Do you bait up with different sized baits when just fishing just ‘round’ boilies or do you tend to use one size and let your rigs do the talking?
Although I can see the advantage and know all the theories about using different sized baits to reduce the risk of the carp regulating their ‘suck’ and differentiating between freebies and hookbaits, I very seldom use mixed sized baits. I have, on occasions, but I am not convinced it’s made that much difference really. I do however, quite often, use a different sized hookbait to the free offerings.
At the moment I am using a lot of 10mm boilies and hemp but the hookbait is a double 15mm fished on a snowman presentation. You would think that the carp, if they were that intelligent, could easily identify the hookbait and leave it in favour of the free offerings but I have just had my best ever winter using this method. That said, using lighter hookbaits over a bed of ‘same sized’ boilies is probably my most regular method of presentation.
On Black Swan I used a balanced pop-up that laid on the bottom like a normal free offering and on a number of occasions, whilst out in the boat to land a fish, I would check the spot and more often than not I would find that the hookbait had been one of the first taken and a fair amount of the free bait was still in the same position I had left it. On one occasion I had six fish in a session and, before I left, I checked out the swim and found at least some bait on all of the four spots I had fished. This leads me to think that the actual size and weight of the hookbait is far more important than the free offerings.
For me though, the absolutely perfect situation is when I can get the carp confident enough to eat 18 or 20mm bottom baits and use the same on the rig. I think that the weight of a big hookbait, once it has actually been taken is not only harder to eject but, more importantly, drives the hook home if it is blown out again.