With so many baits to choose from, it can be a bit of a jungle out there at the best of times when trying to select the right bait to catch a carp – in winter, it can be even harder!
I’m often asked what bait I use and, to be honest, the answer can change session to session based on the conditions I find on arrival at the water and the observations I make whilst having a look around.
In short, I always make sure I have a few options at my disposal with regard to bait in order that I can select what I think will be the right approach at the right time. I always have a 10 litre camo bait bucket with me that holds all my different baits and PVA for my session. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s in my bucket during the colder months;
Pellets: At the bottom of the bucket there are always a few kilos of my fast breakdown pellet. This often forms the mainstay of my freebait. The pellet breaks down to complete mush in about thirty minutes so is great for putting out in PVA bags, PVA mesh or by catapult.
Boilies: I will always have some of my fresh MB Baits Pink Enzyme Boilies which I take from the freezer before I go. In winter I tend to stick to 10mm for freebait (so they don’t get filled up) with 12’s and 15’s added in the summer. I find a good mix of sizes and crushed baits always helps to confuse them when trying to suss out a potential hookbait.
Hookbaits: for hookbaits I take a little pot of matching 15mm Pink Enzyme cork ball wafters (from frozen). I never mess about with different boilies from different companies – I’ve been using MB Baits for over ten years and have all the confidence in them I could possibly need, so have no want to keep trying different baits from different companies – to be honest I think this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as confidence always comes from consistency.
Pre-filled PVA Mesh: I always tie up a few PVA Mesh stockings in advance of my trip. In winter these will be tightly packed with crumbed boilie and a few 10mm baits.
Glugged Imitation Baits: In my tackle box I have a few mini pots of glugged imitation baits. One pot has all floating baits (to make pop up and wafter presentations) and the other has sinking baits (to hold bottom or to weigh down a pop up to make it critically balanced). Both pots contain a mixture of different types, sizes and colours including; imitation boilies, maggots, corn, maize, tigers, dog biscuits, etc. I always tip my boilie hookbaits with a glugged fake bait. I find glugging the actual boilies too messy, so find the glugged tipper does exactly the same job and it’s much easier to mount – especially the corn stops from Avid, which are effectively a fake bait and bait stop all in one.
Maggots: If I’m on a day session, I’ll always have some maggots with me. The power of their visual draw on a drab winters day just can’t be underestimated. Carp, by their very nature, are curious creatures and will often drop down to take a look, even if they’re not particularly hungry… and once there, they will often think it rude not to take advantage of this tasty little natural offered up on a plate!
PVA: My bucket also contains all my PVA items; wide mesh PVA, Bags, tape and rig foam nuggets.
By making sure I always have a few bait options at my disposal, I can always ensure I’ve got things covered if I suddenly see a fish mooching in the margins, or signs of feeding activity out in open water. I have a few friends who take just one thing – usually bottom bait boilies – and they often miss a trick as they are tied to one method so cannot react should an opportunity present itself. I could not count the amount of times I’ve spotted fish in the margins and quickly reeled in a static bait to offer a few maggots or a worm on the hook and had a fish on the bank as a result. I find just having one bait can make you a bit lazy at times – it’s often by forcing a change that you can bring about a result.
However, the opposite can also apply. I also know a few people who take everything, including the kitchen sink, when it comes to bait – ten different types of boilies, ten different types of pellet, ten different types of glugged hookbaits – you get the idea! The problem here is that there’s no consistency. They often try something different every hour thrashing the water to a pulp – and lose twenty minutes fishing every hour whilst they change baits on each rod. Had they just sat on their hands a bit more and given one bait a chance to prove or disprove itself properly, they could narrow the field much quicker and concentrate on the best approach.
Once spring has sprung, I’ll also add my surface baits and, of course, my worms – my main stalking baits… but spring seems a long way off at the moment!!