Ragi is a paste made from millet flour and water, and typically flavoured with yeast or cumin. That’s the form eaten by the local humans anyway. The form used as a fishing bait has a different texture and a huge range of tastes.
A foodstuff becomes bait
Sometime in the fairly recent past someone decided that the Ragi eaten as a staple could serve as a fishing bait. Since it was too soft to stay on the hook for long it was boiled until rubbery. The resulting ‘boilie’ proved a useful bait and, as with all great innovations, has been taken from there into one of the top fishing baits used in India.
Most innovations revolve around the flavouring added to the basic paste to make the bait more attractive to fish.
Strong flavours are believed by many to pass through the water and attract fish. There are various scientific theories as to why this is. Since India is the home of spice there is no shortage of strong flavours, and most of these have been tried as Mahseer fishing bait at some point or other.
Curry powder, or more properly a masala (mix), can be mixed in before the boiling stage to create one strong flavour. Since few will actually know what spices have gone into the mix this is a bit of a haphazard approach – though, to be sure, it often works.
Garlic and ginger are both used regularly in curry recipes. Both have been tried and tested as mahseer fishing bait additives with some success. Some say that garlic salt works better than crushed garlic.
Some swear that the best of the best is fenugreek, easily found in a good cook shop and all over India.
There are various other commercial additives designed for carp fishing at home that would be worth taking along and investigating. Strong fishy smells should do the trick so anything from oily sea-fish has to be worth a shot.
It is difficult to be scientific about the flavourings thing. Every regular angler has their own favourite – and may hint at the contents but will keep the special components to themselves. Take the basic Ragi first time and then begin to experiment until you build up your own experience on the matter. Oh! and don’t forget other methods too. Mahseer will take live and dead baits and lures – so you can have a great time experimenting with each of these too.
When Ragi is used as a Mahseer fishing bait, a piece, the size of which can be as large as a cricket ball, is wrapped around a large hook. In the past this would typically have been a 7/0 treble hook. Nowadays, as anglers become more aware of conservation measures, more and more choose to use a single large hook. Hooks have moved on too, and ones such as the Owner SSW Cutting Point series offer extra sharp points and carefully researched angles to make for easy penetration in better placements.
The right Ragi paste delivered in an appropriate size has proven highly successful for Mahseer fishing. The first time angler wanting to be sure of catching something can drop down to ping pong ball sized baits. Those seeking a specimen to test their mettle can go up to the cricket ball size and hope this dissuades all but the largest fish – assuming that there is at least one around big enough to do the business. Your local fishing guide should be able to advise – you just need to make sure you have a variety of good quality hooks, and the rest of the tackle to handle the battle that will follow a good take.