Adding Colour and more

 

While thereís no doubt that baits in their natural state catch plenty of fish, thereís a growing band of anglers who swear by additives. In fact, anyone who has fished a bronze maggot has used an additive - even though in this case it was a dye added to the food the maggot ate while it was growing.

And if dyeing works for maggots, then why not for breadpaste or sweetcorn? If fish get caught many times on corn, they may become wary of it. In such cases, perhaps a little red-dyed corn will do the trick.

And it isnít just colour you can add. Thereís a whole host of flavours and appetite stimulators available. These range from ordinary kitchen ingredients like cheese and custard powder to hi-tech specialities such as amino acid mixes or sticky toffee flavouring. The choice is seemingly endless, and if you employ a little common sense they can only help you improve your catch rate.

A splash of colour
Tackle shops now carry a wide selection of modern colourings, and more products appear each year. The choice reflects how keen anglers are to use colours to enhance the pulling power of their baits.

The response of fish to colour is a complex subject, influenced by many factors including light, depth and clarity of water. But to the angler thereís no doubt that coloured baits are worth a try when the regulars have lost their touch.

Use only food dyes to colour baits and choose dyes which have been tested and are safe and easy to use. Coloured maggots from tackle shops are tinted with commercial dyes put into their feed. Maggot colour is down to personal preference, but red ones are the most popular for taking big tench and bream from gravel pits. They are particularly useful fished with red hemp - a crucial coupling for barbel on such venues as the River Kennet.

Commercial dyes are powerful and shouldnít be used at home. So, if you want to colour your own maggots try adding turmeric powder to white maggots. This gives you a light bronze-coloured maggot which also has a distinctive curry flavour thatís deadly for dace.

Add colouring to the water used to make bread paste and youíll end up with a soft, effective bait. Experiment with your own colours, but one tried and tested killer is paste dyed orange (with added sweetener and tutti frutti flavouring) fished over a bed of mini-boilies.

When cooking hemp, stir in red dye as it cools. On venues heavily fished with natural hemp, the red-dyed sprouting seed is effective. As well as being potent on the hook, red hemp is a deadly attractor fished with a red maggot hookbait.

Coloured sweetcorn is a very popular bait on waters where the fish have become wary of natural sweetcorn. All you need do for a super bait is put some dye in the sweetcorn water. Jazz up chick peas in a similar way, by putting dye in the water while they are soaking before cooking.

 Pet food mixes are a popular surface-fished carp bait, but they are often used so much that fish get hammered on them and become wary. So why not ring the changes for choosy fish by offering them coloured floaters?

If youíre looking for a winning formula, remember that colours go hand in hand with flavours. A bright bait might attract the fishís attention at first, but smell could be the deciding factor.

Adding flavour
Sense of smell is very important to fish in their underwater environment since visibility through water can be obscured by suspended mud or other particles. Therefore many kinds of fish rely heavily on their senses of taste and smell to help them navigate, avoid predators and find food.

There is a huge range of synthetic liquid flavours available. Most come with instructions on how much to use. Follow them. Fish can be but off by too intense a smell. Usually you need about a teaspoon (roughly 5m1) for every 450g (1 Ib) of dry bait or loosefeed, but you may only need a few drops.

If youíre going to flavour maggots, riddle off any maize or bran and make sure they are clean before you start. Maggots absorb flavour better when their skins are clean and dry. Remember to replace the maize or bran if youíre going to keep the maggots for any length of time.

There is endless scope, too, at your local supermarket. Honey, milk shake flavours, cake flavouring and sauces such as tomato ketchup can all be used as liquid flavours.

Powders and pastes which have helped catch fish are also easily available and include stock cubes, powdered soups, curry powder, milk powder and sugar. Ground turmeric is especially popular for flavouring maggots during the winter. In addition to any flavouring effects, this spice degreases the maggots, making them sink faster. It is also supposed to irritate them, making them wriggle more enticingly.

Hi-tech tastes
With the rapid advance in carp-fishing technology anglers can now walk into most tackle shops and pick up a small pot of powder specifically designed to react with a liquid flavouring, both enhancing that flavour and the whole taste of the bait.

For example, mix 450g (1lb) of standard boilie mix, a heaped teaspoon of Fruit Appetite Stimulator and 1 teaspoon of liquid Strawberry flavouring to make a very effective boilie. The carp is attracted by the flavour, takes one of the free baits thrown in earlier, is stimulated by the taste and goes looking for more. This is an ideal situation that can be, and is, achieved regularl.

Amino acids
Amino acids form the basis of protein, and experiments by US scientists have proved that certain combinations instigate a strong feeding response in different types of fish. Aminos are present in powder form in the appetite stimulators and the very latest developments
have provided aminos based on specific flavours.

But itís in their liquid form that aminos really score. Specialist carp bait suppliers have formulated blends which diffuse into water, and they can be deadly. Carp arrive in the area to find the liquid amino in suspension around the bait and are triggered into taking it. Itís not surprising when you consider that aminos in that form are virtually liquid protein.

Differing tastes
Although attractors were developed for carp they have proved equally successful for other species, each showing a preference for a particular flavour. Unfortunately, these preferences vary from water to water, year to year and even from summer to winter. Water temperature too has a pronounced effect on what works, or not.

There are a few reliable starting points. The sweeter fruit and creamy flavours generally work best in the warmer months for fish like bream, roach, tench or carp, with the spicy tastes coming into their own in the winter. Barbel like the meaty approach, while fish-based attractors draw chub and perch like a magnet.

You can either mix these additives in with groundbait or hookbaits such as maggots - add them to the maggots overnight so they are ingested. Proportions should be one teaspoon of each additive to 560ml (1pt) of bait - mix liquid aminos with water for use with groundbait. Thereís a blend of aminos and enhancers that can turn on your favourite fish, in your favourite water. All you have to do is find it.

Tips

Super pastes
Breadpaste can be transformed into a killing bait by adding amino acids, taste enhancers and appetite stimulators. Mix the amino acids with the water you use to soak the bread.

Ideas for old soaks
A small piece of foam sponge soaked in flavour and tied somewhere near your hook can draw fish to the bait. Use a piece of foam the size of a sugar cube and tie it beside a feeder or to the swivel of a pike trace.

Fish are sometimes drawn to your hookbait if it smells different from any groundbait or free offerings in your swim. You donít need to make special hookbaits beforehand - just dip your bait in a small pot of flavour before you cast.