If you’re looking for the best winter carp baits then tackle editor Marc Coulson’s top 10 is worth investigating.
RRP: £6.50 | www.stickybaits.com
I still recall being sent a tub of these long before they were launched and thinking what a fabulous aroma each one gave off, especially when topped up with a few drops of the liquid flavour.
They’d been on test for some time already by that point, and were accounting for huge numbers of cold-water carp both as single hookbaits and fished over bait.
That was a couple of years ago and, since then, a tub or two have been ever present in my bait bucket.
They’re already proving to be one of the most successful winter hookbaits in a decade, with their mix of a whopping 10 powdered fruit palatants combining with subtle washed-out pastel colours, the white being my favourite.
Three sizes have been made available - 12mm, 14mm and 16mm. The 14s had been discontinued but then restored to the range due to public demand, nay outrage!
Sticky also produces a dedicated bait spray to go with the Signatures and there is also now a Squid version of the Signatures that is on a different level.
AQUABAITS AQUA AS
RRP: £12 | www.aquabait.wordpress.com
Do not think that winter baits have to be fruity by nature, because it is absolutely not the case.
A spice blend can be just as effective and even more so when used on waters that see more fruit-based baits at this time of year.
I absolutely adore the smell of these spicy corkball pop-ups, which remind me of some Bunspice & Aniseed pop-ups that I had my best ever winter on when using a few years back.
The blend, rolled on a base of five high-quality milk proteins, includes the original Hutchy Megaspice and Ultraspice flavours, two absolute classics that have long since been discontinued.
Thankfully, Spence at Aquabaits has a stockpile of each, but even these will run out one day. So, if you’re tempted to try a tub of these then do so sooner rather than later. You’ve been warned!
The pressed corkball baits are extremely consistent in size, profile and texture and remain buoyant for long periods, even when pierced. Critically, the boiling process is kept to a minimum, allowing the attractors to maintain their effectiveness for longer.
Some people reading this might think that 12 quid is a bit steep for a tub of hookbaits, but these are absolutely first class in terms of flavour and attractor profile, buoyancy and consistency. Go on, treat yourself!
DNA BAITS NUTTAS EVO KIT
RRP: £15.99 | www.dnabaits.com
There are a couple of baits in my selection which are very different to the norm, and this is one of them.
I absolutely love the EVO concept and genuinely think there is a lot of mileage in it. In fact, it’s so good I am amazed that DNA ever has any stock!
So, this is how it works...in each pack there is a tub of boosted bottom baits that have been cured in top-quality salt.
These are not only highly attractive in their own right (especially prior to spawning in the summer), but because of the salt they are also super absorbent. So much so, in fact, that there is a silica gel bag in each tub to ensure they stay dry.
You also get a 50g sachet of soluble food additive and a 50ml bottle of soluble liquid additive.
You then customise them by adding small amounts of the liquid and the powder to the large tub, rolling the baits themselves in the resulting gunk.
This will add layers of added attraction and the beauty is that you can keep adding as many ‘layers’ as you choose, drying each one as you go.
It’s entirely up to you and there’s no real limit to how far you can go, ultimately creating oversized baits if you choose.
Each of these is packed with layer upon layer of attraction, the likes of which the carp will probably not have encountered before.
This one is the Nuttas version, which is ideal for this time of year, although I know lads that have even used the fishmeal-based baits to great effect throughout all four seasons.
MAINLINE PINEAPPLE JUICE
RRP: £6.50 | www.mainline-baits.com
I wouldn’t mind having a quid for every carp that these have caught over the years!
When I first started on the carp mags some 15 years ago I remember seeing them being used by Mainline-sponsored anglers such as Dave Lane, Ian Chillcott and many others, including Derek Ritchie who seemed to make an art out of catching carp on the ‘pineapple wangers’.
It appeared no carp was safe from a pineapple wanger back in those days.
The remarkable thing is that double-strength baits continue to work today, seemingly making it the bait that just doesn’t blow. You’d think the carp would have wised up to them by now, but they obviously haven’t so there must be something about them.
I’ve used them for as long as I can remember, sometimes adding a capful of Profile Plus Pineapple Juice flavour to a full pot in the colder months. In fact, I don’t know many anglers that either haven’t used them or don’t continue to at least carry some with them at this time of year, including plenty who are sponsored by other bait firms.
CC MOORE NORTHERN SPECIALS
RRP: £6.99 | www.ccmoore.com
The original blend of Gaz Fareham’s potent attractors, first developed on the silty meres of northwest England but latterly made available commercially through CC Moore.
Although Gaz is no longer involved at CC Moore, the baits remain in production and have remained true to the original recipe, which is still a secret to all but an extremely select group of people.
No matter, carp anglers need only be concerned with their effectiveness, which is impossible to argue against.
Cold conditions are where the ‘Northerns’ really come into their own as the flavour combination leeches particularly well when other baits may struggle.
That said, there are plenty of anglers what swear by them all year round.
