Start off stiff
The right texture for the paste is a bit of a broad church – some anglers swear by a soft bait, others prefer a stiffer mix. As a guide, begin fishing with a fairly firm paste. You can always make it softer by adding water, but not the other way round. Putting dry groundbait into a wet paste rarely works. A softer paste breaks down quicker and also creates more of a cloud as it sinks, which can get you a few extra bites when the fishing gets harder.
Feed some pellets
Some anglers feed nothing with paste, relying on the bait alone to attract the fish, but to begin a session it does no harm to kickstart the swim with a pot of feed. This could be hemp or corn, but a better bet is to try and mimic the paste itself by potting in overwetted 4mm pellets. These may look a mess, but once on the bottom they’ll resemble small pieces of paste that have broken down. By feeding pellets that look very similar, the fish won’t hesitate to suck in the paste, often eating that before anything else.
Use a bristle
There are dedicated pole floats for fishing paste, typically with a very long bristle – and there’s a reason for this. A long float bristle is essential, allowing you to know when the paste has come off the hook. Plumb the swim so that around three-quarters of the bristle is showing. The paste will hold the float down but, if the paste comes off, the float will rise higher and it’ll be time to bait the hook again.
Size of bait when fishing paste follows the same rules as for pellets or meat – the bigger the fish, the bigger the bait! If your lake has generally smaller carp in it, make a ball of paste of a size they can instantly get in their mouth as soon as it goes into the water. Not only will this get you quick bites, but it’ll also stop a lot of false indications because the fish won’t have to rip bits off before they can get it into their mouths. As a result, you’ll generally get a nice clean bite as soon as the bait is in position.
Proper paste bites are very positive, so ignore knocks and dips on the float. These are normally either fish swimming into the line or pecking at the bait. Wait until you get a sharp, positive ‘dig’ on the float as a fish gets hold of the paste properly.