A classic bait combo with a twist – Sam Collett
Hemp and corn, hemp and meat and hemp and casters are proven combinations. But, as Sam Collett proves, there’s a new partnership that carp can’t resist…
HEMP is one of those baits that complements many other offerings. Classic combos include hemp and meat, hemp and casters or hemp and corn. But there is a new partnership that one angler has been using with great success on both natural and commercial carp waters. So what is it? “Hemp and snails,” revealed 2015 Junior Fish O’Mania champion Sam Collett. “The pairing sounds rather bizarre at first, but it is essentially meat and hemp, only Dynamite has given this classic combo a new twist. At this time of year, most species, especially carp, will have veracious appetites and offerings such as luncheon meat rise to the top of Sam’s baits list.
A natural alternative
However, on venues that have seen lots of meat, or on the occasional commercial where it is banned, snails make a superb alternative and offer a host of other advantages. Cooked in the tin with the hemp, the snails absorb all the flavour, oils and goodness from the magic seed as well as the hemp taking on the scent of the snail. Secondly, unlike meat that is cut into uniform cubes using a meat cutter, snails are natural and offered as they come from the shell. Available in two sizes – 4mm and the Specimen 14mm – they all differ slightly in size and feature a lot of curves and folds in their skin. This gives them a much larger surface area for attraction to leak into the water when compared to a perfectly cut cube of meat. “The beauty of this is that the fish find it difficult to pick out what is safe and what is dangerous to eat,” explained Sam. “With 6mm meat cubes or sweetcorn – a bait I am also fishing today – fished over a bed of hemp, they can soon wise up and become preoccupied with the smaller food items. The distinctive shape of the snails means that every one of them is unique. “Think of it as a cake. The contrast of the two ingredients actually helps to get more bites as the fish look upon the larger food items as the cherry on the top, which often trips up the larger, warier fish that have seen it all before.” The third plus point is their robust but still relatively soft texture enables them to be side hooked or hair-rigged. This versatility makes them suitable for use on a wide variety of rigs.
Like many commercials, The Glebe in Peckleton village, Leicestershire, is dominated by pellets and groundbait. But fishing on the complex’s Lake Five, Sam demonstrated the numerous advantages that hemp has over these commonly used baits. “In many respects, hemp is a better carpet feed than pellets. It releases oils and flavours quicker than pellets which need time to breakdown,” he said. Also, being heavier than a micro pellet, it won’t get wafted off the lakebed when a carp comes into the swim. This often results in foulhooking or the loosefeed being dispersed. Hemp will remain in the swim until it is all eaten. “The final big plus point of hemp is that it is very rarely used on commercial fisheries. The fish therefore have no fear of it because it never leads to their capture.”
Hemp and corn is classic combo. But the bites are often much more delicate as the larger fish have been caught on corn countless times. “When I put a snail on the hook, the bites
are much quicker and a lot more positive. Fish naturally eat snails so rather than treat them with caution they actively seek them out. “You could fish hemp on the hook, but it is quite fiddly and you will probably get bitted out by silver fish. The snails, being cooked in the tin, are soft yet very robust so they can be side hooked or hair-rigged with ease.”
Look for a firm lakebed
“For today’s session, I’m fishing short just where the soft stuff meets a hard bottom. “When fishing with hemp I always locate a hard clay area to fish over. Because it is so good the fish rapidly dig up the bottom so if you are fishing over silt they can make the swim slightly deeper which can cause foul-hooking.” To find the firm areas Sam drops a 21g plummet into the swim to see if it sinks into the silt. “In this situation the lakebed make-up is more important than the length or depth at which I’m fishing the rig.” If you do start to get lots of fizzing in the swim and foul-hooked fish, simply plumb a new area a metre to the left or right and start the session from scratch.
“The float I’m using is a diamond-shaped prototype Guru float. These are quite long floats, which I prefer as they are more stable in the water. The extra length also keeps the line straighter in the swim.” Sam’s shotting pattern is a simple strung out bulk of seven No.8s, which start at the top of the hooklink and are spread every two inches. “This enables me to flick out the rig before slightly drawing it up the shelf, which gives me the prefect presentation every time. “Finally, I plumb to the bottom of the float’s body, around two inches overdepth. With hemp, fish feed hard on the deck, so this gives a natural presentation but it is still very positive.
Feeding hemp and snails
“To start the session I feed 30 grains of Hemp and Snails and four kernels of corn with a pole cup. Cupping in loads at the start can draw in too many fish at once which leads to false bites and foul-hookers. Hemp fishing is very much a case of softly, softly. After this I will then see how the day goes. “If I get a few quick bites I will top up but, if things are slow, I throw a few grains over the top to help draw the fish in quickly. You need to be careful with this though as feeding too much by hand can encourage the fish to come up in the water, which again will lead to problems. “Once the bites are coming steadily, I swap over to a pole pot, cupping Hemp and Snails and a couple of grains of corn every cast. I keep feeding the corn but have a snail on the hook. The bright colour helps to draw fish in the coloured water, but they can be a bit wary of it having been caught many times on the kernels. But they aren’t expecting one of the snails to have a hook in it! “The rest of the session should progress on a little-and-often basis. But, if you do feed too much and ruin the swim, like I said earlier, simply plumb a new area.” Snails might be a new bait to you – the angler – but to the carp they are just part of their natural surroundings. They eat millions of them, so why wouldn’t they take one with a hook in it? The answer is, they will – every time and with great relish!
Sam favours a long float for stability and to keep the line straight in the water A strung out bulk of No.8 shot helps the hookbait fall at a natural rate Hook a snail on a size 16 and make sure the point is showing to help hit bites
It’s not only carp that love snails as this skimmer proved
Hemp and corn were the only items on Sam’s bait tray
A small amount of hemp and corn is fed in a cup to start the sessiom
Hemp is fed via a pole pot after each fish once the bites start coming
Sam’s tackle: Elastic: Black Hydro Mainline: 0.19mm (7lb) Guru N-Gauge Hooklink: 6in Guru 0.17mm (6lb) N-Gauge Hook: Size 16 Guru Super LWG Float: 0.5g Guru prototype float Just a small part of Sam’s haul thanks to snails!