Fishing bait | How to flavour your luncheon meat

When fishing with meat there are a few things i like to do, the first is frying my luncheon meat. Most of the time I am more than happy to use meat straight from the packet or tin, but there are times when altering its appearance can bring extra bites.

However I am a big fan of flavouring these baits rather than colouring them, although red meat seems to be all the rage. Do yourself a favour and try giving them a flavour boost too. You don’t have to restrict yourself to savoury flavours either. Sweet additives, such as Scopex No.1, are just as effective, so don’t be afraid to ring the changes. Check out the step-by-step guide below

Chop a tin into 6mm cubes the night before fishing – a meat cutter makes this an easy task.

Add a teaspoonful of flavouring to each tin in a sealed bait container and shake well.

Add a squirt of liquid colouring. Once again, shake well to apply the additive evenly to the cubes. 

For an extra twist, add a pinch of powdered additive – squid, and fishmeal groundbait, are great.

Fishing with meat tips

With fishing with meat being as popular as it is especially on rivers and commercials we thought that we'd let bait expert Dr. Paul Garner walk you through the different things you can do to give your meat an added edge when you are on the bank fishing. 

Luncheon Meat rules

Bacon Grill and chopped pork and ham were among the first baits I ever used and both still have a constant place in my emergency bait supplies stashed in the car, thanks to their long shelf life and adaptability. 

Bacon Grill remains one of my favourite brands, being quite firm and sinking well. It can be easily chopped or punched.

Do check the ingredients list on tins of luncheon meat, though, as some contain chicken instead of pork. This makes them much softer, and some brands are prone to float. All the different versions are worth experimenting with – you’ll soon find your favourite. 

Hot Dogs for pole work

A cheap and under-rated meat bait. Most hot dogs contain more chicken than pork, a very different proposition to luncheon meat.

Their soft texture makes them ideal for short-range work on pole or leger. They are quite buoyant too, useful for fishing on the drop or when a wafter-style bait is required to turn finicky bites into something more positive. 

You can simply slice hot dog sausages into chunks for larger fish, a useful tactic if you are freelining for river chub. 

Most of the time, though, it’s a 6mm or 8mm punched bait that does the business. Use a fine baiting needle to carefully hair-rig these soft baits. They are also ideal for side-hooking on the float. Why not use them as a very visual hookbait when floatfishing pellets for barbel and chub?

Fish Bites are back!

Back in the day I caught a lot of fish on Dynamite Baits’ Meaty Fish Bites – small chunks of meat heavily glugged in fish oil to give them an extra boost that carp and barbel couldn’t resist. Fortunately, they have recently been re-released, and are now available in different sizes. As a ready-to-go hookbait, they are well worth having in your bait bag.


Among my favourite baits in the last few years are the various salamis and pre-packaged snack meats that have become really popular. Peperami is probably the best known of these products, but there are lots of other different varieties available, many of which are useful baits. 

Straight from the packet, Peperami is just the right size as a carp bait – simply cut it into chunks and hair-rig it. This tough bait will easily last all night and is loved by carp and barbel. For smaller species I use a bait punch to produce my hookbaits. These can range from 4mm upwards, making them ideal for tench, bream and crucians. These small baits are also useful for larger species when they are playing hard to get. 

why not fry your meat?

The high fat content of many tinned meats can make using them in hot weather very tricky, especially if you need to cast them any kind of distance. Their soft texture is ideal for pole fishing, where the hookbait can be carefully lowered in, but use the same bait on a leger rig and the cast will often dislodge the hookbait. 

One simple tactic to prevent the hookbait being lost is to push a small piece of dead grass under the bend of the hook before pulling it into the bait. This works surprisingly well, but can impede the hook on the strike. 

More effective is to toughen up the meat by lightly frying it, so that it can be side-hooked or hair-rigged. Frying draws a lot of the fat out of the meat and gives it a tough skin. Start by cutting the meat into cubes, then warm up a large frying pan and add the cubes of meat. Keep them moving around the pan and fry them for about two minutes.

I will often add some garlic granules or chilli powder to give the bait an extra kick. Let the cooked cubes cool down on a sheet of paper towel and they are ready to use.

Read our step-by-step guide here

Fishing Bait | Barbel boilies

Bait expert Dr. Paul Garner talks you through how to create some of the most irresistible boilies to help you land yourself a personal best barbel.

Rolling round boilies can be a pain, but luckily there’s a much easier way to make these baits, which will be a different shape and texture to anything you can buy. Chopped boilies have caught me barbel to 16lb-plus. Bait companies produce dedicated boilie hookbait kits, containing base mix and liquid additives – perfect for boilie chops.

