Bait; the ins, outs and wherefores

30 Jul


In this section I am going to start with boilies.  There are three main types of boilies. The first, I am going to look at are those of high food value aimed at big carp, big bream and big tench. The second type are the instant attraction bolies, which is general have a lower food value, but make up for it with bright colours, and intense flavours. The relatively new kiddies on the block are those, like the crafty catcher ones, which are a mix of both. I particularly like their colour combinations.


Hemingford Grey

In ground baits, I talked about feed-baits such as pellet, hemp, maize and corn. Later on, I have a look at their values as hook baits. I will also cover many other baits, such as worms, bread and so on.

High food value


So, let’s look at the high food value variety first. Most bait manufactures offer these in a variety of base ingredients. In general they are brown, dark red, ocher yellow and such like.

High food value boilies are produced by all bait companies.  Some of these are, Rod Hutchinson’s Gourmet range, especially ‘Monster Crab,’ Sticky’s ‘Krill,’ Nash’s ‘Key,’ Mainlines ‘Activate8,’ and Dynamite’s ‘Tiger Nut.’  They are designed for low stock level waters where you are targeting special fish. They all offer high levels of protein, medium levels of carbohydrates and an appetizing amount of fat.  They also work well on highly stocked venues when you are trying to pick out big fish.


This is just guide to a base mix for a high food value boilie. It can be varied anyway you like

4oz cod liver oil, fish oil, hemp oil or whatever oil you fancy
2oz Maize or corn meal

10oz Provimi66 or high grade Fish, Shrimp, Salmon, or Squid meal/powder
Semolina or rice flour 1.5oz
Robin Red or LT94 powder 1oz
Full fat milk powder 2oz
Whey Powder 1/5oz
Whole Egg Powder 1.5oz
Egg Albumin 1/2oz
Wheatgerm 1/2oz

2oz 2mm trout pellets (optional but gives your boilie an irresistible uneven surface)
Add below to every 16oz of above mix…
2 Large Eggs
3ml Concentrated Flavour, Ideally Ethyl alcohol flavour like the cake flavours available from Waitrose, alternatively, Rod Hutchinson produces some quality Ethyl flavours. Other high street alcohols, such as cherry brandy – Malabu, etc, have been tried before with little success.  A word of caution here, your alcohol should be no more than 4/5% alcohol content. Any higher and it will put the fish off.
50ml Condensed Milk (optional)
2tsp Hemp – Protein Powder, oil or crushed to give your bait again an uneven surface.

The above will give you a boilie with these values:

Proteins; 36% of every kilo

Carbohydrates, 19 % contained in every kilo

Fat 21% of every kilo

This is a medium/hard boilie, which has a decent response scale, and is very high in protein levels. You can vary the contents as much as you want to decrease the protein levels, increase the fat content or sweetness and so on.  Reduce the fishmeal to bring down the protein level. More eggs will increase the fat content and so on. Replace the 10oz of Provimi66 with 2oz standard fishmeal, 8 oz of rice/semolina flour, and instead of 3ml of flavour, add 6/10ml. Now have a low protein instant attraction boilie.

Instant attraction


Instant attractions boilies, are just that. They are designed for heavily stocked waters and will catch you fish very quickly. As a rule, they are brightly coloured, and intensely flavoured. These do work for big fish, especially in the winter when you are fishing one boilie with a handful of freebies.  As a rule of thumb, they are perfect for mid range carp in the 5-20lb bracket. In general, they have low levels of protein, medium levels of carbohydrates, high levels of fat, and intense flavours. Another distinguishing factor for these are the bright colours. Examples of these are Rod Hutchinson’s ‘Mulberry Florentine’ (my current favourite), Mainline’s ‘Tutti-Fruti’, Nash’s ‘TG’ (Tandori-Garlic) and Dynamite’s ‘Peaches and Cream’, to name but a few.

The subject of fat versus sweet content is an interesting one. All animals, including us, find it hard to resist any food with a high fat level combined with a high sweet content.  In essence, all instant attractions boilies work on this profile, and when combined with bright colours, it just works.  The first of these to hit the high streets in the 70s, was Richworths Tutti-frutti and it sold by the bucket load. Worth noting, Tutti-frutti is still a top seller because it works.

If you fancy making your own instant attraction boilie, then here’s a good starting point.

