I have been catching fish around the country now for over 30 years so hopefully I've picked up a few useful tips along the way! So what I propose today is to give you my top 5 bait tips to catch more and bigger fish.
1) Without doubt my number one tip is to learn how to loose-feed correctly. Too often anglers will have the most expensive rod and reel, the most up to date bait but don't know how to feed a swim. All the great anglers I have fished with like John Wilson, Dave Harrell and Bob Nudd all have the ability to feed the swim correctly. Unfortunately there is no easy way to lean this skill it only comes with experience. The only advice I can give is don't keep doing the same thing if you are not catching fish.
I know that sounds a silly statement but so many unsuccessful anglers keep doing the same thing week in week out and catching nothing. Why not change the amount of bait that you are putting in at the start? Change how much bait you use in a session - in fact try a different range of baits.
One thing I do notice when using the likes of maggots and casters, I use twice as much bait as the average angler in summer and as much bait in the winter as most anglers use in the summer! If in doubt put a catapult pouch of bait in every 10 minutes. That way at least out of ten sessions you will over feed the swim twice and ruin the swim, but the other eight sessions you will catch a load!Don't be conservative with your bait go for it!
2) I know lots of anglers will decry the use of flavours but I rarely use a standard bait nowadays for every bait of mine will have an edge of flavour. My maggots and casters will be flavoured with the likes of Scopex or Strawberry Jam. My luncheon meat will be flavoured with Red Crab or Frankfurter Sausage and baits like boilies will be dipped or soaked in a favourite flavour. I have proved time and time flavouring baits will win hands down over "standard" bait.
3) I use groundbait a lot in my fishing that's on stillwaters and rivers and I rarely use water to mix the ingredients up. I use Corn Steep Liquor Liquid diluted 50/50 with water or throw a handful of Corn Steep Liquor Pellets into a groundbait bowl of water and after 15 minutes they have dissolved I give it a stir with my hands and mix the groundbait up with this solution.
I mentioned early I use groundbait a lot on the river where in a lot of cases the mix needs to be stiffer so it holds together longer. I achieve this by using 20% of crushed hemp and a powdered tare binder available in tackle shops this will set like a rock!
4) I also use a lot of particles like hemp, tares, wheat and maple in my fishing especially when after barbel and carp and for some reason lots of anglers boil their particles before fishing which kills a lot of the vitamins and minerals in the seeds. I think this habit stems from boiling hemp for hook baits, which you have to do to split the seed to get a hook hold. But if you are using particles for baiting up simply soak them in water for 36 hours or even longer so they start to smell a little, fish really like that! Even rock hard maize I only put boiling water on them and leave to soak for 48 hours.Particles are a very cheap and effective way of keeping fish in your swim but don't ruin them by boiling.
5) But no matter how good your loose feeding is or you have top class baits in your container if you're sitting in the wrong swim with no fish in it you are not going to catch fish! Location is everything and a craft that some anglers never learn.
The criteria of a good swim is not the one nearest to the car or pub. Nor is it the one where your tackle box sits nicely. The criteria of a good swim is one full of fish! My tip here is to stand on the water's edge and ask yourself a few questions:
1) Where would I be if I was a fish today? Try to think like an animal for this one, not a human being.2) Is the weather going to effect the location today? i.e. which way is the wind blowing, distributing a lot of natural feed at the windward end of the venue or the temperature of the water which will govern if the fish are in deep or shallow water.3) Where is the safest place for the fish at the venue? i.e. is there a quiet spot on the lake that is difficult to fish or is there an area of weed and snags where the fish feel safe.
All these questions will be easier to answer with experience, sorry that takes time.
But just think for a few minutes scanning over the water before you set up in a swim.