Fishing-rods, reels, and tackle employed in mahseer fishing may be described as similar to those used for salmon fishing, and only differ from them in a few details, such as balance in rods, and strength of check and width in the reels. The tackles are stronger in the hooks, and often mounted on wire. Flies, artificial and natural baits, frogs, paste, gram, pieces of fig, melon, mulberries, and prawn, are all used. The food of the mahseer being of so general and varied a character, the angler to be properly fitted requires a variety of tackles to enable him to meet the varying conditions under which he will fish.
Although, as indicated, the mahseer are omnivorous, yet they are often difficult to catch, coming on and going off their "feed" in the most unaccountable manner.
There are a few firms in India from whom rods and tackle may be purchased, but as the most of the goods are sent from England it is better when going out to take full supplies of all the most improved forms, many of which cannot be procured in India.
We purpose giving a few directions and illustrations of what is necessary, and will take in their order rods, reels, artificial baits, traces, hooks, etc.
The articles described are necessarily few, and may be largely supplemented if desired, but are the latest developments and those which are finding most favour in India at the present time.
Rods of 18 feet were a good deal used a few years ago, but it is now generally considered that 16 feet is quite long enough, and we feel fairly safe in recommending them from 15 feet to 17 feet both inclusive-a good deal depending on the physique of the individual who is to use them. In choosing a rod we strongly advise any one intending to fish in a. warm climate to err rather on the lighter than on the heavier side.
The balance most suitable is the same as for salmon fishing, and is best described as moderately pliable. On no account should the rod be stiff, as mahseer have a way of taking a spinning bait with a fierce tug, which if the rod be too stiff and strong in the top is apt to cause a break up of the tackle.
The rods used may, of course, be made either of greenheart or split cane. The latter with a steel centre are best. The "Hi-Regan," 16 feet, may be mentioned as a kind well suited to the work. This rod has revolving butt and end rings, cork-covered handle, patent lock-fast joints, and "universal " winch fitting. The price, according to list, is £10. A similar and less expensive rod (£3, 10s.), made in greenheart, although a little heavier, answers admirably, and the rods may be made to any length, balance, and detail that may be desired.
The introduction of improved spinning reels and shorter rods for salmon spinning has had its effect on mahseer fishing, as anglers accustomed to use these for salmon have taken them out to India and introduced them to mahseer anglers there, where they are fast becoming very popular, and many are discarding the longer rods for those of 11 feet 6 inches to 14 feet for spinning. The " Murdoch," which can be procured 11 feet 6 inches and 12 feet 6 inches, is a cane-built rod with steel centre, and has large revolving butt and also revolving pipe-end rings, and has proved to be just as suitable for mahseer as for salmon, and this is saying a good deal. This rod has cork-covered handle, lock joints, bridge rings, etc, and can be procured either cane built with steel centre or greenheart-the steel centre, 11 feet 6 inches, costing £6; 12 feet 6 inches, £7 ; while the greenheart, 11 feet 6 inches, is £2, 15s.; 12 feet 6 inches, £3.
The 16 feet " Hi-Regan," before mentioned, and one of these " Murdoch99 rods would make a com plete outfit for the heavier mahseer so far as rods go. The 16 feet rod also comes in very suitably for fly fishing, both for mahseer and carnatic carp.
The reel must be fairly large so as to take 150 to 200 yards of line. For general fishing a 4^ or 5 inch c< Perfect," with ball bearings and regulating check (costing 60s.), is most useful; but this reel is primarily intended as a fly reel. If used for spinning, the line must be drawn off with the hand, and the bait cast as in the Thames fashion. This reel would be perfectly suitable for the 16 feet rod.
The "Silex" may be mentioned as a good reel for mahseer fishing, as it is easy to cast direct from when spinning, and may also be used as an ordinary reel for fly or other fishing; 4¼ or 4½, costing about 50s., are the best sizes. In changing from one action to the other the reel does not require any alteration further than to bring the auxiliary check into action, which simply requires that the circular lever extending through the outer plate should be pulled over.
Dressed lines are naturally the best, but to get a dressed line to stand the climate of India is some what difficult, particularly in the south, where the monsoons have so great an effect. In the hills, however, where the mahseer are mostly found, they wear better. Much can be done in the way of lengthening the life of a line by attention, such as seeing that it is put away dry, and frequently rubbed with paraffin (solid) and polished off with a soft cloth. Undressed silk lines are useful and should always be taken, as they come in handy both as a stand-by and for backing. Plaited hemp is also very good and very strong. If these lines are well treated and rubbed in the way described for the dressed lines they wear very well.
At present it remains a vexed question whether gut or the new amalgam wire (called "Punjab' ) makes the better trace for mahseer, but it seems odds on the twisted wire, as it is very strong and so far has proved eminently suitable. This wire is a vast improvement upon that in use a few years ago, as it is hard and springy and resists kinking. Rust, however, is its great enemy, and although only partly composed of steel and well plated it will rust unless carefully dried and oiled when out of use. If reasonable care, however, be taken it lasts well. The latest traces now made from it (called "Punjab" traces) are soldered as well as bound at the parts where joined to the swivels, and are exceedingly neat in appearance. To avoid side grip on the swivel (which stops the spinning and causes the bait to gyrate) the new traces are fitted with an oval-shaped eye to the swivel, and a cor respondingly large loop in the wire which prevents their locking together. This, no doubt, seems a trivial matter, but it is a very important one to the mahseer angler.