With the onset of winter, which, if any, high-attract FLAVOUR COMBINATIONS DO YOU TURN TO AS A GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD, WHEN IT COMES TO FISHING SINGLES OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF ‘THE POND’?
Check out this month’s Think Tank for our experts’ flavour combinations to grab yourself a winter carp
Last year I had a very good season, incorporating Tecni-spice into my bait mix as my flavour of choice. However, this was in a high nutritional value mix which was my food-source bait for the winter. The use of a food-source bait is an approach that I have always personally favoured, especially when engaging in a winter campaign on one specific water. Something that is beneficial and soluble will encourage the carp to feed again and again, especially when the little-and-often approach is adopted. Be it as a single hookbait, or a little-and-often winter campaign, considering the nutritional make-up of your bait can, in my opinion, be as important as the flavours with which we choose to invest our faith in.
If I had to focus on flavours alone though, and if my hand was being forced, I do have a couple of special pots I dig out from the bag. One aspect of carp fishing that I am obsessed with is paying attention to others, and consequently ‘being different’. Purely, for example, if I notice everyone is casting out yellow pineapple pop-ups, I will opt for a different colour and flavour to give the carp something they aren’t seeing every day. That’s not knocking pineapple by the way, as Pineapple N-butyric Acid is indeed one of said special pots in the bottom of my bag.
Reverting back to my flavour of choice for last year, I have been utilising Spice ‘flavours’ more over recent winters as I see them as something different from the norm. The norm in my eyes being the fruity or creamy flavours which again (please do not get me wrong) on their day can prove very fruitful (excuse the pun). In terms of high-attract/instant properties, the flavour I have found most success with is the White Spice. I use the Alternative Pop-ups from Nutrabaits in this flavour and with its brilliant white appearance and unique beautiful scent, it just screams carp, and the results speak for themselves.
If I turn up to a lake and find tufties and coots picking up bait everywhere, this is when I will opt for a single White Spice pop-up fished two or three inches off the deck. It’s very rarely the case but I also like this approach when trying to find the fish, casting every hour until I get a take or receive liners. When I know where the fish are, I am a huge fan of snowmen, opting for a foodsource bottom bait, with a small White Spice pop-up on top, fished with a two bait stringer. In my experience this gives me the best of both worlds and has given me brilliant and, at times, unexpected results over previous winters. This is always my go-to approach and high-attract popup flavour of choice.
My standard reply to anyone asking me about fishing a single hookbait would be “if in doubt, cast a yellow pineapple out”. Having said that, why do we always assume that a single hookbait will be a pop-up? Don’t overlook a bottom bait, they can sometimes be less suspect than a pop-up, especially on the more pressured waters where they have wised up to a pop-up over clear lake beds.
A lot of my single hookbait fishing has been during the colder months simply because the carp are eating a lot less and a single is a quick snack, or so the carp thinks anyway. So, for pop-ups, the Mainline IB is a massive favourite of mine and I tend to boost these with one of the attractor sprays. I do this because when we’re using a single, I’m looking for maximum attraction on every level. Likewise, I’ll do the same to a bottom bait or wafter.
I’ve done well on the Essential Cell boilies, fishing them as a single bottom bait. I’ll normally add a lid’s worth of pineapple liquid to again boost the flavours that’ll consequently leak out of the bait. I always think of it like having the attraction of 30 baits in the area but all concentrated in the one bait. I have complete confidence in the single hookbait approach and over the years it’s accounted for many carp for me, including some really big fish. So it’s a difficult question, but if I had to pick one bait to fish as a single it would be the IB as it has it all – overpowering smell, bright in colour and comes in both pop-up and wafter form. It’s worked so well for me in the past few years, so I’d highly recommend it.
This winter will be my 36th year of using bright, highlyattractive singles, so as you can easily imagine I have some fantastic memories of captures and results on standout flavour combinations. During those years I found out many interesting things about single hookbaits that I would like to mention. None of these things are set in stone, as things change and things like stock density on the water where you are fishing can make a difference, but, as a guideline, it applies to most waters where I have fished.
Generally speaking, single hookbaits are slow at night and far better in the daytime – however, I have lost count of the times when a single hookbaits, left out all night and left quietly, will be picked up at first light, whereas a single cast at first light would remain untouched, so it is a valid tactic.
Don’t think that just because it’s a single, it has to be a bigger bait in order to be spotted. I have found at times really small single hookbaits will easily out-fish the obligatory 16mm job. I have had some wonderful results using 12, 10 and even 8mm hookbaits on occasion.
I have also said many times, never neglect wafters. They can quite often easily out-fish pop-ups, so experiment and ring the changes.
I remember fishing Birch Grove on the winter syndicate, where I couldn’t buy a bite on a pop-up, but a wafter with an identical attractor package, colour and same rig, less the split shot or rig putty, consistently produced action. This is a weird but not uncommon phenomena on waters where pop-ups are the abused go-to method.
