They say knowledge is power and when it comes to fooling clever fish, the more you know, the more choices you have when times are tough! Making your own potent homemade baits and adapting, boosting or changing your ready made baits too is very important today! Only you can benefit from your own unique bait recipes and ingredients choices plus your baits cost-savings can be huge! You can include vital advantages over competing baits too; so read on!
Most carp anglers have toyed with the idea of making their own baits, or even done it often, but one thing is sure and that is your chances of hooking the biggest fish in a water are vastly improved if your bait is new to a water! So frequently, the biggest fish will fall to new baits with obvious reasons; they have not been hooked on a new bait before and will often be much easier to hook than on established popular commercial baits for instance.
Now I'm not knocking commercial ready made baits, and in fact they can be an very essential tool as part of your fishing approach in order to get edges over the fish in tandem with your own boosted ready made baits, and homemade baits. The big point is that you are trying to scramble your fish's reference points in regards to baits.
What this means is that carp learn by association and repetition, some far quicker than others as their instinct to survive is stronger, and others because they are genetically more able to adapt and recognise new threats faster than other individuals. Also some carp do not need the same quantity or quality of nutrition because they more efficiently find, digest and assimilate much more natural food items and baits much better than other fish, so can eat less to get their energy and nutritional needs met.
There are many other reasons why individual fish are different and so more or less difficult to catch, including differences in taste and smell preferences. The same can be said between different species of fish, and many of you may have found that one flavour may select more pest species, such as bream, or roach, or tench for instance.
You can do very many things with ready made baits if you need to make them different to the standard, straight from the bag version the majority might be using.
For example, the Mainline bait called Active Eight was extremely successful and popular on many waters. But I know personally of some waters where this bait was used so much, so successfully in just one season, that you just could not get a take at all on it the following season, despite many rig alterations and methods of presentation, different baiting methods and so on. The fish had obviously come to associate these very popular baits with danger having experienced being hooked on it before and actually experiencing so many free baits put into swims as ground bait to attract the fish.
This is no fault of the bait, but this is rather more a natural reaction that occurs in heavily angling-pressured fish. One of the biggest reasons for the great range, diversity and choices of ready made baits, is to enable consistent catches by always keeping ahead of the fish and also to a degree, to get edges over other anglers competing baits! I have a small fish water near me and the fish here are far from easy even though small! If you hook the same few fish in the same spot in a swim on the same bait for even a few days, one of many things happen. . .
Firstly, the fish feeding becomes less frantic and more cautious sporadic and careful. Secondly, the bites you get more are either very powerful bursts from frightened fish expecting to get hooked, or are nibbles and mouthing and lip and fin-testing of the hook baits resulting in many dropped pick-ups, dropped runs, hook pulls and missed runs etc. Thirdly, the number of bites can drop dramatically. Fourthly, the time it takes to get bites can change dramatically. Fifthly, the actual spot in the swim that fish are prepared to pick-up baits from can alter very obviously, and where a spot was brilliant for the first few days, it can fail completely later after regular catches have been made there.
You can play around with your rig, but it becomes very obvious the moment you change your bait, to a fresh new version, that the confidence can return and regular hooked fish can come your way far more easily again. I fished one water in the UK where nearly every time I went there I used a bait formula never used there before.
I often used quantities of unusually soluble and highly digestible ground bait to get special feeding triggers and attractors in the water. This in turn would excite the smaller fish like roach and tench. Their feeding activity obviously helped pull carp into the swim and this approach is very effective for pulling catfish too if you wish to exploit this more. . .
Provided no lines and leads were put into the water for a period of 12 or even 36 hours, and bait was regularly introduced, the carp would get more confident in their feeding on the bait. This would come to a climax where some of the biggest residents would compete among themselves, and this would result in a few multiple fish captures of forty plus pound carp on this homemade baits.
This was at a time when the average catches were often far less rewarding using more conventional approaches and the most popular baits on the water. Sometimes part of the ground bait introduced was the popular ready made baits themselves adapted to become new baits by freezing into them new feeding triggers and attractors, or simply cutting the base mix of the commercial bait and actually making a new homemade and commercially based bait.
Noticeably, all the approaches worked very quickly; providing the free baits in the swim and on the hook were new to the fish. Many anglers use ready made dips, bait soaks, glugs etc, to boost their baits and these are also often designed with triggering factors in the ingredients to ensure an actual enzymic activity within the bait. When baits are active, they are constantly pumping out into the water column soluble amino acids, sugars, alcohols, peptides and many other things that stimulate fish feeding.
Often such baits have a high price tag and when totalled-up over a year, the cost of such baits can really be a shock! Of course, there are many cheaper ready made baits, plus the option of the use of the very popular carp, trout, salmon and even catfish pellets to use, without forgetting the many and varied cheap particle baits, like hemp, peanuts, tiger nuts, maize, sweetcorn and so on.
