In this article I am going to specifically concentrate on carp baits, as they are the main species I fish for.
However with many large barbel, tench, bream and chub falling to boilies, pellets and other high nutritional baits, there is no reason why my theories cannot be used for other species.
The question is simple, with a plethora of quality pre rolled carp bait to choose from, why take the time and trouble to make your own?
It’s so easy isn’t it? Pop down your local tackle emporium, pick up a few kilos of whatever carp bait you fancy and head off to your favourite water carrying your bag with confidence. It’s something I’ve done for many years but rolling my own carp bait is something I’ve always wanted to try and now that I am, I’m very happy I did and here’s why.
Tailoring each batch
Like many anglers, I fish a range of waters. These include:
- Large rivers, in my case the Mayenne in North West France
- Large public lakes over 50 acres
- Heavily silted estate lakes full of crayfish
- English style estate lakes such as my own 4 acre fishing lake here in France
Each water has its unique challenges and needs to be approached as such. Having the ability to customise your carp bait to suit each venue is a bonus.
Let’s look at the challenges each type of venue presents from a bait stand point:
All rivers contain species other than carp. Here in France I find that bream can be a real headache. To combat them I want large baits that can withstand being picked up a few times but are too large to be eaten. My choice is 2 x 22mm bottom baits, real hard core French river pros like Tony Davies-Patrick use 2 x 30mm donkey chokers!. The river flow itself has to be contended with and too much current will see standard round baits rolling off downstream! To avoid that, why not make the baits square! Pre-baiting is an important aspect of river fishing, so I don’t want the bait too strong as I want the fish to find it, like it and want to come back for more.
Large public lakes:
Around my area, there are a number of large lakes that contain good sized carp. Unfortunately night fishing is mostly banned as is the use of any form of boat. Again I use large 22mm diameter carp bait as they are easier to stick out at range. On this type of venue my aim is to find some fish and fish for them. I travel quite light and will move a number of times to get on them. Bait wise, I’m looking for something more instant so that I can nick a few fish quickly. If I end up spending a lot of time on the water and move over to pre-baiting tactics I can always drop the attractor level without changing the bait.
Old, silty estate lakes:
There, crayfish can be a problem on many venues. One in particular that I’ve fished has what can only be described as an infestation! But with carp to 20kg they have to be tolerated. In this case bait hardness is key. Soft baits will draw the crayfish in and get them munching on the spot which in turn attracts the carp but without any hard baits there will be nothing left for the carp to eat so fishing a mix of hardness keeps everyone happy. Air drying bait takes time and space. I use air dry trays for this as I’ve found that anything more than 2kg in a large air dry sack doesn’t allow sufficient air circulation for the baits to harden properly and they will turn in a week!
English estate type lakes:
With no nuisance species to contend with, bait hardness is less of an issue. For me 24 – 48hrs of air dry time is perfect. Once they are done, I freeze them to hold them in this state until I am ready to fish. Attractor wise, less is more. I want the bait to be great in the long term and for the fish to enjoy eating it time and time again. The base mix is an all season variety containing, milk protein, bird food, liver and fish meals which means that I don’t need to change the bait during the year.
As you can see, making your own boilies enables you to tailor them exactly to meet the needs of different waters. Some folk change base mixes completely, but for me choosing one mix that covers my range of needs but that can be tweaked a bit is the way forward. Confidence is everything with bait and you only build confidence by catching!
Having total control over the quality of the bait that you make yourself is a good thing. You may actually compromise bait roundness as it’s difficult to produce baits as round as that of a machine by hand but what you get is a carp bait with the hardness you require and is as fresh as can be.
Many anglers that don’t roll their own bait want to do so to save money. Whether or not you can make a saving depends on the mix that you choose and how you account for your time. You’ll need to buy some gear as well and scrimping on equipment will very quickly discourage you from making bait! You’ll be hard pushed to set yourself up for less than £300.
If you’re good with your hands then you can make some of the kit yourself but boilie guns, compressors, rolling tables and gas burners you’ll have to acquire. Your own time is not free and can’t be taken out of the equation. I’ve done the maths myself and before you embark on making your own bait so should you. I think you’ll be shocked at what it actually costs to make your own bait and for me it was not the major driving factor behind the decision!
You can’t beat the buzz that you get when you catch on bait that you’ve rolled yourself. If you love carp fishing and you don’t make your own bait then you’re missing out on a great piece of the carp catching jigsaw. Once you’re confident with using ready mixed base mixes and liquids, to get an even bigger buzz you can start to tweak ingredients and even design your own bait. You can take it as far as you like and make it as complicated as you like too! Personally I love to keep things simple and can highly recommend using base mixes and liquids from the Nutrabaits stable.
I’ve been fishing with my own baits now since the beginning of the year. This March was the first time out for me with my home rolled baits.
After pre-baiting for a week at my lake in France with 5kg of 22mm baits I got a new PB of 48lbs 4 oz and followed that with a 43lb mirror to give me my first ever brace of 40’s.
The hook baits were 22mm dumbbells that were air dried for longer and boosted by adding a few drops of liquid every few days.
I’ve also achieved my goal of catching a river carp and again after pre-baiting with 3kg, took a 24lb 12oz mirror carp from the Mayenne which is an excellent result from the sector I was fishing in. Again the hook bait was boosted for adding attraction.
I’m very glad I made the change and if it’s something that interests you then my advice would be to do your homework and go for it!