Barbel love paste, whether it is wrapped around a boilie or on it’s own, it’s a must have bait for any barbel angler. To help you make the most irresistible barbel bait around we’ve put the best tips for paste together to help you. Take a look below and let us know how you get on.
Paste is very much a bait for all occasions, if it’s warm or cold you can’t go wrong with it.
But many anglers seem to think that it is only something to slip on the hook when carp are the target – they couldn’t be more wrong!
All fish love a nugget of paste, from shy-biting crucians to big roach and massive tench. It’s all down to the softness of the bait and the scent trail it gives off as it slowly breaks down in the water.
The minefield comes, though, when deciding which type of paste to use because this is a bait that can be tinkered with to achieve very different results.
The softness of paste can be regulated, as can its colour, scent, consistency and breakdown rate.
Fortunately, it is very easy to get hold of a paste that will cover every eventuality. Here is Angling Times’ big-fish man Jake Benson’s guide to picking the right paste – every time.
There was a time when very few pastes existed if you wanted a tough bait that would stand up to being cast out on float or feeder.
Not now, though. Several companies produce pastes with an added secret ingredient – normally plant protein extract – which gives the paste a tough, almost stringy texture.
Such pastes can be used straight out of the bag and feature a fibrous texture that can be stretched apart in your hands without the bait breaking apart.
These pastes are not only good for long casts, but also come in handy when trying to avoid small fish that would otherwise whittle a soft paste down to nothing.
Many commercially available pastes are made from ground pellets – and for a good reason.
Fish love pellets, and in many fisheries they see an endless supply of them. It’s so easy to make a crunchy pellet-based paste that’ll appeal to bream, tench, crucians and carp.
A coffee grinder is a must-have here to reduce a couple of pints of 4mm hard pellets into a powder (you can pick from halibuts, plain coarse or coloured and flavoured carp pellets). However, to get that all-important ‘crunchy’ texture it is important to leave a few lumps of larger bits of pellet in the mix.
To bind the crushed pellets, whisk up two egg yolks. At this point you can also add a teaspoonful of any liquid additive such as molasses or hemp oil to boost the pulling power of the paste. Slowly add the powder to the egg mix until a soft paste is formed. Keep kneading the paste until it attains a soft, putty-like consistency.
To create a super-soft paste you only need to slightly over-wet a carp-style groundbait. Because of its soft consistency, this type of paste is ideal for fishing at short range for crucians, tench and big roach.
The finished product will be almost runny, but with just enough body to stay on the hook. You can further enhance it by rolling or dipping the paste in hemp or micro pellets.
Ready-made paste or DIY?
Is it better to make paste fresh on the day or buy it ready-prepared? You can’t beat fresh paste made to your own specifications and you’ll know that the consistency is just right for the job in hand. Ready-made pastes don’t offer this, but it does no harm to have a tub stashed away in the bag in case you run out of your home-made mix.
Made with eggs instead of water to make it much tougher, and using the same ingredients as top boilie recipes, this is a paste to wrap around boilies or large pellet hookbaits.
It’s designed to break down more slowly than traditional pastes, so you can leave a wrapped hookbait in place for several hours, happy in the knowledge that the wrap is still pumping out plenty of attraction. Big-carp anglers use these, but they’re also deadly for big bream and tench.
Among the most versatile winter baits are pastes, not only because they leach out their atttraction much faster than tougher baits, but because they break down in a matter of hours if they are not eaten. By using a ready-mixed curry paste it’s very quick and easy to make your own barbel baits with a really strong, spicy flavour that barbel adore.
1) Break a large egg into a mixing bowl. Egg acts as a binder and makes the paste last longer.
2) Add a teaspoonful of the Tikka paste and a similar amount of anchovy paste to one egg. Alternatively, you could use curry powder, but the ready-made mix is much easier to use and has a better flavour.
3) Mix the egg and paste well. Add food dye now if you with to alter the colour of the finished bait.
4) Add boilie base mix or paste powder to the egg. Mix, but stop while the paste is still quite soft.
