BOOST YOUR CATCH-RATE WITH LIQUIDS!
Understanding how to best use liquid additives and oils can sometimes be confusing and getting it wrong can kill your chances of catching – so to help you get it right we’ve enlisted the help of Mainline carper, Jack Brown to explain the how, why and when side of bait liquids so you can use them to their greatest effect this spring!
It’s surprising really that considering the amount of benefits there are from using liquids that in the most part I think the vast majority of anglers under use them. Nuts really, because the basic principle of using liquid additives is such a simple one – attract the fish. In most cases the application of liquids is also just as easy, but the effect can be massive.
One of the things I really like is the fact that with many liquids you really boost the overall attraction or ‘food signal’ sent out to the carp without actually having to apply a large amount of bait. This can often bring quick bites and reduces the chance of over baiting when it’s not exactly clear what the optimum level of bait might be?
Transitional periods in the seasons such as spring are a classic example of this. The appetite of the carp is still be growing, but may not be established and so feeding spells can be difficult to predict. Then the added warmth from a longer, sunny spring day can see the carp become very active, but move to the upper layers away from the lakebed – situations where it can be easy to over do it with the dispatch of your bait.
After all, we’ll all be fairly eager to put in a bit of bait, and try to capitalise on the hunger of the increasingly active carp. So yes, you can expect the carp to properly get on the munch at some point and then its vital to encourage those fish to hookbait. Again something that can be enhanced greatly with liquids and so probably the best place to start…
HOOKBAITS AND LIQUIDS – THE PERFECT MATCH
Unlike your freebies, your hookbait is never intended to be eaten by carp, well not in the same way, so you can afford to up the levels of attraction a tad with a liquid flavour or sweetener. High levels of flavour in your feed boilies for example may add some bitterness to the bait or overpower it to a point where the carp simple won’t eat much of it. Whereas with your hookbait you only ever really want a carp to pick it up once, because if your rigs are good that’s all you need for a take.
This means you can add a little flavour to your hookbaits to up the overall attraction of the hookbait. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to add a few ml of a matching or complementary flavour, ideally one used in the making of your hookbaits to their storage tub. Say, Milky Toffee Response flavour and Milky Toffee pop-ups for example. Just enough to give all the hookbaits an even coating once you shake them around in the tub. If after a few weeks they have soaked-up all the flavour you can always add a little more.
Once in the water these flavours will leak out from the hookbait and disperse through the water – a level of increased attraction that can be vitally important in winter or any time you find yourself fishing single hookbaits. When you want to do everything you can to draw fish to that one, single bait.
One situation when I find myself doing this a lot is late winter/early spring when I may fish Zigs, high in the water – targeting fish waking-up and beginning to explore the lake. In this scenario I will very rarely fish any bait over the top of Zigs, such as a sloppy spod mix. Yes, maybe a bit later in the year when the fish should be a little less nervous and more willing to feed, but no not yet.
Early in the year ‘single’ Zig hookbaits are my preference, generally made from small pieces of black or brown foam, and I do like to soak these in a Strawberry flavour. The foam is the perfect material for soaking-up a little liquid and I really like the fact there’s a little something else going on out in the lake to attraction the attention or curiosity of the fish and hopefully a bite.
LIQUID FOOD – THE SUBTLE BLEND OF ATTRACTION
Okay it’s all well and good giving your hookbaits a serious boost of attraction by adding a flavour, but there are times when you want this increase in attraction to be more of a subtle balance.
Boilie fishing is one such situation. One where you may have fed the same boilie over a long period of time and don’t want to detract from this established ‘food source’ theme too much. Or it may just be that you feel the best chance of a bite will come to hookbaits matching the boilies. Even so there are still a few ways and a number of benefits from adding a liquid just as long as it’s a suitable one. For me, one of the best ‘fail-safe’ ways is to use a food dip or glug – the Hookbait Enhancement System glugs from Mainline are absolutely ideal.
These liquids contain all the same liquid nutrients, sweeteners and attractors found in the make-up of the boilies. So they don’t detract from these food signals at all, no, instead they subtly increase their effectiveness. This means you can use these liquids to enhance your feed, as well as your hookbaits. Things like re-hydrating air-dried boilies for example.
There is even a neutral version available – so if you prefer to roll your own boilies or hookbaits you can still use a matching dip. Simply add the flavours used to in your bait mix to create your own custom glug. What’s more, these liquids are PVA friendly – now this is an important factor, because it opens-up a shed load of possibilities to enhance your presentation.