Crack a large egg into a mixing bowl and add the supplied liquid additives.


Add a teaspoonful of salmon oil to the liquids and mix well. This makes the baits less sticky.

Slowly add the powdered base mix, stirring all the time to ensure that the bait is thoroughly mixed.

Stop mixing when the paste is still a bit wet and leave for five minutes until liquid is absorbed. 

Sprinkle base mix on a chopping board and flatten paste into a 0.5ins thick disc with a rolling pin. 

Boil the flattened disc of paste in a large pan of water for two minutes. 

Let the paste stand for around 30 minutes to cool down on a sheet of kitchen towel.

Freeze the bait like this and break it up into bait-sized chunks when you arrive on the bank.

Top Summer Fishing baits

Check out the best fishing baits around that will guarantee you success on the banks! Bait expert Dr Paul Garner talks us through what his top fishing baits to use this summer will be and what thinking outside the box can deliver. 


scale down your cubes

Scale down cubes.jpg

Luncheon meat is an incredibly effective bait, and lends itself to being used in many different ways. Over the past couple of years I have been fishing tiny cubes or punched cylinders of meat for all manner of different species, and it seems it’s often hard to beat. 

To produce plenty of hookbaits and feed, simply use an MAP meat cutter to chop up a full tin into 4mm baits. These tiny cubes will catch just about every fish that swims. 

fish a classic combo

Maggots and casters

My go-to baits for summer barbel are hemp and caster. This classic combo of very small baits encourages the fish to feed even with the sun on their backs. 

I normally use a bait dropper to introduce a 4:1 mix of hemp and caster, three loads every 15 minutes for a minimum of an hour.Then superglue three real casters or two fake casters on to the hair and hold on to your rod

mix tougher paste

There is a real skill in fishing super-soft paste down the edge for carp. With practice you can use a paste that literally melts off the hook, but for us mere mortals this can be a frustrating game. 

Fortunately, right through the summer much firmer baits work well. These can be moulded around the hook and swung out without using a pole cup. Fibre pastes work especially well. Its stringy texture adheres to the hook, only falling away when you lift the rig out. 

blitz some corn

Messy, maybe, but liquidised sweetcorn gives you a fantastic edge when fishing for big carp, match-sized fish, tench or bream. 

Cheap and nutritious, you can use it in spod mixes, to create a cloud when fishing zigs, cupped into the margins, or mixed with groundbait.This salty-sweet, pungent bait will drive the fish wild.

feed while trotting

Running a big Avon float down a pacey glide is just about as good as summer fishing gets, but you go through a lot of bait. Each run through will see a good pinch of bait introduced before the float is released. 

To keep the cost down I use hemp and 6mm Halibut pellets as my feed, with a 6mm or 8mm pellet on the hook. Don’t mix the hemp and pellets together as they sink at different speeds – the pellets need to be introduced further upstream than the hemp so that they reach the bottom at the same point down the peg.

beat weed with bags

Presenting baits properly in weed can be a nightmare. I use a small solid PVA bag with the entire rig inside. To ensure that the bag packs down really tightly, fill it with micro pellets or damp groundbait – this will ensure that the bag flies straight on the cast. A small trimmed-down wafter boilie is the ideal hookbait inside a solid bag. 

Flavour your meat

A lot of polony and luncheon meat goes into commercials in summer, so try colouring and flavouring your chopped meat to give it a new lease of life. Add a teaspoonful of flavour per tin, shake well and leave overnight.

Don’t be afraid to try some unusual flavour combinations. Scopex meat works just great, especially when you add a dash of super-sweet Betalin to it.

Use your loaf

As a hookbait for surface-feeding carp bread takes some beating, especially on urban venues where the local birdlife waxes fat on the stuff. 

On the river, too, bread can be an excellent way of targeting chub, both on the surface and trundled downstream under a heavy chubber float. And if big rudd are your chosen target a loaf of fresh bread should be an essential in your bait bag. 

Spice up barbel baits

Once the river season is a few weeks old I will soak pellet and meat hookbaits in a spicy concoction that appeals to barbel. 

To a bottle of hemp oil add a teaspoonful of chilli powder and the same of garlic powder. Shake well and you have enough bait soak to last all season. The three ingredients combine in a manner barbel find hard to resist.

switch to pellets for big roach

Summer hemp and tare fishing will catch roach even when the water is gin-clear. The only problem is that bites can be lightning-fast and easy to miss. I think this is because roach don’t particularly like the hard texture of hemp and tare hookbaits. 

