How to pimp out your pellets

Find out how to make your pellets irresistible with Steve Gregory'svery simple but effective recipe that will not only help you catch more but also keep those F1s in your swim for longer. 

This is all done by soaking the pellets and then adding a bit of extra spice in the form of dry paste powder, which will help them bind into a ball and adds attraction.

Feeding should be regulated to bites. On a good day, he’ll easily get through eight pints of bait. When the fish are being funny, this will be cut back to a ball every four or five fish.

Follow the step-by-step guide below to try it yourself!


Add paste powder 

Pop the pellets into a bowl and pour on some paste powder. 


Coat your pellets 

Add enough to give them just a light coating when mixed in.


Add your water

Now pour in water so that every pellet is covered – just.


Soak the pellets

This is what they look like when soaked but they can’t be used yet!


The finished pellets

Left to stand for half an hour, the pellets have swollen.



Land the biggest F1s with this amazing paste

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If you thought paste was a bait reserved for catching big carp then you’d be missing a big trick – that’s the verdict of match ace Steve Gregory who is famed for his antics with the stuff across a wide variety of commercial fisheries across the UK.

Paste still catches ‘lumps’, but as F1s become more common in our waters, Steve has adapted his approach to catch the lion’s share of a finicky species more associated with smaller hookbaits.

He’s perfected paste fishing for F1s so much that he can keep pace with anglers playing the numbers game fishing pellets and maggots. It’s all to do with the stamp of fish that paste produces on waters holding fish ranging from ounces to 2lb.

“Fish pellets and you’ll catch, but I’ve found the size can vary greatly,” Middy-backed Steve explained. 

“My paste sorts out the bigger F1s and it’s rare to get one under 1lb. There are lots of myths surrounding fishing paste and I think that can put anglers off using it. They shouldn’t be worried because once you master a few simple basics it’s a very easy method to fish.”

To demonstrate, the former British match record-holder invited us to Falcon Lake at Westwood Lakes near Boston, home to thousands of F1s of all sizes to show paste’s power.

Paste consistency

“Groundbait pastes are a waste of time because they dissolve,” Steve said bluntly. “That defeats the point because I want my hookbait to stay on for as long as it takes to get a bite. People think that I have a magic paste mix, but it’s just my original Miracle Paste that I’ve been using for years. However, I mix it a few days in advance because this gives me the consistency that I want.”

“It has to be soft enough to strike through, but stringy enough to stay on when fish are knocking into the line or mouthing the bait. I’ll prepare plenty of paste because, on places like Falcon Lake, you could be getting hundreds of bites and so getting through a fair bit. Two bags makes enough for a hectic session.”

Hookbait size

“It’s important to match your hookbait to the size of fish. Because F1s are the target, there’s no place for massive lumps the size of your thumb!” Steve said.

“I don’t use little pea-sized bits either. Typically, the bait is around the size of a £1 coin. That’s large enough to catch bigger F1s.”

Fishing short

“I’ll fish a top kit if I can to save time on waters where every second counts,” Steve said. 

“Having to unship a section of pole each time can lose you 15 minutes of fishing time. That can work out at over 20 fish you miss out on catching on days when the fishing it good. Fishing short puts you on top of the near shelf on a flat bottom, which is a must for paste fishing.”

Spotting a bite

“Don’t be tempted into striking when the float goes under – it’ll do all sorts of things as fish knock into the line or mouth the bait,” he advised.

“You’re looking for a specific indication on the float. This will be a sharp, positive ‘dig’ on the float as a fish gets hold of the paste properly. Even then you will foul-hook a lot of fish because of the number in the swim. By fishing relatively light hollow elastic, I can get these foul-hookers in. If you aren’t connecting with bites, hold the float tight to the line and you’ll see it fly under!”

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Big hooks still rule

“Fishing paste on a size 14 hook is a waste of time because you won’t convert bites into hooked fish. You still need to fish a big ‘anchor’ and for me that’s a size 12 Middy 83-13 pattern. That’s plenty big enough to hold the paste in place and still strike through and get a good hook hold,” he explained. 