5) Rest the paste for 10 minutes so it firms up. Now put it into an airtight bag to stop it drying out. Mould some paste around a boilie or, better still, a wafter for a more buoyant bait.
If you want to catch a really big barbel, now’s the ideal time. The fish will be fighting-fit and at their maximum weight. However picking a hookbait that will be able to attract such elusive specimens can be difficult. So check out this great and unique bait to help you catch big barbel right now! Follow Paul Garners steps below for the best results.
I’m fishing at the most productive times of the day, when I expect the barbel to be feeding hardest, so I will stick to big baits – perhaps meat or boilies, but more commonly big lumps of paste moulded around a smaller boilie so I always have a bait on the hair.
I like a hard boilie as the core of my bait, not because I’m going to be leaving the rig in place for hours on end, but because pesky chub can easily remove a soft bait without you knowing it.
Underwater filming has shown just how often chub will attack a hookbait with hardly a tap on the rod top, especially when using the longer hooklengths common in barbel fishing.
My normal presentation is to use a 12mm boilie as the core of my hookbait and then wrap a lump of paste around this.
The finished hookbait ends up being about 20mm across, quite a substantial bait, but one that a barbel can eat with ease.
You can get an idea of how long the paste wrap will last by dropping a wrapped boilie into a glass of water. Remember, though, that small fish will often peck away at the paste and can demolish it much faster.
You can buy tubs of ready-mixed paste, often with the same attractors as in a finished boilie. These are a handy, albeit expensive, way of starting out with paste fishing.
However, I tend to make my own pastes, using boilie base mix with added spicy additives to boost their effectiveness. Not only is this a cheaper alternative to shop-bought boilies, but it means that I can play around with the additives.
The combination of curry and garlic is a proven barbel-catcher that will catch even when the water temperature is really low.
I use a ready-mixed Tikka paste, which combines all the ingredients that I want and is much easier to use than separate spices. Don’t be afraid to pump up the flavour at this time of the year. I will use a teaspoonful of Tikka paste to each egg used.
Also included is a teaspoonful of pungent anchovy paste to give the bait a fishy kick. Alternatively, why not add some flaked tuna to the paste to boost its fishy smell?
Fishing each swim for a short period of time not only puts you in with a much better chance of locating a group of barbel, but is also a pleasant way to keep warm on an early spring day.
This is certainly active fishing, and I will drop half-a-dozen lumps of paste into a couple of spots that I intend to fish later in the day as a prebait for later on.
Be careful where you put the feed, though, as it can easily be washed away. I like to find swims with a pronounced crease and put the bait just on the slack water side of the swim.
There is no need to use more than just the hookbait when fishing in this way – in fact it might be counter-productive to introduce more bait when you are fishing. Rely on the pungent smell of this paste and you won’t go far wrong, in my opinion!
What a year 2017 was for big fish! We've asked bait expert Dr Paul Garner to give us his expert opinion on some of the best baits he has used over the past year. Maybe you can take some of these into 2018 and lad yourself some amazing big fish.
SELECTIVE SOFT PELLETS
Tight magazine schedules often mean that I find myself on the bank having to catch fish for the cameras way before the fishing has really switched-on for the year. So it was this spring when, with the water temperature still in single digits, I visited the lovely Milton Lake at Old Bury Hill Fishery in Surrey.
The plan was to catch tench, crucians and perhaps roach using a chopped worm and caster approach. Only nobody had told the fish!
With just a single net roach to my name on a dendrobaena I switched lines to a shallow spot tight to the reeds where I had been trickling in a constant stream of 4mm expander pellets laced with flavour and sweetener. The aim was to pick up a few of the lake’s crucians, but when the float shot under I found myself playing a big roach instead. After that the bites became more timid as the crucians moved in and I spent a lovely afternoon trying to hit as many bites as possible. The odd marauding tench kept me on my toes amid a rapidly growing tally of bars of gold.
The moral of the story was that it is rarely too cold for soft pellets, especially if you flavour them. What I didn’t expect was that, on this day at least, the pellets would so comprehensively out-fish my more natural baits.
