Wednesday, 02 August 2017 14:36

Ian Russell On Boilies

Boilies are without question one of the most heavily used baits in modern carp fishing, and Ian Russell is on hand to explain why, and how to get the most from these versatile balls of nutrition. 

You would be hard pushed to find a lake or carp in the country that isn’t au fait with a boilie. As you are probably aware, I use a lot of corn, pellets and hemp in my fishing, but that isn’t to say I am a stranger to boilie-only tactics. In my eyes you can really get the most out of these baits when fishing in the right situation on the right venue. Typically I would say a venue where the fish are on average slightly bigger, perhaps 20lb, then boilies would be my go-to approach instead of fishing over small food items. 

When would I use them? 

Well modern baits are now designed to be fished and work effectively all year round. Gone are the early days of the HNV (High Nutritional Value Baits) which were typically very high in fat, working better in the warmer weather. Ingredients have come so far I don’t believe that changing baits through the year can get you more fish; pre-digested and low temperature fishmeals are used heavily within the bait manufacturing world now, and as a result the fish can eat and utilise the goodness within the baits despite the changing water temperatures and or time of year. 


15 YEARS: Ian owned his own bait company and rolled his own bait.

So how much should I use? 

I have two clear examples, both in Oxford, of how a little and how a lot of bait can each work in your advantage. One winter I decided to target The Manor on the Linear Fisheries complex, with a few close friends fishing the lake too they opted for a heavy baiting campaign with maggots and preferred winter bait combos. I, on the offer hand, opted for hardly any bait, fishing singles, and my baits of choice were 20mm fishmeal boilies that had been glugged in sunflower oil. That winter, as luck would have it, I outfished them and of course this is largely down to swim choice, weather and all the other factors, yet I do feel my unusual bait approach played a huge part. However, when targeting the syndicate lakes at Linear, Unity in particular, it would not be uncommon for me to use anywhere between 10 and 15kg of boilies in a 48-hour session. Although that may sound excessive, it was all relative to the action I was receiving and fish I was having. With loads of carp present, and plenty of big fish too, it led me to believe they simply wanted feeding and in order to keep them interested the spot would regularly be topped up. Don’t feel you have to fill the swim in to begin with; gauge what is happening out on the lake bed. I have never turned up and spodded out 15kg straightaway. Start with half a kilo or maybe a kilo, depending on the size of the spot, and continue to build the swim as and when you receive action. Also, don’t get put off with the amount of bait you may have to use; in order to make your bait go further simply halve the baits. Although this won’t double them in weight there will be double the amount of free offerings, which of course will take the carp twice as long to get through, ensuring they stay in the swim for longer. This helps you not only save money but also use your bait in a much more efficient way. 


PVA mesh, another easy way to introduce free offerings.


Should I spread the bait out or keep it concentrated? 

A common misconception when angling is that boilies should be fished in vast spreads. I have and do fish spreads of boilie as well as patches and here’s why. This is very much venue driven, I have fished plenty of hard waters over the years and really tight beds can work. I’m talking around 50 to 100 baits grouped as tightly as you can manage, introduced via catapult or Spomb ideally. Often when fishing in weed I will try to build a tight patch as I am looking at fishing the small clearings and a wide spread of bait will often get caught up among the fronds of weed, creating a really wide area. Keep it concentrated and draw the fish on to your hook bait. These tactics are best employed at closer range up to 40 yards to ensure your accuracy; simply the further you go out in the pond the more unintentionally widespread the area will become. Spreads do play their part too. When I fished Sandhurst a few years ago I would flick my rods out, three fanned out among the rather featureless sandy substrate and, seagulls permitting of course, I would begin to scatter the baits with a throwing stick among the rods. Several hundred 15mm or 18mm baits over the rods help to create the scenario where the fish have to move between baits, lowering their guard and picking baits up on the move. 

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A cheeky stringer helps add a few freebies.


Does that mean I should use different rigs as the fish are feeding differently? 

Yes, without a doubt. My rigs don’t often change that much, in all honesty, but when targeting the tight little beds of bait the fish are feeding in one area, not really moving around, their mouths will be pretty tight to the bottom. My preferred blowback long-shank rig will be the first rig to go out to the spot, either with a wafter or standard bottom bait presented on the hair. The blowback allows the rig to sight tight to the deck, not raising any suspicion, and of course very easy for the carp to pick up as it mimics and behaves like the free offering. Moving on to the spread of boilies, if the carp are picking a bait up, travelling and picking another, there is a lot less time for them to suss out your rig and a pop-up presentation, such as my little flick rig, is ideal. Similarly stiff hinged rigs or chods work in the same manner. I want to clarify that I don’t feel the fish pick it up because it is a pop-up off the bottom; instead the pop-up allows the rig to spin and grab. A rotational rig can offer great hooking potential when approached from any angle and as the fish glide over the top there is a far better chance of the hook taking hold by utilising this movement. With rigs such as the famous 360 presentation, the hook is always clear of obstruction and should it get picked up it will have a much higher chance of taking hold. 

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On the left a pop-up presentation to suit spreads of boilie, and the right a simple bottom bait or wafter to fish on a tight patch of bait.


Are there any real advantages to choosing a certain size of boilie? 

For me different sized baits are there to confuse the fish and keep your hook-bait options open. Of course for 90 per cent of my fishing a mix of 12mm and 15mm baits is sufficient. Now it is key to point out as soon as you mix sizes the only way to get them out accurately is of course Spombing, so bear that in mind – a catapult will just end up with baits going everywhere. If, however, I am fishing at a range say up to 90 yards then 20mm baits would be my first choice; you can get them out in a throwing stick or with the right catapult – a small sling-shot style – you will be able to bait up with single baits at a time, which I highly recommend when fishing against islands. It’s a different scattering of bait, which you can be deadly accurate with and of course single baits help to deter seagulls. Bigger baits are perfect to help deter nuisance species such as tench and bream, also so bear in mind what swims around in your target venue and choose your bait wisely. 



Oily baits are no secret, but after experimenting Ian settled on sunflower oil all year round and these hook baits have had that exact treatment. 



Boost the attraction with complementary liquids.


Are baits better straight out the bag or should I glug them?  

Glugs – this is a good tip; when I fished the Manor my single baits had been glugged in sunflower oil for months on end. In my early days I fished with all my baits swimming in oil of some kind and sure enough the fish would move in, yet I soon found out although this did drive the carp crazy hunting down these attractive signals it worked against me as all the baits smelt and were just as attractive as each other, which often left me waiting hours for a pick-up. It was then I decided that all freebies should go in dry and only my hook bait should receive the treatment. This creates a small pinhead of attraction right from my hook bait all the way to the surface; not only can takes happen much quicker but you can rest assured when you see an oil slick appear on the surface you know something has disturbed your hook bait, not just some of the free offerings. I will happily use matching glugs of whichever boilie flavour I am using, either Sonubaits Code Red or 24-7; these are rich with flavour as well as oil, making my bait signal much more pronounced. Interestingly, over the years I have experimented with just about every oil commercially available, by filling up bottles and leaving them in the fridge. I soon began to identify which oils would congeal and solidify much quicker than others, so instantly in cold-water scenarios these would be discarded. The one that showed the least physical change was indeed the sunflower oil, and for this reason I use it all year round as the attraction easily dissipates through the water column, providing me with enough boosted attraction to draw the carp in. 

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A cracking common that succumbed to the oily-boilie approach.


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