It is at this time of year when I often try and minimise the food levels and up the attraction of my bait. The carp won’t be gorging on bait as much and, if they are, they can be extremely picky in what they eat. Using something that they can easily digest is so important, especially as their metabolism slows right down in the colder temperatures. Baits like sweetcorn, maggots, low-oil pellets and boilies such as the Manilla are winter winners.
I don’t use fishmeals and oily products as much in the cold because they don’t seem as effective and don’t behave how they would do in the warmer months. Particularly oils, they often congeal and won’t release their potent and powerful attractors. I find myself using small, solid PVA bags a lot and for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they offer a very small, tight bed of bait around your hook bait, which offers little food value but a load of attraction. Secondly, with the weed dying down and the bottom littered with debris, they will sit presented on top of it nicely. With the mix that I use, it is extremely visual but isn’t endangering for the carp. It almost appears like a small, clean sandy patch that has been fed on before.
1 - Craig begins by adding 2.5mm Sticky Manilla pellets; little pellets are ideal in this situation.
2 - A generous coating of Manilla Active Mix is next. This helps to create a cloudy bed of attraction on the bottom.
3 - Now it’s time for some elbow grease. Simply crush several handfuls of matching boilies until they are fine.
4 - Add a generous glugging of Cloudy Manilla Liquid to boost the instant pulling power of the mix.
5 - The mix will be a heavy consistency at this stage but don’t worry. Leave it to stand for a bit to absorb the goodness.
6 - A final covering of Active Mix over the top and the difference is clear. Ready to use and it smells super-tasty too.
To create the mix, I begin with 2.3mm pellets and a generous amount of Manilla Active Mix. This is a creamy, sweet-smelling powder that is full of loads of little particles and small nuts. This will form the base of the mix and allow the bag to remain compact and neat once tied.
The pellets are used to add attraction to the bag and break down over a few hours, constantly releasing attractors but, with their only being a handful in the mix, not offering a huge food value. I then add some of the Manilla boilie crumb. This bait has accounted for so many fish throughout the entire year but really comes into its own in the winter months.
Last, but by no means least, is the Cloudy Manilla. This adds so much smell and attraction to the bag, as well as dampening it to allow the powders to sink and stay on the bottom. The liquid pumps off heaps of cloud, as the name suggests, and in winter that visual aspect to the bait is so important.
I use a rig that seems to be the latest craze, the Ronnie, and use this in conjunction with a small inline lead. The inline lead sits much better than a lead clip would once in the bag and is great for hooking carp. I prefer a shorter hook link of around four inches and as a hook bait I like a bright pop-up. The Signatures are superb, fruity-smelling baits with a delicate but instantly recognisable aroma that seem to nick a bite when all else fails.
1 - When fishing with a solid bag, Craig uses an inline-lead arrangement and a short pop-up rig.
2 - Begin by filling the bag about a fifth with a fine powder; the Active Mix is ideal for this because it cushions the lead.
3 - Next, insert the lead and begin to fill with pellets ensuring the rig is away from the leader material as you do so.
4 - Once the bag is all but full, leave around an inch or two of PVA without any filling and twist. Wrap it with PVA tape.
5 - Tie an overhand knot in the tape to secure and with a pair of scissors begin to trim all the excess PVA away.
6 - A simple yet concentrated tactic which can not only be cast anywhere but can often save a blank!
With a distinctive sweet aroma and superb pastel colouring these are my go-to hook baits when the weather turns cold.
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