For many anglers who really want big fish, just the cost of bait and the quantities needed to create an impact enough to effect fish feeding habits, and even fish location and bait preferences over time, may be a big challenge financially. I have fished next to quite a few really good anglers, like Jim Shelley for instance, and to be honest, your average angler would be shocked just how much bait many of these can get through just in one night; and it really works!
The fact is anybody can make their own homemade baits for very little cost in time and effort and the conventional ways of making bait and older styles of bait delivery have changed. This means your free baits can be delivered very efficiently at range even if they are not round. (Making round baits to my mind is a waste of time and a wasted opportunity to seriously get edges over other baits by making them different entirely!)
You do need to know what you are doing when you make baits and ground baits if you really want to be consistent on a range of waters throughout the season, but of course, much comes down to personal experience and bait knowledge, personal budget, and your own fishing goals.
I have many readers who have caught many times the average number of fish caught in a day, directly due to the differences their baits offer over more conventional baits and baiting approaches. It is true that often the most effective baits and bait ingredients cost more money and freshness and proven quality, where nutritional standards of attraction are assured, can cost you more, but catch you far more fish per pound spent.
You could say that the best baits are often the ones easiest for fish to detect in the water; offering the highest soluble concentrations of fish feeding substances and attractors of many origins, or even containing only one source in particular. The range of ingredients to use for bait is bewildering for most carp anglers and after spending over 30 years making homemade baits it is really relatively recently that a much clearer focussed core of true feeding triggers has become most clear.
Such substances and ingredients may be of animal, marine, vegetable, fungal, bacterial, synthetically manufactured, or have other origins, but true feeding triggers all have one thin in common compared to attractors and incitants. They all induce actual repeated consumption of bait containing it.
By contrast, many flavours and their components will pull fish into your swim, and draw attention to your baits, but may not actually induce feeding beyond the picking-up of the odd bait. Or not actually induce feeding at all after pulling a fish within range!
Sure, over-flavouring of baits can induce rapid pick-up of baits but fish can more easily distinguish such instant attractor baits as dangerous being so distinctly powerfully packed with concentrated flavour. Knowing what many of the most potent of the true feeding triggers to use, and also many of the most potent attractors and incitants can make keeping ahead of your fish, and regular better catches reality at less bait costs.
Often an ingredient will do far more than excite a fish feeding response via internal and external fish chemoreception or olfaction food and bait detection systems for instance. Many anglers very rightly choose to design baits for the long-term because they can train fish by regular bait introduction to confidently take their baits. Such baits are often cheaper nutritionally based fish meals based baits for example.
Many anglers often over-look that carp can be exploited by many means other than just smell, taste and nutritional factors as in the popular interpretation. Nutritional baits are made to stimulate fish because they contain essential nutrients fish need to survive, like nitrogen and amino acids in proteins, fatty acids in oils (like fish oils for example, ) and yes, carp do need carbohydrates too and these are very important.
Often the most popular carbohydrate ingredients the relatively protein-rich soya flour for instance or the much less nutritionally stimulating durum wheat-based semolina. These are often used not just for economy of cost, but because they happen to bind other ingredients in baits well, and have very useful bait rolling properties when used in commercial bait rolling machines.
Getting back to stimulation, consider one example. If a fish can sense a boost in energy, perhaps from a boosted immune system, that would be a different angle to exploit. Now what can you exploit?
Examples range from ascorbic acid (vitamin C), or ingredients very rich in potent antioxidants (of which there are many. ) Or maybe you might choose examples of ingredients chosen for a special blend of properties and characteristics, such as, evening primrose oil, spirulina, chlorella, guarana or krill meal and krill oil for example.
Even if you look into the biological impacts of terpenes in fish and humans; such as those found in vanillin, (vanilla, ) often found in strawberry flavour formulas for instance, or black pepper, chilli peppers, or peppermint oil, or the special compounds in garlic, you will see much more than taste and smell attraction going on, that you will be exploiting!
On thing is for sure and that is that once you discover the effect of combining just a few potent feeding triggers and other substances having perhaps less obvious, but very potent bio-active impacts on the fish, then your big carp catches compared to the average can definitely improve, and keep on improving over time. Of course, practice makes perfect, as with anything; from casting, to fish location, to baiting-up skills and effective forethought and planning and so on.
Even if all you use are ready made pellets and boilies, it really does help if you get some specific very detailed guidance on what ingredients have what impacts on fish systems. And also what to combines well with what ingredients in an effective practical mix; how to mix them all together, and apply them correctly for maximum effect!
When you know how to boost your ready made baits with substances in combinations no-one else is using on your water, this can very frequently lead to dramatic improvements in your results. Even the addition of on additive, flavour component, natural extract or ingredient that is not used in that level usually, or has not been used before, can make all the difference on pressured big fish waters. Often having the power and ability to manipulate your baits can make the difference between a disastrous season and your best one yet. . .
By Tim Richardson.
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Tim Richardson is a big fish angler of over 30 years experience. His unique homemade bait making and enhancing fishing secrets guides are proven cutting-edge tools for success for anglers just like you now in 46 countries!