Are you plagued by nuisance small fish when targeting specimen barbel? The answer is simple – use a supersized hookbait!
So says successful specialist angler Luke Ayling, from Oxfordshire. Luke has been making the headlines in recent months with the capture of some huge barbel, including a new River Thame record of 16lb 7oz which he followed up with a 16lb 12oz fish from the River Thames. Both fell to massive baits.
Angling Times met up with the Lone Angler-sponsored man to lift the lid on the special homemade golf ball-sized hookbaits that helped him net these stunning catches.
“I originally started using bigger-than-average baits on the hook because of time constraints,” he said. “I often go fishing straight after working a shift instead of going home to bed, so I need to get some sleep in my bivvy. I use baits that won’t be eaten by anythimg small – I don’t want to be woken up unless it’s by a specimen! By using a giant hookbait I knew I wouldn’t be pestered by small fish so I could sleep on the bank, knowing that when I did get a take it would be from the species I was after.”
Luckily for Luke his plan proved to be a masterstroke as he began to bank some big barbel on stretches that held very few of the species. From then on he didn’t look back.
“I now use the technique on a lot of my sessions, particularly in winter in places where there are a lot of chub and other smaller unwanted fish like bream. When rivers are up and coloured, as any specimen angler will tell you, a big smelly bait is easier for barbel to find,” he said.
Unfortunately, hookbaits of this size aren’t readily available in tackle shops, but Luke says making your own is far simpler and much less expensive than you might think.
“It’s basically just a homemade boilie wrapped in homemade paste, but the great thing is you only need to make one mix up. I do this using just a boilie base mix, a couple of eggs, flavouring and a little gloop to make it sticky.
“Once I’ve rolled the boilies I leave them to dry and go hard for a week or so, but you can boil and use them straight away, and any leftover mix can be used as paste to feed or wrap round the hookbait,” he said.
Luke stressed that you can make your hookbaits as big as you want and shape them how you wish to suit your venue or tastes, but his feeding regime is similar to a standard barbel fishing approach: “The idea is to make sure your hookbait is the biggest one in the river for fish to pick out so I don’t feed heavily – I just use a standard PVA stick on my rig.”
Luke fills a PVA bag with Lone Angler Ocean Pride groundbait and crushed pellets and threads it down his short 1ft hooklength so it stays where it’s supposed to.
“Many anglers clip their bags to their leads or on to the hook, but they can come off and trundle downstream. By threading it on, the bag stays where I want it” he added.
As an added incentive, Luke also likes to flick out a few loose offerings of 15mm Lone Angler boilies with his catapult, but it’s important not to feed too much. “In winter you only need a few offerings to get them feeding,” he stressed. “The PVA bag of pellets and groundbait is merely an attractor to help the fish find your hookbait. It doesn’t offer much in the way of feed.”
HOW TO MAKE THE PASTE BASE MIX
1. Everything you need to supersize your baits.
2. First, break a fresh egg into a clean bait box.
3. Add one teaspoon of Ocean Pride Glupe sticky attractant.
4. Use a syringe to add 1ml of Ocean Pride liquid flavouring.
5. Mix everything together with a spoon.
6. Add some boilie base mix – a handful should be enough.
7. Mix again so that everything is properly blended.
8. Knead the mix into a ball with a dough-like consistency.
9. The finished mix all ready to make the supersized boilies and paste.
HOW TO MAKE LUKE'S SUPERSIZED BOILIES
1. Once you’ve made the paste, roll it into balls. Luke likes oversized 26mm baits.
2. Now drop them into boiling water for two minutes to harden them.
3. Drain, cool, and thread them on to a hair rig. Or leave to dry for some time.
4. Finally, use the remaining base mix to enlarge the bait around the boilie.
5. Thread a PVA bag containing groundbait and crushed pellets securely on to your hooklink.