Instead of using seeds on the hook, try a 4mm hooker pellet instead. The softer the pellet, the more bites you will hit. 

get bream feeding on the method

The flat Method feeder has revolutionised carp fishing since its inception, and the same is rapidly happening to bream fishing too. 

Loaded with mini-halibut pellets or a fishmeal-rich groundbait, the flat Method is the ideal way of delivering a mouthful of bait right where you want it – next to the hookbait. Try using a 10mm boilie or a similar sized pellet on the hair and ring the changes to bring more bites. 

Go stalking with slugs

When the rivers are ‘on their bones’ in summer go stalking for chub with minimal gear. Chub have great eyesight and can be very wary of many baits, but a big lobworm or slug cast upstream of them is often gobbled up in an instant. If you’re squeamish, try a big lump of luncheon meat, although don’t expect the reaction to be quite so explosive. 

try Wafters on the Wag

A pellet waggler gives carp more time to intercept the bait on the fall, while it is imitating the free offerings being fired in regularly. 

A slow-sinking mini-boilie wafter is the ideal hookbait. I like to carry a range of different colours, as this can be an important element to success on some days. 

Use a ‘sighter’

A simple way of increasing the number of bites you get is to use a bait that stands out from the free offerings. 

This could be a combination of red and white maggots on the hook while feeding just red, or a brightly coloured pop-up fished over a bed of dark boilies. Often I will use a grain of plastic corn in a contrasting colour (pink and white are best) on top of a dark boilie or pellet, to make the hookbait stand out from the crowd. 

Wrap up your lead

Here’s a simple, but very effective tip – dampen a few handfuls of pellets until they become sticky, and every time you cast out, squeeze a palmful around your lead. 

The pellets will fall away in a matter of minutes, leaving a lovely pile of super-attractive feed, ideal for carp and bream.

How to make perfect carp floaters

Making floater cake is no different to baking a cake, so most of us will have all the necessary equipment to do this in the kitchen. A food mixer is handy, but you can just as easily make the sticky mix using a fork. 

Add 2oz of wheat gluten to Victoria sponge mix. This ingredient gives the finished bait a tougher, denser consistency. 

Now add 100g of butter to your mixing bowl.

Add two large eggs and 150ml of milk to the mixing bowl. 

A teaspoonful of concentrated liquid flavouring can now be added to boost the flavour. I tend to use sweet or fruit flavours.

Slowly add powdered ingredients to the liquid ones and mix for at least two minutes until a sloppy, lump-free consistency is attained.

Pour the mix into two tinfoil baking trays lined with greaseproof paper and sprinkled with hemp oil to stop the cake sticking. 

Bake the mix for 25-30 minutes at 160˚C. Make sure the cake is cooked right through and not still soft in the middle.

Leave the floater cake to cool, then remove it from the tray. The block of bait can be cut to size on the bank or frozen until required. 

Top 4 roach baits

If you are after a river roach this weekend then you may want to try some of these when you are out on the bank. We have put together a list of the best baits to use when on the search for a monster river roach!

No roach angler would ever go fishing without a pint of maggots. They work on almost every venue and can be fished shallow or on the deck, with groundbait or simply loosefed. Bronze maggots are the most popular colour on rivers.

The bait that has taken some massive roach on rivers right through the winter, it works well in summer too, especially for a specimen fish. Trot a big piece of soft breadflake down the swim to give you every chance of a specimen.

Seasoned anglers swear by casters for bonus big roach in match and pleasure sessions. Casters fall slowly through the water and are great for shallow swims or for picking out the better stamp of roach in a shoal.


Seen primarily as a hookbait, deactivated hempseed is sold for feeding pigeons – but when cooked so the seeds just split, it makes a brilliant feed for roach too! Hemp is fiddly to hook and doesn’t always work, but on days when it does the size of roach you catch will be markedly bigger than the norm.

Dr Paul Garner's 10- minute make | The maggot bait rig

When weed makes feeder fishing difficult I reach for the PVA bags and switch to an inline-lead system, which is much less likely to snag. A fine-mesh PVA stick filled with maggots and a pinch of groundbait is just as effective as a feeder and melts away in a couple of minutes, leaving just a pile of bait on the bottom. 

I recommend tying up a short braided hooklink of about 6ins in length. I always use soft 15lb braid to a size 12 forged hook when I’m tenching.

These nifty Bag Clips from Avid Carp enable a PVA stick to be added instantly to the rig, which is much more effective and tangle-proof than hooking it on.

Put a piece of dissolving foam into the narrow PVA mesh. Ensure that the PVA is a fine weave that maggots cannot escape from.

Now fill the PVA mesh with a palm-sized helping of maggots mixed with a small amount of damp groundbait. 

