A lot of concentration and focus for bait making is based around its nutritional value and how to optimise its efficiency and digestion, which is obviously important long term but I feel that most respectable bait firms have the individual elements included at efficient ratio’s, so as long as I buy bait from a respectable supplier I’m happy.
Providing it’s not incredibly wrong, I don’t think there is one bait formation that is particularly better than another with regards to nutritional benefits, a carps body requirement is different from fish to fish depending on so many factors, the bottom line is their body will simply utilize what nutrients it can, which again is based on so many other factors being present, and then expel or store the remains.
I think that carp can learn if a particular boilie is beneficial or negative to their health and wellbeing but to achieve such an establishment requires a considerable amount of consistency, especially on heavily fed waters.
Developing a consistent level of small, taste, texture, location and more importantly feeding times is crucial for carp to become familiar with particular bait and be able to single that out as a decent food source. They encounter all these aspects first; the nutritional benefits are discovered over time providing they can recognize the bait, which is reliant on familiarity.
When choosing quality bait from a credible supplier I take nutritional make-up for granted as I would like to think the formulation will be as close to complete as possible, my focus is more based around smell, taste and texture – and in that order.
If you look past all the online generalizing and quarrelling, I feel that a majority of carp anglers these days are fishing to a half decent standard. With the availability of adequate ready-tied rigs and systems, information about watercraft and bait I believe that most people reading this article will angle to a decent caliber.
So I question that location and rigs are people’s biggest challenges, I truly believe that enticing carp into feed is the biggest hurdle we face and once they are feeding everyone stands a chance of catching. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the technical side of watercraft and rig theories, I’m always tinkering around with rigs and bits, but that’s because I enjoy doing so – not because I feel it makes a definitive difference.
I do however feel that focusing on what could entice a carp into dropping their head does make a difference, which is why I wanted to write this article about coating baits.
I mentioned that I think establishing a bait is possible with familiarity, but personally I don’t have the time, money or the luxury to achieve such a goal – so I focus on a per session basis and will therefore make every effort to ensure carp notice my bait as soon as possible and are attracted enough to investigate further.
I achieve this by coating my baits with high leakage feeding stimulants and taste enhancers, but where do you start with selecting a decent enticer?
Due to the number of amino founded additives on the market, many people might begin with amino acid based coatings in the understanding that it’s a carps requirement and that they can distinguish these individual signals and home in on them. Although carp are very much in-tune with their bodies requirements, I’m not convinced they can detect specific elements to that level.
Additionally, with the volume of protein based feed being included into our waters every day, are carp really in need and therefore actively searching for more protein, or are standard amino acids readily available?
We could look at elements that are not readily available such as essential amino acids but again that’s in the assumption that carp can distinguish these specific acids and furthermore know that it’s a body requirement. Due to so much marketing based around this subject I have been in two minds for some time now but considering the environment carp live in, I can’t see them being that sensitive – at the end of the day they are just fish and quite robust creatures too.
I think carp pick up a boilie due to an appealing smell and aroma, they eat it and providing it’s appetizing with an enjoyable texture they will continue feeding. If it’s digestible and provides enough energy they will keep feeding until they are spooked, all the bait has gone, or the bait has bloated them – it’s that simple.
Smell and aroma are the two aspects they encounter first so it’s dependent on these two factors that encourage a carp to take the first step, so what smell and aroma do carp love? There isn’t an answer to that question as every carp is different, some might like sweet, some savory, some fishy, some spicy, so to increase my chances I have multiple coatings which I will cover shortly.
Texture and taste is experienced next but it’s just as important as smell, carp like to crunch so I look for seeds, shells and other crunchy ingredients to make sure they know they are feeding on something substantial.
Taste is ultimately the component that will keep them feeding and this is down to the boilie formation. I’m quite fortunate in the fact that a good friend of mine supplies me with an unflavored base mix that has a beautiful, natural nut taste.
I know carp love the taste of nut so I don’t feel the need to confuse matters by introducing another taste that could simply result in something nasty. The last thing I want to do is to produce a concoction that hasn’t been tested or proven and therefore probably creating something that tastes awfully to carp. I haven’t got enough time on the bank to experiment so I simply roll the mix as it stands without any additional flavors or ingredients, in the safe knowledge that I know carp will enjoy eating it.
Lastly is the nutritional profile, if it doesn’t make them feel good they won’t be accepting that bait in the future providing they recognize it – which is obviously down to a number of factors.
So let’s look at coating boilies, firstly you need to prepare them so they take on and slightly absorb the coating. You achieve this by slightly dehydrating them by either air drying them or ultimately with a dehydrator. I don’t like to fully dehydrate as I don’t want the coatings to completely absorb into the bait and therefore altering its taste profile, ideally the coating should only absorb a millimeter or two so maintaining a moist inner is critical.
