Think Tank


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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!

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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

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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

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