What is it?
The bane of schoolboy’s sandwiches, luncheon meat is actually one of the most versatile baits the angler has, working for everything from carp on commercial fisheries to hard-fighting river barbell and chub and even 60lb plus catfish!
Soft in texture and packed with oils, meat is especially deadly in spring, summer and autumn although it can still work in winter when fished as a single bait with no feed.
On the river front it has lost ground in recent years to paste, pellets and boilies for specimen fish but on days when all else fails, a tin of meat can often winkle out a fish or two – big fish man Ray Walton has an enviable list of barbel bests all taken on his rolled luncheon meat method on rivers like the Stour, Avon and Ouse.
Where do I buy it from?
Plain luncheon meat is available on almost every supermarket shelves with popular brands including Princes and Plumrose, which has attained almost cult status amongst match anglers.
Some bait companies also sell meat specially designed for fishing, in a range of colours and flavours – check out the likes of Sensas, Dynamite Baits and Van Den Eynde.
How do you fish it?
Meat can be fished on almost any method you wish but being quite soft it doesn’t stand up that well to long range casting. Fishing it on a hair-rig can help here but generally, it’s a bait best suited to short casts, margin work or polefishing.
Can it be flavoured?
Yes it can! Changing the flavour of meat can make a drastic change to your catch rate, lowering the guard of the fish and working well with other feeds such as pellets, hemp and sweetcorn. Popular flavours include Scopex, Strawberry, Mussel and spices such as cinnamon, paprika and curry powder.
To flavour meat, follow this simple guide:
1 The evening before fishing, cut the meat into the size you need. Small cubes are ideal for carp and tench while larger chunks work best for bigger fish such as barbel.
2 Pop the meat into a plastic bag and add your flavouring. Be careful not to overdo the amounts as most additives are pretty powerful!
3 Blow air into the bag to inflate it and tie it off. Now give the bag a good shake to disperse the flavourings, evenly coating the meat.
4 Pop the bag into the fridge overnight and by morning the meat will have absorbed the flavouring and is ready to use.
What about colouring?
On some waters, dyed meat works to the exclusivity of every other bait with red especially deadly. Meat will absorb colours fully over time and plain old food colouring will work but far better are the myriad of specially-designed fishing colours from manufacturers like Nash, Richworth and Mainline. You can colour luncheon meat while flavouring it, simply adding a good glug to cubed meat and leaving overnight.
What sized piece should I fish?
Experimentation is key here, but generally speaking small quarter inch cubes or meat punched with specially-designed punches will do well for commercial carp, tench and bream. On rivers where chub and barbel are the targets, try ripping larger irregular-shaped pieces off the block of meat by hand. The non-uniformity of these pieces will often fool a fish that has seen it all before.
Punched meat can work especially well on venues where hook pellets are banned, especially when fishing shallow. By punching meat and leaving it to toughen in the sun, you create hard, pellet-shaped baits that will stay on the hook nicely.