Currently, I am using my own special wafters and pop-ups that are in my mini-range with Spotted Fin. I won’t kid you, the White Fruit Zing specials are stunning. They are based on a blend of four flavours I put together, along with some essential oils and stimulants that I have found to be super-effective over the years. My good friend, Ed Skillz, tells me it is his alltime favourite visual hookbait and he can’t stop catching on it. There are four other go-to blends of mine within the small range, each having its own special meaning to me from throughout my angling life.
Two winters ago, I fished Eric’s Willows venue with a friend – it was our first winter attempt as the previous week the water had frozen solid on us. We tried all manner of things but I had a bite on a Masala Spice hookbait. Encouraged, we both tried them and my mate, Dayle, soon had a take on the rod with the Masala on it – for whatever reason they wanted that one bait. In the 48-hours just before Christmas, we had 12 runs, landing five carp each. My biggest was 33lb and no other carp were caught, despite the lake being quite busy. So on that occasion a spicy bait worked a treat, something that is not uncommon in cold water.
The single hookbait approach has been a big favourite for many anglers over the years, particularly in the winter months. When the temperature gets colder, the carp’s metabolism will decrease, so they are less likely to feed on larger quantities of bait. This approach can grab any fish’s attention and tempt them into a bite, even when they aren’t particularly hungry. As the autumn feeding spell draws to a close and the bitter frosts of winter creep in, I no longer use the power of attractive beds of bait to convince the fish to feed. Instead, I find it more important to focus my efforts into making that one rig and hookbait completely irresistible to any carp that drifts into the vicinity.
Apart from the obvious colour aspect of single hookbait fishing, flavour and attraction levels have always been a huge part of my angling. This is always a careful consideration of mine throughout the year. However, I always find myself going that one step further as the temperature start to decline, along with our beloved carp’s desire to feed.
Liquids and powdered additives are a perfect way to boost your chosen hookbaits and add an irresistible flavour combination to your approach. This can give you an edge over other anglers using a standard hookbait that doesn’t leak off those all-important signals for a long period of time. Coating your hookbaits in a highly concentrated liquid will allow them to absorb that extra boost right through to the core. Doing this alone can rapidly increase the attraction levels. The bait will pump out that boosted flavour over a longer amount of time. This is all well and good, but I’ll crank it up a notch further still and introduce powdered additives to the equation. The beauty of doing this is you can play around by mixing up different liquids and coming up with your own twist on those classic flavours. You are only limited by your imagination!
After glazing my hookbaits in Intense Boosters for a week or two, ensuring they have absorbed most of the liquid, I give the pot a generous dusting of the highattract powder from the DNA EVO range. These awesome little pouches are perfect for this. I will repeat this process again a couple of days before I begin using them. This allows the liquid and powder to dry out on the baits’ surface, which helps them cling and leak off slowly once cast out into the water.
However, with 11 different powders and multiple different Intense Booster flavours, there are so many amazing combinations that can be created, and, trust me, they’re well worth trying! My favourite combinations have got to be the SLK hookbaits coupled with Hydrolysed Liver, or the Milky Malts with added Milk E+ powder.
The single hookbait approach is something many anglers will be using this winter, so play around with powders and liquids to make your hookbait stand out above the rest. Those windows of opportunity are pretty slim while the temperature drops, so make your rig something that is just too good to refuse. You could even go one step further by dipping your leads in syrups and/or glugs, but that’s for another time!
IMAGES1. Almost instant success with the bait in the water only 15 minutes 2. This hungry winter 30-plus needed the forceps to unhook3. My confidence is always strong when the hookbait is tipped with a small White Spice pop-up. 3
BEN SELBY Age: 32 Favourite Venue: Thorney Weir and The Mets UK PB: 42lb 6oz
IMAGES1. My go-to hookbait of choice when fishing singles. Mainline’s Essential IB has everything I look for in a bait 2. This absolute stunner was caught fishing a solitary IB pop-up on a Ronnie Rig last spring3. A 28lb mirror that fell to a tiny PVA bag cast to a showing fish recently 1
Age: 45 Favourite Venue: Wraysbury 1 North Lake UK PB: 50lb DAVE LEVY
IMAGES1. A very good alternative rig for fishing single hookbaits, is this combination of the ‘Anchor’ and‘Shot on the hook’ rigs2. A Fruit Zing victim. I couldn’t get a bite on anything else, no matter what I tried3. My lad, Guy, went against the grain and fished with the Smokey Jack last winter and scored well4. Only a small one but I thought it interesting that it was caught in 2-foot of water in early January5. Part of a 10-fish catch in late December using spicy hookbaits1
FRANK WARWICK Age: 58 Favourite Venue: Bluebell Lakes’ Kingfisher UK PB: 43lb 14oz
3 IMAGES1. The Intense Booster liquids are the perfect way to enhance the pulling power of your hookbait2. After a quick douse of Intense Booster, I then add my chosen powder to the pot and allow the baits to dry3. My newly transformed pop-ups. Now what carp could refuse that?4. A gorgeous old carp in all its winter colours 1
Age: 27 Favourite Venue: Horton complex UK PB: 40lb OLLY SANDERS