Walk into most tackle shops these
days and almost before you get through the door,
the sweet smell of carp baits hits you. Boilies
are available in many forms, either ready made
shelf life or frozen baits, or as home mades,
and the array of different types, flavours, colours
and sizes is staggering. They are not only used
by carp anglers these days either, many tench
and bream anglers have cottoned on to their success
as have the match anglers who often use them to
bag up on carp, tench and bream when the smaller
species are either becoming a nuisance or are
not going to give them the weight they need to
win the day.
Most shops will stock a good selection
of shelf life boilies from the minis up to 20mm
plus. They are available in bags usually from
1kg up to 2.5 kg, tubs and pots and either as
standard baits or floaters. Some bags come with
a smaller bag inside containing a few floaters
or pop-ups to use as hook baits whilst feeding
Shelf life boilies will keep for months
in their original packaging and even once opened
will last a fair while if kept cool and dry. Look
for a sell by date on the packaging. They will
however become very hard if allowed to dry out
in the sun for too long or if they get damp, they
will go mouldy, so once I have opened a packet,
I usually try to use them during the session.
If I have any that I am dubious about, I will
break them up and use them either as loose feed
or mixed with pellets in PVA bags. My koi at home
are always happy to finish any others off for
me. I would rather start a new bag confident in
the knowledge that they are fresh and likely to
catch. Think whether you would eat them. Most
boilies are made from ingredients safe for humans.
If you wouldn't eat it, why should the carp?
So what should you look for when
deciding what shelf life boilies to use? Firstly
the size; pick a size that you think you will catch
on. The mini boilies are great for smaller fish,
and often tend to be a bit softer, so can be eaten
by other species more easily, or fished 2 or 3 to
a hair can be a great method when the fishing is
a bit harder. They are also great for use as small
particle baits and can be deadly when mixed with
pellet in a PVA bag. If you want to avoid the smaller
species, then look at something a bit bigger, although
I have caught a good-sized roach on a 16mm boilie!
Once that's sorted out, the next
big question is flavour and colour. If you are fishing
in clear water such as a gravel pit, then colour
may be important, something that stands out amongst
weed or against the gravel bottom may be useful,
although sometimes this can spook the fish and they
won't come near it. Flavour then is probably the
main decision and there are many schools of thought
on this. A lot of anglers will find out what is
catching on a water and stick with it as the carp
are used to it and have accepted it as a food source.
This will usually work although there comes a time
when that particular boilie is blown and the carp
have become wary of it. I would usually take at
least one back up flavour as well, just in case
everyone else is blanking.
In fact, I often find out what others
are using and deliberately use something completely
different. Sometimes that can produce great results
while everyone else blanks. If you are not sure
what to go for, then a rule of thumb is fruit
and fish flavours in the summer and sweet and
dairy flavours such as chocolate malt in the winter.
The reason for fish flavours being popular during
the warmer months is that they tend to have a
high oil content and when the water temperatures
are up, this flavour leaks out into the water
more easily and acts as an attractant. Fruit flavours
tend to be brightly coloured and show up well
in brighter conditions, and also have a fairly
high flavour leakage property.
Of course you don't have to stick
to the flavour in the bag, and there are as many
different flavours of dips and sprays that can
be added to your boilies, which can enhance their
properties, as there are boilies. Careful not
to overdo it though, too much flavour can repel
the carp. If you want to add a bit of flavouring
to your boilies, then put them in a large plastic
bag and add a little flavouring mixed with water.
Blow into the bag to inflate it and holding the
top tightly; give it a good shake about. Leave
for an hour or so while the boilies absorb the
flavouring, then use as normal.
Dips are a great way to enhance
your shelf lifes, simply place a few baits into
the pot and soak, remove when ready and use as you
normally would. I find most of the dip pots sold
are too small to get your fingers into to remove
the baits after soaking, so a pair of forceps are
useful to remove them after soaking. I always carry
forceps as a matter of course anyway, they can be
invaluable for unhooking a fish which has been awkwardly
hooked, and can save you wearing monster crab flavoured
clothing when trying to remove dipped baits!
In summary then, give the shelf-life
boilies a try. If you are still not sure what
to use, don't be embarrassed to ask. Any good
tackle dealer will happily give advice if you
say where you are fishing and what you are trying
to catch. Take a few different types with you
if you can, and try the flavours and dips. Experiment.
Try something different, don't just follow the
crowd. And when you have caught that personal
best monster, let us know, send us a photograph
and show it off on this site. Good luck.