Also known as the Giant Snakehead, this is a fiercesome looking fish, with a set of teeth to match. The character of the fish matches its looks, vicious! They have been known to grow over a meter in length, in excess of 20 kilos. But 4-6 kilos would be a common catch in the dams.
Their fighting qualities essentially are similar to a runaway train or bulldozer! Unstoppable! On taken a lure or bait it will take off and head for the nearest snag! These fiercesome traits combined with its readiness to take artificial lures makes it a very popular sportfish!
You could call it a cross between the Pike/Muskie and a American Largemouth Bass. Frequently found in dams, slow rivers, old mining ponds, lakes and swamps. In still waters it can be found lurking among the submerged timber and stream mouths.
Like its smaller brethren the haruan it comes up regularly to the surface to breathe. Often a cast to a rise will result in a vicious strike! When the fish aren't rising, casting to structure will often yield results. But be ready to hang onto the rod and reel as the toman takes off towards a snag. The result? Another lure hanging on an underwater tree branch, and the lure manufacturers sales in increasing.
Almost any lure in the market has been known to take toman, plugs, spoons, spinners, spinnerbaits, and soft plastics, they all work! The diet of the toman includes more than aquatic creatures, birds and even monkeys have fallen prey to the large toman. There is a story of a man that was drowned by a toman the size of a barrel, how true this is I really don't know. But surely this story only serves to show how feared the toman is as a predator!
Live baiting with toman is also popular. Due to its sharp teeth the use of a short wire trace or heavy mono must be used to ensure that the line isn't cut through. Baits of whole or strips of fish can be used too. Other baits like catfish or chicken intestines are commonly used and successful.
Toman readily provide sport for the fly fisherman too. Any baitfish type fly or popper should do the trick. Probably the bigger the better. But a stout fly rod, preferably a 8-9wt or higher would be required to stop this powerful fish in its tracks!
Undoubtedly this fish provides the angler with heart stopping thrills in our Malaysian waters!