So-called ‘food baits’ are very commonly used in carp fishing these days, especially where extreme fishing pressure on many waters means that using quality ‘nutritional’ bait equals success instead of failure.
But how would you make an effective homemade carp bait by using the optimal proven nutritional protein food ingredients levels? What is the starting point for working out what ideal bait protein levels are?
Carp have essential carp dietary requirements for proteins, and the aim is to provide a ‘balanced profile’ of amino acids in your bait. This sounds technical, so a scoring system is used to measure the ‘nutritional biological value’ of an individual ingredient.
It is best to notice that this ‘value’ is based on digestion by humans. There is little data of this type from directly testing carp baits in carp digestion.
However the latest and most accurate method of measuring ‘biological nutritional value, and most importantly for carp baits, food protein nutritional value is the new American measurement called:
The ‘fixed dietary protein percentage. ’
When we mention ‘protein carp baits’ it’s often misunderstood that the amount of protein type ingredients we use in our baits need to be in very high levels to be effective, as in the old ‘high protein baits. ’ Such protein baits were estimated to have a carp biological convertible protein content as high as 75 % protein or even as high as 95% protein.
This content was often achieved by using milk protein extractions and derivatives such as casein, lactalbumin and sodium caseinate, among others, mostly having a protein value, in human consumption of over 70% protein.
Since those times it has been observed that carp baits with much lower protein values are very effective in both the long and short-term. Today baits are often made with an estimated carp convertible protein content of just 30%, but are still termed ‘high nutritional baits’ and in fact are superior in design to the old high protein baits because their nutritional properties are more balanced and efficiently used by carp while maintaining very high attraction.
The dietary protein a carp essentially needs, can be tested scientifically, using a mixture of high quality casein and gelatin, supplemented with crystalline amino acids. This is fed to the carp in graded levels, and over time, the carp are measured for optimum growth per graded protein level.
All this can be shown on a graph with ‘Growth Response’ (vertical line), and ‘Dietary Protein Level’ (horizontal line).
There will be a ‘Maximum Growth Response’ at the point where the ‘Optimum Dietary Protein Level’ is reached.
In carp nutrition tests, it’s called the ‘Break Point’ and allows for the fixed dietary protein percentage to be calculated; as a percentage of the carp’s essential diet. This is the type of figure that is used to design specific proprietary, carp and koi dietary feeds.
Please notice, in the tests, food fat content was always supplemented when not present in sufficient levels in the protein and carbohydrate sources.
These provide essential fatty acid groups, needed especially for cell wall structure and maximal protein synthesis, among other uses.
Fat levels never read over 5 % to 10 % and averaging 2.5 to 5 % of the total dry feed.
There are health consequences for fish as a result of excess fat in bait, for example Vitamin E deficiency.
The protein to carbohydrate to fat ratio is extremely important in producing the healthiest carp; resulting in optimum protein digestion and assimilation. This converts to the fastest carp growth and weight gains.
More energy is released in digestion when the protein, carbohydrate and fat levels are in optimum levels. This balance has proven to catch more big fish in the long-term.
Anglers have found they caught as many carp on baits of only mid-low protein, for example: 40 % to 60 % protein, as a bait of very high, protein 85 % for example. However, much below 30% protein, (for example 25 %, ) and the catch rates started to drop by comparison to higher protein baits.
The subject carp bait nutritional value bait success, hinges around the carps essential daily dietary requirements and key dietary deficiencies. If a carp water is very rich and carp have very few dietary deficiencies, then the bait that offers the best nutritional value at the least energy in digestive cost would most likely achieve the most success long-term as the carp will instinctively gain benefits from the bait an this encourages them to keep eating it.
This would be a big advantage over using low nutritional value bait on the same rich water. A great diversity of carp baits are being fed to the fish on many carp waters today. And in amounts that were unheard of 25 years ago. There are many more carp anglers feeding up the fish with ‘free baits’ these days.
Consequently, the fish in different waters respond differently to this free food. This reaction may depend more on the water quality, or availability of natural food, or on the consistent level of fishing pressure or on high or low stock levels. Some waters will still produce bigger fish, regularly on poorer quality baits or instant attractor flavored carbohydrate based baits.
By far the majority of big fish waters, certainly the pressured ones in the UK and in Europe, produce the very biggest fish more and more consistently on nutritional ‘food baits’.
This is no coincidence and relates back to carp essential dietary requirements that must be met for basic survival. This does lead to many big fish treating nutritional baits as an essential ‘naturalized food supply’ since they are fed them permanently 24 hours a day on many hard pressured waters!
So in remembering that a low protein, carbohydrate based bait may only contain: 6 % to 14 % protein, as in the case of a semolina based bait for example. This is not enough to sustain a big carp healthily without supplementation with other nutrients and natural foods sources.
This is compared to fish meal based bait for example, with high levels of predigested protein ingredients incorporated. Such bait is far superior nutritionally and big fish will tend to eat this preferentially, especially in a highly stocked fishery.
So, by providing carp with the optimum ratios of nutrients at the least digestive energy cost, gives more energy to the carp to eat more food, therefore giving you more opportunity for more takes and more fish!
Arnold Schwarzenegger built his body using the principle of a high nutritional value diet with an intense exercise regime. He regularly consumed the highest muscle convertible biological value proteins, like whey and caseins. Such dietary supplements represented the very highest quality available to body builders in the world, at that time.
He consumed high levels of carbohydrates, only for extra energy, while he trained, so that his protein nutrition was maximized and converted for repair and growth and building of those huge muscles to win his ‘Mr Universe Titles’!
A very ‘high profile UK fisherman, Julian Cundiff, achieved outstanding and very consistent big carp catch results for years, by regularly feeding his waters with high nutritional value ‘food bait. ’
This approach was used extremely successfully, and the bait he used remained basically unchanged for years. It was designed using the ‘balanced protein food and amino acid profile’ bait principles, derived from scientifically proven carp dietary requirements.
The appliance of scientific research may sometimes be ‘hit and miss’ and there are certainly few ‘proven absolutes’ in carp bait making and nutrition, due to lack of direct scientific testing. However, nutritional carp baits have proven themselves by their catches over the decades, and the ability to understand, make and correctly apply these baits, is a massive edge in big carp fishing indeed.
By Tim Richardson. ‘The thinking man’s fishing author’ and bait guru.
For more information see: http://www.baitbigfish.com
Tim is a leading big fish angler with many incredible catches to his name. He is also a nationally recognised carp and catfish bait guru in the UK. His best selling bait making manuals are used by members of the elite “British Carp Study Group” for expert reference. This comprehensive information and research can help beginners and experienced anglers alike.