2oz corn or maize meal

1.5oz egg powder

1oz fishmeal

1/2oz fat free milk powder

1.5oz semolina powder

4 Vanilla powder, (expensive, try more maize)

1/2oz wheat germ

5oz of fish, hemp, cod liver, or any oil you fancy.

1oz sea salt

2 oz of cake sweetener

2 oz of milk shake powder

1oz of non-alcoholic cake colouring (Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose’s and so on)

Add 2 eggs per 16oz.

This boilie has these values:

Protein 11% of every kilo

35% carbohydrates per kilo

30% fat per kilo.

You can see there is a significant difference in all areas between high food value, and instant attraction.

Instant/high food

Now we have the boilies that combine the two. Examples are Crafty Catcher’s Strawberry and Krill’, Rod Hutchinson’s ‘Secret Agent’, Sticky’s ‘Vortex’, Dynamite’s ‘Banoffee’, Mainline’s ‘Cell’ and so on. There are so many to choose from. I actually like this concept. In essence, you have a boilie that not only will work on most venues, but also offers the angler a bait that will be brilliant for an all year round baiting campaign on those rock hard venues.


My new freezer baits

After months of testing, I have now introduced two new freezer boilies. The first is Krill and Prawn, which is a high food value bait. The protein level is 38%. Carbohydrates are around 22%, and the fat content is 24%.  I have surprised myself how well these work. Using them recently, while fishing Hemingford Grey, I had two mirror carp. Although they weren’t massive, they were stunning lookers. In 20 years on this venue, and most of you know how many hours I spend there, I have never had 2 carp in one session. I also added a 12lb bream and an 8lb tench. A great session from a rock hard venue. My second boilie is an instant attraction bait. Smoked Papaya, is a combination of sweet flavours, with a decent protein level of around 18%. The carbohydrate level is 38% and the fat is around 32%. This is an all year round bait. It works brilliantly on runs waters, but is at its best in the winter on hard venues. I was catching Tench and Carp this year, using these, in January.  I was on a venue known as a summer only water that never fishes in the colder months. With night temperatures as low as -4/5, that myth was put to the sword.




Moving on to pellets. I never go fishing without 8mm, 12mm, and 16mm pre-drilled pellets. I prefer fishmeal or halibut, but you can also purchase ‘robin red’ from Dynamite and ‘monster crab’ from Rod Hutchinson amongst many.  My view is simple, we chuck pellets out by the bucket load, into our swims, year round.  None of them have a hook attached (well, mostly). Fish get used to eating these for free.  I’ve often fished with drilled pellets that I’ve tipped with plastic corn, butterfly boilies, maize, corn and so on, and had a great amount of success. Of late, I’ve been thinking about it a little differently and going on what I said above, I’ve been using two 8mm’s, one or two 12mm’s, or one 16mm pellet on the hair with nothing else. (I’ve even gone down to one 8mm on a size 14). My results on both the venues that I fish have gone through the roof. Now, some of you will say, “aha, but stand alone pellets desolve”, and you’re right, they do. I’ve come up with a simple, but effective way to stop that. Korda do a cray-fish shrink wrap. Try it on your pellets. I’ve had pellets out for 24 hours, and they hold together brilliantly. If you shrink it right down, you wouldn’t know it’s there, and neither seemingly do the fish. What you’re left with is a melt in the mouth pellet that often produces single toners, even on the hardest of venues (Hemingford Grey), where an inch movement is a bonus.

Sweet corn.

Number one bait for Bream, Tench and Carp. Works brilliantly on waters that are full of naturals. Fish 2, 3, or 4 in a line, or with a bit of buoyant plastic, the list is endless. Don’t leave home without it. It will get you a bite on the hardest of days.  Rod Hutchinson does a giant flavoured corn, brilliant stuff as it’s fairly hard so will take a long chuck and silvers won’t be able to strip your bait.

corn flv1


Like corn, it’s one of the best, and again superb on low and high stock venues. Lots of people just use it, like corn as a feed bait. Try it as a hook-bait, it’s robust, will take a long chuck, won’t pull off in weed, and even if fish take it right in, they still won’t easily pull it from the hair.

Lob Worms

Normally associated with Bream, and for sure they are the best of the rest for Bream both big and small.  In my experience, they can be devastating, especially in winter for big carp on hard low stock venues. They are particularly good when used in winter on waters that are full of weed in the summer which dies away in the winter. Fish them in close to reeds and over-hanging trees. They are, without doubt, the most natural bait for all species. There are a couple of ways to fish them, either popped up (using a syringe to pump in a little air) or as they are on the bottom. Both work equally well, but I must stress if you are going to hair rig your worms then you need a quick stop like the Korda or Drennan ones that stay on the hair. This way, the worm can’t wriggle free from the hair.  Isaac Walton suggests putting rose hips in with your worms, something that I’ve not tried, but have always meant to. Rose hips, in autumn, like most seed carriers (berries) ferments, so it should work well.


