Flossing on baits
The majority of anglers prefer to tie their pop ups on with floss but it amazes me how many people make a very simple task so awkward! Although I use the same slip knot generally favoured by most (though I only make two passes through the loop, rather than the common four!) rather than trapping the boilie first and then tying a series of overhand knots to secure it to the rig ring I actually go through the ring first.
This simple solution completely eradicates the need to tie a second knot and has several advantages. First of all it allows me to flatten out the floss by sliding the ring back and forth around the bait and secondly I can blob down the tag ends without having to worry about burning the hooklength. My choice of floss is ESP’s aptly named Super Floss which is by far the best one for the job, super strong for tightening down that knot properly and a nice flat profile which aids gripping.
Once the pop up is secure I carefully run my lighter around the floss which melts the wax leaving a translucent finish to it, as well as causing it to contract which grips the bait even tighter.
One last tip, before casting out I lower the finished rig into the margins for ten minutes which allows the pop up time to swell slightly further ensuring the bait cannot come off and this also allows my lead-core leader to soften up and become more supple so that it lays out nicely when touching down out in the pond.
Hook Ring Swivels
For those of you who haven’t seen the excellent Thinking Anglers hook ring swivels yet then you seriously are missing out on a great little rig component.
One of my close friends Ben Hamilton who co owns the company showed me these little gems several years back and straight away I knew they would find a permanent place in my tackle box.
Although basically just a minute ring swivel they have become a key component on my favourite Low Rig which incorporates a pop up sliding on the shank of the hook with the hook hovering just off the bottom. I use to use a normal rig ring for this presentation but was never that happy with how it was functioning.
Using the hook ring swivel instead creates that little bit extra separation between the hook and hook-bait and really does improve things. Although as already mentioned I tend to use them on the Low Rig there are times when I incorporate them on my Chod or Hinge Stiff rig D’s which brings me nicely onto my next tip….
The Visual Aspect
There is no doubt how effective adding some form of colour to your hookbait can be. Exactly why it works so well by deliberately making your hookbait appear different from your ‘safe’ freebies is open for debate but I have enjoyed plenty of success using a hookbait ‘tipped’ with a piece of plastic corn or rig foam.
In fact my biggest carp to date, the irreplaceable Heather the Leather fell to a Black Tiger nut tipped with a piece of yellow plastic corn. Most anglers commonly use this method when using bottom baits, but as soon as they switch to a pop up they change completely to a bright coloured hookbait.
No problem if your chosen boilie is available in a bright hook-bait version, however due to the nature of my bait which contains several dark liquids I’m forced to use a completely different hook-bait altogether which has a different food signal.
I have done this on countless occasions in the past and still done well but I certainly prefer using a hookbait with a food signal that matches my freebies which has led to me using this simple method of adding the visual aspect onto my normal corkball pop ups.
Using the hook ring swivels again I carefully pierce the pop up before sliding it down onto the floss before following up with a piece of bright buoyant corn. My favourites colours are white, pink and bright red but I tend to stay away from the common yellow that everyone uses these days. All that is left to do is just place a small boilie stop in place and finish with a couple of overhand knots before blobbing the tags with a lighter. Once again a simple but very effective little edge.
Not everyone uses a corkball pop up and although they are more popular these days due to becoming commercially available they remain a specialist hookbait with the majority of anglers still using the more common air ball type variety.
I still use an airball pop up from time to time but usually I find myself doing so when single hookbait fishing mainly during the winter/early spring.
The problem with these types of hookbaits is their inconsistent buoyancy due to the nature of the ingredients used in their production. I have to say things have definitely moved on these days and super buoyant airball pop ups are not that uncommon but for piece of mind I still like to boost the buoyancy further.
To do so couldn’t be easier and simply involves drilling out a small section of the bait and then plugging with a cork stick. If I know I’ve got a batch of pop ups that im going to be doing this regularly with then I go one step further and soak some cork sticks in the matching liquid too. Boosting the buoyancy like this opens up a huge range of pops ups now useable on my favourite Chod and Hinge Rigs as well as allowing me to drop down the hookbait size as well.
Generally I critically balance my hookbaits so that they only just sink which ensures that the rig will always extend away from the lead and settle properly without looping up horribly, possibly ruining my chances of a pick up. Installing these mechanics within the rig means regardless of how many times the hookbait is picked up and rejected the rig will always ‘reset’.
This for me is one of the main reasons why the Choddy’s and Hinge Stiff rigs work so well, they are always out there fishing and not lying terribly on the spot having been ejected.
When it comes to balancing out my Hinge Stiff and Low Rigs I use a combination of two putties. For the main counterbalance weight I favour Korda’s Dark Matter putty which is super dense and consequently very heavy meaning I can get away with using less which keeps things nice and neat.
To critically balance the hookbait on my Hinge rigs the Albright knot forms the perfect ‘base’ with which to mould the putty on but for my Low Rigs I use a piece of lead wire wrapped tightly around the hooklink first. I always mould a larger than needed piece around the ‘base’ and then carefully begin testing in the margins and trimming pieces off with my braid blades.
This is far easier than trying to judge it and having to add pieces of putty back on which means drying the rig back out each time in order to get it to stick properly. Obviously a little care is needed not to nick your hooklength but with a little practice it soon becomes easy.
Once I’ve got the rig balanced out nicely and sinking very slowly I finally roll the putty between my fingers to smooth and neaten it back up. For pinning down the hook-length I use ESP’s tungsten putty usually in brown which although not as heavy as the Korda version gripsthe soft coated braid really well without the need for a base. Again this keeps things streamlined and nice and neat.
Just because your using a ‘standard’ off the shelf hookbait doesn’t mean you cannot take it one stage further and customise it for your own requirements. This really could make all the difference to your angling and is extremely satisfying catching on a bait you have ‘tailored’ to your own needs.
Something as simple as increasing the levels in your hookbaits can prove the difference but quite often ill move onto different flavour combinations particularly if i’m using single hookbaits. The CC Moore range of liquids is vast but once you start combining liquids you really are heading into new territory.
Personally I like my XXX pop ups soaking in a combination of Salmon Oil and liquid XXX. Nothing particular unordinary there but as I’ve said before if im using a matching hookbait to my freebies I want it to be exactly that, matching! The addition of Salmon Oil just ensures that food signal is carried back up through the water column.
When it comes to hookbaits I intend to use as singles however I really like to mix it up, combining several flavours within the essence range and usually one or two essential oils too. Any of the Hellraiser pop up range can be customised in this way or if you like making your own hookbaits then the standard pop up mix can be used to make up neutral baits before adding combinations through the soaking process afterwards.
As long as they are properly dried after boiling you’ll be amazed how much liquid they suck back in. Working in this manner allows you to experiment in smaller batches. Turning up to a quiet lake armed with several pots of customised hookbaits during the winter or early spring is probably one of my favourite times of the year in the carp angling calendar.
This kind of angling can allow you to really focus on finding those carp and stay pro active, roaming large areas of the lake with a turbo-charged hook-bait!
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