TINY BAITS EQUAL BIG BARBEL
The first few weeks of the river season were unusually warm and on the usually prolific River Wye, rolled meat or trotted punched salami scored best with lethargic barbel.
Tiny meat baits have caught me many different species, often of prodigious proportions. For barbel it was more about using a familiar bait in a different way. Regular doses of hemp and punched meat, with a tiny piece of meat on the hair, became my go-to tactic right through the low water of summer.
ALIEN BAITS ON TOP
hunting through the shelves of my local koi emporium a few years back I came across a carp treat that was set to revolutionise my summer surface fishing.
Looking like something out of a sci-fi movie, silkworm pupae are a well-known gourmet treat for pampered Japanese koi. Carp go loopy for these thumbnail-sized floating insects, but straight from the shop they are crispy and break up when you try to hook or band them. Soak them for an hour, though, and they soften up enough to be hair-rigged, yet retain their buoyancy – perfect.
On a magazine shoot for Improve Your Coarse Fishing at Chad Lakes in the Cotswolds the fish were proving difficult to tempt off the top. A few hours later, and with five fish under my belt, it was job done, thanks to my bug-baits.
Pike are generally thought of as being rather daft and easy to catch, but sometimes, on some venues, I beg to differ. Of the numerous pike that I have caught more than once on lures, not one has ever been caught on the same type of lure twice.
One fish that was caught at least six times over several years by several anglers came out on tactics as varied as a fly, a jig and a crankbait, but never the same thing twice! Coincidence? No way!
The same can apply to deadbaits, and on a busy venue I will swap to unusual species once the pike have been fished for over a few weeks. In early spring, in very cold water, the problem is compounded by the low temperature reducing the metabolism of the fish. Needing very little food, and sometimes failing to pick up baits off the bottom, pike can be hard to catch. Now I always use critically balanced baits in the spring and I catch my share of big pike, like this immaculate 32-pounder from Chew Valley Lake last February.
SIMPLE DAY-TICKET CARP
A bout of illness kept me off the bank quite a bit through the summer, and to say I was itching to get back fishing would be the understatement of the century!
Short-session carp fishing proved to be the perfect medicine, with plenty of bites keeping me busy and some surprisingly good fish putting in an appearance.
My tactics were just about as simple as they come – a hair-rigged wafter boilie on a nylon rig and a lead big enough to cast the required distance.
No pop-ups, Ronnie Rigs or Chods in sight! On these prolific venues the key to catching more than the odd fish was to keep the bait going in. Using a Spomb to thwart the seagulls, a couple of handfuls of Scopex Squid boilies would be fed after every bite to keep the fish coming back for more. Bites would often come as the Spomb was still crashing down, proving that the fish were attracted, rather than repelled by all the racket I was making.
These sessions were brilliant fun and I started filming them for my YouTube channel - dr paul garner. I have lots more day-ticket venues lined up for 2018, including some that hold mightily impressive fish, and you can bet I’ll be using simple baits and tactics.
NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME
For decades we have treated lure fishing as a second-rate tactic, but take it from me, for electrifying predator action this winter it’s the way to go. Not only will this mobile approach make the best of the short winter days, but there is nothing to touch the adrenaline-inducing ‘hit’ of a fish on a lure.
There’s never been a better time to take up lure fishing. The amount of information available is at an all-time high, so whether you choose to spin, chuck lures or drop shot, you can learn the right way to go about it.
The highlight of my autumn were the incredible perch that I chanced across in a large reservoir. Working a soft plastic Pulse shad close to the bottom I had a faint tap as soon as I stopped winding and let the lure flutter down to the bottom.
After such a gentle bite I wasn’t expecting a personal-best perch to pop up in front of the net but a giant it was, proving the effectiveness of my favourite perch baits.
A cheap and easy way to make your own boilie hookbaits is with ground halibut pellets. This might seem like a lot of effort to go to to make what in effect are just soft pellets, but these are very tough and easy-to-use hookbaits that can be flavoured, coloured and made more buoyant – in effect, customised to your liking.
1) Use a coffee grinder (preferably one bought solely for your own bait-making use) to reduce a couple of handfuls of halibut pellets to a fine powder.
