Deep in our pristine jungle rivers swims a fish so majestic, beautiful and elusive it has become a holy grail for anglers. The Mahseer represents the ultimate challenge for the fly fisherman. To locate this fish is already a triumph. Then comes the challenge of enticing it to take a fly. Finally, the angler has to contend with its extreme strength and dirty fighting style before it can be brought to the riverbank, to be lovingly photographed and released.

The Mahseer is one of the fiercest fighting freshwater game fish in existence. Pound for pound it has unparalleled strength and endurance. The Mahseer are hard-hitting and incredibly strong fighters that weight in excess of 70 lbs. They are South East Asia's hyped-up version of a "Tropical Trout". In "The days of the Raj" in Colonial India, these fish broke rods, reels and lines of the colonels and the majors who tried to use their salmon gear, In the end, tackle-makers such as Hardy's were forced to build a new range to cope with Mahseer power. Rudyard Kipling, the author of the classic “The Jungle Book” once wrote: "There he stood, The Mahseer off the Poonch, beside whom the Tarpon is a Herring and he who catches him can say he is a fisherman"

Mahseer is the common name used for the genera Tor, Neolissochilus, and Naziritor in the family Cyprinidae (carp). The name Mahseer is however more often restricted to members of the genus Tor. The taxonomy of the Mahseer is confusing due to the morphological variations they exhibit. Mahseer inhabit both rivers and lakes, ascending to rapid streams with rocky bottoms for breeding. Like other types of carp, they are omnivorous, eating not only algae, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and other fish, but also fruit that falls from overhead trees. The first species from this group was scientifically described by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1822, and first mentioned as an angling challenge by the Oriental Sporting Magazine in 1833, soon becoming a favorite quarry of British anglers living in India. The Hindi name of mahāsir, mahāser, or mahāsaulā is used for a number of fishes of the group. British anglers in India called them the Indian salmon. Several sources of the common name Mahseer have been suggested: It has been said to be derived from Sanskrit, while others claim it is derived from Indo-Persian, Mahi- fish and Sher- tiger or tiger among fish in Persian, alternatively, mahā-śalka, meaning large-scaled, as the scales are so large that Buchanan mentions that playing cards were made from them at Dacca. Another theory by Henry Sullivan Thomas suggests mahā-āsya; great mouth. The name Mahasher is commonly used in Urdu, Punjabi and Kashmiri languages in Pakistan for this fish and is said to be made up of two local words: Maha = big and sher = lion as it ascends in the hilly rivers and streams of Himalaya courageously.

Thai Mahseer (Tor Tambroides), Semah Mahseer (Tor douronensis) and Stracheyi Mahseer Mahseer (Neolissochilus Stracheyi, also called Tor Stracheyi) are the 3 Mahseer species we target and they are found in clear, clean rivers in the mountains. They have been reported from: Thailand (Chao Phraya and Mekong basins, Mae Klong, Thai- Burma border Rivers and the rivers in the Cheow Lan area), Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah and East Kalimantan), Myanmar (Burma), Salween and Mergui Rivers and its tributaries. Their habitat consists of medium to large rivers with rocky, sandy, and leafy bottoms. The Mahseer prefers highly oxygenated water and a dark environment. Adults inhabit pools and runs over gravel and cobble in rivers flowing through undisturbed forests. Juveniles were most commonly found in or near rapids. They are found in small rivers and streams during the dry season. The Mahseer move downstream at the onset of the rainy season, but generally avoid turbid waters. Mature individuals migrate upstream after two months and spawn in July near the mouths of small streams that the young subsequently ascend. Their habits include stationing itself in prime lies where its needs of security, shelter, and food is readily served. They may forage in shallow areas or close to rapids when it is assured of security. They are a very shy fish. They are omnivorous, feeding on both animal and vegetable matter, at times consuming toxic fruits in flooded forests, making them temporarily inedible. The maximum size for the Thai Mahseer (Tor Tambroides) is 145 cm and 32 kg (70, 4 lb) reported from Sarawak state, Borneo. The biggest Thai Mahseer (Called Kelah here) from the Malay Peninsula was 27 Kg, a fish caught in the Tenggiri River. The Stracheyi Mahseer (Neolissochilus Stracheyi, also called Tor Stracheyi) can reach 8-10kg size and 90 cm. The Semah Mahseer (Tor douronensis) is reported up to 63,5 cm size from Sarawak state in Malaysia. Scientific research in Malaysia has proved that a 3 kg size Thai Mahseer is approximate 8 years old and a 8-9 kg fish around 30 year old, so it's very important to release the big fish as they grow slowly and are very important for the spawning. Common English names for the Thai Mahseer are: Greater Brook Carp and Malaysian Red Mahseer. The common local names are: Pla Wien (Thailand), Kelah (Peninsular Malaysia), Empurau (Sarawak), Pelian (Sabah). Recommended fly equipment for Thai and Stracheyi Mahseer: class 5-7 9ft rods, Large arbor reels with very good brake system holding min 150 meters of 30 lb backing, floating lines, 10-20 lb nylon or fluorocarbon leaders, small streamer flies, popper flies, wet flies, nymphs and large dry flies. Many of our clients have compared the take of a Mahseer to a strike from a big Bonefish. Panicking and trying to stop the fish during its first run normally results in a broken leader. The best is to try to stay cool and let the fish run with not too much drag on the reel and run after it as fast as you can until the first run is over, and then increase the drag and start to fight it. You have to be prepared for a second or a third long run and, many Mahseer have been lost due to overconfident anglers, who thought that the battle was already won. Good presentation skills are also required and it’s very important to approach the fish very slowly. Wearing dull or green colors is very important; the Mahseer is a very shy fish. We have also noticed that loud voices can spoke them, so keep this in mind. At first glance the rivers we fish will remind you of a typical Trout river--; boulder strewn, gravel and sand bottoms, deep winding pools, undercut banks, small rapids followed by fast riffles. Wearing top grade polarized sunglasses is also essential to be able to spot the fish in the river, brown or amber colored glass is recommended.