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“Lines are 0.14mm Hi-Viz fished straight through with that light elastic being Middy’s 8-10 hollow grade.

“Finally we should talk about floats and I go big on this front too with a 0.7g handmade model that’s got a relatively slim body. I’ve seen blokes fishing paste with no shot on the rig, instead relying on the paste to cock the float. That’s nonsense and all it does is see any tow or wind on the lake put pressure on the hook and ultimately rip the paste off. I also leave the whole bristle showing to read bites better.” 

Dr Paul Garner's 10-minute make | Sweetened pellets and bulk groundbait

The combination of sweet additives and fishmeal-based baits has revolutionised bream fishing, and both these can be incorporated into all your baits.

A couple of days before a bream session, put your pellets into a bait bucket and add two tablespoonfuls of molasses to each kilo of pellets. The sweet, sticky liquid will infuse the pellets, boosting their appeal.

Make up a 50:50 mix of brown crumb and fishmeal Method mix. Add a teaspoonful of salt per kilo.

Mix using water with two tablespoonfuls of molasses added to each pint of liquid.

Mix large amounts of groundbait in a sizeable bucket. A groundbait whisk speeds up the process.

Add boilie flake, corn and pellets. Chopped worm and dead maggots are useful additions too. The baits added to the mix will alter the consistency, so add them only when you are ready to introduce your feed. 



10 Bait tips to catch more this weekend!

Always pack floaters

On sunny days the carp will often be found warming themselves up in the upper layers of the water, and the chances are that they will be suckers for floating baits. Most anglers don’t start thinking about using surface baits until we are well into summer, by which time the canny angler will have already have been using them for several weeks. 


Feed Groundbait Short

A tactic that has worked wonders on a number of venues already this year has been to feed groundbait just off the rod top at the bottom of the marginal slope. Whether I have been fishing for crucians, tench or carp, groundbait has proved far superior to anything elseat attracting and holding fish in the relatively cold water. A nugget of Sensas Super-G each cast is plenty. Try fishing a 6mm cube of meat, a pinch of bread or sweetcorn over the top. 


Fruity Additive For Tench

For some reason, pineapple flavour is one of the greatest tench attractors of all time. When using maggots, this is the additive that I turn to, adding just half a teaspoonful to a pint of grubs. You can even dip your hookbait in the neat liquid to give it maximum attraction.


Sweetcorn Really Takes Off

The bright colour and salty/sweet taste of sweetcorn will prove very effective over the coming weeks. While this bait attracts mainly carp, don’t be too surprised if tench, bream, F1s and even big roach put in an appearance when you have corn on the hook. A couple of tins is more than enough for a session. I prefer to feed little-and-often. A dozen grains of corn fed every few minutes, or after every bite, will be enough to get the swim rocking in no time, so always carry this bait in your tackle bag.


Boilie Time 

If I am planning on spending my time over the coming weeks fishing one venue for carp then I will begin a baiting campaign. This doesn’t have to be hundreds of kilos of bait – just a handful or two in the right place can make all the difference. Choose a quality bait – I normally stick with NashBait TG Active – and at the end of every trip introduce a few whole and broken boilies. In no time at all the carp will start to recognise your bait as a free meal. 


Micros For The Method

When carp are my target, micro pellets are what I will mould around my Method feeder. Even though the weather might be warm, the water is likely to be several degrees cooler, so it is easy to overfeed carp, even when using just a medium-sized feeder. Micros release maximum attraction and keep the carp working hard, so are ideal for the Method at this time of the year. 


Solid Bags

When I need to get a bite fast, especially if I am on a new water, then solid PVA bags are often my first choice. Each bag is filled with broken boilies and micro pellets to create maximum attraction on the lakebed. With the rig and hookbait also inside the bag there is no chance of the rig becoming tangled or catching on weed, giving me the perfect ‘dinner plate’ every time. Tied tightly, solid bags also cast incredibly well, and make a completely different sound to a lead crashing into the water – making them ideal for casting at showing fish. 