2) Break a large egg into a bowl and add a teaspoonful of hemp oil, half a teaspoonful of Umami paste and four drops of Black Pepper Oil.
3) Slowly add the halibut pellet powder to the liquid egg until the mixture takes on the texture of a soft paste such as you might use on the hook or as a boilie wrap.
4) Boil the sausages for around one minute and then allow them to cool on a piece of kitchen roll to soak up the excess moisture.
5) Boil the sausages for around one minute and then allow them to cool on a piece of kitchen roll to soak up the excess moisture.
6) Cut the sausages into chunks and freeze them until needed. A few drops of hemp oil added to the tub will boost the baits further.
For many anglers, now is the time when sport is at its very best.
Most species are feeding up hard to pack on weight for winter, and a well-presented bait will see plenty of action. We start with 15 autumn-gold nuggets of advice from big-fish expert Dr Paul Garner...
1) Try dead maggots or worms
Two baits stand out for crucians right now – two dead maggots fished over a light scattering of groundbait can work wonders, but a close second comes half a dendrobaena, hooked at the broken end to leak off the juices.
2) It's a wrap for barbel
When boilie fishing for barbel I rarely cast out without wrapping some matching paste around the hookbait. This can work wonders if the fish are proving finicky. A useful trick is to use a 12mm hookbait wrapped in paste, but feed 15mm baits.
3) Gob-stoppers trick wily carp
With everyone using boilies of 18mm or less, you can fool wary carp by going large and 24mm or even larger baits. Scale up your hook size ti match the big bait.
4) Enjoy traditional roach sport
Many of our larger rivers are teeming with roach at the moment. One of the nicest ways of catching them is to use loosefed hemp with prepared tares on the hook.
Start with a pinch of hemp every cast and fish a matching grain on the hook. Once you start getting bites regularly swap to a tare and your reward should be a bigger stamp of fish.
5) Big bream are feeding up
A windy autumn can see shoals of big bream feeding hard. I lay out a big spread of bait to hold the shoal.
Into the mix go a tin of sweetcorn, two pints of dead maggots, some mini-boilies and soaked flaked maize. Bind the lot together into balls with a mix of brown crumb and layers mash.
6) Mid water baits for Rudd
For consistent autumn rudd sport try using a 10mm pop-up or a lump of breadflake on a 12ins-36ins hooklength, so the bait is presented in midwater
7) Stock up now
Get your deadbaits stocks sorted now to ensure a ready supply for winter. Big smelts are always in short supply, so order early.
Split bulk baits into small airtight bags and freeze down. Dip each bait in cold water before freezing, as this will stop them getting ‘freezer burn’.
8) swap to a cone
A pellet cone is a much neater presentation than the Method feeder, and really comes into its own in the coming weeks, especially on venues where the carp have seen it all over the summer months. Vary the size of the cone to control the amount of feed you introduce.
9) The subtle snowman
Very often carp never actually get the hook into their mouths, just the boilie. This can be even worse with a snowman presentation. So try my ‘subtle snowman’ (below), made by cutting a 15mm boilie and a 15mm pop-up down to form a single back-to-back bait.
10) Feed, feed, feed for chub
The key to unlocking brilliant autumn chub sport comes down to how you feed. The simple solution is to drip-feed as regularly as you can. This could be as little as three pellets or maggots every few seconds.
11) Fry-feeding perch
Now is the time to target perch, which predate heavily on small fish which are in the margins over the next few weeks. Use small lures for this – a selection of bright green and more natural hues.
12) Go soft for roach
On many fisheries roach have developed a love of pellets. This can cause problems with fast, hard-to-hit bites. This phenomenon is simply down to both baits being hard, and to combat this try using soft hooker pellets – I find 4mm baits are best.
13) Flavoured meat in floods
Try to coincide barbel trips with the river falling back after a flood. If you have to fish as the river rises, stick to a straight lead and a large smelly bait such as Crab & Krill flavoured luncheon meat.
14) Slug it out for chub
Dew-laden mornings will see hundreds of slugs and snails attacking your garden plants. Rather than chuck them over the neighbour’s fence, why not collect them for an afternoon’s chub fishing?
