Short Session Carp Fishing – Bait Choice

If you have read my previous articles, you will know that I have mentioned that when fishing short sessions my target is simple, net one carp.

Anything over and above this, I accept as a bonus. But to guarantee as best as I can my one fish, one thing I absolutely need, is confidence in the bait that I am introducing to my spots.

With new bait companies appearing left right and centre, how does one choose a bait to go with? There is no written right or wrong but from a personal point of view, I try to think about the following:

Buying the best I can afford from a reputable company.

Will this be readily available in the foreseeable future?

What are the different sized baits on offer?

Are there any accompaniments alongside the range?

How often and by what mean will I be applying the bait?

Over the past few months I have been using an ever faithful creamy, nutty, washed out looking ready-made boilie as my chosen hair rigged bait. To be honest, I would find it hard to move away from these due to the ongoing opening success this I’ve had this season and the fish I’ve had on them.

My carping generally revolves around the attitude of “Keeping It Simple”, so sticking to bait that I’ve found works with my chosen waters will be the way I go. Chopping and changing in my eyes is not going to do you any favours in the long run.

Although a subtle change, when times are tough, may buy you the winning ticket on occasion, over the season if you are trying to build the foundations to grow onto something more solid, I firmly believe sticking with your chosen bait.

Bait Options:

So what sized baits do I use? I tend to opt for anything from 12mm right up to 18mm but at this moment in time I am hooked on 12mm hair rigged baits. Honestly I cannot tell you why other than being down to a confidence thing, having fish on them and not changing. Why change something when it clearly isn’t broke?

With the 12mm’s I also incorporate 15mm as freebies around the hookbait, plus some half baits and crumbled. I am also partial to dumbbell shaped baits. These are a little bit different from the traditional round boilie and just give that extra edge and something different to think about when choosing your bait for a series of short sessions.

This season I am planning to use accompanying pop-ups in my fishing. In the past, I’ve never really had confidence in using pop-ups or even singles for that matter, but recently I have found that my chosen bait also offer matching pop-ups, which straight away gave me the confidence. If you find a bait that is consistent and is working for you, having a small tub of popped up versions just gives you another option. What i would say is don’t use pop-up baits just for the sake of it, if you are catching on the bottom, leave your baits there. Popped up baits can induce a take but they can also make the fish very wary as having a piece of foos 2 inches off the bottom, isn’t natural. But if the going is tough, they are always worth a try on one of your rods, especially on silted venues.

The club water I have recently joined is one such weedier venue, in which I think using the pop-ups in solid bags will work. Chod rigs will also be a benefit and allow me to incorporate the pop-ups into my fishing as desired, rather than just for the sake of it. Being able to bait up with the matching ready made baits will definitely help get the carp used to the flavour.

There are so many pop-ups on the market nowadays and you really can get carried away and end up with pot after pot and never using any. So I aim to buy something that offers a variety of colours and sizes in one or two pots and stick with that, as it should cover me for all eventualities. I’m looking forward to giving these a try over the coming months and again, most importantly, will have confidence in what I try from the start.

PVA Bags:

Again there is no written rule on how and what you fish with, and I must admit I have tried all sorts of variants when runs are few and far between. Predominately I am a Boilie and pva bag type of angler, which I feel offers me the best opportunity of slipping a fish over the net cord on a short session.

With these grab and go parcels in your desired locations, I have found that runs usually come in a short space of time as there is no bed of bait for the carp to get too involved in.

Just your hookbait and the contents of your PVA bag meaning it only takes a passing or returning fish to hoover it up and you’re away.
Martyn Davies pva
As mentioned I swear by PVA and there’s probably not a single time when I’m fishing that in some shape or form a PVA bag hasn’t gone out attached to my rig. PVA is so versatile and has so many benefits in regards to your short session fishing.

1. It masks your hookbait when it has melted on the lake bed so if greedy Mr Carp hoovers the lot you can guarantee your hookbait will be in the middle of it all

2. It offers great anti-tangle properties in regards to your rigs as the last thing you want to do is reel in on a few hours session and find that your rig is tangled.

3. It gives great added attraction to the direct area of your hookbait with your chosen contents

4. Most PVA can be glugged or goo’d nowadays giving endless possibilities!

I could go on and on but you can clearly see that when you are limited to short sessions on the bank, using something as simple as a bag on your hookbait is a no brainer for quick results.

PVA is also so cheap nowadays and I most definitely recommend spending £10 on a funnel web system and a pack of solid bags. I use the ESP solid bags and webbed funnel PVA system and compared to others on the market I find the quality second to none and very very reasonably priced!

So with all the accompanying glugs, dips, goo’s and whatever else on the market nowadays, casting out a bag with some sort of attractant, definitely works for me. Boosting your baits is a good way of releasing all sorts of signals through the water columns to bring fish down from all levels and again, gives you a little edge over standard bags.

Baiting Up:

Being lucky enough to live just 10 minutes away from my local estate lake, I keep my areas topped up with bait when I’m not fishing in “a little but often” routine. I have constantly trickled in bait from day 1 and these areas are firstly key fish holding areas but also areas that become good in certain weather conditions. It’s always good to have more than a couple of swims covered as angling pressure and a change in wind direction, may make your usual “banker” swim unavailable or out of sorts.

Keeping the bait going in regularly when I’m not sat behind my rods, allows the carp to get a confidence boosting free meal, and a taste for the bait without going over the top. Around 100-200 baits which in hindsight is nothing really, considering they are spread out over 2/3 visits a week. I use a range of different sizes in my chosen areas, which again I feel doesn’t give the carp the ability to always distinguish between a freebie and a hook bait. If they are already picking up a variety of baits in different sizes and weight, of the same flavour, why would they react any different to a hookbait?

This baiting tactic has helped me achieve my one fish per session but over the past few weeks I have started to consider putting a larger bed of bait a couple of times a week, to really try and start to create a feeding spot that they will want to get their heads down on. For this I’m going to try regular baiting with a spod mix.

Most people only use a spod when in session for obvious reasons but if I can get some mix out a couple of times during the week, when I spod on my session, the carp will not only be less wary but will have been used to cashing in on my free grub, so it will hopefully draw them in.

Something I may well follow up on in a future article.
Martin Davies fishy
I hope this gives you a brief insight to what I think about when looking at choosing a bait for the new season and how I use it in a short sessions approach. This is merely some of the things I think about and I hope it gives you a few tips if not pointers in choosing your next bait. As always please feel free to include comments below and catch up with my previous articles, as I like to here your input.

Until next time


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Martyn Davies

A born again carper after a 8 year DJ'ing gap away from the scene. My PB is 24lb 8oz
About Martyn Davies 3 Articles
A born again carper after a 8 year DJ'ing gap away from the scene. My PB is 24lb 8oz

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