Chalk and cheese

  • 01.01.2023
  • incQbait

If you are waiting for your yearly campaign to begin after some time off..have a read. This not a scientific article, purely my insights, findings and light ‘ish’ opinions as a bait maker. I do not have 30 - 40 year experience of carp angling or bait making. This in itself, doesn’t make me incorrect either, so I’ll keep it all as light and easy as possible, the way I like it to be. Most anglers generally buy their bait as a given and wont give two pub chucks about what I’m talking about and probably wont read past this first paragraph. But either way, I wanted to pose possible bait theories and how you choose to apply/use it for your next session and also seed possibilities to your mind as well. And, above everything else, I wont be giving you a magic ingredient for a bait mix, to the ultimate bait, as there just isnt one. This article will cover, Boilies, pop-ups/wafters and bread. I’ve been an angler most of my life with a few years off here and there, but a rod and line has never been far away regardless. However the last fifteen plus years has seen me adorn the mantle of ‘Carp Angler’. And as a ‘Carp Angler’ who once bought his bait via various tackle shops, I came to realize, and, not too long ago, I was a victim to what I call the ’stink test’ or ‘pot pervert’. Basically the type of bloke who would walk into a tackle shop open up a pot of pop ups, smell through a boilie packet to have a sniff at its wares and decide whether or not that said bait were the ones that the fish were going to love me for, adorn my swim and let me rinse the place like an absolute carp god.

  Not so.

 Within that fifteen plus years, the last seven or so has seen me garner a fair bit of knowledge on ‘bait making’ and again, ‘this’ being solely down to my personal disappointment of shop bought baits, and also the disinformation that seems to stem from it: what to buy?, what colour?, what flavour?, what size? ‘such and such uses it’. Opinions vary widely on which one to use. And as Dirty Harry once said, ‘Opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one’. It can be and is, very daunting to say the least, especially if you are new to this type of fishing, having so much to choose from. Even now, I can walk into a tackle shop, look at bait products from a customer stand point and wonder…wtf would I use if I actually bought any? There are endless choices. Have certain baits become a fashion? Just because ‘such and such’ of ‘big company’ said this or uses that on a 14 day carp extravaganza and caught a mulititude of ‘small 40’s and a handful of 50’s and 60’s, do you buy it, only to find shortly after, they’ve got their own specials or have switched to something else or a completely different company. It is a mine field, but also, if you are new to carp fishing, bear in mind, carp will generally eat anything out of curiosity if its in front of them, its just a case of the right application and the correct use of a hook. My advice, from my own experience of listening to this angler or that angler - garner some advice, then make your own mind up.

 So why incQbait?

 Well, lets start when I quit carping for a while as I began not to enjoy it anymore, purely because of inconsistent catches. So I began to make my own mind up, decipher my issues. Yes, I had good enough rigs, yes, I’d look for fish, though that said, your position on the bank can be dictated by the presence of other anglers on day ticket waters, so you get what you are given, some, if not a lot of the time. It all adds up. So, I walked away and plotted my next move (rubs hands and laughs like a maniac) I turned my thoughts to bait making for me, how to be different from the rest, and after a fair bit of my own recipes of success, here we are. I came up with the notion of incQbait ‘baits’ being on that more homemade level thought process, (which baits are really without a large factory), coupled with outside of the box thinking and able to get you a fish or two on any given session without the need for always fishing a 24 or a 48, as can be the case. Remember kids, Carp are not always quick to bite. Lifestyles these days as they are, for the average joe angler, work included, are plain busy. Not everyone has the time, but, I wanted the time you use for your angling to be utilized in the best possible way. This may sound a like a load of crap, as I know some waters can be tricky, but as stated, that was and still is the crux of incQbait’s ‘mission’ as a carp bait company. I am in the exact same aforementioned boat (timewise). Okay, you may not always catch, there’s a plethora of reasons this happens, but we seriously want to increase the chances of you landing a fish on the bank. Sincerely.

 With that guff all said, let’s talk shop.

 I feel it necessary to point out, as obvious as it may seem…or not, but as people, our sense of what smells good baitwise, doesn’t even remotely coincide with how a carp will pick up the same ‘scent’, would it even be a scent to a carp & even the colour, what are they seeing? Such details of this nature underwater are going to be completely void to how you are perceiving it whilst busy poking and snorting your wares in its unused form on a tackle shop floor.So many times I have heard how this bait smells great or that bait amazing, but in all due respect, the carp cant smell in an actual sense of a human being. They just can’t. Its just not how it works.

