Amino acids lie at the heart of any attraction package. Nothing is as natural, as freely occurring nor as attractive to carp. They are the building blocks of all life on earth and carp and other cyprinids are attracted to them by an instinctive process that resides within their DNA. They don't have to think about it: if a signal attracts their attention they will investigate it to assess its food value…or lack of it.
Just as we may automatically be drawn to the powerful aroma of frying fish and chips, so carp are similarly attracted by amino acids (poor analogy but it's the best I can come up with). We have looked at attraction before in this series of blogs but it is well worth re-visiting as the subject is of prime importance when formulating an effective bait.
Adding amino acids to a bait is nothing new and as far back as the mid-70s a lively debate has been ongoing. However, you only need look at the growing number of amino-based products on the market to see that this is no fad, that AAs truly do attract and attract very well!
Early offerings were thinly disguised carp fishing versions of existing products from the health industry or animal nutrition industry, and indeed, such products still play a valid part in carp baits. However, many are not really all that great and some are little more than sugary drinks in a bottle with an enticing label on them. The fact is, these liquid and powdered products cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to develop and for the moment the fishing industry is not ready to fund such R & D. So, in the meantime we fall back on the effective materials emanating from the human nutrition/health food industry as well as from the farming and pet food industries.
You'd be surprised at just how many liquids and powders we use have come directly from the above industries but this should come as no surprise, after all, Chum Mixers, Frolic dog food and dear old Kit E Kat are all well known pet foods that have crossed the divide. Some of my best carp have been caught on Mixers and I have lost count of the number I have caught on Frolic!
Nowadays the term 'liquid food' is commonly used to describe bait additives that can improve carp baits. This started way back when Minamino and PPC were first being whispered about by those 'in the know'. While we were all taken in by the seemingly magic ingredients shown on the label, today there are better liquids around in my opinion. That said, there are enough free form amino acids in both to make them useful liquids in which to glug hookbaits.
As the number of bait companies increased so too did the number of so-called 'dedicated' liquid foods. Trigga Liquid was just one such product and nowadays virtually every bait company has at least one such ingredient on its product list, witness The Key Liquid, Shellfish B5 Liquid and the like. All of these rely on a rich soup of attraction designed to compliment that of the relevant base mix.
In the mid-to late-90s alternative liquid foods came onto the market though they had been around for many years. Initially these were known only to the lucky few but gradually the secrets leaked out. One such product was the much vaunted Corn Steep Liquor and this liquid food was popular thanks to it’s free amino acids, peptides and so on. Mind you, few anglers cared about the contents; all they needed to know was that it worked. In the case of CSL this was proved by the remarkably successful range from Mainline, The Grange CSL.
Our own Liquid Robin Red and its associated stable-mates attract in a different way to the amino-rich liquids mentioned so far. Rather than relying on amino acids, which are highly soluble and attract by smell, the Liquid Robins on the other hand have a less soluble content and they appeal initially to the carp's taste senses. It is therefore a good idea to include both types of liquids in your bait preparation. The Liquid Reds use a heady cocktail of natural herbs, spices and peppers, thus building on the success of the world-famous base mix ingredient Robin Red.
Herbs, spices, peppers and similar natural ingredients are used extensively in many brands of pet food and farm animal supplements and they have crossed over very successfully into the carp bait market. Whilst Robin Red has been around for over sixty years it was 'discovered' by carp anglers comparatively recently, initially (as far as I am aware) by Ian Booker and subsequently by the late Rod Hutchinson. It is surely one of the most widely used carp bait ingredients so it makes sense now to offer it in liquid form.
Here are just a few ways in which Liquid Robin Red can be used:
1. As a light glug for boilies
2. In with your base mix or groundbait
3. As a permanent glug for hookbaits
In fact there is now such a bewildering number of liquid foods available that it is difficult to know where to start. My advice would be to play the field until you come across a company whose products you can trust to do the business. I count my blessings that through Haith's Baits I stumbled upon a Dutch company called Feed Stimulants. Owner Luc and his firm tick all my boxes: top quality stuff that works!
