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Most carp anglers exclusively use the same boilies and popup combinations week in week out. Not only this but the majority of carp anglers also use them as they come, straight out of the bag. There is a reason for this though, these baits are very effective and can often do the job. However, when preparing to fish a different or difficult water, giving yourself an extra edge is always worth it.

As the seasons change, so do carp habits and appetites and therefore, so should your bait approach.

Spring

During early spring I like to use boosted popups, fishing for one bite at a time without many free offerings.
To boost your hookbaits, take a tub of each of your favourite white, yellow and good old pink coloured popups and add 2-3ml of matching neat flavour. Screw on the lid and give the tub a shake to lightly glaze all of the hookbaits.

Coated boilies

It is important to not go over the top with the flavour and have hookbaits swimming in liquid, this can lead to you having a bait signal so strong that it actually repels carp. Part of the reason why washed out baits work so well is because the attractors and flavours reduce over time until they reach optimal levels.

Let the bait soak in all that lovely flavour for at least 24 hours before repeating the process all over again. Ideally, this cycle should be repeated over 4-5 days, after which your little tub of pop ups will be pumping out a highly attractive intense flavours, and will continue to do so for many hours after they have been cast into the water.

I find that neat flavour like this work best on hookbaits, if you were to do the same with your freebies then you run the risk of having too many food signals in the water. This again repels the carp and anyway, the one bait you want to stand out is the one attached to your hook!

Neat Flavours?

Neat flavours are exceptionally strong synthetic flavours. Most manufacturers use very small amounts of neat flavours in their boilies and pop ups by default.

Early Summer

As we enter late spring/early summer, I like to start introducing more and more freebies.

At this time of year, as the water begins to warm, I find that liquid foods really start to come into their own. Liquid foods tend to be, but are not exclusively, natural based liquids and often come as part of an attractor package for particular baits.

Liquid foods can massively increase the attractiveness of a hookbait and the array of options available is huge. These liquid foods are, as the name would suggest – liquid food. They are high in nutrients and are able to draw fish from a distance. Those foods that are coloured are even able to dye baits, making them more appealing to the carp. As mentioned before, liquid foods come in a variety of types, if you’re using PVA it’s worth mentioning that you will need PVA safe liquid food.

Liquid foods are not only great for hookbaits, but also for your freebies too. Including liquid foods to your bait as they thaw will result in all that attractiveness being drawn in.

One of the best ways to do this is to fill a bucket with enough frozen freebies for your trip and add a generous covering of your chosen liquid. Next, pour lake water (supermarket spring water can also work) over the boilies until all of the bait is submerged. Leave this mixture for 24-48 hours.

Make the most of your freebies

In that time the bait will have become saturated with all that highly attractive amino rich water. Not only will this improve the attractiveness of the bait, but it will also make the bait delightfully soft, tricking the carp into thinking the bait has been in the lake for a few hours already. Plenty of anglers believe carp associate soft baits with a safe meal and are so are far more appealing.

Another advantage of this process is that these bait are far less likely take on the smell of the lake bed, as they are already saturated with the liquid food/water combination.

A note on pressured waters

On pressured waters, the combination of tiger nuts and boilies can prove to be a real winner (although not all venues allow tiger nuts). The fact that tiger nuts can produce their own liquid attractor is a huge bonus.

Tigers need to be prepared correctly before they can be used. Start by soaking them in water for 24 hours, once soaked transfer them to a pan, bring them to the boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

You will be left with plump crunchy tiger nuts, sat in a cloudy sweet sticky juice. Plenty of anglers just discard this left over liquid, but it’s always worth saving it. I always store a few bottles of it in my freezer so I can have always have some to hand in a moments notice.

A few days before hitting the bank I will defrost a batch of tiger nuts and the tiger nut juice. Just as with the liquid foods, I add the liquid to a bucket filled with a mix of boilies and tigers and leave them to soak for at least a day. Three days of soaking is ideal, as the thick liquid transforms into a gloop after three days, which is then soaked up by the boilies and tigers. This pumps out an attraction in the water which the carp simply go nuts for.

Liquids can provide an edge when added to particles too. When it comes to a particle mix, one of my personal favourites is made up of pigeon conditioner and groats. I like this mix because it contains a lot of small food items which swell up and take on liquids really well as well as keeping the carp foraging for longer.

Like tigers, particles need careful preparation with a 24 hour soak and a 30min boil to finish them off.
Adding liquid attractors or even powders during the soaking stage is the way to go. As the seeds and pulses swell, they take on a massive amount of liquid and will almost double in size as a result.

Once this mix hits the lake/river bed, the liquids and powder will start to seep out into the sediment and surrounding area. This gives out strong food signals, keeping the carp returning time and time again, even after the last morsel of bait has gone.

Helpful

Groats are hulled kernels of cereal grains. They are off white in colour and about the same size as a maggot. Pigeon conditioner is an aniseed flavoured bird seed mix containing Red Dari, Wheat, White Dari, Peeled Oats, Linseed, Rapeseed, Safflower Seed, Mung Beans, 

Both pigeon conditioner and groats are available at most local animal feed store.

Winter

Once winter hits, maggots are one of the best ways to keep the bites coming. The movement that they provide mean that they really stand out to the carp. They are also easy to digest – an important factor in winter when the carp’s digestive system is not working like it usually does.

It is very easy to pimp your maggots. First, remove all the dust or maize flour from the maggots. Then add a tube of curry powder that you can pick up at most local supermarkets for cheap. The natural amino from the maggots paired with the hot curry powder that carp love just can’t stop the alarm beeping.

You should not use liquid with live maggots. As soon as maggots get wet they start to climb out of your bait bucket, leading to a horrible maggoty mess.

 

Over the years I have used all these amazing liquids time and time again, be it on an individual basis or by using a blend of a few.

Adding these small edges to your hookbaits, freebies & particles can help your bait stand out from the crowd and help you bank that fish you are after, be that the largest fish in the lake or just that scaly banger you have always wanted.