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Alternative Colours

Whatever approach you are using in your attempts to outwit a Carp or two it can often pay dividends to draw attention to your hookbait.  The standard approach of a matching bottom bait over the freebies obviously works but something slightly different at the business end can enhance your chances.  The majority of my captures over the last couple of years have come from making the hookbait stand out in some way or other.

Over a baited area or spot, some form of enhanced presentation is likely to bring you some action more quickly than without.  Even fishing without introducing freebies it might induce a bite that would otherwise not come your way.  Either way it can make a difference to your results.

Most of us, I think, are familiar with the situation of having fish showing and feeding on a baited area whilst no bites are forthcoming.  This is the ideal situation in which to employ a bolder presentation.  It is all too easy to sit and wait for it to happen when a minor change could alter things for the better.

There are a multitude of ways to draw attention to your baited rig.  Some involve increasing the level of the food signal while others offer more of a visual signal to grab the attention of a fish.  Here are ten of the best:

Alternative colours

Using a different coloured hookbait is one of the easiest, yet most effective, ways to make your hookbait stand out from the freebies.  Carp are inquisitive creatures and a brighter hookbait is often going to be the first one to be sampled.  The visual stimulus is, sometimes, too much for them to resist investigating.  White and yellow hookbaits have been the most successful for me over dull freebies.



For a similar, but less blatant, effect than the alternative coloured hookbait use a coloured topper on your hair.  Plastic or real corn/maize, coloured foam and tiny or cut down fluoros will all act a sight bob to draw an enquiry from a fish.  This is ideal for use on waters where fluoros have been effective but have become overused.

Dips and Glugs

These can be bought ready prepared or you can make your own to suit your chosen boilie.  Mainline’s Hookbait Enhancement System dips are not overloaded with flavour so you have no worries about using too much.  Don’t just dip your hookbait though.  Leadcore will soak up a glug nicely as will an Atomic Dung Bomb.  Tubing can be filled with these attractive liquids to leak out slowly once it is submersed.



Nothing new or revolutionary here – just a plain, old-fashioned stringer.  It works because several freebies in close proximity to the hookbait pump out a concentrated food signal.  Use as many baits as you like although two to six is generally the most practical.  PVA tape will give better separation than string.

PVA bags

One of the most often written about and used ways to enhance your trap.  You can use any number of things to fill your bag with.  Choose from one or a mix of some of the following:

  • Boilies – whole, chopped or crumbed
  • Pellets
  • Dry groundbait
  • Neat powders such as GLM powder, base mix, CSL meal, Liver powder etc.
  • Particles ie. hemp, corn, tiger nuts.  Pete Regan’s trick of soaking in salt solution will make them PVA friendly

Stick Mix

Stick Mix

In addition to enhancing the signal around your hookbait a stick mix has the added advantage of helping to disguise your rig.  A stick mix is ideal for use on clean spots where your end tackle may stand out more.  It will also push down silkweed and protect the hook from getting caught up.  I like my stick mix to mirror my chosen boilie so, to this end, make it up from around 50% of Cell base mix.

Liquids in bags

This method isn’t something that is in widespread use.  You will need a solid PVA bag for this and any liquid food of your choice.  Don’t overdo the neat flavours though.  Mainline’s Multi-Stim, their Meta-Mino, Hemp oil or Fossoil, or any PVA friendly dip will all provide a strong food signal without anything for the carp to eat… bar your hookbait.

Over flavoured baits

Over Flavoured Baits

If you make your own hookbaits you can double up on the flavour level for a stronger signal.  If you don’t make your own specials just dry out a few of your frozen baits and coat with a small amount of relevant Activator (or neat attractors).  You only need enough to give them a light coating.  Then leave them to absorb the attractors for a few days. You can keep these frozen or air dry them for long term use.  The resulting hookers with have a lot more punch than one straight out of the bag.


Just using a pop-up can be enough to induce a quick bite.  Many times I’ve viewed the baited area following a bite and seen all the freebies still present on the spot.  Often a pop-up will be the first one to go purely because it is a little more obvious and accessible.  The higher your pop-up the more blatant it will be so be prepared to experiment.  I would generally fish them lower on close in, shallow or very clear spots where light levels are good and, consequently, the eyesight of the Carp keener.

Paste Wraps

Paste Wraps

This is a great way to boost the food signal around your hookbait.  Simply use the same base mix and liquid attractors as your chosen boilie (without any egg) and work into a paste.  You could also add a multitude of powdered attractors.  Alternatively, most bait manufacturers sell a dedicated paste to match their bait.  Wrap around your hookbait or, to protect the hook, wrap around that as well.

A 31lb 8oz Mirror caught after making the hookbait stand out

There may be no need to highlight the hookbait for an angler with time to sit it out and wait but, if you fish shorter sessions, making the hookbait more prominent could be just the thing to kick start some action.  The standard approach can, at times, be a little predictable and fish can take time to assess the situation and whether or not a bait is safe to pick up.  What is required is something especially attractive – something that arouses a Carp’s curiosity – something it can’t resist.

Keep up with Matt on his Blog.

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