Balanced Baits - Scott Lloyd

Forward thinking angler, Scott Lloyd, reveals an edge that has accounted for some of the largest, trickiest day-ticket water carp in the country.

“Nearly all of my fishing involves balanced baits in some shape or form. For me, they are infinitely more effective than just a standard bottom bait and here is why.
Most of the lakes that I, and the vast majority of anglers for that matter, fish are extremely busy. Fish soon become able to adopt their feeding styles to prevent themselves from being hooked on such a regular basis. For the anglers that believe that carp, or as I call them, Rig Wizards, are stupid haven’t spent enough time watching them!

I do a lot of tree climbing, in fact, most of the day I’m up one and especially in the warmer months. It is quite mind blowing to watch big, pressured carp, especially in a clear water environment, spit out or just avoid your rigs all together.

What I have learnt the most is how far away fish will feed from the bottom. Naturally, a bigger fish struggles to feed with its lips hovering along the bottom, mainly because it normally has a few pounds on the gut. Sometimes, I have fish feeding as much as 12 inches off the bottom, sucking in the food items, with the lighter objects going in to its mouth with ease and very little caution at all.

It was because of this that I have always made a point to use something that is extremely lightweight. A bait that can soar in to the carps mouth under even the slightest force will certainly help you catch more fish.

If a fish was grazing around the bottom, picking the same size item with every mouthful, it will instantly recognise danger should it come across something that is heavier. If the item is even lighter than the freebies, the hook will enter the carp’s mouth at a higher speed thus giving you a stronger, more secure hook hold.

There are a number of ways to do this. The first and the easiest way to do this is with a straight out-of-the-pack wafter hook bait. These are already designed to be of neutral buoyancy, without the need to add extra weight to them.

Although I generally like to play around with various colours, orange seems to be my fail safe pigment for nicking a few extra bites. I did really well last year fishing the Krill Wafters over a bed of chopped baits. Whole boilies work and work well but having a small barrel hook bait over a nice pile of chops is far more inconspicuous.

Last year I did a lot of fishing on Christchurch and it soon became apparent that the fish were often petrified of whole baits. When they did decide to eat them, they had been in the water for three or four days. A lot of people, myself included, haven’t got that much time to fish so they easy way around it was to fish chops. They were the same Krill bait, only now the fish would get on them within a 24-hour period.

On other venues though, whole baits still and always will work extremely well. There is an easy way of making a standard boilie balanced, and that is with the use of a nut drill and some cork plugs. You can decide on how buoyant you want the bait by the amount of cork you insert. I normally drill it out to the middle and that works well for me. But I like to place it in the margins and move the water round with my hand to see if the bait leaves the bottom. If it doesn’t, then I will drill a little more out and add a bit more cork.

The options really are endless and the lakebeds that can be fished on top of effectively expand too. You could fish a very slow sinking bait over the top of light weed with no worry that it has plunged in to it, deeming the rig useless with the hook point imbedded in weed or debris.

I generally fish all of my rigs very similar, all with a good-sized piece of shrink tube. With the bait being so light and able to go far back in to the fish’s mouth, I want to make sure that when it does spit it out, I have something that will always catch hold and the aggressive angle the shrink tube creates certainly gives me that.

Another important element to the rig is a large lump of putty below the tubing too. This also has to be considered when you are playing around with the buoyancy level, but for me is a must. It works in conjunction with the shrink tube, by pulling it down in to the bottom lip. Some of the hook holds that I have had have been nothing short of incredible. I generally use a size 6 Widegape, which also leaves me reassured that there is very little chance of the hook coming out.

Have a go at using a balanced bait this year. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed, they have accounted for some fantastic sessions for me and they will do the same for you too.