QUESTION: I still find that the addition of stinking ‘boosters’ and gaudy coloured liquids have little or no benefit in my angling so my first tip, that seems to be forgotten in an age of bizarre OTT approaches, is simply to match the hatch. If you are making special hookbaits why on earth would you want to make them stand out with elevated flavour levels or an array of rainbow colours flooding off them? What’s wrong with taking one out the bag, threading it onto the Hair and casting it out? Thinking about it, I can’t actually remember the last time I saw an article that didn’t include a hookbait that was nothing like the freebies…
Admittedly, you need to accept that the rig will probably land on the lakebed with the hookbait virtually on top of the lead, but is that really a bad thing? I don’t think so. The single most important consideration should always be one of basic presentation. Is it subtle and effective, and does it allow the fish to inhale the bait and then allow the hook to take hold? So why don’t I use a simple braided hooklink more? WHY?! Lewis Read>
Another one from Lew. I’m glad you said that, mate, as I’m not one for using dips or glugs either, I think a lot of the time they make our hookbaits less appealing. I often soak my boilies in water-based solutions which I’ve knocked up myself, e.g. green lipped mussel and sea salt, or hemp juice to name two favourites, but very rarely with concentrated dips and glugs.
Like you say, I think it’s best to use whatever you’re feeding them, that way the signals are the same as what’s coming from the freebies they’ve already become confident in eating. Obviously there’s exceptions, strong single hookbaits in cold water for example, but if you’re using plenty of bait then I think it makes sense to keep the hookbaits the same as whatever you’re putting in.
One autumn at Burghfield I remember trying stronger flavoured hookbaits over an area that I’d been baiting and working for a few weeks. Why I’m not sure, as I’d already been doing just fine on baits straight from the bag, but it was November, a time when in the past I’ve done well on this particular spicy flavour and so I thought I’d give it a try. Long story short, I never had any action on the over-flavoured hookbaits, but the rod with the hookbait straight from the bag carried on getting the takes. I only tried them for a couple of nights, but to be fair that was long enough as all three rods were fishing side-by-side, and it was very clear that the bait I’d been putting in over the previous few weeks was what they wanted, not the over-powered ones.
Lew points out one minor niggle with using baits straight from the bag, and that’s how a heavy hookbait has a greater chance of settling close to or on top of the lead. Whether that happens or not is obviously dependent on a few things, from good old fashioned luck, to the way the rig is felt down on a tight line, to the size and weight of bait in relation to the stiffness of hooklink, but as I think Lew is suggesting, set-up correctly, a pop-up or balanced bait has a much fairer chance of settling with the rig outstretched. Like Lew, I’m not sure that it matters so much, and if it does then the benefits of using baits straight from the bag still seem to be outweighing any disadvantages. Baits straight from the bag aren’t only a good idea because they match the freebies in terms of attraction, they’re also good because they actually behave the same as the freebies, instead of hovering about just off the bottom every time a carp comes close. That in itself is a bit of an edge nowadays. Sure, it’s nice to have a fairly straight hooklink, after all, that’s how most of us like to imagine our rigs laying, but sometimes you’ve got to ignore what it looks like in the edge and just trust in your results.
I think we all have our favourite golden periods of fishing fixed in our minds, you know what I mean, periods where we might have enjoyed a particularly good run of success, spells which we almost look back on as benchmarks for how it should be when everything is truly working at its very best. I can think of plenty of good fish which I’ve caught on boosted pop-ups and balanced baits, but whenever I’ve got something properly consistent going, like a good run of fish over a period of time, then it’s always been on exactly the same bait as I’ve been sticking in, and that goes for particles as well as boilies.
One place where I’ve often wondered if I could make better use of the many bottles of glugs and liquids resting at the back of my bait shed, is the River Thames. Many glugs which need clearing out… check; boat on moorings… check; flowing water… check. I’m thinking a couple of weighted down jumbo car sponges saturated in glug, hanging off the back of the moorings, rubby-dubby style. Surely that’s got to pull a few in, especially with the flowing water and changing tides. Maybe something to try at the start of the new season. Keep catching ‘em.