Single Hookbait Fishing for Carp

Author: Team CCM

Go Bright for a Quick Bite! Gav Walding

My angling has always consisted of short sessions, this is quite often a last-minute overnighter in between work, or a day session to a local water to get a bend in the rod. Throughout the wintertime though, I will normally opt for day sessions, whether that be a few hours in the evening, or getting to the lake for first light and making a full day of it.

The beauty of doing this throughout the colder months is the lakes are generally a lot quieter and this gives me the opportunity to move about and chase the carp, which in return maximizes my chances of getting a bite or two during the shorter daylight hours. In this feature I will highlight a few key points that I put into practice during these short trips and in particular, the tactic I have upmost confidence in; single hookbaits!

The Decrease

With the water temperature at its lowest point, everything else decreases with it; what I mean by this is the carp slow down. They won’t be darting all over the pond and investigating different areas, they may not visit some areas of the lake throughout the whole of the winter full stop. 

Carp no doubt want to feel most comfortable, so they may be held up in a certain area, this could be a spot that holds the warmth from the sun or a layer in the water column that stays consistent in temperature. Due to them not moving around as much as normal, they are not burning energy, which in return means they don’t have to eat as much to suffice their requirements. 

So, you really have to be cautious when you think about bait application, this is why I will always opt for a bright single hook bait. So not only does their movement and metabolism slow, but their eyesight will also start to decrease due to the water temperature, which in turn in my opinion puts match-the-hatch and dull colour baits out the equation. So, having a bright hook bait will certainly increase your chances of getting a pickup, even in the coldest of temperatures.

What Colour?

Colour choice can definitely be the difference between a quiet day or sometimes a rather hectic one. I will always start my trip with different colours on each rod and take a multitude of different hook baits with me, everyone has their favourite colours, but you need to have an open mind as venues will fish differently depending on a number of factors. 

Some days the ever-faithful pink won’t do a bite, but an orange, yellow or white will; so, I will always fish different colours at the start of the trip and then if I do get a bites on one colour, I will swap all of the rods over to the colour that seems to be doing the business. A proven winter hookbait flavour such as a Northern Special provides me with the confidence I need; then it is more a case of changing the colour as opposed to the flavour of the hookbait. 

I quite often carry a single pot ofNortherns, but with a mixture of colours in a single pot, ensuring that I do not need to carry excessive gear on a day session.

No Commitment 

One of the beauties of using single hook baits as opposed to fishing over a bed of bait is the fact I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket, I haven’t dedicated myself to an area, so if it is not happening or I feel like I need to have a move due to the lack of fish activity then I can do so, without feeling obliged to stay on the area I have technically wasted bait on. 

Fishing like this, off the barrow also means minimal kit, and makes me more inclined to keep moving about the lake flicking my bright ones into likely looking areas. You will stumble across them eventually if you put in the effort to try and locate them, whether that’s spotting a subtle show up the other end of the pond or getting liners which indicates that they are in the area, it’s just a case of repositioning that one rig which can make all the difference.

Boosting Them Up

I always like to give myself a little edge when it comes to hook baits. This will often be adding a booster attractor to them; I like to match up the liquid with my chosen bright one, for me it’s the NS1’s, a proven carp catcher over many years and available in all the hi-viz colours. They also come with a sachet of matching booster liquid which is ideal for giving them that extra pulling power. 

One thing I do to ensure you don’t lose the buoyancy of the baits, is to dry them out after each amount of liquid is added, you don’t want them swimming in the booster, just a small glaze is enough. I will then leave them somewhere dry with the lid off until they look as if they have fully dried out, ensuring the flavour will have then been absorbed and dried into the pop up so you don’t lose buoyancy.

The perfect single hook bait rig?

When it comes to using single hook baits, I’m going to be casting at fizzers, shows or putting them in likely looking areas. When casting to these areas I haven’t got the time to be finding the perfect drops to present a rig over because I don’t want to risk potentially spooking fish, so 9 times out of 10 I will use a stiff hinge with a long soft boom.

This coupled up with a fairly small lead helps minimise disturbance and I will always try to use the smallest lead I can get away with to cast the distance I need. Using a helicopter style setup too ensures that if the lead plugs into the bottom it will not hinder how the rig sits, so you can fish confidently no matter what lakebed you are casting onto. 

I will then make sure the pop up is sinking reasonably slow, this will help the rig lay over most substrates present on the lakebed, whether that be soft silt of low-lying weed I know that I can leave the rig out there and stand a very good chance of it fishing effectively. 

To balance out my single hookbait effectively, I always add a little more putty to the rig than needed. I then test the rig in the edge and whittle down small amounts of the putty until I get the desired sinking speed.  

Overall, these are a few great ideas to take into consideration when fishing with single hookbaits; it is no doubt an effective cold water method and by applying a little thought to your approach, rigs and spots, I am sure you will nick that extra bite or two this winter!

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