Well what a turn for the worse the weather has taken! Wow, I thought last year was bad, but I haven’t so much as wet a line for about 6-7 weeks now! And winter is by far my most favorite time to fish too…..well, what to do instead?
You could of course take up an other sport, watch endless videos or fishing documentaries or just spend week after week tidying through all your kit!
Needless to say I’ve done all the above except take up another sport! My main project for the colder, un-fishable periods though, is to get my teeth into some ‘proper‘ bait making. This entails lots of ingredients and the likely hood of a few domestics between myself and the beloved over kitchen utensils and honking bait ingredients!
If your a lucky bloke like me, then it’s not too much aggro to get the kitchen free time when the wife’s doing other things…..she has been know on a few occasions to even help me with the bait making! Much to her disdain!
Anyway, I digress…..this article is just a little tempter to get you started in small scale bait formulation. I’ve written a few bits and pieces before about how I would go about producing a bait using ready formulated base mixes, but never one about actual base mix formulation.
So where do we start? Easy really, the key ingredients, what they are used for and why? The first thing we need to look at is our water we intend to use this new bait on…..What kind of venue is it?
Large understocked gravel pit, small estate lake, river, target fish size, nuisance species, weed, water clarity, fish stock density, etc etc.
As you will know from my previous articles on here, I fish relatively low stocked waters throughout the season and have a back up runs water in tow for when things get a bit disheartening and i need a confidence booster!
My baits need to be able to withstand a whole seasons use, therefor it’s no good having a quick reaction bait that has no longevity to it. I need the fish to eat the bait and get something nutritious from it that will keep them coming back for more. If your on a water with a big head of fairly un-cute fish or your limited to very short periods of fishing time, then a quick acting bait is going to be the best option for you.
So what separates these baits from each other? The base mix ingredients do…..It’s absolutely no use introducing 10 kg of cheaply made rubbish bait into a very low stocked, nutrient rich water.
The fish will eat a little and realize quickly that this stuff is of no real advantage to their health. On the flip side….a water full of very hungry carp aren’t going to have a chance to examine their food or even decide whats really that good for them. It’s all about competition in this kind of venue.
How do we choose what ingredients to apply to the base mix then? My first bait formulations of the late 80’s/early 90’s were made from very low grade food products as these were pretty much all that was available at the time.
The bait scene was a hush hush place that very few discussed openly. Of course there were no bait companies selling bulk ingredients, no internet and very few books that gave much away to Mr average.
Therefore it became my operative to try and gain a leg up the angling ladder and try some ‘new’ ingredients out. These were purchased from health food shops, supermarkets and even out of my parents garden!
For most of the time, the bait was what we would now class as ‘crap’ bait, in that it held absolutely no real nutritional advantages to the fish, so it didn’t last long on a water before it ‘blew‘. This is a word that’s not used so much these days and I think it’s all down to the high quality ingredients that we all now use in our baits.
So why make your own when there are countless companies selling ready made baits that catch ‘whackers’ every day of the week, up and down the whole of the UK? Well, that’s again a simple question to answer…..Individuality and the obvious buzz attained from catching a carp on a bait that you yourself have formulated. Even now some twenty five years since I made my very first boilie, I still get the same buzz from catching a fish on my own bait as I did back then!
Now, where to start…..well we need food value. This can come in a format of Fishmeals, Birdfoods, Milk Proteins or even a combination of each. There are absolutely dozens to choose from but I’ll list my favorites here and why. First off is Fishmeal. My only choice here is for Norwegian LT-94 Fishmeal. A fishmeal produced from chilled raw fish and treated at low temperatures to maintain it’s nutritional values and amino profile.
These are drastically reduced when dried at much higher temperatures as is the case with lower quality cheaper meals.
Because of the low oil content, around 10% and the high protein content (70%) of which over 90% is soluble….makes for a good all year round base mix ingredient. It is a lovely light brown colour that binds nicely with other ingredients. I would tend to use LT-94 at around 40% max of the overall ingredients included.
Next up is Birdfoods….again a huge array to choose from with some that clearly surpass others in the catch ratings! The most widely documented being Robin Red. A very rich, red food containing crushed seeds, oils, sugars and peppers which fish seem to find irresistible.
Others include EMP, Insectivorus, Sluis CLO etc. These feeds are very soluble and work well when combined with milk proteins to make a reasonably good food source.
