Mainline are, granted, very good when it comes to bait. Their Response Pellets broke the mould when it came to background feed. Their High-Visual Double Strength Pop-Ups are the world’s most popular (and successful) pineapple pop. And their Hookbait Enhancement Systems are now the staple diet of any bait bag. But what Mainline Baits are best at is boiled food – dedicated foodbait boilies to be more precise.
However, it was the mighty Cell that was Mainline’s iPhone moment. An occasion which, looking back, was a leveller. A moment which Dave Lane describes as, “akin to the Hair rig”. Since its launch, this ‘it’s-not-a-fishmeal-nor-a-birdfood’ bait has gone on to be Mainline’s top seller, setting new records which even they never imagined were possible, but how did the UK’s favourite bait come about? We asked Mainline’s front man, Kev Knight…
The big questions
When was it first launched?
Blimey, a while ago because my old melon is struggling to remember? It first hit the shop around seven, eight years ago now I guess?
How many samples were there until you reached the final version?
Well the bait was tested over a two to three-year period and there were several versions or progressions of the bait until we were totally happy and ready to release the final version. As is the case with all our baits.
Who came up with the initial idea for the Cell?
No one person really, although you could say Steve (Steve Morgan) as he’s the driving force behind sourcing ingredients and selection, due to his extensive knowledge in the food industry and contacts within that field. That said, to begin with the initial ingredients were like any other, as in like many of the ingredients we research, source and then test. It’s fair to say that we’ll have a number of things in the pipeline at all times. Some make it some don’t, some ingredients work really well unaltered and some require a tweak or two or another ingredient to provoke the response we’re after. Hence the reason why we conduct so much testing and over a number of years. There’s no point settling on something until it’s at its best and then sometimes you’ll come up with really special baits like the Cell.
What’s the key to the Cell: is it the flavour or the base?
Both! The Cell like any of our freezer baits is a combination of key ingredients in both liquid and base mix form. You need both and of course water to kick start and trigger the reaction of the active ingredients. I don’t think people always understand the importance of these ‘active’ elements within modern day bait making? These ingredients provide the ultimate in food source attraction, the kind of signals the carp are looking for and the ones their sensory organs will respond to. Unfortunately, these active ingredients are less effective when preserved in shelf life baits, which therefore require a different make-up. Baits containing active ingredient such as those used in Cell and our freezer baits have to be freshly frozen to remain stable in storage. Without these key elements and the consequent reaction in water the Cell just wouldn’t be the same bait. I know this is disappointing to fans of the Cell that would like a shelf life version, but the bait really is at its best in a fresh, freezer bait form. In fact, that’s an important point many anglers should be considering with their bait – as in, if it’s available as a freezer and a shelf life does it contain active ingredients? Probably not.
The Cell’s a unique bait: it’s not a fishmeal, birdfood or a milk protein. Nor is it anything that’s gone before it. It’s a new form of protein which Mainline have discovered and developed and is designed to provide a protein source that is easier for carp to convert than fishmeals and birdfoods, provoking a sustained feeding response in all water temperatures. Can you tell us anymore on that?
Yes, we could, but as you can appreciate some things, things we’ve learnt from years of trying this and that, testing different ingredients, researching their optimum levels and combinations we keep to ourselves. What I can say, is digestibility is a crucial aspect of boilie making and therefore a major part of our considerations where ingredients are concerned. Lots of different things can affect the digestibility of an ingredient and/or bait – is it micronized? How many times? Starch levels? The list goes on. People throw baits together without these considerations and it really annoys me to honest, because at the end of the day your feeding fish something they may not absorb any goodness from or worse still struggle to digest. So digestibility has always been a prominent consideration for us. If fish can digest ingredients and baits easily, they will not only absorb a high level of nutrition, but also process the bait with ease. Two things that coupled with the ‘active’ reaction of the bait in water I’ve already spoken of promotes an instant feeding response, as well as long term results. The likes of which anglers have experienced with the Cell.
At your peak, how many tonnes were you rolling a week?
To be honest, and I know this may sound a little crazy, but we literally roll Cell continuously, which at times sees us perhaps struggling to meet demand in busier periods of the year. So we’ve no real way of knowing and this would suggest that we’ve never really experienced a ‘peak’ so to speak. Easy for us to say I know, but the Cell is a very successful bait because it’s simply a superb all round, all season boilie, year after year. Listen, we have a few things going for us too; we’ve been going for over 26 years, which not only gives you experience in bait development, but also in business. We worked very hard in the beginning, morning noon and night seven days a week and that mentality has stayed. Looking back I guess we always had our feet on the ground never getting greedy or carried away financially. If we wanted something say a new machine, we saved for it and then paid for it. The upshot now is we have a stable company where we can afford to buy ingredients with consistency. Consistency that is then carried through the baits and catch results. We’re also able to make expensive ingredients a realistic proposition due to the quantities we are able to buy etc.