The extremely smooth, rounded flavour profile makes for a unique bait which is available in several colour and size combinations, in pop-ups, wafters and barrels.
KODA BAITS FRUIT SPICE
RRP: £15 | 07494 439160
Mark ‘Kodak’ Dean has been around the big-carp scene for many years and has a photo album that many would be happy with.
He also knows a bit about baits and, in recent years, started making corkball pop-ups in a range of flavours, which have already proved successful for his growing number of users.
Mark spends hours and hours testing the buoyancy of various baits and is very fussy when it comes to the ingredients and even the corkballs that he uses.
He lists Fruit Spice as one of his favourite winter blends and it’s easy to see why. Fruit baits and spice baits are both effective in the cold so to combine the two is surely a recipe for success.
They may be the most expensive baits in my selection but good quality corkball baits do not come cheap, especially when as much time and effort goes into their creation as these.
RRP: £6.50 | www.stickycarp.com
Sometimes the most effective baits are not always those with the highest flavour levels. In fact, flavour alone means little without the right blend of other ingredients.
What strikes me about these 14mm pop-ups is that the flavour levels are kept to what you might call mid-low levels, but it certainly isn’t to the detriment of their effectiveness.
The resulting taste and smell is as natural as you’ll get from a pop up and there is no hint of any synthetic additives. That’s because there aren’t any – even the colour comes from the ingredients alone and no dyes are added.
Liver has long been one of the best carp attractors around and, although you might think that a meat derivative would only work in the warmer weather, it’s actually a proven winter attractor.
Liver hydrolysate, brocacel yeast, liver powder, liquid betaine and spice powder are just some of the listed attractors in the Liveraminos.
I’m no ingredients expert but I know that all of these are effective in isolation, so in combination they are likely to be very potent.
SONUBAITS INDIAN SPICE
RRP: £6.50 | www.sonubaits.com
Over recent weeks I asked a number of well-known anglers, off the record out of respect to their sponsors, which winter flavour, past or present, they would most like to use.
Ian Russell’s Indian Spice, from back in his Heathrow Bait Services days, was named by more than half of them, including some very big names indeed.
Back then the pink baits with their garlic-cum-spice blend proved deadly in the winter. Even I caught loads of carp on them, so they must have been good!
Ian eventually sold the company and, after a while, the flavour was lost to carp anglers, much to many people’s chagrin.
However, last year it was reintroduced by Ian’s current bait sponsor Sonubaits. He assures me that the flavour is the same one as used in the original and it certainly smells like it so we have to assume that’s the case.
He’s already caught plenty of carp on them, as have a few named anglers that have sneakily sourced a supply from him.
The first time I tried them was at a small club water with a reasonable stock of fish to low-twenties. Two doubles in two casts was enough to convince me that these, now a two-tone red and yellow and in mixed tubs of 12mm and 15mm baits, are well worth carrying once again.
NASH CITRUZ CULTURED
RRP: £9.99 | www.nashtackle.com
The other of the baits here which is very different to the norm, and not just because they are in bags rather than tubs.
The core is a balanced Citruz hookbait, effective in itself, but it’s enveloped in a layered, ‘cultured’ outer.
The result is a neutral-buoyancy hookbait that is covered in a unique, dissolving ‘skin’ infused with the powdered versions of Nash’s hugely successful Citruz additives.
The skin then slowly breaks down in the water, emitting a stream of aminos, esters and all manner of other attractors.
In testing, these baits accounted for an enormous number of captures for the likes of Alan Blair and the entire Nash team, especially when used in conjunction with the fizzing Citruz Stick Mix.
Now on general release, it’s helping anglers of all abilities to catch carp from waters of varying difficulty.
I know that pop-ups are the most popular choice at this time of year, but balanced bottom baits should not be neglected, especially when it’s something as exciting as the Citruz, and even more so when it’s one of these ‘cultured’ bottom baits.
BAITWORKS SCENT FROM HEAVEN
RRP: £7.49 | www.baitworks.co.uk
The unmistakable aroma of pear drops bursts out almost before you get the lid fully off a tub of these, such is the level of fruit esters within each bait.
However, it’s not a synthetic flavour, but instead a rounded profile which doesn’t burn the back of your throat like some similarly flavoured baits can sometimes do.
As well as the flavours and attractors in the ‘Heavens’, Baitworks uses pH-changing ingredients which create a slight pH imbalance in the vicinity of the bait, causing the carp to investigate.
This concept really comes into its own in the spring but is also extremely effective at this time of year and throughout the colder months.
Each bait is consistent in make-up and every tub includes a small vial of liquid which can be added the day before your session to boost attraction levels even further.
I know that a lot of thought and effort goes into Baitworks’ stuff, including the hookbaits, resulting in exceptionally effective baits that can be used in isolation or over lightly baited areas at this time of year.
If you’ve never used any of the Cotswold-based firm’s hookbaits then you should consider giving them a try.