Are you getting the best out of pellet free offerings and hookbaits? From better bag fillings to tips for tricky barbel Nash consultant Paul Garner reveals some of his favourite pellet fishing tactics.
I can still remember the first time that I used pellets as bait. I would have been in my early teens and the tench in my local pond were suckers for my home-made trout pellet paste. Fast forward ten years and I was reintroduced to the pulling-power of pellets whilst barbel fishing the River Ribble in Lancashire. One angler was doubling the catches of anyone else. His secret? The unknown at that time halibut pellet.
How things have changed! Now you can buy just about every pellet imaginable and at one time or another I have probably used most of them. So I was very keen to get my hands on the new range of NashBait pellets and put them through their paces. These new baits have certainly proven their worth and interestingly, some of them were very similar to baits that I had been making myself for many years.....
Ripe for exploitation
For some reason very few carp anglers that I know use pellets as hookbaits. Yet, most anglers wouldn’t have a second thought about using pellets in their spod mix, or for prepping a few spots in the margins and then using a boilie on the hair. So carp are being fed literally tons of pellets without ever getting caught on one - that sounds like an edge to be exploited to me!
I like to bait up with a few spodfuls of mixed pellets, normally ranging from 4mm up to 15mm, and then fish a single 15mm pellet or double 11mm pellets over the top. The Mega Pellet Mix is ideal for this tactic, containing an ideal mixture of different sized pellets. I can even pick out a few of the larger pellets and use these as hookbaits.
Talking of hookbaits, I will normally have a small tub of pellets with me that have had a hole drilled through them using a bait drill. I know that you can buy pellets that already have a hole through the middle but generally the gap is a bit big, letting in water and causing the pellet to soften quickly. A fine drill does the job better.
If I want to leave the hookbaits out for longer than a few hours then I will change to a Boilie Pellet Hookbait. I used to make my own pellet-shaped boilies specifically for hookbaits, as these would last all night on the hair, but now you can buy them ready made - another great edge available to all!
Stick it in a stocking
I use a lot of PVA sticks in my fishing and normally fill these with a mixture of small pellets and crumbled boilies, the actual mix matching the rest of my feed and hookbaits. A mixture of pellets in the 2mm to 6mm range is ideal for using with PVA mesh, as you can pack the bait in nice and tight, but without it being so small that it falls through the holes. The Nashbait Small Pellet Mix is ideal for this job and has the added advantage that it is made up from both halibut and breakdown pellets, leaving a spread of baits breaking down at different rates on the bottom - nice.
A bite in a bag
For more years than I care to remember I have made up my own mix of tiny pellets, salmon fry crumb and a few other goodies to use in solid PVA bags. On many venues, especially the busier day ticket ones, a small bag cast at showing fish will often bring an instant bite. The smaller the bag the faster the bite will come as the less food that is introduced the quicker a carp will get to the hookbait. Maximum attraction with minimal food is what I am looking to achieve. Since I first started to experiment with the Micro Pellet Mix my confidence has grown and grown to the point where I no longer need to mess about making my own concoction, as this mix is better than I could make myself.
The Micro Mix has also proven to be perfect for using in an open-end feeder when fishing for barbel. To produce the perfect sticky feeder mix simply pour the liquid from a bag of NashBait Slicker hemp over a kilo of pellets and leave to stand for about half an hour. Fish a Boilie Pellet Hookbait on the hair and you can’t go wrong! The same mix can even be used wrapped around a lead or on a flat Method feeder and can also be compressed in the Ball Maker moulds to allow you to feed moulded pellet balls that break down quickly on impact with the water or when they hit the bottom.
Top coating pellets
In the pellet industry it is common practice to cover the pellets in a tiny amount of oil or additive to increase their palatability. This is especially true when rearing picky fish, such as halibut, or even for administering supplements to poorly fish. I use top coating to increase the attraction of my pellets and sometimes to give them a different smell. Top coating is easy, all you do is pour about 10ml of your chosen liquid over a kilo of pellets. Shake well and leave them for an hour and you will be left with pellets that have a slight shine to them and which have a lovely rich smell.
You can use any of the liquid Ace Cards, Liquid Bait Soaks or the dedicated Fish Oil Slick to top coat your pellets - the choice is yours. This summer I have used the spicy TG Active Bait Soak or Tandoori Shrimp to top coat my pellet hookbaits when fishing for barbel with some excellent results.
So if you are already an habitual user of pellets as I am, or thinking of trying out these baits for the first time, then I would certainly recommend you take a look at this new range from Nashbait. Not only are pellets a very effective bait straight from the bag, but this range incorporates some great edges that will definitely put more fish on the bank.