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Flavouring Carp Baits

Canadian Carp ClubI am writing this post in reply to a question from a friend of mine Mike Leung. Mike is one of the best Canadian Carpers I know. What I like about Mike is that he thinks “CANADIAN CARP” rather than being a slave to the wealth of European based carp folklore which in my opinion detracts from catching rather than helps in many instances. What is correct in the UK is often the kiss of death out here.

Mikes question;

Last year we were talking about flavouring particles and you recommended using sweeteners. I'd like to try adding it to some of my particles like chick peas and maize to see if my catch rates improve with the flavours I have. I've tried flavouring particles for years and TBH, I haven't found any noticeable difference in my catch rates for the baits I've made myself. The Demon Baits jumbo corn on the other hand has worked amazingly well everywhere I've fished compared to other jumbo corn I've tried prepared by myself and others. Is there a sweetener you can recommend?

Firstly let me be clear: I am in NO WAY a bait expert. What I do have is the good fortune to be carp fishing either personally or via my customers every single day for 6 months of the year. Often I have up to 30 guys out at a time and this gives us the opportunity to pool information and test things very quickly and extensively. So like all my other posts on this forum my answer is based on experience and results rather than science and/or theories.

I have absolutely no doubt that flavouring particles does make a difference, although I rarely bother, as “normally” we do not need to. If I am fishing personally for a “serious” session or competitively I will flavour my particles. As Mike may remember at the CAG tournament in 2008 I fed Cherry flavoured corn and won my section comfortably. I also gave Mike a bucket of my corn when he run low and Mike (I believe) came second in his section from a poor swim (beating me and coming second in the tournament as a whole).

Mikes comment on the Demon Baits Giant corn is also very indicative. I used to ship loads of this to the Toronto area and was inundated with calls telling me how great it was. Last year another company in the area did a similar bait (flavoured Giant Corn) it looks and smells the same but does not work anywhere near as well as the original. Probably this is due as Mike has surmised because of the sweetener.

Flavouring a bait is not the solution, “correctly” flavouring the bait is !! A Simple proof is; I am guessing that virtually every angler out here has noticed that the older and therefore the more stinky the maize gets the better it works. Actually this is part scent and part the extra amino acids AND SUGARS being released as part of the fermentation process All my fishing friends will know that the first thing I do when they show me a new bait is bite a bit off and chew it. You will be surprised how bitter many home made or non branded baits are.

Re adding flavours: To keep it simple there are basically three types of flavourings commonly used in carp baits. Ready mixed carp flavours: like boilie dips or Squirts but also such commonly used flavours as Kool-Aid, Cola Slush puppy mix etc. Food flavourings /specialist carp additives. And what I call whole natural flavours ( as opposed to concentrated artificial flavours)

The ready mixed flavours contain sweeteners already. Boilie dips and squirts work very well and can be easily used to coat particles. They work well and are a fairly instant fix. The same can be done with the naturals, like liquid Molasses, Cod liver Oil etc as these are not concentrated they tend to be either sweet or savoury enough.

The liquid mixes can be used as a soak for particles i.e added while the corn/maize is dry and either boiled in it or left for a minimum of three days to get fully absorbed. Personally I do not use these but can see that they would probably work well and know that the Pay Lakers use them a lot in pack baits.

The problem comes with the concentrated flavours, be it health food/supermarket cooking type flavours or dedicated carp concentrated ones. Most of these are in fact bitter to the taste as they are largely Acetic Acid based. When combined with a sweetener they become the flavour advertised on the bottle. I am no cook but sugar of some sort is always part of any cake type recipe.

You can of course use any kind of soluble sweetener. Sugar, Honey, Molasses, or the artificial low calorie type stuff. These all help BUT NOTHING WORKS LIKE THE PROPER CONCENTRATED SWEETENERS FROM THE CARP COMPANIES. I have no idea why but it is a fact. I use the Mainline concentrated sweetener, and it is so strong you need very little, typically in a mix to flavour one bucket of corn I will be using about 3 to 4 ml. The problem is different flavours require different amounts of sweetener so there is no fixed rule. However in general you need less than you may think. The Mainline stuff is very strong. Just dip your finger in the water and taste it !

A tip when flavouring the particles is to flavour the water first and taste it then add the particles and bring to the boil or leave to soak. Personally I soak and not boil my baits. I know that in theory boiled baits should be better, and I used to do this but now find that “properly” soaked baits (at least 5 to 6 days depending on the temperatures) give me the best balance between catching fish and staying on the hair for repeat catches without re baiting i.e the soaked corn remains harder than the softer boiled corn. Of course we should always be aware that unsoaked or not fully soaked corn can be dangerous to the carp so at least 3 days !!

Here are some great articles to get you started!

Casting   |   Feeding   |   Fish Location   |   Fishing the Method

Fishing With Corn   |   Flavouring Baits   |   Float Fishing for Carp

Float News   |   Getting an Edge   |   Hook Baits

Quiver Tipping for Carp   |   Spodding   |   Marker Floats and Feature Finding