Baits and Bait Making

Introduction General Tips Natural Live Baits Seeds Boilies Paste (stink) Baits


This section of the 'Patch' is a place where interested anglers may either learn more about specific baits used within the realms of competitive bank fishing, or help to educate others within our sport by forwarding their own recipes and/or bait tips. Specifically, sections are devoted to general tips, as well as the preparation and use of natural live baits, seeds, boilies and paste (stink) baits. Angers may either peruse these sections or add to them by forwarding me a contribution via an e-mail / e-mail attachment. Any and all contributions are welcome, they can be of any length but should loosely fit the theme of one of the five above mentioned sections.

Since hook bait and groundbait are most often implemented in tandem, significant cross reference is made to the groundbait section. It is recommend that anglers consider the use and selection of hook bait as a function of the type of groundbait used.  See the tips section below for some specific examples.

Back to top      Back to index page

General Tips

Tip #1 - Match hook and bait sizes

Hook and bait sizes must be matched in order to ensure a high percentage of hookups. If a hook is too large for a bait, this may result in the bait either behaving unnaturally (the hook outweighs the bait, causing it to behave dissimilarly to any loose offerings of the same bait) or being difficult to take by the fish (small fish simply cannot 'swallow' larger sized hooks). Conversely, if a hook is too small for a bait, it's point often becomes masked by the bait, causing fish to be 'bumped' on the strike. Ideally, the hook and bait should be of approximately the same size and, when the bait is mounted on the hook, the point of the hook should be just slightly exposed. The following table forms a rough guide to match/bank fishing baits and appropriate hook sizes that in turn meet this criteria:

Hook Size  Recommended Bait Selection
22 or less Section of red worm
20 Single maggot, red worm segment
18 Single or double maggot, wax worm, whole red worm, leaf worm segment
16 Several maggots (2 or 3), wax worm, worm segment /maggot cocktail, single leaf worm, bunch leaf worm segments ('medusa's head', see below), large single corn or 2 small corn
14 Bunch of maggots (3 or 4), maggot / leaf worm cocktail, double or triple corn, 'medusa's head'
12 - 6(+) Paste (stink) baits or boilies with diameters from 8 - 18 mm, Night crawler (whole or section), chicken liver, hot dog section, shrimp

Match fishing is noted for using small hooks - for a reason! Ever wondered why that size 12 didn't help you bank those 'gills you could see in the margins of your local pond? The hook (even if coupled to a correctly sized bait) is just too big a package for the fish to take comfortably. The result - lots of unhitable 'dinks' and 'dips' of the float (bobber) as the 'gills try in vein to ingest the oversized bait. Switching to a size 18 or 16 hook with a section of worm or a maggot as bait would produce immediate hitable bites - try it out, it works!

A worm section is one of several pieces of worm that remains after a worm has been chopped up using a pair of scissors. Typically, worm segments are between 1/4" and 3/4" in length. Microscopic 1/8th" section of red worm can be used to tempt the smallest of fish on the hardest, coldest days of the year. When several worm segments are put on the hook together, the resulting writhing mass is said to be a 'medusa's head'. The movement and smell of such a bait is often irresistible to fish feeding on worm.

Tip #2 - Match hook type and bait to style of fishing

There is an old saying that match fishers angle for bites, not for fish. Clearly the more bites you get, the more fish you will catch. The number of bites an angler attracts can be assigned to a variety of factors, mainly centered around the choice and application of hookbait, groundbait, tackle and methods. We have already discussed the importance of selecting a hook and bait combination of an appropriate (similar) size, while the selection of a suitable groundbait is also discussed above, below and elsewhere. One important variable not yet discussed is the weight or gauge or wire used in the hook selected, as well as the diameter of the line it is attached to. In simple terms, there are basically two styles of fishing utilized with a live or natural bait: 1) Fishing the bait on the bottom with either an over depth bobber (float) rig or a leger/swimfeeder setup, or 2) Fishing the bait off the bottom either at a fixed depth, 'jigging' near the bottom or having the bait fall slowly through the water column ('on the drop' fishing). The choice of hook strength/weight and line diameter is generally based on whether method 1) or 2) is employed:

1) When fishing off the bottom the bait must behave as naturally as possible - a bait that sinks more rapidly than the similar loose fed samples (due to the fact that it is impaled on a heavy gauge hook) will often not be taken by a wary fish, while bait that doesn't fall naturally through the water because it is attached to a stiff / more visible length of fishing line may also receive a similar treatment. Thus, in order to attract a high number of bites it is essential to use the lowest diameter line feasible and lightest hook possible when fishing off the bottom. Many specialist fine wire hooks and fine diameter lines are available through specialty trout fishing stores or via mail order (see tacklebox for details). My personal favorites for off the bottom fishing are the following:

Fine wire hooks: Kamasan B510 (barbless) and B511 (barbed) up to size 18

Medium wire hooks: Kamasan B520 (microbarbed) up to size 16
Line: Reflo power line up to 0.11 mm diameter (3.6 lb breaking strain). The 0.10 mm dia. (2.10 lb b.s.) is most commonly used.

Note: Even though reasonably strong lines are available with diameters less that 0.10 mm, from experience it is known that 'gils often 'kink up' lines below this diameter. For this reason, except during harsh winter conditions, lines below 0.10 dia are seldom used while match fishing in the U.S.

2) When fishing on the bottom the bait generally remains still, so light hooks and fine lines are not as essential when compared to fishing up in the water. Fortunately, for the angler, larger species such as carp and catfish generally feed on the bottom, so we are able to scale up our equipment without affecting the presentation of the bait to any significant degree. However, when lines get to around 8 lb or so in breaking strain, their inherent stiffness begins to affect the behavior of the hook bait somewhat. Thus, it is advisable to use either a hair rig or a braided hook length under such circumstances (see tacklebox for details). My personal favorites for bottom fishing are the following:

Medium/heavy wire hooks: Kamasan B611 (barbed) up to size 14, Kamasan 'Animal' in size 12 and 10.

Heavy wire hooks: Drennan starpoint boilie hooks (barbed), size 8 - 4

Line: Reflo power line up to 0.15 mm dia. (5.14 lb b.s.), 8lb or 12 lb b.s. Stren green mainline with 8 lb or 12 lb b.s. Kryston soft braid hooklength material.

Tip #3 - Select an appropriate Hookbait / groundbait combination

As mentioned in the introduction, it is recommend that anglers consider the use and selection of hook bait as a function of the type of groundbait used. For example, sweet corn (intended for carp) works extremely well with a dense, sweet bottom groundbait containing Graham cracker crumbs and molasses meal. Conversely, worm fished over a mix of chopped worm segments sprinkled with bloodmeal is highly effective for crappies, perch and catfish. In essence, although there are occasional exceptions to this rule, sweet groundbaits seem to work best with sweet baits such as corn, fruit flavored boilies and maggots (baked or broiled maggots are a sweet tasting candy like delicacy throughout Mexico and central america!); fish baits in conjunction with fish meal / fish oil groundbaits and chopped worm and/or blood stinkbaits in conjunction with pulped worm and blood/fishmeal groundbaits. Details on specific groundbait mixes can be found in the groundbait section.


Back to top      Back to index page

Natural Live Baits

Back to top      Back to index page


Back to top      Back to index page


Back to top      Back to index page

Paste (stink) baits

Back to top      Back to index page