Second stage is to freeze them before adding the coatings because the boilies will absorb the coatings much better while they throw out, ensuring you penetrate them slightly. I normally create 10kg bathes; separate them into 1kg packs before applying a different coating to each kilo. I would then allow enough time to slightly absorb and set before mixing them back together creating a selection of different, concentrated feeding signals.
The only aim for all my coatings is provide a selection of smell and taste appetizers to entice carp to my baited area, I have around 10 coatings in total – all of which have their own functions. I use a variety of liquids from oils to water soluble liquids, making sure I’m covering as many water layers as possible.
In my mind sweetcorn is one of the best appetizers available, let me explain why.
If you consider how long sweetcorn has been used as bait, and how many fish have actually been caught on it. The bright little yellow packages should, in theory, be obvious warning signs to most fish, not just carp. But for some reason they simply can’t resist it, similar to hemp.
Hemp is an obvious one though, it’s one of Mother Nature’s super seeds with unraveled all round properties, but as far as I know sweetcorn doesn’t really offer much. There isn’t really any nutritional value, little protein, little energy, little texture, to my knowledge there’s not too much going for it at all.
So why can’t fish refuse to accept it? I think this has to be down to taste, in fact I would consider it to be one of the best natural taste appetizers on the market considering its history and proven credentials. Once liquidized, sweetcorn forms a thick, sludge type… well, sludge. This is ideal as it stands because it sticks and sets forming a thick coating which will disperse through the lower layer water columns.
Moving up through the water columns I like to include thin water soluble oils which will rise and disperse middle layers, delivering a small and aroma that’s not only recognized but also familiar to carp – and what better oil than hemp oil.
As already mentioned hemp is one of Mother Nature’s super seeds, hemp is a bait that has never blown on any water and will always be a fantastic bait. It’s a bait that’s stood the test of time and probably put more fish on the bank than any other single bait.
Hemp is one of the purest, most complete seeds available. No other single seed can compare with the nutritional value of hemp seeds. It’s a fantastic source of protein containing all of the Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) at a ratio which is very close to ‘complete’, which means pretty much all of a hemp seed can be digested and utilized without relying on any other independent factor to complete the nutritional spectrum.
Hemp also contains live enzymes, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), vitamins and minerals and due to the volume of hemp that gets introduced to our waters every day, carp are familiar with it and realize the nutritional benefits, I would go as far to say it’s established as a natural food source for them now – so it goes without saying that a mixture or hemp oil and hemp protein makes another one of my mid-level bait coat mixes.
Another important element of bait production that is often overlooked is vitamins and minerals, I feel there is an opportunity to produce a vitamin and mineral based food source that isn’t readily available to carp. I make my own mid to upper layer oil based on vitamin and mineral enriched seeds such as hemp seed and barley grass.
Barley grass is a seed that’s very rarely used which I find surprising as it doesn’t cost much, around £1.00 per kilo. Barley grass is a high potency; nutrient-rich super seed packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and most importantly, ‘live’ enzymes including superoxide dismutase.
Barley grass contains a full spectrum of natural vitamins including: Beta Carotene, Biotin, Choline, Folic Acid, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E and K. It contains all the following minerals: Boron, Calcium, Chloride, Chromium, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Sulphur, and Zinc. It has around eleven times more calcium than cow’s milk, five times more iron than spinach and seven times more vitamin C than oranges so its certainly a seeds that I use often in all forms of fishing.
Mixing barley grass with a few other seeds I make my own vitamin and mineral enriched oil that’s not only active due to not going through heated processing, it’s a sweet seed based oil that I know carp enjoy the taste of.
Making the oil is very simple, simply soak the seeds for 12 hours in cold water, not boiling water as I want to maintain as much of the nutritional value as possible. Boiling seeds simply distresses any live enzymes and reduces the amino acid profile. Then allow them to air dry for another 12 hours before liquidizing them into a smooth mixture.
Once liquidized simply riddle the mush through a cotton cloth by squeezing it down until the liquid leaks through the cloth and into a tub. The initial liquid will be a cloudy mixture of water and oil but leaving it to settle for another 12-24 hours will allow the oil to rise above the water providing a divide and access to the pure seed goodness.
I will cover other coverings within different articles but Robin Red is another great stimulant as Capsaicin found in peppers really gets carp receptors buzzing which grabs their attention.
I think including many different signals within one baited area can really increases your chances of stimulating and enticing a carp to feed, but the important factor is to not confuse the signals by mixing different ingredients together that can create blends and flavors that you have very little control over. This is why it works particularly well with boilie fishing as boilies are normally spaced out enough to not conflict with one another, an excellent tactic that I feel will help you get those fish feeding.
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