Featherback / Knifefish

Spotted featherback caught fishing in Thailand at Dreamlake fishing resort in Chiang mai. (Top) A small size spotted featherback (Chitala chitala) caught from Dreamlake in Chiang mai. (Bottom) The protruding dorsal fin on the back which resembles a feather is the origin of the common name "Featherback", they are also known as Knifefishes due to their apparent knife shaped bodies

The Featherbacks or Knifefishes (Notopteridae) (meaning "back fin") are a family of bony-tongues Osteoglossiformes. The bony-tongues are a primitive but highly successful family of fishes which have been on earth for 200 million years or more. Their shape gives them their common name Knifefish and the other popular common name Featherback comes from the small thin protruding dorsal fin (see image right) which is not always so distinct or present in all species, hence the common confusion of some being named Featherback and some Knifefish and vice versa. The smallest of the Notopteridae family is the Ghost Knifefish (Notopterus notopterus) and most common in Thailand.

The main interest for anglers are the largest of the family the Giant Featherback (Chitala lopis) the Spotted Featherback (Chitala chitala) and the rare Royal Knifefish or Indochina Featherback (Chitala blanci). Featherbacks are usually nocturnal hunters and mainly feed on fish and amphibians. They can be taken on lures and flies which are presented well with a slow retrieve. Worms as always are a very good bait for all species of Featherback.

Spotted Featherback  (Chitala chitala) are very popular is Thai fishing parks and also as a food fish throughout Thailand. The name Featherback actually originates from its protruding thin dorsal fin, they are also known as the Spotted or Clown Knifefish...more>>
Royal Knifefish or Indochina Featherback  (Chitala blanci). is a rare catch in Thailand and its native range is very constricted to the North East of the country and the Mekong river. Its stocked in some fishing parks and private fishing lakes in Thailand and can grow to 5kg+ (11lb) and will readily take lures, flies and fish baits...more>>
Ghost Knifefish  (Notopterus notopterus) is the smallest and most common of the Knifefishes in Thailand, Thai language it's called Plah Chalat (สลาด) and a very popular food fish served up fried, curried or in spicy soups. Can be caught on light float fishing or Thai traditional bamboo tackle...more>>