 Its all chalk and cheese my son! Air and water disperse flavour, taste and even colour very differently. And Carp receptors do not work like ours. If an angler is serious about their fishing, then maybe they should seriously ask what is in the bait, why does it work in this way or that way, as opposed to liking it because it smells a bit Jamie ‘Pukka’ Oliver like the big tub of banana bon-bons down the sweet shop and getting high on the sweeteners? As humans go, we kind of get our priorities in a twist over such matters, again, in a fashionista kind of sense, we feel we need the latest bait to stay ahead of the game of the guy 5 swims down. But boys n girls, just because the latest bait from ACME caught a 50lber at one lake may not always work on another. And of course there’s the angler who comes up with the old adage of ‘the carp only eat ACME bait in this lake, so that’s all that gets thrown in there.’ Well, yes and no, its a kind of contradicted statement. In short, the less variation of bait will eventually lead to more blanks than catching, as the carp will suss that said food source because it always seems to get them a hook in the kisser and eventually the food signals or look will be classed as a danger and you’ll go home with a dry net. So what do we do?

 An absolute rule of thumb of my inner circle: If you aren’t in fashion, you’ll never be out of fashion. Stay original.

  If you are actually buying a well known bait that you like to use or just from the fact it’s the ‘in thing’ (be honest with yourself) please do something with it. PIMP IT! Slice it, dice it, crumb it, soak it.  Have you noticed how some of our favoured anglers in the magazines and online articles are prepping their own baits, with liquids or a simple sprinkle of powders with amino compounds in, even soaking baits with a tin of evaporated milk, which, incidentally is a killer. They just know to try something different from the next angler, they kind of know their bait stuffs, what works for them and do keep it relatively simple. They don’t follow a crowd, hence so many successful sessions and sponsors galore to their name. So, never begrudge these guys at the top of their game for doing it different. Or anyone for that matter.. So…baits and flavours. What if I told you one of our currently being tested pop up baits doesn’t really have an immediate aroma to it, nor does it smell like the latest batch of chocolate from that famous place, let alone anything overly fishy either. Yet a session prior to its latest incarnation managed 3 fish out of a 2.5 acre lake in less than 6 hrs , putting anglers that had been there for a the entirety of a weekend and a day, with one carp to their name, in the shade. I’m not kidding. I did it on another day session too, during a cold, end of September Sunday morning just on the back of 2019.  6 guys had been there for a week with nothing out, yes it was bloody cold all week, but muggins here, despite a bad cast and getting laughed at (yes your voices do echo across the lake) had a 25lb mirror out in front of them in less than 4 hrs of setting up. Now I’m not larging it up with braggers rights here, no, but my point is I caught 3 doubles in less than a day on 1 lake and a mid 20 on another, without pre-baiting, or using the latest and greatest candy smelling baits thats allegedly going to ‘have ‘em’.

 Whats going on..?

 Well I’ll give you some theory and some thoughts based upon readings and my own findings which when spoken about in one fell swoop should make some sense to you - it does me! Firstly the bait is just different and not being used by the masses so theres no overload of ‘acme baits’ for a start as  I previously stated, but read on for the rest…

 The following in bold is taken from an article on bait ‘make up’, I am just re-iterating the facts along with my agreement from my own many findings. But, you can make your own mind up. 

 Firstly, what do carp actually sense, taste or pick up in order to feed?

 i. Amino Acids, but not all.

ii. Water Temperature (makes a huge impact on feeding, thought carp will still feed in winter)

iii. Water PH changes - including salinity and ammonia levels. (Makes complete sense when a bait gives off, think about it)

iv. Possible sugars (again as the above statement suggests)

 The above list represents basic feeding triggers for a carp. Notably the PH levels represent investigation triggers (as also do colour factors, not mentioned.)

 I may refer lightly and easily to these as I go into the bait side of things, but after I read the above, things just made more sense, to the point of putting a half decent bait together. No more having a sniff thank you gents!!

 The majority of carp baits will contain varied amounts of proteins. These being pretty much the main source of energy if food is low, and a bit like us, or any other living thing, that requires growth and repair of muscle and tissue, with the fats and carbs for energy, basic food science really.

