Carp will often feed very cautiously on any new bait, so it will pay off more to give carp plenty of time to get used to it when you’re not fishing. If it’s possible, try to establish a new bait by pre-baiting the swims you’re likely to fish in at some point during the season. There is often a reaction cycle for carp to any newly introduced bait. The time this cycle takes will vary depending on the lake in question. For example, if the lake is a popular day ticket where all types of carp anglers constantly fish for carp, then it will take longer to establish your bait as a food source. The reason is because there will be numerous types, flavours and sources of bait going into the lake, and the carp will have a huge choice of which food to eat. With such a huge choice available to the carp you will naturally need more time to establish it as a safe food source. On the other hand, if food availability is slim then a new bait can be established much faster. Also, it’s important to think about how pressured carp will feel about any new baits, they will naturally see them as a possible source of danger, so why should they choose your bait?
This is the main reason why it’s important to take your time and establish a new bait, pre-bating and baiting campaigns are great tactics in getting the carp onto your new bait. There are other things to consider when choosing a new bait to fish for carp. We will discuss some of these points in more detail below.
Quality of Bait
Whatever bait you try out always ensure its good quality. The food value of any bait must be high. A poor food value will never last long, even if carp don’t come to associate it with danger. Carp are like humans in that they need an adequate supply of sound nutrition, they require a whole host of nutrients. If your bait is nothing more than a doughy base devoid of nutrition, then don’t expect to catch many carp on it, even if it does have a nice smell. There is a theory that carp can test a food source and know almost immediately if it contains essential nutrients, if this is true, then it’s even more important to use only the highest nutritional food sources. Another way to look at it is, if carp are obtaining good nutrition from your bait then they will be keen to scoff all the free offerings, this in turn will help create a competitive feeding situation when the only highly nutritious food left will be your hook bait!
Make sure your new bait does not contain too much attractants or additives; more is not necessarily best when it comes to bait. With very strong smells you may attract carp within a few hours of fishing but, if they take the bait only to find it repulsive then it wont last five minutes. There is a fine line between a smell that attracts carp and too much of it that the bait tastes horrible to them! Think of when we drink a fruit based drink, it may smell nice but if it was made with too much sugar added then it can taste awful to us. The same principles apply to a carp’s taste.
The Best Size
When introducing any new bait, it can be a good tactic to pre-bait with much larger sized boilies than the ones you intend to use. If you make your own bait, try making your pre-bait quantity as big as 30mm, or even as big as 50mm! This helps stop nuisance fish from eating it before the carp get to it. It may also help in other, tactical areas as well. For instance, most anglers know that carp can spook off large size bait so, they often fish with smaller sizes. Eventually, like in most of the lakes I fish, the majority of anglers won’t use big baits. You may gain an advantage here by re-introducing safety to larger bait and, over time, you could go back to catching many carp using big 18 or 20mm boilies.
A new bait should be introduced on a gradual basis, I like to call it the “little and often” policy. Never chuck in tons of new bait in the hope that they’ll eventually get through it all. Carp will feed cautiously until they accept it as a reliable food source. With a ton of bait on the bottom carp can take their time and snack whenever but, it wont cause a competitive feeding situation amongst the carp, this competitive situation is important because that’s the time when you’ll catch most carp off guard.
It’s much better to put out a little, say a pound or two, on a regular basis rather than introducing large amounts over shorter periods. This means carp can feed on the bait safely for a longer time and will give the bait a longer life cycle in the lake. Remember, the more times a carp eats your bait without the presence of end tackle the more they will eat it with their guard down!
Location of Bait
If you’re trying to introduce a new bait when you’re not fishing, then it may be a good idea to bait up in an area where the fish are likely to be, or in an area where there is less pressure applied. If you know the lake well then you’ll have an idea of where many anglers prefer to fish. If this is the case, then introduce the majority of your pre-bait quantity to areas that are fished less. In these pegs there will be less noise, less pressure and less competing bait allowing your new bait to be accepted as soon as possible.
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