If you're looking for the best carp bait to stand out from the crowd, then have a look at tackle editor Marc Coulson's top alternative picks...
STICKY KRILL CLUSTERS
RRP: £8.99 | www.stickybaits.com
This fascinating product is the initial result of freshly caught krill processing and comes in the form of soft, misshapen pieces packed with aminos and protein.
Although they don’t look the same, the Clusters’ texture is similar to dampened pellets – a description from the Sticky website which is difficult to disagree with.
The same website offers up a myriad uses, including moulding around a lead or feeder, plus the usual adding to stick, bag and spod mixes.
What I would add to that is don’t use them neat in a PVA stick, as the Clusters compact down and remain in the stick shape long after the PVA mesh melts. This isn’t the end of the world, but Clusters, for me, work better with some dry ingredients when it comes to PVA sticks and bags.
Similarly, adding a little to your spod mix, provided the mix isn’t overly wet, results in an attractive slick which can last for a couple of hours, and you really don’t need to use too much.
I’m sure the Sticky lads have found even more uses for the Clusters and I hope to discover a few more myself.
A chance conversation with Steve Metcalfe revealed that the addition of some boiling water to the neat Clusters takes them to yet another level. “It’s almost like cheating,” Steve joked. I can’t wait to give that one a try.
I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is a hugely versatile product which carp absolutely love. I know it’s easy to say that about a bait, but I’ve seen the Clusters at work and they really are something very special indeed.
CC MOORE STEEPED BLACK TIGERS
RRP: £7.99 | www.ccmoore.net
Have you ever tried that popcorn that’s both sweet and salty? That’s exactly what these tiger nuts taste like – not the popcorn bit, just the initial savoury hit but with a lingering sugary undertone.
I was surprised by this as I expected the liquid which coats each tiger nut to be sickly sweet, but it wasn’t.
In a bid to avoid any preconceived ideas about a product, I never read a tackle or bait firm’s synopsis on a product before trying or using it myself. When I did eventually have a peek at the CC Moore website I confirmed that either my taste buds work fine or their claims are true… or both.
Apparently the steeping liquid is indeed both sweet and savoury, unlike the liquids usually found in prepared tiger nuts.
I wrongly presumed that the tigers turned black as part of the preparation process, but I was told that they start out as black tigers before they’ve been introduced to any liquids whatsoever. I never knew that black tigers even existed in natural form, so I learned something there.
Anything that offers something a little different to the norm is rarely a bad thing in carp fishing and I couldn’t wait to give them a try. The result was my first ever carp caught on a tiger nut, largely because I’ve rarely used them.
What really pleased me was that capture came from a club water where diving birds are a pain in the proverbials, but the black tigers seemed to thwart them like none of my previous efforts ever had.
That was the first and only time I’ve used these tiger nuts, the rest of the litre tub being in my freezer now, but it certainly won’t be the last.
SONUBAITS IAN RUSSELL POP-UPS
RRP: £6.49 | www.sonubaits.com
The Sonubaits Ian Russell Signature Pop-Ups (to give them their full title) have been a couple of years in the making, but have a heritage that spans at almost two decades longer.
Ian, previously the owner of the famed Heathrow Baits Services, produced some of the finest pop-ups in the land and there wasn’t a carp angler worth his salt that didn’t have a tub or two in their bait bucket.
Ian moved on from HBS a few years back and over time many of the flavours and recipes were lost to the masses.
More recently, however, he has been able to source the original flavours once again and, with Sonubaits, produce several of the baits, alongside a couple of new recipes.
I was sent some of the pre-production samples some time ago and on my first trip out caught two carp in two casts on the Raspberry Ripples.
Next time on the bank, the Indian Spice helped me bag three more fish and I left for home with a huge grin on my face. Any doubts that these were as good as the originals had been well and truly dispelled.
They’ve since been launched and are already accounting for multiple captures across the UK. The best is yet to come, however, as all of the flavours in the range are superb winter performers.
The remaining flavours in the range include Peach & Black Pepper, Pineapple & Cream, Chocolate Orange, Creamy Toffee and, one that Ian has raved to me about but which I haven’t used yet, Tuna & Sweetcorn.
Supplied with a small bottle of flavour booster, there are plenty of baits in both 12mm and 15mm inside every tub and I like the fact that each is consistently buoyant without needing a bunch of swan shot to balance them on a rig.
CRAFTY CATCHER SALMON EXTRACT
RRP: £7.99 | www.copdockmill.co.uk
This soluble fish protein has a pungent but nicely rounded profile, which smells fishy in the extreme but is not offensive on the nostrils.
Generally, this a sign that the ingredients are only natural ones and the liquid has not had too much added to it, nor has it been ‘cut’ with a cheap bulking agent.
Almost limitless in its uses and PVA friendly, it’s versatile in the extreme. While it can be added to a dry mix to produce the ideal stick mix, poured over boilies, used in a spod mix or even poured over a margin spot neat, my favourite use has been something all together different.
Prior to casting out, submerging an entire PVA stick in the bottle of Salmon Extract – the opening is just big enough – covers it in pure fishy attraction which binds to the stick long after it hits the water.
Having tested a couple in the margins, the PVA still breaks down, but a halo of attraction hangs above the stick for some time. Obviously, some of the liquid soaks into the mix itself, so it’s a win-win situation.
You can also dip dozens of sticks in one bottle before you even remotely start to run low, so in this instance it’s excellent value for money too.
RRP: £6.75 | www.mainline-baits.com
How about this for a novel bait idea… a hookbait which is softer and breaks down far quicker than the boilies around it, thus leaking maximum attraction from the moment it touches down.
That’s exactly what these Dissolvas are and, in the right situation, they’re spot on. I’ve used the Cell versions, which are made with the same basemix and liquids as the boilie, but the production process has been tweaked to produce a much softer bait.
They have the consistency of a firm paste and, as such, need to meshed if fishing where there are small nuisance fish or, maybe, crays. If those nuisance species are particularly bad then you’d use a firmer bait, but in most other situations these work a treat.
They do survive a big cast, which had been my initial concern when sent some to test and in my initial trials, around eight hours saw them break down to a level where they needed replacing.
Don’t add any hookbait dip or suchlike to a tub of Dissolvas though, as they turn to a mush as I found out to my cost earlier this year.
The eight-hour breakdown time, depending on water conditions, is long enough for short sessions, particularly with the approaching autumn and winter in mind. I also think it makes them ideal for a bit of stalking so grab yourself a tub and try them out.