Wafters are an incredibly versatile hookbait which, in my opinion, put more fish on the bank!
There are several factors that make wafters so effective:
Firstly, they improve rig mechanics. This is due to their neutrally buoyant nature, they allow the rig to fall slowly, meaning that the rig kicks away from the lead and is presented perfectly. This is also great when fish are picking up the rig, it re-sets perfectly every time, because not even the best rig in the world trips the carp up 100% of the time so having a rig that will reset is important. Wafters buoyancy allows for a rig to be fished where the hook is lying flat and the hookbait “wafting” above it, therefore masking the hook form the carps view. The neutral weight of a wafter also means that it flies up into a feeding carps mouth very easily, it doesn’t take a lot of movement from the carp over your rig, for the wafter to be sucked in.
Wafters sit much closer to the lake bed than pop ups. This is a great edge, especially on pressured venues where the carp often see blatant pop up rigs. The wafter sits much more naturally on the lake bed and replicates your free offerings which I feel trip up wary carp. I became really fixated on this, especially when fishing over gravel, after I saw several go pro videos from a lake that I was fishing, where the bigger residents moved very slowly on the clear spots and fed very close to the bottom with their mouths essentially pushed against the gravel. Pop ups would still pick off the fish as they dropped onto the spot, but I’m convinced that a wafter in this situation gave me a big advantage.
Wafters can be used over a variety of free offerings. If using over a spread of boilie, a longer rig with a match the hatch wafter can be extremely effective as it moves and reacts identically to the free offerings. When fishing over particle like hemp and corn, a small wafter such as the northern special wafters in yellow or white mimics the mix. The 8mm northern special minis are also devastating in this scenario, A size 4 hook will balance this pop up perfectly, allowing it to be fished like a wafter. This is my go-to when using a solid bag.
The rig I use when fishing wafters is a size 4 wide gape blowback style with a small hair and kicker to aid the hook turning. I fish this as short as I can get away with (depending on the spot im fishing). I like to use a 15mm airball wafter which I trim down and fish over chopped boilie and pellet glugged in Feedstim XP. I like to fish this on small clear areas in the edge to trip up unsuspecting carp. The wafter can however be used with virtually any rig, although, I have personally found that whatever rig is used, fishing over clearer gravel or silty bottoms, is where wafters come into their own.
Wafters are also very easy to make at home if you want to add your own personal twist, this can really give you an edge over other anglers. By simply adding cork- dust or pop-up mix to your standard 'base mix', you can add as much buoyancy as you require to achieve the perfect wafter. How buoyant your hookbait will need to be largely depends on the size of hooks you are using or how you personally prefer your hookbait to sit.
Wafters are my go-to hookbait in most fishing scenarios. Its an underused tactic that trips up wary carp. They can be used on a large variety of rigs in a range of different situations and they benefit rig mechanics. If everyone on a lake you fish is using pop ups, try switching and watch your catch rate increase.