Making baits

For some anglers, a greater sense of satisfaction and achievement comes from catching a carp on baits they have made for themselves. Making your own isn't hard and you can create your own killer baits.

Boilies consist mainly of high-protein ingredients (HP), but they also usually contain a balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. They are often referred to as 'HNV' - high nutritive (nutritional) value baits -because they contain the concentrated elements which give the carp a balanced diet.

When making your own boilies, aim for mixes, which follow the HNV principle. Initially this means sticking to recommended recipes until you get a feel for the right sort of proportions and balance of food types needed.

In addition to using ingredients with a high protein, vitamin and mineral content, you need to put in others that give stickiness and bind the substances together - wheat gluten or flour for example. And don't forget the important taste and smell ingredients that can be the key to successful bait.

Once you have grasped the principle of creating an effective boilie base, you can start to experiment with myriad flavours and tinker with proportions until you discover your own personal favourite combinations.

Before you start to improvise it's a good idea to get the boilie basics under your belt; make your first attempts from ingredients, which have proved themselves as carp catchers. There is now a whole range of easily obtainable substances, which are established ingredients for HNV baits.

Basic method

For bait of the highest possible protein content, start with dry ingredients such as casein (the main protein in milk), calcium caseinate or sodium caseinate. These, consisting of at least 90 per cent milk-based protein, should not make up more than 50 per cent of the bulk of your recipe. Most anglers use only about one third.

Make up the rest of the mix from carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to give a balanced food product. Add a binding agent and any flavours or colourings to complete the mixture.

Boilie recipes generally combine a selection of these dry ingredients with eggs, which provide liquid. The eggs also put a skin on the surface of the bait after it is dipped in boiling water, making it hard.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat three eggs in another bowl, then thoroughly mix in any flavours or colours required. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the liquid until you get a smooth paste. Don't add all the dry stuff in one go - a little at a time is best.

Knead the paste until it is stiff enough to cut into strips and roll into balls. Make sure you have pressed out all the air. If the mix is too sticky, add more dry ingredients until you can roll balls of bait between your hands without too much sticking to your fingers.

Roll the bait balls into the size required - anything from 6-25mm (¼in-1in) or more. Put the bait into a chip basket or metal sieve and lower it into a pan of boiling water for 1-1½ minutes. Cook in batches of 30-50 bait balls at a time.

Remove the boilies from the water and spread out on a dry cloth. After a few minutes carefully turn each bait over on the cloth so that they dry on the other side, then leave to cool. If you want the baits to be very hard leave them out for several hours or even all night.

Three of the best

Once you've mastered the basic method for making boilies you must decide on what exactly to put in the mix. The list of possible ingredients is enormous and to some extent all recipes are made by trial and error.

You can grind up or liquidize any edible substance and mix it in with eggs and other ingredients to make boilies, but over the years certain raw materials have emerged as consistently successful bait ingredients. The following recipes are designed to cover three popular and proven boilie mixes - milk-based, fishmeal-based and seed-based. Many other suitable raw materials for HNV boilies are listed in bait supplier's catalogues.

Milk recipe; 85g (3oz) casein; 57g (2oz) wheatgerm; 57g (2oz) dried milk powder; 28g (1oz) wheat gluten; 28g (1oz) yeast; 28g (1oz) lactalbumin.

Fishmeal recipe; 57g (2oz) sodium caseinate; 57g (2oz) herring meal; 57g (2oz) Casilan- 28g (1oz) wheat gluten; 28g (1oz) mineralivitamin supplement; 57g (2oz) soya flour.

Seed recipe; 57g (2oz) Casilan; 113g (4oz) soya flour; 57g (2oz) Robin Red (bird food); 42g (1 1/2oz) mineral/vitamin supplement; 14g (l/2oz) ground almonds; 20ml 'Spice' Sense Appeal (attractor).

Microwaved carp baits

Instead of boilies, try Microwaved baits for a change. They may not catapult as far as boilies, but Microwaved cubes have certain advantages over ordinary round, boiled baits. In particular, they have a wide buoyancy range, which means the tactical presentations available are many and varied.

Start by following the same method you would use for making ordinary round boilies, only aim for a slightly wetter mix than normal since the microwaving process tends to dry out the bait more than boiling.

Make your own base mix out of your favourite dry ingredients or use shop-bought bait mixes. Birdfood and fishmeal recipes make good Microwaved baits.

You should end up with a big ball of paste, which you would normally roll into sausages to make ordinary boilies. But for microwaving you're after a loaf or brick of bait. Pack it into a loaf-shaped microwave-safe baking dish that holds approximately 0.5kg (1lb).

Place the container of bait in the microwave oven to cook. Different mixes require different cooking times. For instance, milk protein-based mixes need far less cooking than coarser Birdfood mixes or fishmeal based ones. Simple semolina and soya flour mixtures require slightly more again.

A good starting point for one pound 0.5kg (1lb) of mix is 10 minutes on medium power. Remember, the longer you cook the bait the more it dries out, resulting in a much higher proportion of floating baits.

Turn out the cooked loaf and leave to cool. When it's just warm to the touch cut it into cubes. They dry out after a few hours, ready for immediate use. Or freeze the uncut loaf until you need it.

The cubes are ideal for soaking up liquid attractors. They absorb more than ordinary boiled baits. Drench them in Multimino, liquid vitamin/mineral preparations, flavours or sweeteners.

How to

Cooking boillies
after mixing the dry ingredients together, whisk three size two eggs in a separate bowl. Once familiar with the method, you can vary the ingredients.

Add the other liquid ingredients - the colouring, flavouring and the liquid sweetener. A syringe is a useful measure for this.

Gradually add the dry mixture to the liquid, stirring with a fork. You may have to keep adding more powder until you get a stiff paste.

Mix and knead the paste until it is slightly tacky and putty-like. The more you knead the denser and faster-sinking your boilies will be.

Roll a portion into a sausage, and then cut it into evenly sized pieces. Roll these chunks between your palms into the typical ball shape.

Place the baits in a chip basket or ladle and submerge them in boiling water for 60-90 seconds. Boiling for longer produces harder baits.


Sink or swim?
Microwaved boilie-mix baits have a range of buoyancies. Add a handful to a milk bottle full of water and all is revealed. Cubes cut from the harder, crustier outside of the loaf float, while cubes from the centre sink. The area in between produces baits of varying densities.

It is worth bearing in mind that using high levels of milk proteins produces a high proportion of floating baits.

Acquired taste
Ground-up trout pellets have a strong flavour, contain a lot of fishmeal and can be a useful addition to your boilie recipe. You can buy them from fish farms, shops selling pond fish foods or bait suppliers. A coffee grinder is useful for crushing such materials into workable powders.

Sinkers and floaters
test the finished boilies to check that they sink. If they float, use some water instead of one of the eggs in the next batch. If you continue to get floaters by mistake, replace some of the light ingredients such as caseinates and milk powders with heavier ingredients such as ground rice, pasta, semolina or corn meal.

Finally, the harder you knead the main lump of bait, the more air you force out of the mixture. This makes it denser and so helps it to sink.