I always take a variety of change bait with me because you never know what it is they’re havin’ do you?
Some baits are better than others but contrary to what some anglers believe; there is no magic, best or wonder bait – only different. I think this is because fish need variety in their diet just like us!
A change bait can sometimes make all the difference.
Obviously I have access to plenty of bait so tend to take a variety in a large holdall.
My general setup consists of two rods (float and feeder), swapping and changing hookbaits using matching/complimentary feed. Most of the time we’re testing baits on a number of different venues throughout the year so we sometimes need to persevere a bit until we find the fish. Finding the fish and water craft certainly plays a big part before confidence is gained.
I always have a target species in mind, our planning usually dictates what and where we fish; river, lake and season. Even though I take loads, they seldom get fed more than necessary. I still feed little and often most of the time (preferring natural and real-food baits), less for winter carp on commercials and more on rivers for chub, barbel, grayling.
Change bait and feed your own shoal
Tempting as it is, I wouldn’t now do what I used to when I was younger by copying a mate immediately if he caught first. Unless he consistently caught over time on a particular quality bait throughout the day, you’re probably as well just sticking to whatever you have the most confidence in. I’m convinced that a shoal will feed on one item and another shoal may choose to feed on something completely different. Having tried it I know it rarely works out using the same bait as everyone else, you’re as well concentrating on your own shoal instead of trying to tempt your neighbour’s fish that are already feeding.
The only possible exception that I can think of is, if you’re in the same peg sat next to your mate using the exact same presentation, targeting the same shoal… who but a bait tester does that anyway?
An example (as confirmed in Angling times) when testing Aqua-SPAWN against white maggot (maggot being the favoured bait at the time for winter carp on our match lake) catching three times as many fish with SPAWN out of the same (12″ apart) margin peg.
If you think about it, a shoal fish sticks with its mates just cruising around all day for something to eat. Apart from breeding that’s all they do. Being in the same shoal means they will all encounter anglers baits wherever they happen to be and once found there is no reason why (unless intimidated by bigger fish) they should leave the area until they have had their fill. The better bait will attract fish more than a poor one so the chances are that if your bait is more attractive, then they will take yours in preference to another anglers offering. It’s not an exact science and they’re are many more variable to consider, neither do I doubt that if a fish happens across a poor bait first that it wont eat it, indeed it will, but the better bait generally is the one that stands out and keeps them feeding.
Which begs the question… what is a good/better bait and how do we make it stand out?
A better bait I would class as one made with real food ingredients, preferably highly soluble and not boiled hard and denatured, or a natural bait with natural levels of flavour. There is no best or wonder bait, only better. That is, better nutritionally speaking and better on the day!
Fish are attracted to amino acids so it makes sense that we should exploit that trait rather than ignore it. It could make all the difference between letting your mate catch all the fish and blanking. A lot of carp anglers use a high quality bait made with lots of expensive ingredients, they also use variety in the form of a spod mix full of prepared particles. Chub anglers use cheese paste, bread and mash and barbel anglers use hemp and caster or halibut pellets and paste. A lot of anglers realise that fish have preferences and indeed they do but its not unknown to catch anything but your intended target species sometimes and again; I think this comes down to the need for variety rather than a standard ‘generally preferred’ bait item. Amino acids are responsible for smell so obviously the smellier your bait is the better but it doesn’t have to be overpowering, in fact if we can smell it and think its strong its probably too strong for the fish who have senses many thousands of times greater than humans. Rank cheese and butyric acid (butanoic acid, the smell of rancid butter) is one of the few exceptions to a pungent bait’s performance provided it has natural levels of inclusion.
Anyone who has ever fished using one bait and one bait only all day/night will know that sooner or later the bites start to tail off… rather than persist your probably better off trying a change bait? A change bait will mean that instead of waiting for your shoal to return you invariably get to keep them feeding longer by offering them variety… little and often, just enough so as not to fill them up.
Ever tried to fish a venue with just maggot on a Monday after a weekend match? A change bait from the usual will often get them feeding.
A fish feeding confidently in a shoal on a variety of nutritious bait is the secret to catching more for longer.
~ Chris Wilson