Is there a ‘carpier’ hookbait than a tiger nut? In my opinion, tigers are a misunderstood bait that many anglers only turn to if absolutely necessary. For me, tigers are much more than a way to avoid nuisance species – they’re a hookbait to turn to when all around you are lost in a cloud of fishmeals, nutmeals and anything else that gets boiled within an inch of its life.
There’s something about tigers that makes carp lose the plot. I’ve been on venues where you can’t get a bite on an 18mm boilie to save your life, but stick three tigers on a Hair and you’ll bag a chunk. It doesn’t really make that much sense, does it? How does this relatively innocuous bait provide such great results?
The answer lies, I believe, in what the nuts are made from. Ian Day from Sonubaits is a very learned chap, especially when it comes to bait. I had no idea what tigers were made up of but he explained that nutritionally speaking, tigers are very oily, sugary and full of starch and fibre. Of course, this comes with a bucketload of proteins, vitamins and minerals, but I think it’s more likely the sugar and starch content that the carp home in on. Look at how carp react to white bread! White bread is full of crap to make it last longer on the shelf, so there’s a disproportionate amount of the starchy flour and sugar. A tiger nut is basically a hard version, in my opinion, which might be why carp love them so much.
Tigers start their life growing on the roots of plants and come out of the ground juicy and quite soft. They aren’t nuts at all, but their texture after drying is very ‘nut-like’. For the food industry they’re industrially dried for three months and then they end up in all sorts of places. Across Europe they eat them as a snack, or mill them and use the flour to make drinks and cakes. Meanwhile, us hairy-arsed carp anglers are soaking them in the shed to try and encourage just the right amount of syrup around the outside of them. This in itself is an art form and in fairness, is more to do with the fermentation process and the speed of it rather than any special additives.
The prep work
I usually soak my tigers in hot water that’s had a silly amount of sugar added to it. I find this increases the speed of the fermentation process and really gets the thick, syrupy ‘goop’ going in a short period of time. I boil them in the same water and leave to soak again for a few days. If it’s quite warm, the ‘goop’ will appear earlier than if the air temperature is cold. Keep your buckets in a warm place, or better yet chuck them in an old coolbox, and you’ll have those lovely gooey tiger nuts that everyone hopes for.
In my experience, I’ve found tigers to be better fed as a crushed entity. I’m sure the reasons for this extend further than them simply being easier to eat when crushed. Sure, the attraction is more likely to be released from within the nut when it’s crushed, but I think the main reason is because whole tigers come out the back of carp about the same as the way they went in, only crushed. You end up with crushed tigers all over the place, as the carp that have been feeding on your bait excrete them elsewhere. The crushed versions usually get eaten with much more confidence by another carp, just in the same way carp approach crushed casters or mashed corn with their guard down. To them, it’s safer.
For this reason they’re a great bait to try on clear venues where you can see the fish from up trees or high banks. Often, you can see where the carp have been by the tiger nut mess they’ve left behind! A good location tool, albeit a grim one.
Most of my tigers prepped at home get smashed up ready to be used as feed. I can either do this in small quantities using a Crusher style device or give them a blast in the food processor. Not too long, I don’t want a paste, I just want tigers that look like they’ve been chewed up and spat out.
On the hookbait front, I like to contrast the sweetness of the feed by using a really overly salty hookbait. For me, tiger nut hookbaits don’t come any better than the ones cooked in the tins of hemp sold by Sonubaits. The nuts are cooked in the tin with the hemp with a quantity of salt that makes the whole lot PVA-friendly. For me, there is no more attractive bait than a tiger nut oozing with salty hempy juices! The tins come in a Standard Tigers, Black Tigers and Crushed Tigers version. I tend to have all three with me at all times.
I like to make little PVA bags with hemp, crushed tigers and maybe a few whole ones as well, dusted off with a little groundbait. The groundbait is added dry to offer some floating particles around the hookbait.
The hookbait itself couldn’t be simpler. Is it a tiger nut drilled out with a piece of cork in it? (Yawn). Is it a tiger nut ‘balanced’ with a grain of corn? (Zzzzzzz). Oh, I know, it’s a black tiger nut, straight out the tin, innit geez? Wrong! I want my hookbait to dance around like the most interesting pieces of crushed tiger nut in the whole lake. I want that salty tiger nut balanced with an over-sweetened HighLite hookbait, which is the most buoyant hookbait money can buy. I tend to balance one or two halves of a white HighLight with two halves of a tiger. If the birds are being a nuisance, I’ll use a piece of black tiger with some brown HighLite trimmings. Stealth in its finest form!
I like this approach as the hookbait moves more naturally. Separation on the Hair increases the movement and gives you a hookbait that very few other anglers will be using. Test it in the edge until it moves just like normal pieces of tiger nut for best results.
I’ve had some really good fish on this approach either just casting PVA bags of particle at showing fish or when fishing over baited spots, large or small. In fact, I bagged a brace of mid-thirties very recently on tigers when the lake was fishing crap.
So remember! Tiger nuts aren’t just for wading a rod down the margins. They aren’t just designed to beat the bream away and they certainly weren’t designed to help you look ‘carpy’ on Instagram. Get them in the pond and get a nut muncher on the mat. When the sling is full of munched tigers, now that’s proper carpy!