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Bait
03 Nov 2017
by CARPology
Everybody loves a screamer
Are your hookbaits doing the business? Chances are, they need a boost. Avid Carper Mat Woods looks at some simple ways to take your hookbaits to the next level…

Slinging singles is not an art form.
Any pub chucker worth his chump cheese can pump a pineapple pop-up into the abyss and bag a big ‘un. But doing it on a regular basis requires a little more thought than most chuck-and-chance Chesneys can muster.

It’s my opinion that your hookbait should hit the pond and literally scream for attention! It’s all well and good it being fluorescent, but you wouldn’t eat a traffic cone, would you? It needs to scream from all angles – from taste profile to pH change – and I’m afraid you can’t do that with a shop bought. I’ll look at rolling your own next month, but for this article I plan on looking at things you can add to shop-bought baits to really make them sing.

You can’t beat rolling your own, but shop-boughts can be pimped too

Secret agent

I’m going to use a horrible carp fishing cliché now and talk about ‘those in the know’. If you know, you know. Y’know? I reckon every angler reading this right now has at some point sought advice from another angler when it comes to hookbaits. At the carp shows you always hear this being discussed and there are an unhealthy number of pots unscrewed and sniffed in tackle shops these days. The fact is, we’re all looking for edges and if it’s as easy as spending your hard-earned on a pot of smelly pop-ups, then happy days! Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple.

Most commercially available pop-ups smell nice, but usually at the cost of them actually being any good. I’m not going to tar all pots with the same brush, but I’m a hookbait snob and frankly speaking, the majority aren’t worth a second sniff. At least not in their current form.

You see, what I want to look at in this article are the things you can add to your hookbaits to give them more potency. Some you can buy in your local tackle shop, whilst others may require more research to track them down.

Goo works as a visual stimulator, sure, but the other ingredients are what makes it tasty for carp<

Get on the Goo

I see very few anglers without a pot of Kiana Goo drenched hookbaits these days. And why not? It’s a blend of liquids that offers sweetness, flavour and loads of colour. What’s not to like? I can remember being part of the testing of the product that was around before Goo – Vision Baits’ Ectoplasm. During testing we found carp didn’t like it until you added sweeteners, flavours and palatants. After which, they loved it! Or rather, they loved what it carried. Either way, it works and on the right venue can be superb. Pete and Ian, the guys behind Kiana, are some of the best anglers in the UK and their record in the BCAC is outrageous. They’ve obviously developed the flavours to get the ratios right, so you’d be a fool to ignore that.

I have used lots of versions of ‘Goo’. It’s great on the right venue

Flavour realities

I’ve touched on sweeteners already and to my mind, I’d rather add liquid sweetener to my hookbaits than flavour. Flavours without a sweetener are so harsh and virtually unpalatable. It’s no coincidence that using neat flavours doesn’t bring great results – they are usually so concentrated that sensitive taste buds just cannot handle them. Also, flavours usually have a carrier liquid like monopropylene glycol (MPG), glycerol, ethyl alcohol or something like coconut oil. None of these taste that great!

Sweeteners, meanwhile, are what make everything taste great. Literally, everything on the planet! Plenty of sweeteners are available in the carp world and whilst you can source them yourself, you’ll have to buy gallons, which you won’t really need. Let’s look at some of the better sweeteners for a second…

In my opinion virtually every bait is improved with the addition of liquid sweetener

Betalin

Betalin is the best ingredient I can recommend for adding to your hookbaits. Whether you drown them or just give them a liberal coating to soak in, adding Betalin brings an otherwise boring hookbait to life. Betalin is also a good carrier for flavours. I’ve done well adding 5ml of flavour to a 50ml bottle of Betalin to give it my own label.

The super sweet liquid has a nectar-type aroma and you can still taste it in baits after they’ve been in the lake for a while. One of my favourite ways to use Betalin is over fake baits but I’ve also done well using it on fishmeals, especially in conjunction with something like Monster Crab or Squid Octopus. Both of these flavours are fairly alkaline and can be used in high doses in single hookbait mixes. Whenever I make my Sweet Squids, my mates always ponce a few!

