Wallago or Malli

Wallago attu
Indian Game Fishes / Wallago or Malli
Family: Siluridae
ICUN red list status: Near Threatened (NT)
Habitat: Fresh water

Wallagu Attu also known as Sarang (Himalayan regions), Wallga / Pathan (AP), Mulley (North India), Boal / Buari (Bengal / Bihar) is a freshwater cat fish prized for its feisty fighting abilities and enormous size. This fish is an aggressive and voracious predator with an insatiable appetite, taking down large prey items not limited to fish, frogs, crustaceans and even large ducks and other birds with consummate ease and truly deserves the title of Apex Predator or “Wels equivalent of India”. This fish is being investigated for reported attacks on humans though no authenticated evidence of this has been established.  The fish is known to grow to humongous proportions with its size limited only to the availability of food. This fish can be caught on live baits, dead baits and on lures (spoons and spinners, preferably size 5 spinners or large spoons). The fish has excellent sense of smell like most cat fish species using its whiskers to sense food so it can detect dead bait easily and its excellent sight and whiskers also help them locate spoons and spinners which they readily strike. This fish has sharp needle like teeth all along its mouth so it’s advisable to use a strong leader and care much be taken while removing hooks to avoid injury.  The fish is also known to exhibit cannibalistic features. Like most cat fish species this fish can survive for a few hours out of water as long as it’s kept cool. This fish is also believed to have mythical powers by some sections in India and elsewhere.


Wallagu Attu inhabits most of the rivers and natural fresh water lakes of India with relatively higher density in the Deccan plateau region.

Playing the fish:

Once hooked a fish less than 5 kilos will make a fast run and one can tire them after playing the fish a few times however care must be taken with the larger ones as they tend to dive deep and feel like dead weight on end the rod. The larger ones use this trick, they allow themselves to be reeled in easily, making you feel its tired but as soon as it near shore the fish fights like crazy trying to use its sharp teeth to break the line. One should play the larger ones with the rod more with minimal reeling and occasionally lifting fish tiring it totally and then reel it in.

Recommended Tackle:

Although the fish is known to grow very big such specimens are very rare these days. Spinning with a  medium rated fast action rod rated 20 lbs with a 12 lbs mono of 100 -150 yards with a heavier mono leader is appropriate to enjoying the fight of the fish. A heavier tackle would be required if the place is a known home for very large specimens (> 20 Kilos).


AIGFA recommends always carrying long curved nose pliers to unhook this fish. If caught on a spinner / spoon with treble hook always land this fish using a landing net from the tail as one of the prongs of the treble can get stuck in landing net risking you losing a precious photograph.

Discription by : Shadab Kalim

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