Early Days

This article was written in 1994, but has not been previously published

Those of you who have read my series of articles on flavouring baits, and perhaps also read my book on the subject, will no doubt marvel at the rapid advances that have taken place in angling. Rods, reels, particularly lines, just look at the huge choice you now have, each one with its own claim to fame. And what about' the bits and bobs? There seems to be cart - loads of them. 11m talking about line floatant, line sinkers, hook tyers, knot testers, pole elastic, swivels, snap - links, beads, float adaptors, there seems to be something newor improved in angling every week.

I've always kept in touch with the latest trends and even managed to set a few myself, but every now and again something special comes along. This time it's the Drennan Flake Punch. New? Actually it's been on the market around five years or so without really getting noticed as anglers generally aren't keen on breadflake due to the. difficulty in keeping it on the hook. Yet that's exactly what this gadget is designed for, and in that it succeeds admirably. To use it, follow the instructions printed on the packet, reproduced here with the permission of Drennan International, but I'll add a few pointers based on my own experience with it.

First, get a fresh thick sliced loaf, the moister the better. Select the size of punch you want and plug it on one of the two sizes of handle. There are six punch head sizes, and counting the smallest as No 1, I've found the No 3 size very useful over this season. It's given me a nice slug of flake to use laying on with a waggler on my local canal. To get this, lay a slice of bread on a firm surface, (a bait bucket lid?) and press the punch firmly into it. This cuts out your bait, leaving it compressed in the punch head. I now do it differently to the printed instructions, as I use the bend of the hook and insert it into the slot on the back of the punch head to lever the flake out. You now have a roughly pear shaped bait, flatter at the narrow end. Insert your hook as shown, twice is probably best, and you're ready to fish.

Before actually fishing I did a series of tests in a tank of water. I. tied a hook onto a short length of line, added a couple of shots, baited the hook, and dropped the lot in the tank. The compressed bread swelled back to its normal size in seconds, virtually hiding the hook in a beautifully soft and fluffy bait. Which floated up above the shot! Yes, a very interesting presentation, but most anglers prefer to fish on the bottom. No problem, just use a smaller punch head next time, and you'll have a bait that sinks gently and comes to rest on top of any soft weed or silt.

For my own fishing, I found a Drennan Star-point No 10 perfectly suited my size 3 punch, and in the tank the bouyancy of the bait meant the hook sat on the bottom on its eye, with point and bend uppermost…armed and ready for business. In my local canal, I used this approach to catch a variety of fish; bream, tench, roach, crucian carp, even gudgeon. Plus, of course, the inevitable mirror carp, several of which completely wrecked my swim, surging up and down the cut for twenty minutes or more, chewing up the lily pads. I landed a few between 10-l7lbs, but lost as many more in my 41b line and float rig. I certainly had as many takes as the local 'boilie and bivvie' brigade, and would not hesitate to use the larger punch sizes, on suitable tackle, if I were to fish deliberately for those carp.

During my tank tests, I lifted the bait in and out of the water several times without it dropping off the hook, and even left it overnight before lifting it out, still without it dropping off the hook. In actual fishing, I have many times wound in after more than half an hour and the baits still there. In fact, if it's gone it's mostly because small fish find it irresistable, and will attack it until they break it up. As someone who has used flake for everything from roach to carp, for more than forty years, I feel I'm qualified to state the Drennan flake punch has decidedly improved my fishing. Note: I have no financial connection whatever with the selling of these.


One last point. If you punch your baits out of the end crusts of your loaf, you will have a super bouyant, super tough hookbait: Absolutely ideal for bunching the shots under the float and fishing floating crust on the increasing number of fisheries full of small carp. It strikes me it could be a real match - winning technique.

Talking of match winning brings me nicely to my other news. I'm very shortly going to be marketing ground bait additives, maybe even by the time you read this. No, it's not just another example of an angler who thinks he's become a name and is rushing to cash in by trying to sell you something. Rather, I seem to have arrived here by default, as my entertainment agency is very busy, and is more than sufficient to provide for my needs. In fact, swamped by figures, costs, packaging, labeling, mixing, testing, delivery, weights and measures, trading standards, and the never ending flow of money required to even set up in a small way, I sometimes wonder why I'm bothering. So why am I? Because you, the anglers, keep asking.

It began more than ten years ago, with my early flavouring experiments, the results of which I passed on to a few friends. The friends did well, and not surprisingly came back for more. Later on I tried experiments with groundbait, the friends shared in the successes, and again they came back for more. As you can well imagine, my circle of friends widened somewhat!

All of this came about originally due to my interest in the carp scene. My baits in the sixties were bread, worms and potatoes, but by the seventies, when I had moved on to other species, carp catches were increasing dramatically as the first of the 'special' paste baits were used. Eventually these pastes became boilies, which brings us up to date, with the angling papers full of huge captures every week.

The point of all this is that various substances have been found to have genuine powers of attraction to carp, and also other species. Sometimes two three items mixed into a boilie can stimulate tench, for example, into. a feeding frenzy. So I have collected all the information I can find on 'non - carp' species, and spent a long time testing ingredients in a groundbait format. So successful have these groundbaits become that anglers who have tried them out 'have offered to buy them from me. One tackle shop owner and successful matchman has said "I'll buy everything you can produce of that red stuff", referring to a complex blend of spices and additives I gave him to try. That mix was in fact a concoction of sixteen different items, weighed and mixed at precise levels. No wonder my hair's going grey. (It's about gone, never mind grey, says my wife unkindly).

During 1994 it all seemed to come together, so I sent different mixes out to various anglers to try out on waters I never get to fish myself. The results were instant…gimme some more! Those anglers were beating the pegs both sides, winning sections, catching bags of fish on dead pegs, catching roach and perch over groundbait I told them would bring roach and perch, and much, much more.

So I looked at the groundbait market, the huge storage and mixing 'space required, delivery and all the associated problems and came up with the dad news. No way could I take that lot on. But the good news is that I can isolate the 'punch' ingredients in my mixes and produce them as a groundbait additive, to mix with the ang
lers own favourite groundbait. I've done just that, and already these mixes have been thoroughly tested, from Drennan Team England squad members all the way down to the casual Sunday angler - Once again it works, as I knew it would.

Therefore, Braddock's Baits has been born, and at the moment I'm struggling to run my own business, launch a new one, and still fit in three or four 'fishing sessions a week. Most blokes in their mid-fifties are settling down, looking towards early retirement, taking it a bit easier.

I must have got it wrong somewhere.