JOHN KNEEBONE EXPLAINS HOW CATCHING CARP IN SPRING AND SUMMER CAN ALL START IN THE DEPTHS OF WINTER...
I've always advocated that not all fishing takes place on the bank, and not every path leading to the capture of a carp begins at the lake? No, many begin much, much earlier in preparation for the challenge, perhaps at home in the carp shed or kitchen. Okay, the 'fishing feeling' is not the same as being on the bank, but when you make lean times of the year such as a winter productive then yes, they are just as much a part of the fishing experience when angling for carp!
So, what I'm talking about is making good use of time when you may have ordinarily been on the bank by getting bits ready for when you are. Because let's face it, even the most dedicated carper can't do much when lakes freeze over, and there will be times when turning up to cold, wet, wintery venue in the dark for an overnighter just won't be the one. Luckily there's a stack of things to do and this time can actually be extremely valuable and motivating. I for one only have prep the rig box one evening with some freshly tied rigs to then be gaging to get on the bank for my next session. An edge in itself if that provides the motivation for a winter session when looking at the rain beating onto the living room window probably won't!
Perhaps the biggest of home-prep motivators comes in the kitchen with a bit of bait making. The aroma of freshly rolled boilies air-drying on the side may not be to the liking of every household member, but there's nothing better for a spur of carpy inspiration. On top of the nasal blast, you'll also save yourself a few quid rolling your own boilies, and the process couldn't be simpler. All you need is a Dedicated Base Mix such as Cell or Hybrid, the liquid Activator matching this flavour, some eggs and a little time. A few weekends well spent like this and you'll soon have the freezer well stocked ready for spring. Perhaps best of all you'll be adding a heap of satisfaction into catching on those baits you've made yourself.
A question I get asked a lot is "can I add another flavour to the mix to make my Activ-8, Cell, Hybrid or Essential Cell boilies a little different to the rest?" Well that option is there... but, I would always advise staying with the recommended level/mix given in the instructions by Mainline. These are the proven, optimum levels and mix ratio, and Mainline have already created the Base Mix and Activator from a mix of active ingredients, again at the ideal ratio/quantity so you've none of this science to worry about. What's more these 'food source' baits have disproved the theory that baits can 'blow' over time. They have continued to produce the goods year after year after year.
Now, I'm not saying a little bait edge here and there isn't a good thing, no, I just prefer to maintain the confidence carp have in my freebies. Instead adding a few tweaks and diversity when it comes to hookbaits. Now this is where you can really go to town. Size, shape, colour and of course flavours are all customisable to your preference. It's down to you, you can make these differences from standard hookbaits as simple or as complicated as you like. Not all edges need to be drastic changes, they can be as simple as rolling say Cell pop-ups in a different colour, yellow or orange perhaps. Or taking a fruity blend of flavours away from a traditional bright colour such as yellow or pink and colouring them brown or red.
It's not only the visual appearance that can be customised, you can also incorporate other tweaks such as the buoyancy levels of hookbaits to create 'critically-balanced' hookbaits, perhaps designed to match the weight of your favourite rig perfectly. Sounds complicated, but it's just a simple case of mixing 2 parts Polaris Pop-Up Mix and 1.25 parts Dedicated Base Mix together thoroughly. Then blend your falvours with a single and build a paste using your dry mix. Before boiling the baits add one to your rig and test the buoyancy in a bowl of water. If it's not quite right add a smidge of Pop-Up or Base Mix to your dry mix and test again, until the desired buoyancy is bang on.
Generally, I find myself rolling personalised pop-ups most often. Bright baits with increased falvour levels, higher than the norm to make a hookbait that really stands out. Whether that's fishing over a baited area or casting a winter single. What's the best flavour combinations to use? Well that's the fun part, as there are no rules! It's only your imagination that holds any boundary. As a rule of thumb I recommend starting with a couple of flavours equally 5ml added to a single egg, plus 2ml of sweetener to round them off nicely. After that experiment as much as you like - the sky's the limit (and perhaps the patience of your other half)!
MAKE YOUR OWN POP-UPS!