The fact is, most carpers fish with boilies at some time. Many of those carp anglers will take a boilie straight from the bag, pierce it, and then shove it on the hair before casting it out and hoping the bait will do all the work and catch the fish of a lifetime. To be fair, the quality of baits available today has improved greatly since the idea of boiled baits first surfaced, and many WILL catch straight from the bag, but I’d like to consider what you can do to boost your chances of catching on the humble boilie, especially now the colder months make attracting bites a premium problem....
Size matters; if anglers around you are biteless on 18mm baits, then why try a 14mm or even two 10mm baits? If you are new to a venue this can provide a huge boost to your chances. I once fished a (well known) venue in Warwickshire and, after having my customary walk about for an hour, came to the conclusion that 95% of anglers were using 2oz leads and dark coloured 16-18mm baits (and catching nothing). I decided to fish ‘The Method’ with a hook bait of two 10mm white boilies. Of the five fish that were caught that day, I had four! Two were well over 20lbs! So size DOES matter! (Don’t tell me you’ve never heard that before..........)
As mentioned above, colour counts too. If you are a regular to a fishery, then you may soon learn that a certain hue does far better than others. I’m currently fishing a NW pool that responds extremely well to black or very dark brown baits; put on a white bait in the same flavour....no chance, the carp will not go near it! Find out what this season’s fashion is, and you are onto a winner.
Once you find out what colour and size of bait to use, there are many other methods which can be used to increase catch rates. How many times have you just put a boilie on and lobbed it out without changing the shape of the bait? I’ve found out after I’ve spent many hours up trees, that big fish will often ignore whole baits in favour of chops or bits of boilies. The only reason I can think of is familiarity, and the danger they associate with picking up ‘bag ready’ bait. Cutting or breaking a boilie in half, then mounting it ‘back to back’ or ‘butterfly ‘ style can often trip up a wary fish. Mounting the two halves facing the same way can also give the appearance of free offerings which are starting to degrade. Fishing just half a bait on a short hair with a smaller hook (size 10-12 instead of 6-8) amongst a bed of broken bits can be deadly, especially in the margins where it can be carefully placed. How about scraping the skin of the bait to increase the surface area? By using a blade to trim the bait, the increased surface area increases scent and flavour leakage into the surrounding water and disrupts the circular shape of the boilie.
Dips and glugs can be a fantastic way to enhance the attractiveness of a boilie. By steeping the baits for a few minutes, hours or even days in some instances, the baits will draw in flavour via the osmotic process, which will then released when immersed in lake water to create a cloud of scent in the immediate vicinity of your hook bait. What about water? Soaking baits in lake water for a day or two will give them a ‘washed out’ appearance which may fool very wary fish on pressured waters into believing that the baits have been in the water for a prolonged period and therefore present less of a risk! A sneaky tip which has resulted in the downfall of some notable captures!
One of my favourite ways of giving my baits a quick ‘push’ is to wrap my hook offering in paste. A chopped boilie on the hair provides a good anchor to wrap paste around and prevent it flying off on casting. It is important to leave the hook point clear of the paste so it doesn’t impede the strike as this is sometimes an ‘instant’ method which can give immediate reaction. Many of the readymade pastes break down fairly quickly, so it makes sense to use one with a slower rate of ‘melt’ to keep fish digging around looking for the source of the attractor.
Paste wrapped around a quality boilie
The careful use of PVA can bring good results, allowing a small amount of freebies to be placed close or under the hook bait. Readily available ‘stick’ ground bait mixes now give the angler the option of passing the hook length through the PVA mesh ‘stick’ and securing it with the hook before reattaching to the main line. This gives the added advantage of disguising the last couple of inches of hook link, which is covered by bait, in addition to putting scent and flavour into the water. Walnut sized mesh bags and bigger solid bags are also a great way to bring fish to your hook bait. By filling a solid bag with a small amount of oil based liquid flavour (nothing else) before casting out, you are guaranteed to introduce maximum flavour for minimum effort!
The possibilities to up your chances are limited only by what you can think of; casting a boilie out is only the start of it, so let your imagination run wild! Don’t just follow the crowd.....
Clint Walker, November 2010 ©