15) Try red corn down the edge
A float down the edge works for carp that feed in the margins at dusk.
Add a few drops of boilie dye to a tub of corn the day before fishing and you will be left with a lovely dark-red bait that is eaten with enthusiasm.
When rivers are low and clear and the chub and barbel play hard to get there’s one fishing bait that I keep up my sleeve. The classic combination of hemp and casters can send even the most wary river fish loopy, and with practice you can work them up into a feeding frenzy. The key to this style of fishing is to be confident in what you are doing…
Keep the cost down
Big fish love the taste of casters, but they can be expensive. For a full day’s fishing I would reckon on taking four pints, and maybe double that of hemp. Buying hemp in bulk and preparing it yourself keeps the cost down, and any left-over bait can be frozen and kept for the next trip, as I find both baits just as effective when they have been stored in this way.
Sit on your hands
It’s possible to get immediate bites when fishing hemp and caster, but this isn’t always a good thing. One benefit of using any small bait is that the fish will gain confidence in feeding on it over time.
The longer you can sit on your hands before catching that first fish, the more confident they will have grown and potentially the more you will catch. Think of this style of fishing as feeding a line, but not fishing it until later in the day. The longer the fish have to settle on that line, the more readily they will bite.
There are a couple of ways you can slice this cake. If you want to keep busy and the river is large enough, why not spend a couple of hours running a float down the inside line while feeding farther out? Alternatively, and often the only viable approach on small rivers, feed hemp and casters and don’t start fishing for an hour or more. It’s surprising how quickly time passes, and by feeding as soon as you arrive, by the time you are ready to go plenty of time will have already have elapsed.
At close range you’ll probably be able to loosefeed hemp and casters by hand or catapult. This creates little disturbance and creates a line of feed trundling down the swim.
In deeper or faster rivers a bait dropper makes life much easier – let it settle for a few seconds before lifting it out to give the bait time to escape tight to the deck.
On big rivers, switch to a blockend feeder and make regular recasts before attaching the hooklength. Aim at the same spot every cast and look out for tell-tale line-bites that mean the fish are nosing around.
I keep a handful of casters back from the main feed and store them in a bait tub filled with water to keep them fresh and stop them turning.
Unless I am loosefeeding I will mix the hemp and casters together and feed them like this. Because they sink at different speeds, keep them apart if you are loosefeeding.
Three or four casters on a size 10 hook don’t look too unappealing, but there are better ways to present this bait that eliminate problems with small fish.
A favourite trick is to superglue three or four casters to a short hair rig. This is particularly effective when feeder fishing for barbel and not only keeps the bait on, but gives you a more substantial bait.
My normal hook choice is a forged size 10. I glue the casters to a piece of rig tube on the hair, which gives a stronger fixing. Alternatively, thread a plastic caster on to the hair and glue the bait to this.
Plastic casters are quite buoyant, so three will counterbalance the weight of the hook, making it easier for the fish to pick up. Artificial casters are my go-to hookbait when feeding these baits.
How to glue casters to a hair rig
Rather than try and cover every way that you can hook casters, let’s look at some of the best ways of presenting this bait for larger fish, such as chub and barbel.
Thread a 10mm length of 1mm diameter rig tube on to your hair to form the base that the casters can be stuck to.
Dry a pinch of casters on blotting paper to remove any moisture.
Add a blob of superglue gel to the tubing.
Carefully glue two casters side-by-side to the base of the rig tubing, like this.
Once the glue has started to set, add two more casters to the top of the tube.
TWO OTHER TRICKS TO TRY...
Simply hair-rig two to four rubber casters sideways on. Use a size 12 hook for two baits, a 10 for three and an 8 for four rubber baits.
Attach bait bands to a hair rig by tying them into an overhand loop. Casters can be added to each of the bands using a banding tool.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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 to help you land your best-ever 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out bait expert Dr Paul Garner's best choices for bait this year...
Choosing just five baiting tactics that you must use for when you go fishing has been a surprisingly difficult task for me. It’s a case of being spoilt for choice – after all, there are just so many ways to catch fish and almost as many baits to use.