Don’t add flavours to pop-ups without sweeteners as well. The sweetener rounds everything out

Thaumatin-B

This particular liquid would get more press with a better name, though you can’t take anything away from its effectiveness. This has a sunscreen aroma, almost coconut cream style, and is another brilliant sweetener. This is my first choice as an addition for nut mix or milk protein hookbaits. I’m not sure why it’s more effective on that type of bait but it definitely seems to have a positive influence! Once again, low levels are best and 1ml would be enough for most applications, 2ml if used in conjunction with a flavour, acid or carrier liquid like MetaMino or Minamino PPC.

Smells like a sweet shop, but some work better than others

N-Butyric Acid

Yep, it stinks. It lingers, it hums, it’s like a rotten bag of meat and piss. But hookbaits without this in just aren’t as good, in my experience. And I’m being a snob again, of course. If you want a hookbait that is truly ‘Next Level’, something to put your house on, you need N-Butyric Acid.

The weird thing about this stuff is that it dissolves better in colder water. I remember Frank Warwick using baits with so much N-Butyric in you could barely approach the lake he was on, let alone his swim!

One interesting thing about N-Butyric is that it’s used to create a number of artificial flavours, namely pineapple. How the hell does something that smells like a Frenchman’s jockstrap end up smelling of pineapples? Science is scary!

I include N-Butyric in the glugs I put over my hookbaits. My usual guesstimate is 2ml flavour, 2ml sweetener, 2 drops N-butyric, especially for winter hookbaits. I’ll happily use that combination with most sweet flavours, but if I’m boosting my fishmeals? Well that’s another game altogether.

Oils are mega, as are additional fishmeal powders. My finely-tuned Code Reds are an absolute banker at times

Well oiled

Fish oils are great and an easy way to make a fishmeal hookbait look like it’s going to tear the lake apart, but the truth is sometimes the oil can lock-in all the goodness in the hookbait and not really allow it to escape freely. You know when you get oil on your hands, it’s hard to wash off, isn’t it? So for me, I don’t think it’s quite as simple as just lobbing some salmon oil around your cork ball pop-ups and feeling well carpy.

Experimentation is key. Some baits absorb liquids quickly too. When they dry out, give them a chance before considering the addition of more liquid. Don’t overload!

In my experience, thinning the oils with a Nutritional Emulsifier (Nutrabaits do a great one) and adding a spot of flavour, sweetener and acid to the mix really gets things lively. I’ve been using the Code Red bait from Sonubaits loads and for my hookbaits I have a simple combination that’s accounted for a fish with just about every hookbait in the pot.

10ml Chilli Oil, 2 drops black pepper oil, 2ml Nutritional Emulsifier, 2 Drops N-Butyric and 1ml Betalin. Smells like Code Red on steroids and I can’t imagine life without it!

Natural liquids and liquid foods can be amazing

Protein diet

This is where things get really confusing for me as I can’t imagine any of the Fish Proteins, Liquid Livers, Liquid This, Liquid That’s of this world don’t attract fish. In fact, I’d go as far to say that a cup of tea would attract a carp to feed somewhere if put in the right place. Choosing one that works as well from one venue to another is virtually impossible and with every bait company going putting this sort of thing in bottles, who knows where to start?

I can’t imagine that any of the liquid foods are a bad addition to a hookbait, but where do you actually start? I’ve just been on a number of websites reading through the blurb and by the sounds of it, many rely on being used in conjunction with certain baits, or certain versions of a bait. Or they’re only any good when emulsified, or when used at certain levels, or when put over frozen baits to thaw out, or when mixed with oil, or this or that or anything else they might’ve thought about that might sell a few pots.

One of three chunks on pimped hookbaits. Give yourself an edge, don’t settle for the commercially available ones

That’s the great thing about bait though. It’s a constant experiment and something you’ll find your own ‘secrets’ and edges with. But you simply must go on that journey.

Most of the time the only bottles you find on a carp angler’s barrow have got beer in them. So don’t be a pub chucker, give your singles some thought this autumn and pimp your hookbaits. You never know, you might slip the net under something worth cracking a beer open for.

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