I come from the generation of carp anglers that started out making their own carp bait. Quest Baits with their extensive range of boilies pellets hookbaits and pop ups didn’t exist and in fact for a few years I was fishing boilies didn’t exist. Early attempts at catching carp included a multitude of pastes, cat food and eventually my first boilie manufactured from pilchard flavoured Go Cat Munchies. Eventually I heard about Fred Wilton and his experiments and started sourcing ingredients to copy his HNV boilies. It wasn’t too long after that that base mixes, ingredients, sweeteners, attractors and flavours became available commercially and tackle shop started to resemble a chemists. It seemed that every carp anglers kitchen or garden shed if you were using monster crab; had become a boilie factory. Equipment wasn’t good and not very efficient and much of the old closed season was spent filling bait freezers for the next campaign. I remember I destroyed three hob tops in one of my kitchens and demolished a mate’s kitchen leaving the house reeking of Monster Crab and Compound TF when eight of us descended on his house while his wife was away playing hockey in Holland for the weekend.
It was time consuming and if I’m honest pretty boring rolling baits but by then the companies that would do it for you had appeared, manufacturing good baits that wouldn’t break the bank. It didn’t take us long to recognise that they also did the job better than we did and bait making for me soon became a thing of the past. I did carry on making my own pop ups for a time after that preferring cork ball pop ups to some of the baits that were available at the time. Things change and new ingredients are discovered and now even my pop ups come straight from the jar. Their buoyancy is guaranteed and identical for every boilie, no need to keep tweaking the rigs every time you put a new bait on.
One change to my fishing that buying bait from a company like Quest Baits made to my fishing was the ability to change baits to suit the situation. The range of baits, pellets and hook baits allows us to experiment in a way we never could before and make instant changes. In the past it was likely we had filled a freezer with one type and size of bait and we would use it for the whole season or even many seasons. This could be restrictive because as we all know now a change of bait, an alternative hook bait or even a different colour can make a difference to your catches. I usually travel now with at least three different boilies in the car. Often they are in different sizes too. This is supplemented by Maximum Action Pellets and Micro Feed and glug for extra attraction in my mesh PVA bags.
Amazingly even this sometimes is not enough for me and recently I was looking for a more discreet hook bait for the winter. I wanted a wafter something I could tailor precisely to the weight of the hook I was using. I had experimented by trimming the sides an ordinary pop up so I knew it could be done in principal, I just wanted something that would last longer on the hair. Quest Baits sell base mixes, pop-up mixes and flavours, so after a chat with Shaun I bought some tubs of Natural Pop-Up Mix and Fruity Trifle and Chilli Chocolate flavours. I needed something to mix with the pop-up mix to take away some of its natural buoyancy and Shaun suggested semolina as it allows a decent leak out of flavour and doesn’t particularly alter the smell of hook baits – plus it won’t mess the rolling up. He did say by adding normal base mix to the mixes the hook baits would water log quicker and as the carp wouldn’t get to eat the hook baits then the semolina (available from most of the larger supermarkets) would be fine for what I wanted to do. After some experimentation I came up with a two to one mix, that’s two spoonfuls of pop-up to one spoon of semolina. All my bait making equipment had been disposed of years earlier so the baits were hand rolled and cut into small irregular cylindrical sections. So don’t let the lack of equipment put you of experimenting to produce your own unique hook baits.
Shaun can provide everything you need to create them apart from the semolina (he must be one of the few bait companies that doesn’t have a stock of semolina – they don’t use it) ensuring they complement your usual Quest Baits perfectly. During tests in the kitchen sink the baited hooked drifted slowly down and lay flat on the bottom, exactly what I wanted. I forgot to mention that I’ve also over flavoured them, because much of the time they will be used a single hookbaits. I intend to try them out soon and although in winter catches do slow down it will be interesting to see the results. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Cheers Ron Key