In the end my list came down to baits that will not only catch you more fish, but ones that will help you bag a new personal best and experience some high-adrenaline fishing. You’ll notice that soft plastic lures for perch fishing appear on the list – although these are artificial baits, they are fished very much like naturals, and are just as effective.
Here are my top five baits to use – you won’t be disappointed!
1) Catch carp on surface baits
There is no better way of catching carp than off the top, especially if you can get them feeding close in. That heart-in-mouth moment when a big pair of lips engulfs your hookbait and the line tightens is a million times more exciting than sitting behind a set of buzzers.
Yet still so few people have caught on to the adrenaline rush – in the main, I guess, because it can be a frustrating tactic as the carp refuse point-blank to eat your hookbait. Take my advice and find a well-stocked venue to begin your surface fishing quest. Take some 11mm floating pellets and catapult these upwind of any carp you spot sunning themselves on the surface. Now wait.
Don’t even think about making that first cast until the carp are charging from one bait to the next in a race to beat their shoal-mates to the free grub. Only then is it time to flick a freelined pellet or marshmallow out – and success will be virtually guaranteed.
2) Target perch on lures
Numbers of big perch are booming at the moment, although history tells us that this won’t necessarily always be the case – back in the 1960s our stocks were almost wiped out my a mystery disease, and that could happen again without warning.
All the more reason, then, to make sure you bag yourself a specimen stripey this year. While the humble lobworm or a small livebait will account for a lot of chunky perch, soft plastic lures take some beating if you want to net a real biggie.
Drop shotting is the method of the moment – but it is not the only lure fishing technique to use. With the weight anchoring the small soft plastic grub tight to the bottom, drop shotting is great on days when the perch are close to the bottom. This is especially the case during cold weather.
Much of the time, though, perch can be found in midwater and a drop shot is likely to present a lure too deep. Switching to a bright green 2ins-3ins long paddle tail lure on a tiny 1/4oz jig head is then much more effective, as it can be retrieved at any depth. Simply count the lure down as it sinks, start close to the bottom and then with each cast reduce the time before you start the retrieve to fish at different depths.
3) Make your own gel hookbaits
With a plethora of brilliant baits available straight from your local tackle shop, you may wonder why I still insist on making many of my own baits. It has to be said that I enjoy ‘messing about with bait’, but I genuinely believe that making your own gives you the freedom to come up with something a bit different from the norm.
I think my home-made gel baits definitely give me an edge. I often use them with the Method feeder, but they are just as useful for other tactics. Using gelatine or Veg-e-gel powder, available from the cooking section of supermarkets, I can set any liquid or powdered additives into a firm bait that literally melts slowly in water. Best of all, I can make a batch of bait in just five minutes. This is very different to other Method hookbaits, and has caught me fish on days when other baits have failed to work and gives me total control of the bait I use.
4) Spray pellets for chub
On my West Midlands rivers chub numbers are booming, with shoals of hungry two to five-pounders providing fantastic sport on float and feeder. These fish have grown up seeing pellets nine months of the year, thanks to barbel anglers. So pellets are obvious baits to target these chunky chevins.
A small Kamasan Blackcap feeder loaded with 3mm pellets works well, but not only more effective, but much more fun is to fish a pellet waggler tight against far-bank overhangs and spray 6mm pellets.
Expect bold bites as the chub compete for the free food. For best results keep a constant flow of pellets going in – the longer you feed, the more the chub will lose their natural wariness and the more fish you will put in the net.
5) Use boilies for specimen barbel
If a big barbel is at the top of your bucket-list for 2017, take my advice and use boilies. You may not catch as many, but my trials have revealed a massive increase in the average size of the fish I have caught on big baits.
Don’t be afraid to go-large either – 18mm or 20mm baits, fished either singly or doubled-up, make a decent mouthful for a double-figure barbel. Expect to catch few male fish under 7lb, but the large females will be suckers for a decent meal.
