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22 May 2017
by Mat Woods
Use your nut
Mat Woods looks at a hookbait that often appears in the bag of many top anglers. A 'get out of jail' concept that can make a big difference during the summer doldrums...

Carp are nuts about nuts. That’s no secret, really, is it? Tigers, peanuts, and even the odd almond and brazil nut has featured in many captures of big carp over the years and they can be a real edge when nobody else is using them. But here’s the thing: most nuts come into their own after a concerted baiting campaign. Tigers especially. It’s like the carp need to get used to eating them, but once they start, they can’t stop. They’re the Pringles of carp bait.

But what about if you haven’t got that long? What if you haven’t got time to find out how good they could be after a baiting campaign? The answer is actually really simple and it’s right under your nose. Or rather, on your tip of your tongue.
Next time you’re in the supermarket, grab yourself a bag of salted peanuts. Then go to the weird beard, tree hugger, organic, burger-dodging part of the shop (it exists) and buy the unsalted peanuts. One is an oily, moreish snack that goes down beautifully with a pint of Asahi and the other tastes like a roof tile.

A good sharp drill with a thin bore is a must when using nuts. They can split without care and attention

Tigers are a little different in that they taste pretty good as they are. In Southern Europe they’re in most shops coated in yoghurt or white chocolate – the taste is Next Level! Add salt, or sugar, however, and the whole thing comes alive. Peanuts are the same. Look at when they get coated in honey, or BBQ seasoning, or salt, or sugar, or caramel. Suddenly, that roof tile turns into something you can’t stop eating.

These aren’t meant as freebies, but as hookbaits they can be devastating

Now think about taste. We can smell things that are airborne, then put them in our gobs and usually what smells good, tastes good (unless it’s that fruity herbal tea, which smells mint but tastes like shampoo). If you’re a carp, your sense of smell is your sense of taste, as you wash the ‘smell’ over your olfactory organs to ‘taste’ them. For a carp it’s happening constantly, so the fish can assess the food value of whatever washes over its olfactory epithelium. The epithelium is not a tongue, but it behaves like one, and it’s how carp decide where a food signal is coming from. Like most flavour enhancers, salt and sugar do a good job of waking up this system.

Three great hookbaits from the silty mere days. Almonds can be a great option with the skin left on if diving birds are being a pain

There are a few ways to use this to your advantage, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. The first is to add salty and sugary things to your bait to draw fish to an area. The only issue with this is that your hookbait becomes part of the same signal, a small piece of a big jigsaw puzzle with lots of similarly sized pieces. If, in fact, it’s only your hookbait kicking out the signal, then there’s an argument that the carp will find it earlier, almost like it’s the very ‘source’ of what has triggered their olfactory system into overdrive.

This bag mix contains salt, crushed nuts, crushed 24/7 boilies and the matching glug. It’s one of my first options to draw loads of attention to my hookbait

Where I grew up and on the waters I fished, that was how everybody fished. The hookbait stood out, and not always visually. It was a separately created piece of the jigsaw, a corner piece that was much easier to find. Something those old boys used to do and something many of the best anglers I know still do, is carry hookbaits around that draw attention to themselves in an invisible way. It’s not that they’re brighter, or smellier, it’s that they’re saltier, or sweeter.

Nuts are oily and therefore usually buoyant. If you can get them to waft above the hook, it can be awesome over a baited spot

You’ll often see a packet of KP Salted Peanuts in the armoury of the anglers catching the most fish on the siltier meres. It’s because they’re a ‘get out of jail’ hookbait that people usually don’t cotton onto. They don’t feed them, often they don’t even feed a single peanut, it’s just a hookbait that ticks all the boxes, especially when you’re trying to scratch a bite from a baited area that’s obviously being visited by the carp, but they’re being annoying and not getting caught. “Getting mugged off” is how it’s delightfully termed in the ‘Shire and it’s an apt description.

Almonds can have their visual attraction adjusted if needed. This can be of real benefit

On many occasions in my Linear Fisheries days I got mugged off quite regularly, especially when I’d fed pellets. Some call it ‘preoccupation’ but it’s just carp being wary on venues where they need to be! They feed differently and are almost ‘grazing’ like cows in a field of grass, eating whatever goes in their mouth without working that hard to get it.

When you have something like a salted peanut, or a super sweetened grain of plastic corn, it’s no coincidence that you get more bites. It’s easier for them to find. Their eyes are on either side of their head for God’s sake, it’s like walking around with your own hand in front of your face, so anything that eases the transition to finding the one you want them to find is, for me, a no brainer.

A chunk singled out a super salty hookbait over an area of hemp, tigers and pellets

You can obviously make this more pronounced with little bag mixes that draw attention to the hookbait. I wrote two months ago about oils on hookbaits, but a sprinkle of salt takes that the next level too. Of course it does!

For me, it’s like dressing a salad, putting salt and vinegar on your chips or sugar on your Weetabix. “Sugar for the monkeys” is the term the German guys use, and it’s the perfect description.

I can’t remember going fishing with someone who hadn’t pimped their bait in some way, and neither should you. Lead the way and really think about how you want to draw attention to your baited area. Do you want a field of grass, or a field of grass with a salt lick in it? There’s no right answer, but without asking the question first, you’re just camping by the side of a lake. So use your nut, it’s what it’s there for…

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