Carp Baits – What’s Hot and What’s Not…

When I look back over the years that I’ve been carp fishing bait has always been an obsession. I am lucky enough to have been fishing around the time when the the first designer baits (christened with the name ‘boilies’) hit the scene. Boilies, so called because the bait is made by combining meals and powdered ingredients with liquidised eggs and then boiled to create a bait with a tough skin (the skin is designed to deter nuisance fish from stealing the bait intended for bigger fish) really did transform carp fishing. For the first time, anglers used to fishing with bread and potatoes had a new bait to play with and boy did the fish love them!

Modern boilies have come a long way since those early years. When we set about launching the new TF-Gear boilie range we wanted to create baits that would stand the test of time and benefit from all the advances that have been made in bait formulation.

History and experimentation has taught us that whilst carp are bombarded with many different boilies in a range of colours, flavours and bait that is made from a huge choice of ingredients , certain baits are the real fish catchers. Moreover, we also know that some boilies work better than others on certain types of waters and vice versa. Baits for hard-fished club and day ticket waters need to be different to those used when campaign-fishing a syndicate lake, for example.

Boilies are made with attractors (usually flavours) and food ingredients (these are powdered meals, such as fish meal, milk protein, birdfood and semolina. They are made into a paste by mixing the attractoprs and meals with liquidised eggs. The paste is rolled into little balls and boiled. The liquidised eggs harden in boiling water, creating bait that has a tough skin.

The flavour, or attractor acts as a label for the fish to recognise the bait. The attractor works as a label on two levels – it tells the fish that what it can taste/smell is food and helps it to recognise that food source on future occasions. The ingredients are the food value of the bait. Boilies can either be nutritionally strong or weak, depending on the quality of the ingredients used to make them. As a general rule, whilst carp will sample all types of baits with a multitude of flavours, they will generally prefer to eat baits with a high nutritional profile over a period of time. This is a concept that most anglers struggle to understand. The common misconception is that carp eat baits because the flavour tastes ‘nice’ and whilst this is partially true, they are more likely to eat the bait that does them the most good when fishing over a period of time.

When you choose a carp bait you should choose a bait for the job in hand. If you are fishing a day ticket or club water where the carp get bombarded with all kinds of bait, then what we call attractor baits with a strong ‘eat me’ signal are best. Bear in mind, however, that the ‘eat me’ signal does not mean using over-powering flavours that make the bait reek. Carp have superb olfactory systems that enable them to detect food signals in minute quantities – use baits that have good attractors at low to moderate values.

When campaign fishing waters, syndicate lakes, for example, the attractors or flavours should be much, much lower and it is the food value of the bait, its nutritional profile that you should rely on. Natural extracts and subtle flavours give the bait a label by which fish can recognise it in the future. We know fromn experience that the more subtle the label or flavour, the longer the bait will go on working. A good nutritional bait should get better and better over a period of time – as the fish get used to eating it and benefiting from its superior food value, they will seek it out in preference to others. Bait with strong attractors works for a while but eventually that same strong flavour that drew the fish to the bait in the first place begins to become associated with danger.

In the TF-Gear range of baits you will discover several important points. Firstly, none of them have flavours and attractors that are overpowering. This is a gamble on our part because we know that baits that reek of fruity flavours, so strong that they smell through the bag, attract anglers. We also know that ultra-strong flavours repel fish so we have avoided making our baits reek. Secondly, we have relied primarily on salt as a preservative rather than the sharp chemical preservatives that are so common in the bait industry. These chemical attractors taste bitter and repel fish. Salt, on the other hand is a natural flavour enhancer (we humans use salt as a flavour enhancer all the time) and it is also a great natural preservative. Thirdly, we have developed baits that use proven ingredients – top quality fish meals, proteins and birdfoods. These create nutritionally superior baits that are easy for carp top digest and eat more of. Finally, we have chosen some really great, subtle ingredients that make the bait stand out and keep the fish coming back for more – crushed chilli, for example.

To make life easy, we have created two ranges of boilies – our premium range and ‘the Gear.’ With the Gear we have a range made for day-ticket and club waters with the emphasis on attractors rather than long term food source. The premium range gives more emphasis to food value with lower level, natural attractors such as teatree oil. It’s a range that we are very proud of and results on the bait have justified our confidence.

Next time you buy bait, ask yourself just one question. Has his bait been designed by someone who really understands bait and fish or has it been put together by a faceless company? Too many anglers buy fishing products like their coarse fishing tackle from companies that don’t employ anglers. I don’t play golf but if I did, I would want my clubs to be designed by Tiger Woods not Victoria Wood…