Carp Specialist UK
Elliott Gray Bait

Are particles important?

Big-fish angler Elliott Gray answers questions regarding bait and baiting approach

Question: You’re known for being predominantly a boilie angler, but do you still use particle in your approach, such as hemp, pigeon conditioner etc, as a blanket feed to prime spots, especially when it’s weedy? Also, when pre-baiting do you allow an optimum time ‘window’ between baiting a spot and fishing it, or does it vary depending on the numbers of fish, size of the water etc.?

I like to use boilies whenever I can simply because they’re more selective and suit the running around style of carp fishing that I favour. I do, and always have used particles a hell of a lot though.

Boilies: you just can’t beat ‘em

During the winter and spring, my approach is generally based around locating fish and then chucking bright pop-ups, possibly coupled with a light spread of boilies, at them. This suits the time of year perfectly. Throughout the summer months I use particles, nuts, pellets and boilies a lot, as a combination. I’ve always found carp to love the bits and pieces at that time of year, particularly after they’ve spawned. This combination also suits the margin and ‘spot fishing’, as I call it, that I do. On a lot of waters you’ll find that the weed leaves smaller areas free and this is perfect for the spod approach. I also do a lot of edge fishing, and again the smaller bits are better suited than an all out boilie approach. Whatever the time of year I’ll always include boilies, though, carp love them and they’re my favoured hookbait option.

Less, with regularity, is often more during the colder moths

During the autumn I find the boilie approach more effective as the fish are in need of the goodness, and although they love particles etc., it doesn’t give them back what a boilie does. This is a great time of year for pre-baiting with boilies, the fish will be harvesting the food and the more high quality food you can present them with, the more likely they are to keep visiting your baited area, right into the coldest months.

When pre-baiting I will pretty much always include some form of particles, particularly in the summer when the weed is up, it’s great for ensuring that the spot is kept nice and clean. Particles and pellet are very useful at times, even if the main aim is to get them on the boilies. The birdlife can be a big problem on some waters and the particles help massively with keeping bait where you want it, despite our feathered friends best efforts.

Little commons are a sucker for their particles!

The great thing about applying boilies en masse is that they become familiar, as they’re all recognisable in one way or another, be it taste, colour etc. There’s no denying that big carp love boilies, they’re easier to fish with and for those two reasons alone they’re always my go-to bait.

The window between fishing and baiting can vary, but if I’m putting a big hit out, over 5kgs for example, then leaving it for two days and then fishing the third is my favourite way. Lakes vary though and the size and stock of the venue will take its toll. I think that if you have fish passing the area, they’ll get on it within three days most of the time. Angling pressure can also make a difference and if someone happens to fish in or around the swim you’ve baited it can slow the process. There’s plenty of things that will affect how long it takes but as a rule, I’d always aim to fish the third or fourth night after the bait has gone in. In an ideal world I’ll keep tabs on what is happening in and around the area, as sometimes they’ll hit the bait really fast!

My go-to mix, minus a few nuts, and the Activ-8 Pellets which I add just prior to casting

If I’m baiting on a little and often basis then I will happily fish the night after baiting. If you’re able to get down to the lake regularly and trickle a few boilies into an area every day or every other day, you can fish the spot much sooner without fear of the bait still being sat out there in large quantities. This is a great way to go about it during the winter, and given the opportunity I’d rather put a small hit of bait in three times a week than one big hit once a week.