed or along the drop-off of the bed. Be patient and make sure your shadow does not scare the tilapia. I also like to fish with 8-lb. fluorocarbon as my line with no leader. Hook sizes should be # 4 or smaller. Sometimes I would use a tiny split shot along the line in order to cast the corn or pea. Many times I use my fly rod with a pea or piece of corn as my fly. I have also caught tilapia on a tiny white fly.
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