Tom Maker explains how to make your money go further when it comes to bait, revealing top little edges to help you spend less and catch more….
One of the most frequent questions that I get asked is how to get around the price of bait. The subject is a tricky one because I do feel that it is one element of carp fishing that should never be compromised or taken lightly.
Bait is so important and is a key part to catching lots of fish, and regularly too. Yes, I do get my bait free, which is a great help, of course, but there are plenty of ways to make sure your baiting approach is cost-effective.
There are loads of baits you can use but I will start off with the most popular, boilies. Firstly, they are not cheap and will be the most expensive item on your list. They’re also the most important, so the type and quality should not be overlooked. I would steer clear of cheap bait, and there is plenty of it out there. For as long as I can remember, I have always used good boilies that have a great track record for catching a lot of fish.
There is nothing worse than being sat behind rods with doubt or little confidence in what you have on the hair. The Krill has been my number one bait for the past couple of seasons and I have since been using the Manilla, which again is a phenomenal fish catcher. People see me firing out the spod regularly and instantly think that I am filling it in with just boilies. I am not, and even though I’m in a fortunate position, I don’t just chuck it in for the sake of it.
The first thing I would say is buy 12mm baits if they’re available. They are a quid more expensive than the other sizes but they can go a lot further. I don’t really want to count them but you can imagine how many 12mm baits are in a bag in comparison to a bag of 20mm. You will have a lot more little items on the bottom that will last you a lot longer.
Using small boilies will last a lot longer than the larger 20mm variety
I also like to break a few in half. Imagine a bag of 12mm boilies all halved; you are looking at a lot of pieces on the bottom.
The easy option for getting the cheapest possible bait is to avoid boilies, but I really do feel that in most scenarios that would hinder your fishing greatly. One option to look at is pellets, which is another bait that carp simply love. You can add them into the mix, or get a single bag and make it last you the season for just using in bags. The Bloodworm pellets, in particular, let off loads of attraction without any additives, which will help pull the fish in with minimal food.
The carp have been reared on pellets on most of the lakes that I fish, so it can really help to get more bites. You don’t need a lot; even a couple of handfuls per bucket of spod mix are enough to add that little bit extra smell and taste to the swim.
These two are the more expensive options, but essential in my eyes. The cheaper items that I am about to go through play a big role when I am fishing over lots of bait. I treat the pellets and boilies as the treats because I nearly always fish a boilie of some description on the hair.
The main bulk of the bait is hemp. It is one of the all-time classics and will always attract carp. They love it and will keep on eating it without getting too full. It is not as cheap as it used to be but it still works out pretty cheap once you have cooked it. I have found it is best to go to a pet store or search online. Animal feed places stock it and this is where I get most of mine.
Tom uses a lot of hemp, it's always his base for any spod mix
It can be quite time-consuming cooking it, especially if you are fishing regularly. I like to spend an afternoon cooking up a large batch and separating it into buckets before freezing it. I know that not everyone has a chest freezer handy, but if I didn’t do this I would spend half my life cooking hemp.
My fishing is all about regularly feeding the swim, constantly topping up little and often, and this is what normally brings on the bites and multiple hits. Hemp allows me to do this without putting out loads of boilies. I have no doubt that in some cases if I put out just boilies it would catch me more carp. However, with me using hemp as the main bulk, the boilies become even more desirable to the carp when they are competing for food and there is more chance of them picking up my hook bait.
The other key ingredient to my mix that is also cheap and cheerful is sweetcorn. There is not a carp swimming that doesn’t like it and if you buy it sensibly it can work out pretty cheap.
I have the frozen bags in the freezer, which you can buy for less than a quid for a kilo! I do also buy the canned version, just in case I run out and don’t want to waste the frozen bags, risking them going off after a couple of days.
Some sessions I may only use half a bucket of bait, other times it can be three or four, which is why I take plenty of spare with me, just in case. I always have a bag or two of shelf-life boilies in the back of the van too. I use them just as much as the freezer baits and don’t really notice a difference, so it just makes my life easier.
Cheaper particles such as pigeon conditioner is a popular one and cheap too. I have toyed with it and it can work really well. I tend to use it in summer and add a few bits after I prepare it. You don’t need to boil it, just pour boiling water over it so that it’s covered and pop the lid on. To try and give mine a bit more kick and make it smell more like the boilies, I do add liquid.
Liquids cloud up nicely
Once the boiling water is added, pour in Krill Liquid or Aqua Amino and distribute it as evenly as you can around the bucket. Pop the lid on and let all that liquid absorb into the particles. Remember that the liquid will soak into each seed and it will swell. All that fishy, salty liquid will infuse each item with a really fishy taste. I also like to add rock salt to it once it is done, again to add that salty taste and help prolong the life of it. It also gives off a huge cloud when it travels through the water, increasing the visual aspect of the mix.
Now I have run you through my main mix and the best way to use each one cost-effectively, there are a few other little tips for you.
We all love a pop-up and everyone that I see or speak to has an impressive collection of their stable favourites that go with them everywhere.
Single bright pop-ups are a great way of getting a bite
A small PVA bag of crumb gives loads of attraction around your hook bait!
Generally, I like to have fruity pop-ups like the Signatures, Krill pop-ups and wafters in a few sizes. One thing that you will notice about all the Sticky hook baits, in particular, is how many you get in a tub. Not a lot of people look into this, but a tub will last you a season.
Don’t feel that because you are using different brands of feed and bait you can’t mix and match. Pop-ups like the Signatures and the Krills especially are great hook baits and will work over anything. If you are an angler that may cast 20 or so times with a fresh bait over the weekend, in some cases that’s over half the tub gone.
Pop-ups are the cheapest way of fishing and if I were on a really tight budget I would walk around with a tub of these and fish bright singles. You are unlikely to catch loads all the time but you will certainly catch your fair share of fish, especially in the colder months.
There have been instances where the only thing I would take with me is a tub of pop-ups if I felt the fish were at mega range and I couldn’t bait to them.
Just fishing with small PVA bags is also a great way of catching fish. Similarly to the pop-ups, you are only ever really fishing for a single bite at a time, but if it catches you fish and saves you money, it isn’t something to be overlooked and ignored.
Tom is no stranger to catching multiple hits and sensible baiting helps him achieve this!