Zigs In High Pressure

Carp can be hard to catch when the air pressure is high. On warm, still days try a zig, even if the venue isn’t very deep. Start with one set at half-depth and lengthen it to fish closer to the surface as the day wears on. Dark zigs work best for me as they are highly visible when viewed from the side or below. On prolific venues try spodding soup or firing slow-sinking pellets over your zigs.


Meaty Hookbaits

Punched meat has been an absolute revelation to me over the last few years and has caught me specimens of a number of different species. The unique texture, bright colour and strong flavour of meat mean that it is a bait that really stands out. What is more, it is very easy to prepare. I cut a tin of luncheon meat into 8mm thick slices and then use a bait punch to produce hookbaits on the bank. For small species, such as crucians, a 6mm bait is best, while for bream and carp I use 8mm or 10mm baits.


Feed The Edge

Punched meat has been an absolute revelation to me over the last few years and has caught me specimens of a number of different species. The unique texture, bright colour and strong flavour of meat mean that it is a bait that really stands out. What is more, it is very easy to prepare. I cut a tin of luncheon meat into 8mm thick slices and then use a bait punch to produce hookbaits on the bank. For small species, such as crucians, a 6mm bait is best, while for bream and carp I use 8mm or 10mm baits.



Top margin baits you can use right now!

With spring now here Daiwa's Will Raison offers some timely advice for the best margin baits to be using right now. Here are his top baits to use when fishing for big carp down the margins. 

Sweetcorn

Forget using a single grain of corn in the margins – two pieces will get you more bites and bigger fish, working on the principle that a carp will spot two bits of yellow corn far quicker than just the one, especially when the bottom is being churned up by feeding fish. Corn is also a heavy bait that won’t be washed about and is hard for little fish to rip off the hook.

Dead Red Maggots

Without a doubt the number one margin bait! I cram up to seven or eight dead reds on to the hook to create a massive hookbait that no carp can miss or refuse. 

Deads are very soft and still look like their live counterparts to the fish, but don’t wriggle. When fishing over a large helping of dead reds, carp will move in and hoover up the lot, including the hookbait. They’re a very light bait that are easy for the fish to suck in.

To make dead red maggots I simply clean the sawdust off a few pints and put them in a plastic bag, remove all the air and seal them tightly. The maggots then go into the freezer for three days to ensure they’re dead – I have frozen them for one day before, only to see them come back to life!

Worms

These are venue-specific baits in my experience and tend to work on waters that see a lot of chopped worm and caster used by anglers– the carp get a real taste for them.

They’re also great if there are a lot of roach and rudd in the peg that are smashing maggots to bits. I’ll fish one or perhaps two for a big bait. They’re also worth having in reserve as a change bait when using maggots and groundbait, as the bites can be very savage.

Luncheon Meat

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Meat can be very cyclical, in that it works over any other bait for spells during the spring and autumn. However, in July and August I would still have some 10mm cubes with me to slip on to the hook as a change bait. 



Dr Paul Garner's 10-minute make | Green method groundbait

You can use a cage feeder loaded with a mixture of groundbait and casters, but often a more effective tactic is to use the same baits moulded around a Method feeder. The feeder is tangle-proof, and its low profile unobtrusive when fished with 4ins hooklengths. 

Dynamite’s Swim Stim Green is my groundbait of choice, and to two pints of groundbait I will add a pint of krill powder. This combo has been very effective everywhere I have used it and is very easy to mix to the right consistency for the feeder. There is no need to go overboard with the casters. A pint is ample, and just as when maggot fishing, I will bulk this out with a similar amount of hemp. 

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Add one pint of krill powder to two pints (one bag) of Swim Stim Green groundbait and mix well.

Mix a tablespoonful of sweetcorn extract to each pint of lake water used to mix up your groundbait.

Mix thoroughly and let it stand for a few minutes to allow the water to be fully absorbed. 

Riddle the groundbait to remove any lumps and to ensure it is blended thoroughly. 

Add a small amount of hemp – not too much or it will cause the groundbait to break up.

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Add a similar amount of dead maggots or casters to the groundbait mix.