 Before moving on, let’s go back to the guys angling for a week and blanking. Now, consider the above information as well. The situation was basically this, including angling pressure: 6 guys in a row on the road bank for a week chucking in vast amounts of bait. Now the amount of said baits are going to have a mass effect on the water PH values right there and then as well as the other aforementioned instances. There’s going to be a possible repelling effect from either overload in the water, basically a ton of aroma and flavour or possibly not, depending on the breakdown and leakage (a most important factor) of the bait if any, at this time of year on this particularly cold morning. As a bait maker, varying amounts of ingredients are always top of the list when creating our wares, and, even a single pop up that’s overpowering in flavour can and will knock a fish over at 50 paces. So after my setting up in a lone bay side swim and casting a single one of our pop ups to a nearby island and landing a 25lb mirror you need to question these things. Its not like my fish was the only fish swimming the perimeter of the only island in the centre of the lake. People reading this will say it was a chancer bait, but, fishing is taking a chance where you place a bait and hopefully being on fish, and if the fish wants to bite is of course the decider on any given time of day. If you know carp with half a brain cell, and the habitat then the rest is a chance of getting your bait approach and placement right…right?

 Onwards. In order to be successful as anglers we need to look at what carp feed on naturally. This could be larvae, dead insects, bird poop, even the mighty blood worm, carp love it, and its readily available on its front doorstep - dead or alive -GRRRREAT!! Can you see the outlined food sources? One being protein and also amino acids found in the bird poop of all things. Any of this that lives, dies or is deposited into the water is going to immediately change the water around it. These will release natural chemicals. Basically its going to cause a reaction from the fish to possibly feed. Chances are they will, as its part of its habitat, which is where the need of successful baits come into play, the bottom line is, your bait needs to mimic this one way or another.

 As it stands, there’s a massive amount of krill products out there right now, and it works very well, even one of our own baits uses it. But, its not the actual krill itself that’s the attraction for a carp. Krill consists of many things as a living organism, but in actual fact its partly the Lysine within it that the carp are attracted, not the actual krill itself. When was the last time you saw tons of krill at your local carp water? You haven’t - unless your doorstep meanders directly into the North Atlantic. Its just that Lysine is an amino acid and one of the best carp feeding triggers out there when used in correct amounts. That’s why. Its also found in other crustaceans, mussels being another… (GLM- hint hint) This is fact! Lets continue with attraction this time in the subject of wafters/pop ups. Whats the deal? I’ll use the pop up as our primary example in this part but it will refer to the wafter too in the same vain. Firstly, these types of baits are a flavoured lure, and not always a food source, wafting or popped up above a kilo or ten of bottom bait freebies to get the carp on the feed, then, and only then, in the way of a frenzied feed that ‘lure’ gets sucked in. Its not necessarily the target bait, its just there in the midst of a feed. This is not rocket science. However, if a more sporadic or singular baiting tactic is approached, where things are spaced out a bit more on the lake bed like singles ,then our well flavoured pop up becomes more a target among the masses that are spread out. This time round, the target is not because it tastes or smells great, though this will certainly play a part to attract the fish there anyway. First and foremost its presence is going to cause a more inquisitive type of bite from the carp through change in the water ‘flavours’ surrounding it, and of course the bright visual side. And the only way a fish can test something is via its big old chops, and if the rig is set to in that moment of being checked out, then you’ll certainly have yourself one in the net. Popups in the cold certainly make sense, with the high attraction and color range. As stated, these baits are purely lures and there for the fish to have a gander. Nothing more. Plastic baits are in the same boat. Again, think of a carps day to day environment, it can be pretty dark down there.  

 All creatures are of the same ilk, as are we. If something foreign is introduced to the environment around you, one of two things will happen. Either it will be avoided from sheer caution or investigated. Chances are investigation will be the most probable and will garner the bite. Look at those underwater videos that have adorned our social media pages and various freebie cd’s over the years…the fish are constantly checking the odd one out before taking a chance.

 Natural curiosity - we all suffer from it.

 Proven fact is popups work, or should I say cause investigation to bite over a massive bed of bait for the most part, spread out baits, or just fished as singles, they just aren’t common place in the carp’s normal habitat, especially if you are a wild carp…it will be a massive WTF moment for sure!  So with the pop up effect out of the way, lets talk straight boilie as a hook bait.

 How many of us fish with just a rigged boilie over a bed of boilies? I’m talking a baited swim devoid of anything thing that is remotely popped up & highly visible. I think the closest we are going to get is a match the hatch wafter for the most part in some cases, but again how many anglers are confident in their boilies to fish this approach? I don’t think there are many, hence using kilos and kilos to draw the fish in. Put a kilo or two out and fish a rigged boilie over the top of that. The fish this time are turned on by a proper feeding situation hopefully and hoover the lot up and take your boilie rig (not a pop up) with it, without a clue to it being there this time.