Compact the maggot/groundbait mix as much as possible before tying off the bag, as this will help it fly straight on the cast. 

Now nick the hook in the base of the bag, so that the point is covered by the dissolving

Top 5 barbel baits

Are struggling to find the right bait for your barbel fishing? Well we may have the answers for you here are the top five baits that you can use on the rivers this season that will land you your best barbel. 

Meat, normally in tinned form such as Spam, is as popular today as it has ever been. The beauty of meat is that you can form whatever size hookbait you like with it. A big chunk fished on the hair can be a killer hookbait for big fish, while a tin cut into into small cubes is great for using as feed when floatfishing.


Both carp pellets and halibuts, their more oily cousins, make fantastic barbel baits. The small 4mm-8mm versions are great for feeding via a bag, in a feeder or by hand. The bigger varieties from 10mm and upwards are great for fishing on the hair or in a bait band.

One of the most under-rated barbel baits, lobbies can make a great change offering, particularly when bites on more conventional baits are not forthcoming. Fish two or three on a hair on a bomb rig in both coloured and clear water.

Some of the biggest barbel in the land have been caught on boilie hookbaits. Fish-based boilies with krill, crab or crayfish flavouring are great for barbel. Fish one or two on a hair rig and break a few up as feed offerings in a PVA bag.

Paste can be moulded it into whatever shape or size you like. It breaks down fairly easily, giving off particles that attract barbel upstream. Squeeze some around your lead weight or wrap some around a boilie hookbait for an extra attractant.

Top four chub baits

Are struggling to find the right bait for your chub fishing? Well we may have the answers for you here are the top five chub baits that you can use on the rivers this season that will potentially land you your best chub. 

More big bags of chub are caught in summer on casters and hemp than any other bait. Hemp sinks quickly, while casters sink at different speeds, depending on how light or dark they are. Feed is therefore spread over a long length of the swim. Casters tipped with a maggot stay on the hook better than casters alone, and such hookbaits are very robust – important when you’re running the float down the swim up to 40 yards away. To store casters, you need a fridge and an airtight container with a layer of polythene between the tin and lid. Give them a little air every day to stop them suffocating. This is a much better way than keeping them in plastic bags. 

If small fish aren’t a problem, a bucket of maggots can be just as deadly as casters and hemp for chub on certain summer days. To get the best from maggots, find a good tackle shop that has a reliable supply of quality bait on a regular basis. 

If you can’t find anywhere locally there is an option to buy maggots (and casters) online now. There are at least a couple of mail order companies who can supply you with what you need.  However you buy the maggots, always ensure you look after it properly when you’ve got it. 

This means that you need an old fridge to keep the maggots chilled right down to just above freezing point in order to stop them from turning and shrinking. Always use a cold bag with ice packs to transport the bait to your chosen river swim and, once you’re there, keep them cool and out of direct sunlight.

Bread is a fantastic bait to use with groundbait containing casters and hemp. It’s also good on its own early weeks in the season. 

Use a big hook, anything from a size 10 up to a size 6, and wrap small pieces of sliced white bread around the shank. Use a top and bottom attached float with plenty of weight about 1ft above the hook and, in the early stages of a session, every time you run the rig down, strike the bread off at different points in the swim. 

This will eventually result in plenty of tempting bits of bread bouncing through the swim, which will soon attract a shoal of hungry chub.  

Few things are more annoying than small dace and bleak intercepting maggot and caster feed and hookbaits. The answer lies in bags of 6mm and 8mm fishmeal carp pellets – the light coloured Bait-Tech brand is a good one. Try these and your fishing should improve dramatically. 

Pellets are a really easy bait to use – you just feed mostly 6mm offerings with a few 8mm samples, then use a banded or lassoed 8mm pellet as hookbait. It can often pay to scale this approach down on small rivers and feed 4mm pellets while using a 6mm sample on the hook. 

The beauty of carp pellets as a chub bait is that they are quite cheap for the volume you get and you don’t need loads to catch a big weight.

Dr Paul Garner's 10- minute make | Pellet mash

Pellet mash is best prepared the night before fishing, and it takes only a few minutes’ work before it is left to soak until morning. Alternatively, speed up the process if you are in a hurry. A couple of kilos of bait will be plenty for a day session. 

Soak 6mm halibut pellets in cold water for 10 minutes. You can speed up the process by using warm water. 

Pour off the water and add a teaspoonful of hemp oil to the pellet mix. Shake well to distribute the oil evenly.

Once the water is absorbed, mix them up. Those at the bottom turn to mush, those at the top are soft, but still intact. 

Two handfuls of dry Method Mix groundbait will soak up any excess moisture and help bind the pellets together.