Now is the time to begin your preparations and get more from your single hook baits, to make this your best winter ever!
There is no doubt about it, after those first couple of big freeze-ups, the carp’s activity dramatically slows down to the point where getting multiple bites is often well off the cards. Instead, attempting to nick bites here and there with high attract, minimal feed methods can be the only way of generating success when the conditions are close to freezing.
The ‘single’ hook bait approach is often referred to by many anglers at this time of year, right through until the spring months when the fish start moving much more during daylight hours. Straight from the pot, single hook baits can be effective, but with a little extra thought and consideration, they can be made that little more special, often resulting in putting more fish on the bank in the cold.
But why are single hook baits so effective at this time of year? Well, put simply, the fishes’ feeding activity slows right down and their need to gain energy through eating bait is very minimal. They will often go weeks without the need to eat anything, often just lying up in the warmest area of the lake where they feel comfortable. Single hook baits are often enough to lure a bite, especially when cast to areas where the carp are held up; the attractive stimulants and vivid colours can be a trigger in even the coldest temperatures.
Tailoring these hook baits to ensure they are as potent as possible will no doubt lead to a greater leakage of attractors and feeding stimulants into the water column, which is vital when the carp’s senses and vision are at their least effective when the temperatures decline.
Turbocharging your bright hook baits can certainly help keep those bobbins rocking throughout winter, but what benefits do these have over your standard, straight-out-of-the-pot pop-up. Well, once you have knocked up a pot of these power-packed gems, you will see why.
Prepping the hook baits with higher levels of liquid additive and a dusting of concentrated powdered stimulant will turn your seemingly ‘normal’ hook baits into crusted, potent, fruity wonders in a matter of just a few days. In the water, these additives that have been added work from the moment they are introduced, creating a halo of attraction and pH stimulants within the water that the fish can detect, spurring them into a feeding mode.
Creating these wonder baits is simple and requires a few squirts of the matching booster spray, just enough to give them a light, shiny glaze. This can be followed a day or so later with a heaped teaspoon of powdered additive – the really strong, nose-biting ones are best, such as Lactose Concentrate, Fructose and Fruit Zest.
These powders are transformational and when locked into that hook bait by wrapping them in fine-weave tights, they allow for a steady release of attractors in the close vicinity of that bright hook bait.
The most commonly used size when it comes to single hook bait fishing is without a doubt 15mm; so why not be a little different this winter when trying to trip up those nomadic carp? Alternating the size will often generate that curiosity factor and it has been known for fish to be caught on big, bright, high-attract hook baits in the depths of winter.
Having a pin-point sharp hook is even more important in the colder months, especially as the carp are moving much slower when approaching the bait than compared to the summer months, where they may be competing for food items. Having an ultra-sharp hook ensures that any pick-ups that do occur at a time when the fish are feeding in a finicky way will be converted to takes.
It is often said that overbalancing a hook bait can work against you and this can be true, certainly when fishing over lots of small bait items or into light strands of weed. In the winter though, having that bait critically balanced will only help send that hook bait back when a fish sucks with minimal effort. As they are moving slowly when approaching the single, having it balanced on an effective rig will only swing the odds in your favour.
If you do want to use a smaller hook bait in the winter, simply take a larger pop-up and whittle it down to the required size. This will enhance the leakage properties of the bait ten fold as there will no longer be a skin to seal those attractors within.
Chopping and changing has always been an effective tactic in summer or winter, in the hope of singling out the desired colour they want on that specific day. Something that is often ignored when carrying out this method is switching between tones of colour; on some days, lighter shades or colours will outfish the really vivid tones, so don’t be afraid to fish bright colours against subtle tones in the winter.
Once cracked, single hook-bait fishing can be both rewarding and enjoyable, but still remember to pay close attention to the factors that will inevitably make bites materialise. Location is paramount in the winter, so aim to get this right first before chucking those irresistible bright ones at ’em!