Every fish loves a maggot and like worms, they are seen by the fish as natural. In winter they are devastating for carp, however, if there a lot of silvers then you need plenty of maggots for a proper campaign. Try fishing them on a maggot clip, or with 3 fake ones on a hair and 2 real ones on the hook. Use a size 10 strong hook and the results can be awesome, particularly on waters where the carp don’t know what a boilie is. Like worms, they are also a brilliant big tench bait, especially if fished with the 3 fakes and 2 real ones.


A forgotten bait. Brilliant as flake or paste. Flake can be a devastating surface bait, especially if used in combo with the Nash bread band. You can also mould it around a luncheon meant screw on a hair. You can cast this as far as you want and know it’s in place. Paste can be used just as bread paste, or try smearing a little damp fishmeal into your paste. Equally excellent for big Bream, Tench, and Carp. 

Luncheon meat

Used a lot on commercial or heavily stocked venues, however it can be excellent for river carp. Tench also have a liking for a bit before it’s all gone, although for some reason it seems to attract smaller fish of all species. There are many variants to choose from, flavoured with just about everything you can think of.

Added Flavours


Where to start. Those of you who know me, know I like my Ethyl Alcohol flavours, and there is a significant reason for that. In the Autumn when the berries and fruits fall into the water they have reached an alcohol level of around 2-4%, and as said before, hemp, corn, maize, wheat and most other seeds also ferment to similar levels once cooked. Fish see this as natural, certainly up against some of the artificial flavours. That said, the non-alcoholic ones do work, as we know. What I will ask, is why take a tutti-frutti boilie, for example, and flavour it with chocolate malt or something similar? Boost your chosen boilie by all means, but if you want chocolate malt, then buy the boilies. The other point here is that you want your hook bait to stand out, so why flavour all your bolies, yeah do the feed mix to some extenet (unless you’re lumping in 3k of bolies). Besides, a bottle of whatever used every time you go adds an unnecessary cost to your fishing.  I will go through a few. Korda goo, is based on the South African Team who won the World Champs using the stuff. It works because of the unique cloud it puts around your hook-bait. Sticky’s bait sprays, are excellent, putting a glaze over your bait, in fact all their glugs are of great quality. All mainline and Dynamite glugs and dips work well when used as enhancers. My current favourite is the range of blilies and dips from Rod Hutchinson.  Their range of boilies are all old-school flavours, and are on the money. Van-den-Eyned offer very reasonably priced dips, and are all betaine based flavours. They are so good for adding flavour to your feed mix and enhancing you boilies.  SSP Baits (see below) are due to launch a bait-mist. This stuff is going to be unique and will set everywhere “on-fire”.


SSP Baits

There a new bait company about to hit the shelves in early October.  The brains behind it are Mark Hoye and Kevin Stack, the original guys who ran Future Angling Products and Image.  They have spent a long time researching every aspect of modern day fishing and these guys know their stuff.  They have involved some high quality anglers in their production team and the results are looking “on-the-money”. All baits are to be produced under a ‘lab style’ environment and only the very best ingredients will be used. The company name is SSP Baits and you should start seeing publications from them soon. The first range to be launched will be “SYSTEM-X,” and will include freezer and shelf life boilies, pellets, stick-mix, ground-baits, pop-ups, wafters, paste, and dumbells. There will also be a high quality bait glug and a new thing called “Bait-Mist.” Watch this space.  From what I know about bait production, and the way they have gone into this, it will be the ‘go-to’ bait.

Like all my features, this is purely my personal view. I have gathered this information from years of experimenting, listening to others, and hearing what our customers are looking for. I’ve a view, if it’s good for animals, or us, then the chances are, the fish will like it too. Although I love a coffee and fish don’t… Be bold, try something different, and if this helps you catch a few more fish, then it’s all worth it. By all means, if you have an idea, run it by me in the shop or on facebook @ stansted.angling. I’ve got 250 + Ethyl flavours in my bait room, so, I am sure I could help with any out-of-the-box ideas. Go-Catch, SteveD


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