Dr Paul Gar­ner on how to make au­tumn’s hottest baits in 10 min­utes

Pop-ups and wafters aren’t just for carp!

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

ONCE the pre­serve of carp an­glers, buoy­ant pop-up and wafter baits have sud­denly hit the main­stream this year.

More and more an­glers have come to recog­nise the ad­van­tages of these spe­cial­ist hook­baits.

Both pop-ups and wafters are sim­ply boilies that float, yet cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties has be­come some­thing of an art form, with all the ma­jor bait com­pa­nies of­fer­ing their own ver­sions.

So let’s take a look at what’s avail­able, and why these baits can catch you more fish.


Pop-ups have been around for al­most as long as boilies them­selves – few self-re­spect­ing carp an­glers would go fish­ing with­out them. The ad­van­tages of a float­ing hook­bait are many-fold. A buoy­ant bait holds the hook above the lakebed, avoid­ing any con­tact with weed or de­tri­tus that might mask the hook­point.

Hav­ing the hook­bait slightly above the bot­tom also makes it stand out, per­haps mak­ing it more likely to be picked up.

Some rigs, such as the Chod, rely on a su­per-buoy­ant hook­bait to make the rig work ef­fec­tively, and a pop-up can keep the bait sit­ting nicely above soft silt.

When us­ing pop-ups I like to keep the bait an­chored within about 3ins of the lakebed. This gives all the ad­van­tages, with­out the hook­bait be­ing above the feed­ing level of the carp.

As a gen­eral rule, the larger the carp, the fur­ther off bot­tom you can fish a pop-up, so for match­sized fish an inch is ideal. For dou­bles and twen­ties you can go higher, while for mon­ster carp 3ins-plus is pos­si­ble.

I like to use as lit­tle weight as pos­si­ble to an­chor a pop-up down, so that the bait only just sinks.

Set up like this it is very easy for a carp or other fish to suck in the hook­bait and it will fly back into the mouth, giv­ing very good hookholds.


Less buoy­ant than pop-ups, wafters have be­come all the rage this year, with sev­eral com­pa­nies ad­ding them to their bait range.

A wafter is a pop-up that sinks un­der just the weight of the hook, giv­ing a great pre­sen­ta­tion when you don’t want the hook­bait to be more than the hair-length off the deck. This is par­tic­u­larly use­ful when fish­ing with a Method feeder, or a PVA stick, as the con­cen­tra­tion of feed will see carp hoover the bait up with their lips touch­ing the lakebed.

A pop-up is likely to get pushed out of the way when the carp are feed­ing like this, whereas a wafter will be per­fectly po­si­tioned.

Bal­anc­ing the weight of the hook gives a wafter other ad­van­tages too. Bites are of­ten more pos­i­tive be­cause the bait is sucked fur­ther

back into the carp’s mouth. This can lead to bet­ter hookholds, and fewer lost fish.


There are sev­eral ways of mak­ing pop-ups, each of which has its own ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, so it is im­por­tant to make sure you are us­ing the right ones.

The most com­mon type con­tain mi­cro spheres – mi­cro­scopic air­filled pow­der – that are in­cred­i­bly buoy­ant. These baits are nat­u­rally white, but can be dyed in bright colours very eas­ily, and they take flavour­ings well. Their main down­side is that they tend to swell up when im­mersed for more than a cou­ple of hours, and do lose some buoy­ancy over time.

Cork gran­ules give pop-ups a speck­led ap­pear­ance, and work well with a wide range of dif­fer­ent base mixes. Cork pop-ups tend to be iden­ti­cal to feed boilies, mak­ing them less con­spic­u­ous, and they hold their buoy­ancy well.

Corked baits also swell up over time, in just the same way as a nor­mal boilie.

Many boilies can be turned into pop-ups sim­ply by mi­crowav­ing them on half power for a few min­utes. Mi­crowav­ing re­duces the mois­ture con­tent of the baits, mak­ing them harder and more buoy­ant. Be care­ful not to let them burn – turn the baits ev­ery few sec­onds and cook them slowly for best re­sults.

Pop-ups come in a wide range of sizes and bright, al­most flu­o­res­cent, colours. Ded­i­cated pop-up mixes have made bait mak­ing a sim­ple op­er­a­tion.

Wafters are ideal when fish­ing the Method.

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