Yeast in one form or another has been used in fishing baits for years. Kevin Maddocks wrote about it in Carp Fever, Hutchie did the same in his original Carp Book. George Sharman sang its praises in Carp & the Carp Angler, while way back in the mists of time Fred Wilton used it in his ground breaking concept High Nutritional Value baits. Trade names such as Philips Yeast Mixture (PYM) were in common parlance. So too were ingredients sourced from the home brewing industry such as Brewer's Yeast. In fact I still use Brewer's Yeast in particles and even use Marmite (yeast-based) as an ingredient and hookbait treatment.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that yeast products are as popular today as they have ever been, though modern varieties are perhaps a bit more sophisticated. The Enzyme Treated version sold by Feed Stimulants is an example. This strong-smelling yeast is almost paste-like in its consistency and it acts as a very potent feeding trigger and appetite stimulant. It is high in all the usual vitamins and minerals and is rich in protein and free amino acids. It is also water soluble so the attraction disperses freely into the water. This liquid yeast has been treated with enzymes, resulting in better digestibility, protein solubility and availability of amino acids. It is therefore a fantastic glug for your free offerings an as it creates a 'cloud' of attraction across the whole bait carpet.
I mentioned herbs and spices earlier and these can add still further to the attraction aspect of your baits. In fact it is worth raiding the missus's spice rack for a few of the great attractors to be found there. For instance, fenugreek (on the right in this photo) instance is used in the creation of maple flavours and we all know how good maple is. Rod's original Maple and Maple-Cream were two of the best flavours of the 80s and 90s, while today John Backer's Maple flavour is sublime.
Carp adore chilli in all its forms and chilli powder can be added to your base mix to increase taste and smell. Carp are not affected by Scoville Units so the heat of chillies is not a factor. Chilli flakes and dried chillies can be added to particles, seeds and cereals and Chilli Hempseed is one of the all-time greats.
And there is no need to restrict yourself to the kitchen. If, like me, you like a curry you will probably have at least a couple jars of pickles. A spoonful of any of these in a bucket of groats, Red Band or hemp seed will give the bait a real kick that carp will love…And for the cynics, no, I am not sponsored by neither Tesco or Pataks!
An oleoresin is the naturally occurring extract of a plant or spice. It is highly concentrated and when blended it exists in a liquid form. Some oleoresins have been in common use by the bait industry for some time, though not a lot of people know that. The oleoresin of paprika forms part of Trigga Ice Liquid for instance, and the oleoresin of fenugreek is often used by flavour houses looking to make natural of NI flavours.
I have used oleoresins a fair bit over the years both in my base mixes and as part of a glug or bait soak. It is also fantastic as a dressing for pellets, particles and, of course, Frolic dog biscuits. The witch's brew in my photo is SuperSoft Robin Red Pellets, Trigga Pellets and Frolic heavily glugged in the oleoresin of paprika. Looks proper evil don't it!
Some of the best additives as far as attraction is concerned are the carboxylic acids. These are metabolic products that exist widely in nature and as they have low pH values they form important investigation triggers that will cause carp to see if the message sent actually means food. The commonly used carboxylic acids as far as carp bait is concerned are butyric acid and caproic acid.
Another is citric acid, which is found in citrus fruits. It is a very powerful with a pH of 2.2. It makes any bait more acidic, which makes it stand out in water from the surroundings. It is widely used in the trade as an attractant and a natural short term preservative. It is highly concentrated so only a tiny amount - about half a gram per kilo - is needed to create the trigger. In fact the required dose is so small that most anglers will be unable to measure out such a tiny quantity so it may be as well to add it to a larger quantity of base mix. In other words add no more than three grams to five kilos of base mix.
Join me next time for part two of this glimpse into the wide and wonderful world of natural attraction.