Mainline carper, Lawrence East explains why and how he uses solid PVA bag presentations so much and why its ones of his favoured tactics!
In the past I used to avoid solid bag fishing. The thought of having to go through all that effort to achieve the same outcome as a standard rig presentation - how foolish that was of me knowing what I do now. I first moved over to the bags around 12 months ago and I'll be completely honest I haven't used anything else since! It wasn't until a friend of mine who I won't mention as he will take far too much credit for it told me I needed to use them on a particular film shoot. Over the past 12 months I've used solid bags in all sorts of different fishing situations, from fishing small intimate ponds all the way through to huge gravel pits and caught fish to over 47lb this year on them, not bad for a small fish tactic?
When I load my bags, I like to use the Spod and PVA Pellet Mix and there's two main reasons for this; firstly, there's several different sizes of pellets in there, which all breakdown at different rates giving you maximum attraction and secondly because the pellets are small you can really compact the bag down aiding your casting capabilities. To compliment the pellet mix I use two different types of Activated Groundbaits, which are the Essential Cell and Hemp Mixes. The Essential Cell adds to the colour of the mix along with its awesome smell and the Hemp Mix has dry Hemp seed shells inside, which means when the bag bursts these will float to the surface. Now, I'm sure you're thinking what's the point in that if it doesn't stay on your baited spot? Quite the opposite really with those dry pieces floating to the surface this can often draw the attention of carp that are swimming in the upper layers and give them a trail to follow directly down to your perfectly presented solid bag. Lastly, I won't give the game away too much but if solid bags are your cup of tea it's worth experimenting with what baits you can actually load the bags up with, as there are things that can give you a real edge over everyone else.
To load the bag, I start off with adding the mix of Groundbaits to the bottom of my small Korda solid bags which is closely following by the rig. I'll then add a small scoop of pellets and use the lead to compress the pellets and Groundbait together covering your hookbait and making sure your hook can't get masked with any of the bag contents. I'll then continue to add the Spod and PVA pellets to the bag until it's around three quarters full with the lead impaled in the pellets directly in the centre of the bag. I'll then hold the top of the bag firmly so the contents are compressed with no air and gently tap the bag in the palm of my hand compressing the contents further. I then like to use PVA tape to tie off the top of the bag rather than the 'lick and stick' method, one because I don't like the residue this can often leave around your leader or tubing and two you can get the bag a lot more compact with tape. I'll then twist the bag careful before tying it off and trimming the residue PVA away. Lastly, I like to fold in the corners to make the bag more aerodynamic, if I'm fishing in depths of over 10ft during the summer I'll double bag just to make sure the solid bag gets to the bottom of the lake before bursting. A couple of other little edges and tricks I like to do with my bags is during the summer I inject Hemp Oil into my bags once they're tied, again this will create a trail of oil up to the surface with the hope of drawing the fish down to your bag. This will also give you a clue as to when fish are feeding on you as you'll often get an 'oil slick' over your bait when the fish disturb the contents. One final tip is if it's raining and you think you won't have enough time to cast out your bag before it melts, I like to massage Hemp Oil around the outside of my bags which I will double wrap. I then drop the bag into my Groundbait mix, this way the rain has to get through a layer of Groundbait, oil and two PVA bags before it melts.
The rig I use inside my solid bags is very simple with six inches of Dark Matter tubing, 3.5oz inline square pair leads set drop off style with a 4inch Supernatural braided rig and a size 4 Widegape X hook. Now, that hook may seem rather large to be inside a solid bag but coupled with a small 12m Balanced Wafter such as our High Impact Essential IB, Salty Squid or even the Cranberry and Orange Pastel Wafters are perfect. When the carp sucks in your hookbait it really doesn't know how to deal with the set up due to having such a big hook inside and some of the hookholds I've had with this set-up are ridiculous. I also like to use a small piece of 0.75mm silicon tubing on the shank of my hook, this not only keeps the Hair trapped in place so it cant tangle or move when loading the bag, but it will also give you an indication of when you've been 'done' or the carp have managed to eject your rig. Often when they feed on your bag they can eject your rig when they feed on the contents of your bag, you'll know when this happens though as the tubing will slide back up to the eye of your hook. I use a medium size kicker over my hook in the full range of colours, Red, White, Green, Yellow, Pink it really doesn't matter, this not only gives you that little fleck of brightness along with your hookbait, but it will help the hook turn in the carps mouth.
Like I've already mentioned I've used these bags religiously for almost 12 months now and they suit almost every fishing situation you will be faced with. The only reason I would change from the bags is if I really needed to go out along way in excess of 130 yards or there were lots of bream are present in the lake I was fishing. However, if that was the case I'd load my bags with boilie crumb as appose to pellets and see how I got on before changing tactics. Solid bags can be particularly useful in situations where you have low lying weed that you need to present over as the bag will lay perfectly over the top leaving you a small parcel of food just enough for a bite.
One of the most common mistakes I see with anglers using solid bags is they don't make the bags compact enough or they fill the bags will large food items. Ideally you need to be using micro pellets or the Spod and PVA pellets which are the perfect size, anything between 1mm-4mm in size. If you use anything larger than that you really aren't going to be able to get the bags tight enough which is going to cause you a problem casting.