Milk proteins have been used in the bait industry from day one and make up around 80-90% of most base mixes available to purchase today. The reason for their usage is down to the fact that they provide exceptionally high protein, they are soluble and of course bind well too.
My favorites are the Caseins. Rennet Casein and Acid Casein both in 90 mesh. These are both very high protein milk powders that bind well and add very good amino profile to the baits. The mesh is usually either 90 or 30. 30 being the more coarse grade of the two.
Other ingredients you can add to your base mix include: (exhaustive list!) Krill meal, Ground Peanut Meal, Vanilla Meal, Blood Meal, Lamlac powder, Calcium Caseinate, Limestone Flour etc etc.
My other choices for using to bulk up the ingredients for keeping the costs down a little include that of Soya Flour, Ground Semolina and White ground Maize meal. These all have a good binding character and will also add some small levels of food value to a bait.
Right, we’ve discussed some of the ingredients added to the base mix, so lets put the mix together and discuss the way it’s formulated.
We need to obviously choose the ingredients to suit as above and it’s a little bit hit and miss finding out what will blend and roll nicely.
I’ll leave that to you guys to experiment with! My first choice though is to make the base a combination of fishmeal and milk proteins. I would include around 15oz per kg of LT-94, a 50/50 combination of Acid and Rennet Casein at a level of 10 oz per kg.
Now a few binders to help the rolling. 5oz soya flour and 4 oz semolina. These should bind well and produce a fairly consistent bait that catches fish.
My additives would included Green lipped mussel extract, Betain HCI. With a flavor enhancer ie, Monster Crab. A small inclusion of a tablespoon of salt and a liquid amino such as Multimino.
Once the base mix has been formulated it needs to be well mixed together in a blender before adding to the liquid ingredients.
Firstly crack 8 large eggs into a good sized mixing bowl. Add your liquid flavors and additives. Stir them thoroughly with a fork before starting to add the dry base mix ingredients. This should be done steadily and not all at once!
Using the fork, stir the dried ingredients vigorously into the liquids, adding a cupful at a time.
Continue doing this until it becomes impossible to stir any more with the fork. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty!
Place both hands into the dough and keep kneading it until it has soaked up all of the ingredients. Keep adding the dry base until the mix is fairly solid, like a lump of plasticine.
Once achieved I remove the bulk of the ball and pinch off a small piece with which to rotate around the mixing bowl.
This should clean the bowl nicely, leaving very little wastage and less scrubbing in the washing up!
If the mix is still too sticky then add a little more dried mix until it becomes more user friendly so to speak.
My next move is to place a few lumps of the ball into separate pieces of cling film and wrap them up until i come to use them. This will maintain the moisture in the balls and stop cracking when rolling the baits.
You’ll need to get yourself a decent sausage gun now with which to form the sausages with. Placing a section of the ball into the tube, use the gun to push out a few sausages at a time. The stainless guns are much better than the plastic ones which tend to crack when you use stiffer mixes!
Now the fun starts! Using a rollaball rolling table, available from Gardner in lots of sizes and guises! Lay the cut sausages across the rollaball table.
If you find your mix is a tad on the sticky side you can gently grease the rollaball lengths up with Salmon Oil or similar pre-rolling.
Place the top of the rollaball onto the bottom section, press down to cut the shapes and then gently slide the sections apart and back again around 5-6 times. This rolls the baits into the recognizable shape we know as a boilie.
If you want to roll a different shape ie, dumbells, then use a nozzle of 2mm smaller in the tip of the sausage gun than the size of the rollaball. Example: 18mm nozzle and 20mm rollaball.
Place the rounded and rolled baits onto a non-stick surface and place a pan of water on the boil. Once the water is boiling well, place a handfull of the rolled baits straight into the pan.
Not too many at once as this will reduce the water temperature too much and make the boiling time much longer.
You’ll read many bait making articles telling you to boil for ex-minutes….this is utter rubbish. Boil the baits until they rise up to the surface of the water.
Then remove them with a ladle or similar draining spoon. Now place the baits on a waiting tea towel to cool down and harden off.
Once all the baits are cooked and cooled down on the towel you can place them into a seal-able bag, take them fishing or freeze them for another day.
I like to date mine so that i can maintain the freshness by using the oldest dated one’s first.
Well, there we have it…..A fairly simple act that will save you a fair few pounds, give you a personalized bait that nobody else will be on and just wait until you bag that first carp on it!
Enjoy experimenting and tight lines for 2011!