Pellets are amazingly successful carp baits and the diversity and potential uses of them are very exciting! Pellets range from pet and animal and fish feeds to proprietary carp pellets. They can differ greatly from boilies and from other baits such as particle and seed baits because their modes of action and soluble characteristics can be so uniquely powerful. Pellets can be formulated especially for carp and be composed of specific ingredients, additives, enhancers, colours, flavours, enhancers and so on to specifically improve numbers of bites when used in fishing for carp and improving readymade pellets and being able to make homemade pellets are a great competitive edges indeed!
Pellets may range for example from the following: halibut, trout, salmon, and corn steep liquor pellets etc. Salmon fry crumb is a very popular product applied in carp fishing too. Pellets such as these catch loads of carp just used as free baits in volumes and as hook baits. They all can be sourced in a range of sizes which is a great advantage. The carp bait industry has now such a diversity of pellets designed specifically for carp dietary requirements and this is important as these improve carp health and condition and immunity all year round and are very digestible so you can get more bites using them.
Pellets are usually cylinder shaped but they can be other shapes. Ellipse shaped carp pellets are especially attractive because when disturbed by feeding fish they can raise and flutter off the lake bed and stimulate fish more. Carp pellets made using a high percentage of very buoyant ingredients are excellent for warier fish as these can hover in the water at different depths and make it more difficult for carp to distinguish which baits are attached to a hook.
Pellets are most commonly based on a carbohydrate binder. This makes them more cost effective than many protein rich baits; however these often benefit from further enhancement. Cereal and grain based pellets are great carriers for flavours for instance which increase attraction and they can also be dyed bright colours using edible dyes to stimulate sight feeding more. Since these carbohydrate binders teamed with other ingredients such as fish meals are fairly soluble and break down relatively easily they can be exploited in many ways.
For instance you can make a mixture of many different pellets so you have baits that break down over different time spans so prolonging attraction and stimulatory impacts of soluble substances in your swim. Also pellets can have very different characteristics nutritionally and functionally and can be exploited in ground up powder form in endless ways. Many people have used ground up trout pellets for instance as a beginner base for boilie making. These work well and are nutritionally stimulating; however trout pellets are designed to put weight on farmed trout for profit and are not optimised for feed triggering.
Many anglers think that just using salmon or trout pellets dry straight from the bag is ideal and of course this format is very convenient and easy to use. However you are not going to get most bites possible by using a single form of pellet like this. In my experience pellets work best when you have a mixture of pellet types, shapes and other formats and characteristics that incite far more intensive and prolonged feeding.
For instance I might fish a PVA bag filled with trout pellets in spring using boilies on my rigs, and this catches plenty of fish, but this can be improved upon massively! I might used chopped up or shattered 21 millimeter halibut pellets in big PVA bags and use a homemade pellet-based boilie that is not made a round shape but is a rectangular or other angular shape to match the irregular shapes of the broken up free baits.
Carp can become wary of one type of pellet if used very frequently. Of course using mixtures of type of pellets both as loose feed and as part of your hook bait approach makes it difficult for fish to avoid your hook baits. Hemp pellets are very useful for forming a fine carpet of bait that forms a fine sediment layer on the bottom which easily clouds up and hangs in the water very attractively. The rate a pellet dissolves often depends upon the percentage of soluble components used, the texture of the pellets, the binders used, level of oils used and way pellets are extruded under pressure and heated to make them bind.
Adding a layer of oils to pellets can not only improve attraction and nutritional content by prolong break down so they dissolve more slowly. This is very useful in summer and warmer water temperatures above around 15 degrees Celsius for example when high carp metabolism requires more energy and when digestive enzymes can break down oils best in to energy and for nutrition etc.
You can make pellets break down faster by simply soaking them in water for a short period of time. One simple method of making paste is simply to soak pellets in water for anything from a few hours to 24 hours depending upon the pellets being used and then squeezing the wet pellets together. To do this best you need to test small batches and record your results and times but once refined this is a very good fast way to make basic pastes for many applications. This type of paste can be improved in a vast number of ways to achieve more bites including using a percentage of more protein-rich and betaine rich pellets alongside trout pellets for instance.
When actually fishing and camping on the bank of a lake, making soluble paste fast can be a challenge if time is vitally important. Scalding pellets using boiling water is just one method and of course the boiling water will make the binders in the pellets bind better. The ways you can experiment with pellets is endless. This is particularly so when you are adapting uses and applications of pellets for different conditions, times of year and temperatures and depths etc. For instance using a mixture of corn steep liquor pellets and hemp pellets in winter exploits the fact that these pellets do not have the kinds of oil contents that trout and salmon and halibut pellets often have.
