Artificial fishing baits have been around for years, and despite being produced from plastic they are some of the finest baits available to anglers.
There are many different types of imitation bait on the market, with each being perfect replicas of the real thing.
Specialist and pleasure anglers across the country have had fantastic results using them, with many huge fish being caught on single artificials, or artificials presented over the top of a bed of real bait.
Not only do they look like the real thing, most are buoyant, and this allows the angler to fish the baits just off the bottom, in full view of any passing or nearby fish.
They work for carp, chub, barbel, tench and bream, they work throughout the year, and they will work on canals, rivers, streams, vast lakes and commercials. And they can be used over and over again.
Here's an in-depth guide to show you what's on the market, and help you decide which would be best for the fish you target...
Imitation corn has accounted for loads of specimens this season, either used by itself or in conjunction with real corn grains. It is buoyant so by carefully selecting the right weight of hook and by adding one or two real grains of corn you can critically balance the bait so it rests gently on weed, or wafts off the bottom when a fish passes. It is available in red, orange, yellow and even black, and some companies produce it in different sizes to imitate small kernels through to larger pieces of maize.
Previously the only way to pop-up a tiger nut was to use a buoyant section of foam hair-rigged above the nut. This was hardly ideal. Now though you can use a spittingimage nut that already has enough buoyancy to hold up a real nut, plus a strong, heavy hook too. These make great alternative carp baits that are actually soft enough to be side hooked, if you wish, but tough enough to be hair-rigged for long range casts.
Many carp anglers breathed a sigh of relief when imitation bread was launched earlier this year. It’s solved the dreaded problem of bread flying off the hook upon the cast or being nibbled off the hook by nuisance rudd when surface fishing for more substantial carp. It is incredibly resilient and can be side hooked and cast as far as your muscles allow. And not only is it great for surface work, imitation bread can be popped-up off the bottom, over a bed of white bread crumbs.
This malleable imitation bait from Kryston is available in sweetcorn and halibut pellet flavour. It’s a small block that can be moulded into whatever shape you wish. The best way to present this soft paste-like bait is to tie a bead upon a hair-rig and mould it around the bead. It is incredibly buoyant and obviously the more you use, the heavier the weight needs to be to counterbalance the bait and pin it just off the bottom.
Halibut and trout pellets sink like a stone, so when a carp finds a critically balanced or popup pellet over a bed of real ones it should certainly attract their attention. Barbel and chub are fond of pellets too, so a buoyant pellet wafting just off the bottom may prove too must to resist. A variety of different sizes are available to suit the species being tempted, plus the pellets can be sliced into smaller sections very easily if you want to critically balance your bait so that it comes to rest naturally over silt or weed.
Maggots and casters
Side-hook two or three false maggots or casters and you will counterbalance your hook, making the bait flutter enticingly off the bottom, right where the fish can find them. This technique has been widely used on stillwaters and rivers by many of the countries top specialist anglers - to great effect. These small, buoyant baits are available in a wide range of colours to suit the different shades of casters and the colours of maggots.
The best thing about using imitation dog biscuits is that they don’t take on water and sink like the real thing does! They look almost identical and are soft enough to be side hooked or hairrigged. There is one small problem with them though and that is your hook will always hang underneath the bait in full view of the fish. Enterprise Tackle has solved this by creating false biscuits that feature a removable counterweight that ensures the bait sits the same way up every time, and therefore your hook points to the clouds, out of the carp’s view.