Many anglers make the mistake of fishing the pools too fast and end up spooking the very shy fish. Mahseer can be found in very shallow areas of the pool that many anglers think will not hold any fish at all, try to read the pool you fish and look for fish all the time as you fish your way upstream. Often the strike comes just when the fly lands on the surface, so be prepared, don’t lose control of the fly line at any time (try to keep the fly line between your thumb and index finger when you present the fly, this way you got no line slack and can set the hook immediately). A line loop around the rod but or around the reel when a big Mahseer strike can be a very unpleasant experience, by controlling the fly line between your thumb and index finger when you shoot the line you will avoid this problem. During the Mahseer’s first fast run, remember; try to keep the rod tip high to clear the line and leader from being cut by underwater rocks and boulders, sometimes the Mahseer swim under submerged roots and logs during the first fast run and you have to be prepared to follow the line with the rod tip under water to clear those obstacles. A big Mahseer can take over 100 meter of line in the first fast run, so you have to be prepared to run after the fish, just be careful so you don't fall over rocks and boulders and break the rod. If you are lucky the Mahseer swims upstream in the first run, but normally it’s just full speed downstream.

You will often have to do things a little differently here than what you are probably used to in order to score fish. Fish longer leaders than you are used to, employ stealth as you sneak upstream in search of fish (dark or dull clothing is a must, no bright colored fishing cap, shirt or pants). A very important thing about fly fishing for the Mahseer is how to approach them. If you have fished for trout before in streams, you would know that approaching from upstream is a not always the best. If you approach from upstream you will be high up and obvious to the fish. Because they face into the current they will also be looking right at you, once you are seen, the fish may either scatter or stay put, and will most likely not take a fly after that. Approaching from downstream means you are out of sight behind the fish, low down and any mud youstir will be swept away from where you are fishing,rather than right into the fish’s faces,

the Mahseercan also hear sound from your wading boots much better downstream than upstream. The fly you present to the Mahseer will look more natural to the fish if it’s coming down with the current than stripped against it. Repeated casts to the same spot are very unlikely to get a positive response; casting again and again at the same fish is unlikely to do any good. Make no more than two casts to a likely spot. If no result, move on upstream.

Sight fishing is the best way to catch Mahseer and blind fishing is not often the best option. You must learn to read the water, recognize where the Mahseer prefers to hang out and, realize that they won't always be in the deeper water on the far bank. During early morning hours, you will often find them right out in the open, away from cover, often in super shallow water. Learning to read the water and searching it visually is a real key towards success. Also, don't neglect the fast stuff. Spotting Mahseer in fast water will put some of the bigger fish in your net. Look for subtle hints: shape, movement, shadow and color, anything not quite in synch with the riverbed. However, don’t worry too much because your guide will be next to you and he will help you to learn to read the Mahseer Rivers and point out fish. You will also need to be able to walk to get to where the fish are. Sure, we have locations where you are rarely ever a couple of hundred meters from the boat or from the road, but often we have to walk for a couple of kilometers to reach the best pools and, it’s best that you get in condition. Fitness can play an important role in enjoying your all around Mahseer jungle experience as: it can ensure that you are steady and focused enough to make that first cast count after a strenuous march across boulders. Put a few miles on those boots before you come out to get in shape. One last warning, Mahseer fly-fishing can be very addictive.

We are the innovators in modern Mahseer dry fly and nymph fly-fishing in Thailand and in Malaysia, and our unique trips are especially tailor-made to suit the needs of each client. Our dedicated guide team is highly skilled and, experts in jungle Mahseer fly fishing while at the same time offering consistent quality service and attention to detail.