by: Tim Richardson
Flavours are one of the favourite topics of discussion among carp anglers. But some are many times more effective and have literally caught millions more carp than others! Let’s take a deeper sniff at irrisistible flavours…
Many flavours general effectiveness on different waters differs over the season and in which bait they are used. Probably the biggest variable in using flavours is the best level to use in a bait or bait soak or dip mixture.
Flavours are often used conventionally as a label to differentiate your bait from others, perhaps even on a similar base mix. The orthodox thinking of most anglers on the bank is that flavours effect your bait pretty much solely by making it smell good Perhaps in a fruity, fishy, sweet or other appetising way. True, flavours can do this and at least this is how we as humans experience many flavours.
Many of the flavours which have stood the test of time in an increasingly competitive carp fishing market are feeding triggers of extraordinary dimensions. They can stimulate a search and feed response from various ranges in the water and impact on multiple carp senses and responses simultaneously.
My personal opinion is that this is the whole point of a bait anyway.
Most flavours can catch carp very effectively even if only for limited periods when used directly as a neat soak. Although the very much less water soluble propylene glycol flavours have been very much used in the UK, being a cheaper alternative, their use is now far less prevalent.
In the States and many parts of the world, propylene flavours and those supermarket cooking flavours based on acetic acid are used by the majority of anglers to good effect still. However, the fully water soluble alcohol and glycerol flavour, for example are much more popular in the UK for pressured carp water fishing.
Many Americans will mention the still popular supermarket flavours as part of their homemade bait recipes. This goes for even those fishing competitively in pay lake tournaments; although many are learning there are much superior options available.
Almost invariably the 2 most commonly used cheap supermarket flavours seem to be Strawberry and vanilla, but chocolate and coffee are also popular along with other fruity ones. It might be a surprise that many Americans use Cola or Red Bull or Cream Soda, or Cool Aid to flavour carp baits in dough or boilie baits.
Flavours are most often complex combinations of quite volatile ingredients. Anglers have been able to achieve good results on many such alternatives from Slush Puppy flavour, milk shakes, ice cream flavours and melted ice cream. I think at the last count the MacDonalds strawberry flavour formula had approaching 30 different components.
Everyday drinks make ideal flavours for many wide and deeply scientific reasons. From vodka, Tia Maria, whiskey, brand, liquors, condensed milk, coconut milk, in fact many nut and seed milks, like sesame seed Tahini. Yeast extract and peanut butter blend with other ingredients and make great flavours; these 2 examples will enhance your baits taste and palatability effects too.
In solution, kelp and seaweeds powders for example, add taste enhancing factors and very carp attractive minerals and certain important vitamins. There are many sugary concentrates that carp love and sugar extracts from various industrial processes and bye-products. Adding these gives a very attractive difference to using simply straight liquid flavours.
For example, malt extract maltose, lactose, and fructose. Liquorice extract is another very sweet alternative if you are trying to avoid the usual use of the more commonly used sweeteners from fishing bait suppliers and supermarket ones like sodium saccharin, Splenda and the like. (Saccharin is certainly not the best for a sweet after-taste and Splenda is positively unhealthy.)
Some of most well-known additives to sweeten your bait are 2 extremely sweet natural proteins available from bait suppliers; namely Talin and Thaumatin B. If all you use presently is a supermarket flavour like vanilla, and are just adding molasses, honey, black treacle or brown sugar, then using one of these super sweeteners will make a big difference to results. However, there are many forms of intense sweeteners and in the food and confectionary worlds these can range from new forms of sugars articficially created, to common amino acids you might not expect to be used for sweetening. The amine forms called betaines (yes there are many forms of this) is just one example. Some sweeteners are used to stabilise other factors such as food acidity, but in reality the ways substances work synergistically is very complex.
You may not favour anything that appears to be artificial but many of these flavour and sweetening substances are in fact highly beneficial and you need to dig deeper in order to discover what the effects and more significant drawbacks any of these might or might not have. Ccmoore Lactose B plus is a really well proven taste enhancer, feeding trigger, attractor and sweetener. Their fructose concentrate is outstandingly successful too.
You can make up your own sweeteners and flavours etc by all kinds of means starting from simply mixing 2 substances together. Of course you can be as creative as you like becuse you are aiming to stimulate carp receptors not human ones. Once you have observed carp consuming duck or goose excrement your idea of what is attractive to carp has got to change. All those adverts pointing out the flavorist lingo of top notes and subtle tones, rich deep profiles etc of a pineapple or strawberry flavour are not particularly helpful and really intended to sell the bait to you.
Some of my best flavours and liquid complexes can easily make you feel physically sick to your stomach; but carp go mad for them, so think about it! Many kinds of solvents are used by glue sniffers. Why is this? Are you strangely drawn to take a second sniff of anything from amyl acetate, or nail polish remover, or Airfix glue perhaps? These should not be attractive (or should they?!) It comes down to our evolution of sensory reception and special sensitivity and adaptations to stimuli, (as seen in my flavours, feeding triggers and carp senses-explained, and exploited, ebook.)
I think most carp anglers would personally favour a bait substance resembling a ripe banana or fresh salmon than something relatively high in ammonia which drive carp mad but stink out everything when the bottle is opened! I laugh when I consider the impact of the Rod Hutchinson called Secret Agent and how spillage of this was a big deal and generally reminded you of its presence even for months afterwards.
Real extracts in solution work very well giving off fine particles off the bait along with dissolved compounds, flavours and so on. Vanilla extract, blue cheese powder, anchovy extract, garlic powder, chilli powder, spirulina powder, Robin Red type products and kelp powder are good examples of what Id term as innate bait flavourings.
There are numerous tastes to exploit in flavours and one not mentioned in angling circles is that Japanese originating one called unami. This is a unique taste which will give quite an edge in some competitive fishing situations and is worth exploiting.
As for the usual sweet, savoury, salty, fishy, spicy, meaty and bitter type tastes most of us are familiar with I have noticed an important trend. It seems that if a bait has milk type ingredients or fishy ingredients for example, then the flavour added by the average angler might well reflect the perceived characteristic of those ingredients.
A milk powder based bait would usually have a milky, creamy, sweet or fruity flavour. A fish and shellfish based bait might get flavours like crab, lobster, salmon etc, although fruit flavours are often used and compliment the acid nature of these protein type baits. It does pay to experiment and use flavours that are not normally thought of as used in that type of bait.
Combinations of fishing flavours have always been a good edge whenever the dominantly successful single flavour on a water is losing its effectiveness. For example, adding another flavour to Scopex or Tutti Frutti can produce good results. Care needs to be taken not to over-do flavours most especially in hard pressured waters where carp may by very wary of strongly flavoured baits of particular types.
The flavours from bait companies have mostly been evolved from decades of use and testing in fishing situations and these are best used as the basis of your flavour combination if you are new to the practice of making your bait as unique and different to the normal as possible. This fishing bait secrets ebooks author has many more fishing and bait edges; so read on to find out more about a very unique bait secrets ebooks series!
By Tim Richardson.
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