These include baits such as hempseed, tares, groats, dari seed and buckwheat. There are plenty more besides but I have only got a limited amount of space so I’ll stick to those I consider to be the best. All the baits in this category are generally regarded as being too small to be used as individual hookbaits, so they are used primarily to create an attractive feeding area over which you can present an alterative, larger bait. I have heard this described as 'the cherry on top of the cake', an excellent simile.
As far as preparation is concerned, all seeds should be soaked and boiled as this ensures that they are more digestible and will not germinate. Cooking also releases the inherent natural oils, which increases overall attraction considerably.
If l had to choose just one seed bait I would go for Haith’s Red Band Pigeon Conditioner every time (though hempseed or oat groats would come a very close second). Red Band is a superb attractor that will hold fish in your swim for a very long time. Prepare it by pouring boiling water over the required amount and then allowing the bait to steep for 24 hours. Then transfer the bait to a saucepan (or pans!), bring the liquid to the boil and then simmer for at least 25 minutes, adding more boiling water if necessary. This simmering process is absolutely vital if you want to get the best out of Red Band. It also allows the aniseed oil that is part of the recipe to penetrate deep into the heart of each and every seed, pulse and grain. (Red Band is a VERY complex blend I should add!)
Groats are much easier to prepare. All you need do is soak them overnight in flavoured and sweetener water and they are ready to use. They swell considerably as they take on water and after a further 24 hours in soak they start to exude a lovely sweet-smelling milky liquid that infuses the lake water with a powerful attraction. Because they are so easy to prepare, groats are often the first choice of anglers traveling abroad for an extended session as they can be made up at the water’s edge without the need for boiling.
There are a great many types of this type of bait, but the most popular are peas and beans. The best of the bunch are maple peas, chickpeas, and black-eyed beans but virtually any pea or and bean will make a good bait. Pulses come and come in a variety of shapes and sizes and there are dozens of alternatives available. All are prepared in basically the same way with a 24-hour soak followed by a 15-minute boil in the water they have been soaking in. You can boost attraction by adding flavours, sweeteners, salt and other liquid additives, including liquid foods like Nutramino. For instance, with maple peas I like to add sugar (rather than an artificial sweetener) and 10ml/kilo John Baker’s excellent Maple flavour. The additives should be poured into the water in which the pulses are going to be soaked. Soak maples for 24 hours then boil for ten to fifteen minutes. Take care not to overcook the bait as it can soften very quickly. Drain off the water and leave the maples to stand for three days, and then use a.s.a.p. This is when they are at their best.
Chickpeas are a much-underrated bait, as carp simply adore them. They take on flavour and colour well so the permutations are virtually endless as far as giving them you own unique properties are concerned. That said I have found that un-coloured heavily sweetened chickpeas work very well. Again I use sugar rather than a sweetener and I like to use plenty of it; about 250g of sugar to every kilo of chickpeas. Dissolve the sugar in boiling water, stir to ensure it is completely dissolved, and then add the chickpeas. Allow them to stand for 12-24 hours then finish them off with a 10-15 minute boil. Test from time to time to make sure they are not becoming too soft.
Black-eyed beans were one of Hutchy’s all-time favourite (may still be for that matter) and his favourite recipe is to cook them in tomato soup. Personally I prefer to flavour black-eyed beans with a touch of salt and a good dose of liquid food. Black-eyed beans are another pulse that soaks up flavours and additives so products such as Multimino-PPC and Nutramino are ideal. The salt enhances the savoury taste of the liquid foods. Bovril or Marmite is also very effective savoury flavourings for black-eyed beans, and many other pulses.
Nuts are very effective carp baits, the most popular being peanuts, tiger nuts, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts. In the past few years, the use of nuts, especially peanuts, has been a very controversial subject, so much so that many fisheries now have a complete nut ban. The problem is that peanuts have an adverse effect on the fish’s liver and have caused fatalities, hence the ban. Tiger nuts too have received some bad press, with some justification. Used to excess tigers and peanuts definitely cause health problems for carp and in extreme cases they can even lead to mortalities. However, if they are used and prepared correctly they cause no harm and make tremendously effective carp baits.
All nuts contain highly attractive oils but in order to ensure these are released when in use the nuts should first be soaked for 24 hours and then boiled for between 15-30 minutes. (I must emphasize that if you want use nuts as bait they must be prepared correctly.)
Incidentally, you can buy a tiger nut juice or milk direct from delis and health food shops. It is called Miam and it is a health drink from Spain.
By this I mean baits that you can purchase in your local supermarket and fish straight off without preparation. Here are some prime examples:
• Sweetcorn - still a devastating bait. Even when fishing on waters that have seen it all, this can still score in certain situations like stalking, for instance.
• Tinned Meat, Pepperami, Meatballs – firm favorites that have accounted for literally thousands of carp aver the years.
• Trout Pellets - O.K., not in your average supermarket but still easy to obtain and an excellent and attractive bait.
• Tinned Beans and Peas - there are several different types of beans and peas in tins on our supermarket shelves and they’re all ready for use. There’s kidney beans, chickpeas and haricot beans, to name but a few, but remember, only the tinned ones are suitable to use without further preparation; any dried beans or peas need soaking and cooking, as previously explained.
• Pet foods - Frolic dog biscuits or similar are among the best carp baits going. I don’t know of a lake or river anywhere that will not produce fish on Frolic. Some dry biscuits like Chum Mixer are excellent floating baits.
• Small sections of fish and other seafood - it’s amazing what fish will feed on if there’s a steady supply of it going into the water. Carp often eat small fry and there are even reports of captures on live and deadbaits fished for perch and pike. Other seafood that will catch carp includes, mussels, cockles, and small strips of squid, shrimps and prawns. • Raw meat – Try tiny sections of steak as bait. You may be astonished! I first witnessed carp eating meat in France in 1989 when I saw an old chap float fishing for them using raw fillet steak. Another meat that is very effective is liver.
Red Band Pigeon Conditioner, an aniseed-flavoured micro seed blend that is without doubt the best all round carpet bait going.
Oat groats need the minimum of preparation.
Maize in all its forms is superb. However, popcorn maize is much more effective than ordinary maize as it creates preoccupied feeding in carp.
Red maize is another excellent alternative to ordinary maize.
Black-eyed beans are prepared in the same way as maples.
Fresh tiger nuts are one of the best carp baits (YES! I did say fresh!).
Sweetcorn is very effective as a bait for carp. Try dying half the tin a red colour using a food dye.
I have lost count of the number of carp I have caught by fishing over a bait carpet of Red Band or other micro seed blends and mass baits.
A river common caught on a boilie fished over a carpet of Red Band and groats.