Dr Paul Garner on how to make autumn’s hottest baits in 10 minutes
Pop-ups and wafters aren’t just for carp!
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.
TYPES OF POP-UP
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.