Most barbel tend to be caught on savoury-flavoured boilies, simply because that is what most people use, but dare to be different. Sure, you will catch on meat or fish-flavoured baits, but curry spices work great, especially in colder conditions, and I have found sweet flavours to be equally effective. Chances are no one else will be using them.
There is no point in feeding hemp or pellets if you are fishing with large boilies. Stick to just large baits, introducing a handful of bait on a PVA stringer and catapulting the odd boilie upstream to top-up the swim.
Pellets were originally created as an animal foodstuff or as a feed for stocked fish. The pellets were used to ensure that the animals and fish gained substantial weight prior to being sold to market. But anglers have latched on to these protein-packed food morsels and have discovered just how good they can be for attracting quality fish like carp, tench, bream, catfish, barbell and chubinto their swim.
They are produced by extruding. Basically the raw ingredients such as fishmeal and vegetable matter are mixed and forced through small tubes (called extrusion). This creates a sausage-like tube of the mix. This is then heated with steam to harden the mix. The final stage it to cut the cooked mix into the desired length. And that’s how they make pellets.
Luckily for all you carp, barbel, chub and catfish anglers out there, the large 21mm and larger halibut pellets needed another heat source to ensure that the centre of the pellets were cooked and harden. The only way this could be done was to force steam into the middle of the pellet, and that’s why some larger pellets were already supplied with a perfect hole in the centre that was ideal for a hair rig to be inserted. Perfect!
What do pellets do?
Basically, pellets are nothing more than compressed parcels of groundbait. Once submerged they will begin to break down and if they are left long enough they will form a carpet of fine mush on the bottom of the lake.
Some pellets take a lot longer to breakdown than others. Tiny 1mm pellets will take a few minutes before they turn to mush, while rock-hard 21mm halibut pellets will take weeks to fully break down.
As they are breaking down, the skin of the pellet will slowly begin to dissolve and if there is the slightest undertow in the lake the scent of the dissolving particles will travel through the water, triggering the fish to follow the scent and ultimately persuade them to pick up the bait, or mooch through the dissolved pellet particles looking for food.
Which pellet to use
We do have a large choice of different pellets available for us to try, from tiny 1mm micro pellets (smaller than a match head) to massive 21mm-plus pellets, so choosing the right one can be a little bit difficult sometimes.
Micro pellets are impossible to hook – they are designed to break down in the water really quickly and create a soft, highly-scented carpet of attractant that will pull fish right to your hookbait. Pellets from 4mm upwards are hookable, but they are also ideal as loosefeed too.
Halibut pellets – those rock hard, very oily, almost black pellets – are best used for either long-term sessions where it’s best to prime a swim and wait for those bigger fish to come along, or used as hookbait. These pellets are way too hard to be side hooked so the smaller pellets will have to be locked alongside the hook using a pellet band, while the largest halibut pellets should be drilled and then hair-rigged.
Expander pellets are another type of pellet favoured by match and pleasure anglers. Most expander pellets float when they are taken straight out of the bag, so they are perfect as a loosefeed when floater fishing. But to use them on the hook for the likes of bream, tench and carp, you will need to prepare them correctly.
To do this you will need a pellet pump.
All other pellets of a size large enough to be used as a hookbait will need to be attached to the side of your hook using a bait band. Alternatively they can be Superglued to the back of a hair.
Gluing two pellets together around a hair is a great way to present a bait to the likes of barbel, chub and carp. All you need is a hair rig, some Superglue and two pellets that have perfectly flat sides.
Take a pellet and add a drop of Superglue to one of its flat sides. Lay the hair across the glue. Now squeeze the second pellet onto the glue and hold securely until the pellets stick firmly and the hair becomes trapped.
This is a technique favoured among catfish, carp and barbel anglers seeking to catch really big fish. They use giant halibut pellets for this technique.
You will need a drill bit or a bait drill, a hair rig, some bait stops and your large halibut pellet.
Take the halibut pellet and hold it securely by the flat sides. Push the drill into the centre of the pellets and begin twisting the drill to form a hole. Gently but firmly continue twisting the drill to deepen the hole. Do not be tempted to force the drill through the bait as you will only crack the bait.