These types of ‘salmonid’ pellets often contain a high level of oils because not only are they attractive and stimulate feeding, but they are there to supply the high energy needs of these fish. But fish such as trout, salmon and halibut have a higher energy requirement than carp. Carp certainly do not require high oil levels outside of optimum water temperatures from around 12 to 15 degrees Celsius plus. In fact using high oil pellets in low water conditions is detrimental as these congeal and lock up the soluble components of baits that are vital to be released to actually attract fish to the baits.
You need to remember that oily pellets are not suitable for low temperatures. They are simply not the best option because they will slow down fish metabolism as carp enzymes will struggle to break down such bulk oils. Not only does this slow down fish activity but of course this is not good because it can vastly reduce fish feeding and lower your chances of getting the most bites possible. For these kinds of reasons I do not use oily salmon, trout and halibut pellets in low water temperatures. Sure you might catch some fish but nowhere near as many as if you have specifically chosen bait which is optimised for low water conditions.
Of course the premium grade winterized trout pellets etc which are lower protein, very low oil and optimised for digestion containing wheat germ and other factors to improve digestion are far more ideal for winter and spring fishing.
The number of carp pellets you can use in low temperatures and all year round is simply staggering. When pellets have been made specifically for carp dietary requirements they tend not to be very oily at all reflecting the fact that carp metabolism is not as high as that of most sea fish and trout and salmon for example.
Many carp pellets are designed to deliver optimum nutritional levels in digestible forms. Salmon, trout and halibut pellets often contain a level of predigested or enzyme-treated fish proteins in the fish meals used and this reflects that these fish have a higher requirement for protein in the diet than that of carp. Of course predigested and enzyme-treated additives are beneficial because of their rich amino acid profiles that easily become solution, so delivering a stimulatory concentration of free amino acids into the water so triggering fish feeding. Carp pellets have this kind of effect and impacts but these can differ in the degree of impacts they have on fish senses and the degree of digestibility and nutritional profiles they offer.
Some carp pellets are claimed to be bloodworm pellets for instance and of course the stimulatory profile of bloodworm is very well proven in carp fishing. But some carp pellets are simply cheap carbohydrate or fish type pellets soaked or coated in a layer of liquid blood worm. You need to beware that you get what you pay for and the best pellets are actually composed of the real protein-rich substance right through the bait. For instance the CC Moore bloodworm pellets are composed of a high percentage of real bloodworm for maximum feed-triggering impacts!
Pellets are very useful as free baits on their own, or used in ground bait mixtures for instance. You can mix them up, break them up use them alone or with particle baits such as seeds, beans, pulses, grains and cereals etc. you can use very fine pellets that dissolve very fast in an hour teamed with pellets that may take 4 hour or much longer. The choice depends upon the impacts you want to deliver to your fish and the applications you are using.
In summer pellets break down fastest so why not choose them specifically and use them with this effect in mind for maximum impacts on fish senses!
If you want a layer of fine bait on the bottom then fast dissolving pellets are great. If you want to spod baits out that dissolve fast and cloud the water then choose very soluble and fine pellets suitable for this effect. If you want fish to feed for very prolonged periods and keep them in a swim but not satisfied choose pellets that are going to break down but release attractors into the water and into bottom sediment on the lake bed to keep fish rooting around for prolonged periods.
Hemp pellets and more buoyant pellets such as CC Moore Milkimin pellets are great. Some of their pellets contain substances which have a cumulative impact on fish feeding so that the more that is repeatedly consumed encourages even more repetitive feeding. The betaine HNV and Cantax Red type pellets are just a couple of great examples.
Pellets can be treated in a vast array of ways to improve feed-triggering effects and to boost solubility and intensity of impacts upon carp receptors and internally on many levels. Many anglers overlook using essential oils and additional flavours with dry pellets as well as additional bulk oils and liquid foods. When treating pellets with liquids heating the liquids helps their penetration into the baits. Pellets can be treated with any powder you want for any specific effect. For instance coating pellets in chilli powder, fish meals, or milk powders is just a starting point to improve impacts in the water.
I hope you see how versatile pellets really are. Here I have just offered a few tips to possibilities and uses and effects. The most effect way to use pellets is to buy the very best quality you can and experiment using these in as many different ways as you can – and actually write down what you do, the levels of any liquids or additives and the methods that you use and the catch results you achieve.
This will give you the ‘bigger picture’ as fast as possible and give you the greatest appreciation and understanding of how best to exploit pellets for maximum fishing results! If in any doubt just remember that your confidence comes from actual feedback from your fish; your fish will soon tell you which pellets, methods and applications of uses and preparations are most effective.
Using pellets as carp bait is no random chance exercise but simply all about methodically experimenting what you do and use and recording your catch results so you can constantly refine and better what you are doing and get better and better results! I have found over the decades that this is how true confidence is achieved with all carp baits! Revealed in my unique readymade bait and homemade bait carp and catfish bait secrets ebooks is far more powerful information look up my unique website (Baitbigfish) and see my biography below for details of my ebooks deals right now!
By Tim Richardson.