Dr Paul Garner's 10-minute make | Grilled meat

In hot weather luncheon meat can become very soft as the fat in it melts. To make a much tougher bait, try frying the meat first. This cooks out the fat and puts a tough skin around the bait. 

Cut a tin of luncheon meat into three-quarter-inch slices.

Heat up two teaspoonfuls of cooking oil in a frying pan.

Add a teaspoonful of garlic powder to the pan.

Fry the meat for two to three minutes on each side.

Break the meat into chunks to give you the perfect bait size.



Dr Paul Garner's 10-minute make | Boost your pellet feed

Plain pellets will catch plenty of carp off the top, but you can test out different flavours and attractors very easily by top-coating your feed with different liquids. I also like to make up some PVA sticks of pellets that allow me to catapult baits much further, should the fish be at distance. Normally I put in this preparation at home so that I am not wasting time on the bank

Mix one pint of 3mm Riser pellets with two pints of 11mm floating pellets. This mix creates a much tighter PVA stick than big pellets alone.

Add two teaspoonfuls of TG Active boilie dip to the pellets and shake so the bait is evenly covered, then allow the liquid to soak in for 10 minutes.

Wide-bore PVA mesh makes up small, round sticks. These can be catapulted accurately up to and beyond 50m if the fish are well out in the middle. 

Store PVA sticks in a bucket of pellets. This absorbs any moisture that might melt the PVA, and the sticks will always be ready to hand.



Dr Paul Garner's 10-minute make | Margin meat

Meat is a cracking bait for margin fishing. I like to give mine a bit of a twist to give it maximum pulling power and make it really stand out.

Cube a tin of luncheon meat using either a sharp knife or a meat cutter. I prefer 8mm-10mm cubes for themargins, as they pick out the better fish.

Add some chilli and rock salt flakes to three tablespoonfuls of hemp oil. 

Pour the oil mix over the meat and give it a shake to cover it evenly.

For best results leave the oil to soak into the meat overnight.Store it in the fridge to keep it in top condition.



 

 

How to make the bread and corn super mix

It may not look the most appealing bait, but Craig Mortimer’s budget bread and corn mix is unbeatable!

Whether a carp is 3oz, 3lb or 30lb, they will never turn their noses up at a free feed of bread and corn. Match anglers use both to great effect right through the winter and well into early spring, so why not adopt this approach when targeting specimen carp?

Even if the fish are completely dormant due to the cold water temperature, the bright visibility that these two baits bring to the table is usually irresistible. Being primarily flavour, colour and cloud, there is nothing to really feed upon, apart from the hookbait. 

Gardner, Sticky and Daiwa-backed Craig Mortimer has been using this mixture of ‘match baits’ over four years and his results speak for themselves, with a 31lb 12oz being the biggest to fall to his tactics. With this in mind, Craig’s carping approach just had to be checked out, so we met the 30-year-old Ipswich rod at The Nunnery Lakes complex near Thetford, Norfolk and asked him to guide us through this magic carp mix.

How to make Craig's mix

Starting with a whole fresh sliced white loaf, he places the lot in a bucket and adds water to produce a mush. Next in goes a 900g bag of frozen corn that has been liquidised, as well as another full bag of frozen whole corn. 

“I like to add around 1/3 to half a kilo of crushed Manilla boilies and 100ml of the corresponding liquid as this enhances the flavour trail and gives the bigger fish something to graze on without filling them up,” he added. 

“If I am fishing somewhere shallow or over the top of zigs and I want the slop to make more of a cloud in the water, I’ll add a little more liquid and lake water. Alternatively, if the venue is deeper, I stodge it up with the addition of more liquidised breadcrumb or groundbait.”

The beauty of Nunnery is there are few, if any, silverfish, but if a water does hold bream, you can get plagued by them at times. By fishing a boilie on the hook, if you do hook a bream or roach, it will generally be of a better stamp, so still worth catching. 

“I have found in the past that feeding silverfish will draw in the carp, which soon bully these fish away from the swim, so it’s a win, win,” Craig told us. Follow the simple steps below to create your own corn mix on the bank! 