TOP THREE HOOKBAIT ENHANCEMENT SYSTEM USES
ONE – GLUG PVA STRINGERS
The Hookbait Enhancement System is a PVA friendly liquid, meaning it won’t melt your PVA or just as importantly prevent the PVA from dissolving in water. This creates a stack of possibilities for adding attraction, as not only can you dip your hookbait prior to casting out, but also small Sticks and bags as well. One of the best and possibly most underused tactics around is the three-bait-stringer – glug the whole and you really have a high-attract winner!
TWO – RE-HYDRATE AIR-DRIED BOILIES
Allowing boilies to air-dry is a great way of storing fresh bait out of then freezer, although as the baits lose moisture they will shrink a little and harden. This isn’t detrimental to the baits, far from it all they need that lose of moisture to be introduced. There’s a few ways of doing this, adding a little lake water is one of the simplest, although a wasted opportunity really. Because you could be reinforcing your flavour message and increasing its leakage from the bait with a liquid such as the Hookbait Enhancement System. Just add enough dip to give the baits an even coating when rolled around in a bucket – in fact there’s nothing to stop you doing this with baits straight out the bag.
THREE – HARDEN-UP YOUR HOOKBAITS
Dipping your hookbait in the Hookbait Enhancement System just before casting out is a great way of increasing the attraction of your hookbait, but there are other useful advantages gained from glugging your baits – especially over longer periods. Obviously the longer you glug baits the more liquid attraction they can absorb, meaning the leakage time of the baits is extended, but something else also occurs as the longer you soak your baits - they will harden.
When fishing lakes where your hookbait will receive the unwanted attention from nuisance species of fish or worse still crayfish this extra toughness is obviously a good thing. It gives peace of mind if nothing else, a valuable piece of confidence when leaving hookbaits out for lengthy spells is a necessity.
LIQUID ADDITIVES – SENDING A MESSAGE THROUGHOUT THE WATER COLUMN
As I’ve already touched upon, the fish through spring (and summer for that matter) can be up and down through the layers like a yoyo. Although in most cases the carp will be willing to feed on the deck, even when they are active higher in the water, just as long as you can draw them down.
This for me is where liquids move into a league of they’re own, as they have the ability to disperse throughout the water column and some are purposely designed to do so. Take Mainlines Particle & Pellet Syrups for example, these bottles of awesomeness are designed with natural ingredients that are denser than water. So simple physics will tell you – no matter how you use this liquids they are going to disperse in water, and essentially take your ‘there’s some grub here for you’ message from your baited spots to the fish. That’s a bloody good message if you ask me, and like I’ve said there’s a stack of applications and uses for these liquids.
Similar to the Stick Mix Liquids they are again a PVA friendly liquid. Ideal for coating pellets and adding to PVA bags – even on the outside. One of my preferred methods is to combine these liquids with a Stick Mix or groundbait to form small PVA Sticks. Not only do you aid your rig mechanics by masking the hook point and adding a little weight to help prevent tangles, but you’re also upping the attraction travelling into the water column as well.
Because they send out a big food signal from a little as coating a single hookbait, liquids are useful for your winter approach to attracting bites. Although you do need to be a little careful, as some liquids such as oils can congeal in the cold water and actually have a detrimental effect. With the rise in water temperature in spring this is less of a worry and you can really go to town with some of your liquid additives.
Hempseed Oil and Fosoil are a couple of great liquid additive that come to the fore with the warmer conditions. You may already be familiar with Hempseed Oil – a superb additive to spod mixes that sends a nice oily sleek to the surface. Attracting fish from the upper layers, but also giving you a clue as to what’s going on down on the deck. Because when a flat spot on the surface appears over your baited spot it generally means that fish are feeding and grubbing about down below – dislodging oil molecules, which plume to the surface as they go.
Fosoil is a very similar liquid in its performance, and one that derives from the fish farming industry used as a feed inducing coating to pellets. This liquid obviously lends itself well to this use in fishing, but I also find it a very good additive to spod mixes and especially my PVA Stick mix. The fatty oils just can’t help but disperse from the mix at it dissolves that again are ideal for attracting cruising carp.
Liquids such as this, designed to promote a feeding response hold obvious benefits. Additives such as Multi-Stim that provides an excellent carrier to other flavours and a great hookbait soak for Zig foam and pop-ups. Meta-Mino is another, a savoury, live like amino-based liquid that just screams food when you smell it, which is exactly what it is designed to do – appeal to the sensory organs of fish.
This really is the key thing to remember with liquids. Among other things, carp have a great sense of smell and taste, so anything that targets these elements to encourage a feeding response and ultimately a take is obviously a powerful tool. Because of this, for me there really is no excuse to even consider using a liquid additive. All the liquids I’ve spoken about here are water-soluble and fish friendly, but also angler friendly too. Very easy to use, and apply within your approach to catch more fish!