Did you ever expect its success to continue for this long?
From the results of the testing period we knew the Cell was very special and that it would catch fish, but I guess no we never realised the bait would continue to have the impact it has had for so long. It’s just human nature, people just go so long and they want something new, but in the main this has never been the case with the Cell and there’s still no signs of it slowing yet. That said we still continue to source ingredients and design new baits, if fact we have three baits in testing now that are each very exciting and look to be something very special.
Has the success been detrimental when it’s come to launching other baits?
No not at all, our aim at the end of the day is to produce baits that catch fish. Yes, we provide a range of bait choices of which the Cell is very successful, but we still produce baits such as Activ-8 that still have great popularity. Like I say at the end of the day we produce baits designed to help anglers catch carp whether that be, Activ-8, New Grange, Cell, Hybrid or the latest Essential Cell. How much we roll of each is immaterial. What has been detrimental I suppose, although I guess in a strange way it’s a complement is the number of bait companies, both big and small that come along and try to copy us. The packaging, our colour schemes and especially the names like Cell. It’s like they just read the back of our bags and try and just reword it even though they can never copy our baits – our buying power ensures that. Unfortunately for the angler, customers are sometimes duped by others claims of being the same as us and it takes a few blanks to realise before coming back.
What’s so special about the Essential Cell?
Well lots of things really, it contains all the necessary aspects of a good quality bait, things I’ve already said are vital to any bait we release such as attraction, active ingredients, nutrition and digestibility. The bait came about through our testing process when the new ‘essential’ ingredients we were looking at worked so well with aspects of the Cell mix. A testing period well in excess of three years was conducted and with a few little tweaks along the way the result was the appropriately named Essential Cell. Due to the continued success of the Cell we could have perhaps held back with the release of Essential Cell, but such was the testing success and demand we were almost forced into bringing it out. Again, what fans of Mainline Baits appreciate is the fact the bait doesn’t fall under any one bait type such as birdfood or fishmeal. Instead it’s an individual food source bait that carp find highly attractive, highly nutritional and easy to process.
Is the only difference a flavour or is the base different?
There’s a lot of subtle differences really – any Cell fan perhaps looking for a change will happily maintain their confidence with the Essential Cell and any newcomer will happily find that same level of confidence. The results speak for themselves if they didn’t the bait or any bait within our range for that matter would never get past the testing stage. I mean we might put a massive amount of effort into researching new ingredients etc. but at the end of the day our baits need to catch fish in every situation. That’s what matters to our customers. I think it’s fair to say we achieve this.
Mainline hasn’t produced a fishmeal-based bait for years – is there one on the horizon?
Haven’t we? Let me tell you using a fishmeal ingredient doesn’t mean a bait must smell, look or taste like fish? We can understand that there is an appeal to traditional fishmeal baits, but that really is more of an appeal to the nostrils of the buying angler than the carp. We could make an old school fishy bait with a touch of Robin Red etc. but why when there are far better, more effective modern ingredients available. It’s like an F1 Racing Team bringing out a car with a manual gear box instead of a computerised automatic paddle shift. We’re here to progress not sit still. That said we are currently testing what you could describe as a fishmeal type bait. Not because of trend or anything else, simply because the right ingredients have become available. These fishmeal’s, the ones we’re testing are a very high quality and the testing has and is going really well. So we hope to bring out this bait very soon, perhaps in the next 12months.
Biggest selling country of the Cell outside the UK?
To maintain quality, we currently only roll freezer baits in the UK although we do distribute our Dedicated Base Mixes and corresponding Activators in Europe along with our shelf life boilies and range of liquids, pellets etc. France, Belgium, Holland, Germany the bigger carp fishing countries as you’d expect are probably the biggest buyers of our baits. Plans for several sites to produce our freezer baits across Europe are currently in development.
Biggest selling region in the UK?
Again, there’s no real way of knowing, we distribute so much across the whole of the UK obviously areas well populated with lakes and pits take up a greater percentage. Your (CARPology) poll said out of a hundred UK shops Cell was the biggest selling bait in each – that says it all really.
Biggest carp caught on the Cell
Blimey, now you’re asking something. Max Cottis caught Shoulders from Abbey Lakes on Cell at over 90lb and the biggie from Euro Auqa was also caught on Cell.
Who was the first angler to trial it?
Myself and Steve and then some of the lads at Korda like Danny, Ali and Darrell Peck were amongst the first to use Cell along with some of our field testers.
Most popular size: 15 or 18mm?
Has there ever been 10mms commercially available?
Yes, they’ve always been available
Who’s the biggest Mainline consultant fan of the Cell?
Well that’s pretty difficult to name just one – Ali maybe. There’s some big fans within the team.