Once the drill passes right through the bait you will be able to pull your hair rig through the hole, using a baiting needle, and lock the pellet in place using a row of three bait stops. One bait stop may not be large enough to hold the pellet in place.
Casters are the next stage in the life cycle of a maggot. They are the chrysalis of a maggot – a shell-like pupae that contains the soon-to-emerge fly.
Casters are slightly smaller than maggots and their shape is a lot more rounded. They are available at all good tackle shops and, like maggots, are sold by the pint.
Casters are a little bit more expensive than maggots due to the fact that they have taken longer to evolve than maggots, due to the fact that the maggot is stage two of the fly’s life cycle, whereby casters are stage three.
A pint of casters will cost around the £3 mark.
Casters are a superb bait that always tends to pick off the larger fish. Maybe it’s because the casters have a crunchy shell that the larger fish adore, or maybe it’s because the casters aren’t as often fished as maggots – but whatever the case, they certainly do make a great bait.
Turning your own casters
Although casters can be bought from tackle shops, there are times when they aren’t available as they have either sold out, or the bait producer hasn’t managed to run-off enough casters to go around all the shops.
To make a pint of casters you will need just over a pint of maggots – to take into account those that will die. The best maggots to use to create casters are white maggots. Coloured maggots just do not make good casters, probably due to the fact that they contain impurities, in the form of dies, that don’t help the fly’s metamorphosis.
When you get your white maggots home riddle them thoroughly and pick off any dead maggots and maggot skins by hand. You will now be left with a few maggots that have slowed their wriggling down and have started to transform into casters.
These should be tipped into a spare clean bait box and covered with folded sheets of damp newspaper, with the lid placed upon the box. Do not use dripping wet newspaper as the water may gather at the base of the bait box and suffocate some of the casters at the bottom. The best place to store these soon-to-be-casters is in a fridge.
Continue riddling your maggots twice a day, removing the casters and adding any new ones to the supply in your fridge. Within a few days you’ll have more than enough fresh casters to last a session.
Caster colouration and what it means
Buy a bag of casters and you’ll undoubtedly find casters of different shades. The freshest ones will be white or a cream colour, while the oldest will be almost black. Try to buy your casters as fresh as possible as they will not only last longer, they will give the fish a different bait to target – it’s amazing sometimes that a lighter coloured caster will bring about bites much faster than a dark one, and vice versa.
One thing to bear in mind, when you are buying or storing your casters, is the fact that the darker a caster becomes the more buoyant it will be. Light-coloured casters sink very quickly, while those much older, very darkly coloured casters will float.
Dark, floating casters can be used to great effect on occasions, particularly during the summer. Simply leave a helping of casters out in the sun (but beware of birds scoffing them all) and allow the sun to dry them out and turn the shell dark brown. A full day in the sunshine will crisp-up the shells, darken them dramatically and transform them into floaters. They can now be used on the hook to present a really slow-falling bait to catch fish on-the-drop, or they can be catapulted out as feed for surface feeding rudd or carp.
Most baits are best used with a hook that matches the size of the bait, but casters are best used with a hook that fits inside the bait. A size 20 or 18 hook fits perfectly inside a single large caster, but that’s not to say that casters cannot be side hooked, they can.
The most important point to note when hooking casters is to do it gently and carefully because if the caster bursts it will become almost useless. And remember to use a very sharp hook!
Casters and groundbait
Casters are one of the best baits to add to groundbait. Why? Because they provide a mass of protein-rich food that the fish will happily feed upon once they find the flavoured groundbait crumbs. But another great reason why casters are so good in groundbait is because they don’t wriggle, therefore they won’t break up the groundbait as it flies or when it lands on the lake or river bottom.
A lot of anglers think that adding crushed casters to a groundbait mix will make it a lot more appealing to fish. Although the extra scent of the crushed casters will draw in fish, crushing the casters will do more harm than good.
The shells of crushed casters float and therefore as soon as the ball of groundbait breaks down, or a fish disturbs it, the caster shells will begin to rise. This will attract the fish and they will follow the rising shells, and they will move away from your groundbait.