Bag Up On The Cheap
Solid PVA bags? They're expensive, right? Well, not from Taska!
No tactics on Earth elicits an instinctive, emotional response quite like the PVA bagging. Mention the method to a bankside of anglers and the reactions will vary from awe to hatred. No apathy, no "meh's; this is a tactic that has induce a strong feeling, one way or the other.
The response isn't necessarily down to the tactic – more to do with the fact it's the most common phase when it comes to slagging off angling titles every month. "I don't need to be shown how to tie a PVA bag" – bla, bla, bla.
Now whilst solid PVA bags are very in-vogue at the moment, lots of anglers have a number of concerns: (1) the price of the product and (2) the key areas to focus on when using them. To answer your first issue, please allow us to point you in the direction of Taska's new PVA Breakdown Bags collection. Manufactured using the highest grade of film that is coated and textured to ensure easy opening and easy loading, whilst being extremely robust.
The melting time is, on average, 10 to 15 seconds and fully dissolves without any trace of residue within two to three minutes. They're suitable for use with all oil-based liquids and flavourings and come in a huge range of sizes, so there's something for everyone's needs. XS 50 x 100mm, S 60 x 100mm, M 70 x 110mm, L 90 x 120mm and XL 90 x 160mm. And, unlike all other manufacturers, Taska's PVA bags are wife/wallet-price-friendly, with each pack containing 25 bags (the XL version is 20) and only cost a mere £2.85 per pack!
Now, here's now to get the best from them...
So what's the key to using them?
To get the most from solid PVA bags, you must make sure that you fill them correctly. A loose solid bag will explode on impact with the water, therefore defeating the whole object of using one in the first place. The key to success is filling them correctly, picking the right size of bag for the situation and selecting the right bait to use inside. Some anglers use small PVA bags regardless of the fishing situation, but with the right gear and a super-compact solid bag, there's no reason why you can't chuck a small bag the same distance as a bare lead – and this is going to be a massive edge. Just make sure that you trim all the tag ends correctly and you lick and stick the corners and you will be left with an aerodynamic brick that you can chuck to the horizon.
What size of bag should I use?
When fishing at ranges between 60 and 80yds a medium-sized bag is perfect. They're great for presenting a parcel of grub on a spodded area or when targeting lakes that contain lots of weed. Whether it's thick Canadian weed or light silkweed, you can be confident that you are presenting a hookbait correctly. Rather than thrashing the water to a foam looking for clearer areas, try flicking a couple of medium-sized solid bags out.
However, most anglers don't realise the potential of the large bags. Whilst everyone's first choice tends to be a smaller bag, a larger one can be an edge. For obvious reasons, they are brilliant for close-range fishing and due to their weight they do make a bit of disturbance when you cast them, so it's better to lower them into position if you can.
When fishing with solids at close-range, opt for a really large drop-off lead (around 4 to 5ozs) and a very short hooklink. The combination of the two makes the rig almost impossible for the carp to deal with.
Go for the horizon – no one else does
If you're a bait boat user then why not tie up a solid PVA bag and pop it into your hopper? Fishing small solid bags at range is a tactic used on most waters these days because lots of anglers are more than capable of hitting 100yds plus, but how many large solid bags do you think have been positioned at range on your water? We'd guess the answer is not many, if any. Large bags have a multitude of uses, so make sure that you don't fall into the trap of using tiny bags wherever you go. If lots of anglers use them, it won't take long for the carp to start feeding on them with a little more caution.
What are the hookbait options?
Choosing a hookbait to go inside your solid PVA bag is down to personal preference. However, it's always recommended to use a balanced hookbait because most of the time you will be using a super short rig. When using a short rig, the movement of the hookbait is somewhat restricted so you want it to fly into the carp's mouth as soon as it begins grubbing around on the content of the bag. It seems to be very in-vogue at the moment to use hi-viz pop-ups, but sometimes it can pay to use a hookbait that closely mimics the contents of my bag.
How should I load the bag?
Whilst lots of anglers like layering their bags with a whole host of ingredients, does that genuinely catch you any more fish? It may look nice in the bag before you cast, but when the PVA dissolves the food items will disperse and the layered effect will disappear almost instantly. If you're fishing at range or with large leads, then layer the top and bottom of my bag with a few handfuls of dry groundbait. It acts as a buffer so that the lead doesn't crash through the bag as it hits the water at speed. A small layer of groundbait also creates a mini explosion as the bag dissolves making the contents of the bag spread a little bit further. This creates a slightly different presentation on the bottom, making your bag look a little bit different than everybody else's.
Are they worth all the effort?
Solid bags can be difficult to tie and frustrating, but remember that practice makes perfect. The more you tie, the easier it gets. Remember to always carry a selection of different sized bags and don't fall into the trap of using tiny bags everywhere you go. If everybody on your lake is using tiny bags, why don't you try and use the largest that you can get away with? More often than not, doing the opposite to everybody else will catch you a lot more fish.
This review was taken from Issue 110 (May 2013) of CARPology magazine. Be the first to read CARPology's articles in print before they're posted on-line, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing on-line.