           Start by putting a whole loaf of fresh, sliced white bread in a bucket, and add water

           Start by putting a whole loaf of fresh, sliced white bread in a bucket, and add water

            Use your hands to break up the bread and crusts into a soggy mush

            Use your hands to break up the bread and crusts into a soggy mush

          Once you’ve got rid of all the lumps put on the lid and drain off any excess water

          Once you’ve got rid of all the lumps put on the lid and drain off any excess water

           Next into the bucket goes a 900g bag of frozen corn that has been liquidised

           Next into the bucket goes a 900g bag of frozen corn that has been liquidised

          Give the mix a good stir until the liquidised corn is fully mixed in with the bread mash

          Give the mix a good stir until the liquidised corn is fully mixed in with the bread mash

           Another whole bag of corn, this time frozen, is then added to the bucket

           Another whole bag of corn, this time frozen, is then added to the bucket

    The addition of half a kilo of chopped boilies provides a few bigger food items for the carp

    The addition of half a kilo of chopped boilies provides a few bigger food items for the carp

          A glug of Cloudy Manilla liquid helps to enhance the flavour trail of the mix

          A glug of Cloudy Manilla liquid helps to enhance the flavour trail of the mix



Dr Paul Garner's 10-minute make | Spicy carp corn

Carp love corn and they love spicy baits, so why not combine the two in this cornucopia of flavours that can be used in PVA sticks and bags to stunning effect? 

Drain off the liquid from half a tin of corn and then blot it dry using a couple of sheets of paper towel.

Drain off the liquid from half a tin of corn and then blot it dry using a couple of sheets of paper towel.

Add a tablespoonful of chilli flakes to two tablespoonfuls of hemp oil and mix this with the corn. The oil will prevent the PVA melting.

Add a tablespoonful of chilli flakes to two tablespoonfuls of hemp oil and mix this with the corn. The oil will prevent the PVA melting.

Add a handful of TG Active Stick Mix to the spicy sweetcorn. This will enable you to compact the PVA sticks that bit better.

Add a handful of TG Active Stick Mix to the spicy sweetcorn. This will enable you to compact the PVA sticks that bit better.

Make a PVA stick using the corn mix. This should be about 4ins long. 

Make a PVA stick using the corn mix. This should be about 4ins long. 

The finished stick can then be hooked on and will melt within seconds, leaving a spread of tasty corn around the hookbait.

The finished stick can then be hooked on and will melt within seconds, leaving a spread of tasty corn around the hookbait.



A bait combination for every species with bait expert Dr Paul Garner

The bait you load on to your feeder can make a massive difference to the fish you catch. Here are some of my favourite combinations...

The Method is super-effective for big greedy carp. Recast regularly at the start of a session to lay down a bed of feed, and use a groundbait containing flaked maize, small pellets and other morsels to keep carp grubbing around. Top this off with a shaved 15mm wafter boilie on the hair.

Commercial carp respond well to feed pellets. The bulk of my feed will be 4mm pellets, but to stop the carp getting fixated on these I’ll add a handful of 6mm pellets to the mix. Start with an 8mm banded pellet but be prepared to switch to a larger or smaller bait

Fishmeal pellets with a Method feeder are deadly for bream. I combine sweet and fishmeal elements in all my bream mixes. Sticky pellets, softened with molasses-flavoured water, are a great starting point for bream at range, with pellet, mini-boilie and hair-rigged worm hookbaits.

My light, high-attract groundbait is low in food value – Dynamite Swim Stim Green with added Krill or crayfish powder as a stimulant. On the hook use corn for tench, while for crucians give a 6mm soft pellet, a rubber caster or a bunch of dead maggots a try. 

On lakes that get lots of carp bait the roach and rudd will see a Method load as an easy meal. With a 10mm boilie on the hair, load the feeder with a 50-50 mix of dark fishmeal goundbait and brown crumb. For rudd I swap a boilie hookbait for a pop-up fished 4ins-6ins off the deck.