Every angler has their preference when it comes to deciding what shapes and sizes they prefer to introduce when it comes to their chosen boilie. There is no doubt about it, fish have been encountering boilies on a regular basis for years and as a result, recognise them as a solid source of food, but do they have a preference between shape, size and density?
We ask five anglers what they prefer and when…
Having done an extensive amount of fishing in the margins, I have witnessed first hand just how important the size and shape of your bait actually is when converting bites. Most of my fishing over the last few years has been on an intimate gravel pit called Elsons; a tap water clear venue, with a large abundance of natural food and weed, with small gravel spots dotted about the margins.
I have fished whole baits alongside chops and it is clear that the baits that I have broken up into odd- shaped fragments are much more readily taken. I have watched fish in the edge spit out round baits on many occasions, which is why I often fish whittled down baits or back to back half baits on the hair, as they are a little harder for the fish to deal with when feeding tight on a spot.
The round baits in my opinion cause much more suspicion, which is noticeable having watched fish drift over a spot and feed. Quite often, they will glide over a baited spot a few times without feeding initially, then one will drop its guard and pick out a few chopped baits. The whole baits that have been introduced are always the last to be eaten, which is why I now only fish small handfuls of chopped or irregular shaped baits when doing short stalking sessions.
There is no doubt about it, when stalking fish on tight spots, chops create a much better feeding response, as they simply cannot differentiate between each bait item. This has often led to bites coming much quicker when getting a rig in position.
I like a good mixture of baits in my fishing, some whole, some broken and a variety of shapes and sizes. This serves a few purposes in my angling; firstly, the broken baits release much higher levels of attraction to those that are whole, creating a variation of breakdown and release of stimulants into the swim. Having this variety of bait sizes ensures that there is a constant stream of attraction from the spot, which leaks off for hours after initial introduction, which is no doubt an edge when fishing short, overnight sessions.
Varying the sizes also creates a variety of food item buoyancies, which means that the fish cannot regulate when it comes to sucking up individual boilie items. This in turn means they are far less likely to suss out a hookbait, leading to a greater number of converter bites. Matching your hookbait to what you are feeding is vital, there is simply no point introducing a good amount of chopped or crumbed baits, to fish a whole round bait over the top.
I have always been an advocate of mixing up the sizes of my bait; this includes 15mm and 18mm whole baits, with crumb, chops and now the addition on dumbells. Dumbells are unique as they carry the profile of a round boilie, but in a whittled down form; these can be broken or left whole when added to a mix and offers a whole new dimension for the fish to deal with.
I would prefer to use a mixture of whole and dumbells, around a 40/60 split, but out of those baits I would also look to use the Ridge Monkey boilie cutter to create fragments of boilie in the mix.
In my opinion, the dumbell shaped hookbaits sit better on the lakebed due to their shape, with fewer tendencies to roll down bars or fall through light weed. With most anglers using round baits, mixing it up and introducing chops and barrel shaped baits creates much less suspicion when fish are grazing over a spot.
For the majority of my angling, I introduce these baits via the spod or the boat where possible, this allows for accurate bait placement on firm spots among the weed. The greater the amount of shapes, sizes and bits you can get down onto a spot, the better! This is a key factor in my angling, especially when pre- baiting, as I want the fish to feed for prolonged periods of time, cleaning a spot off and encountering a multitude of bait items.
If I had to choose one type of bait, it would have to be chops or odd shaped baits; being different to what most anglers are using is key in my angling approach.
The majority of the venues that I fish contain weed, the carp naturally feed in the weed as it contains a whole host of naturals. This is one of the reasons why chopped boilie and crumb is so effective, as it flutters down through the water column and rests on top of any weed that is present.
I also think the finely chopped and crumbed baits replicate the natural food much more closely than whole, round baits, as it often looks like fragments of snail or natural larvae on the lakebed.
Where possible, I like to mimic the free offerings I am introducing; whittled down boilies, particularly bottom baits are a firm favourite of mine. This is a central part to my approach on many of the heavily pressured, big fish waters I have fished in the past.
I prefer a combination of sizes in my angling, but for convenience and when trying to establish a bait, I would opt for introducing round baits. This is important in my opinion when trying to establish a new bait, as they will naturally recognise whole baits as a food source.
Once a bait has been established, you can then look to alternate the sizes and shapes in order to bring more bites or at times when the venue is fishing tricky.
By their very nature, broken baits readily take on liquid much better than whole baits which are sealed by a skin, therefore are much better for releasing large volumes of attraction into a swim than standard round bait.
I prefer to add liquids to the boilie crumb a few days in advance, allowing it to fully penetrate the baits for maximum appeal on impact with water.
Finally, when fishing over a mixed combination of baits, I always mix and match the hookbaits that I am using. The most effective way of gaining feedback as to what they are eating out in the lake is through the action you receive.