 Today, there’s so much emphasis on rig and line concealment pretty much, lets face it… why not do it with the bait, make it less conspicuous. If an immediate thought is to think the fish wont return to the spot if they get caught over a hidden bait, then what chance do you think they’ll return when the bait is as florescent and glowing like a nuclear power plant, hinting blatantly its a danger signal. I think this can as does happen. So if a good bait, with good rigged bait concealment per say should act in a more natural manner as per the surroundings, is it more successful? I think the chances are it may well work out the same, if a fish wants it, it will take it.

 So with all my rantings, findings and what I’ve learned out of the way, there’s one bait that I do wonder and still question as to why we don’t use it all the time.

 Quite simply…BREAD. To some not a yearly all -rounder, but it can be…read on.

 Lets face it, our carp angling hobby can be a bit pricey, especially with some off the shelf bought boilies at times, some can be very off the scale money wise, but for those of us on a budget at times, a good winner for bait can be the mighty loaf. Even though I am a bait maker, I can tell you, I do often rely on our crusty friend to land me a carp or two when all else fails - simply because it DOES happen. Most species of fish will adhere to being fed a good bit of bread/crust - some more than others. But, as carp being our prime target here in our article, are no strangers to taking bread off the top during warmer months, but how do they fair through the rest of the year?

 Well, let’s break it down, and I mean literally. Aside from using bread chunks as a ‘go to’ for surface bait fishing in the warmer months, which of you would use bread as a crumb in a pva bag or mix it into other freebies, coating sweetcorn, pellet or even coating crumbed boilie with crumbed bread? Not many I can bet. I’m writing this from my own experiences…as Ive caught carp using crumb in a pva mesh attached to a small pop up rig. It works a treat and can be a killer attractor, as it essentially clouds the water. Coated in things like cooking oil, molasses, sprinkles or black pepper too, to give it more consistency, binder and flavour to clump it together for casting out in a mesh ( I rarely use pva bags for my fishing, primarily I’m a mesh user if anything needs chucking out with a rig - please, no judging)  Our crusty friend certainly warrants to be up there as one of the most successful baits out there. Colour wise, its bright, its visible, so investigation is triggered without any doubt, certainly viable for those dark tricky pond situations when a boilie just wont do it. Its soft so can be great to hide a hook for those ‘mouthy carp’, we all know how much they like to leave a bait in the mouth before deciding its one to eject or take  in. As I’ve stated, it can be easily soaked in liquids, balled up and easily thrown out to a reasonable distance, breakup is usually imminent causing a wonderful cloud and to top it off the crumb will hang about for a bit mid water. These things aside, there is one aspect I do question about bread as far as its attraction goes, I could be wrong, but, is there any element of yeast given off from the bread. After all its a main ingredient in its creation and yeasts of certain types are also present in some of our baits, so it begs the question, for me for the most part.

 So to round off the article and still leave it in the boundaries of the mighty crust, there’s one thing out there that I think may have been overlooked and very, very good for sticking on a hook. To this day I’ve not heard of anyone else using this method. The very thing I’m referring to is a well known accompaniment to the legend that is a pizza…quite simply the Dough Ball. Believe me, its a tried and tested method by myself,, which, came about after a lengthy conversation regarding the issues of keeping a crust on the hook without the use of certain equipment types from various brands out there. We have all been there when its fallen off on a cast. The dough ball gives you a bit extra, as its got the weight, so you don’t necessarily need ‘extra bits’ to get it out there. Granted, its not bait to cast at distance but its damn well perfect for that extra staying power on the hook for a good chuck, and great for free lining.

 In all honesty, if I can give anything out for ‘free’ without indulging whats in one of our boilies, its just the simple dough ball, cooked or uncooked, you still have a reasonable crust. It can be lightly coated in oils, flavours, then coated in anything you feel will bring some extra boost to it to help you capture your quarry, but also you can just use it plain and simple, or even cut in half to reveal the soft centre.

Its worth a go.

I hope this article has been food for thought, and hopefully poked you into trying something different the next time you are on the bank. As ever, to catch Carp, you need to find them first, then with the right application of what ever bait is your go to, you will catch them - but above all just be different.



Jay (incQbait Gaffer)

 Don’t just chuck it and hope, unless its almost closing time…