Creating confidence is a very important part of angling and some anglers go to extraordinary lengths to try and get an edge over other anglers, be it in carp, pike or any other type of specialist fishing, however how does an angler get confidence? In simple terms most anglers gain confidence in a bait or tactic by simply catching quickly. Cast a red herring into a lake, receive a take and land a big pike and that angler will have confidence casting an identical bait out in future sessions, yet did he catch because his bait was red? Maybe, maybe not, that’s the grey area surrounding such a topic.
The problem with using static deadbaits for pike is that time plays a major part, especially in the depth of winter when pike may only feed in very short bursts, so proof that something work is difficult to gauge. If you are in the right place and your location is spot on then results will follow, however get this wrong and it really doesn’t matter what rig or bait you are using. The only way to gauge whether a coloured or oil injected bait works better than a standard fresh unhampered bait is to fish then side by side on identical rigs within a swim that contains a good head of pike. My experience has usually seen a pattern emerging in such swims, and that is, the best bait initially will be the natural coloured bait, however after a few captures bites will tend to dry up as these fish wise up. This is when colouring a baits come into their own.
Although coloured baits can be bought from specialist shops most anglers tend to dye their own and there are a few different ways to do this. Probably the easiest is to buy a purposely shop bought colour spray. All that an angler needs to do is to mount the hookbait onto the hooks then hold the spray around six-inches away before colouring. This is an expensive and wasteful process and I prefer to simply add powder colour to a plastic bag, add a few baits before blowing up and shaking. Once the baits are covered I place them in the freezer as this process tends to draw the colour into the fish’s skin better.
Before an angler starts to colour his baits, he really needs to look at certain factors surrounding the venue that’s being fished. If the water is murky then I see absolutely no advantage in colouring baits as any pike will be using its other senses to locate its prey. In this situation, if an angler stops catching from a productive swim then it would be far more advantageous to change the type of bait being used. I have complete faith in sardines and this will be my first choice bait every time, usually one will be fished directly on the bottom, the other popped up. If I am aware pike are present, yet bites are not forthcoming then I will initially start playing with one bait, maybe breaking the head of it so the juices and blood are allowed to leak out or add sight stops to each hook. A coloured bait would only be cast out as a last resort, yet on the odd occasion I have been amazed at the upturn in bites, which goes to show that on certain venues, colour does make a difference, yet in hindsight, when such a marked difference has been noticed my belief is it’s simply down to past angling pressure. If I was fishing a venue with a small head of big pike then I would try my best to find out what, where and when these big fish get caught, as this to me is far more influential than colour of bait, however if I knew that the going bait was mackerel then I would have one rod using the freshest mackerel possible, yet with the other rod I would have no problem colouring one or even adding a flavour or oil in order to try and find an edge.
I know a predator angler that had amazing success when using golden trout, it was a bait he had complete confidence in yet these very specialist deadbaits were very difficult to source and came at a cost, so he simply dyed normal trout orange to keep ahead of others.
The big question then is, does colour matter and the answer to this is yes. Ask a lure or fly angler this question and the answer will also be yes, however a lure or fly angler will constantly keep changing things in order to find what’s working. If he catches just one fish this maybe a coincidence but often when the lure/fly is matched to what the fish are feeding on, multiple captures are possible. In most other styles of angling be it specialist carp or general, colour makes a huge difference. You only have to ask me what colour maggots I buy, red, or what colour piece of artificial corn do I reach for first, yellow! Colour may not be as popular in static deadbaiting yet on the odd occasion it can be the difference between catching and blanking.
This now brings me briefly onto the subject of using oils on, within or next to deadbaits and asks the question, does this make a difference? My answer to this would once again be yes, however that doesn’t mean I would be adding additional oils to every deadbait I use. In fact I have rarely injected or flavoured a bait directly as I have always felt that by doing so I was interfering with the baits natural draw. As long as the bait I was using was fresh, then that would always be my first line of attack, and if I felt the need to tamper with the bait then instead of adding oil to the fish I would feel far happier using a swim-feeder filled with foam and soaked in oil. To me this gives me the best of both worlds, an additional sent draw around a really fresh bait.
Again I do know anglers that have soaked baits in flavour before freezing them and would swear that they create an edge and have outscored conventional unflavoured baits on certain venues, but that doesn’t mean all. Similarly I know anglers that instinctively inject their baits with water soluble fish oils as its something they are confident in and have faith in catching, yet if you feel you want to try this method then I would advice that an oil specifically designed for this is used instead of just adding fish oil as unless you add a emulsifier to it then it might just be having an adverse effect.
All in all whether you feel the need to colour or oil up your deadbaits, the word confidence keeps coming back, as this is what all anglers need. If you are confident in what you are doing, then you’re half way their, but don’t get stereotyped in one approach. Keep an open mind, never be afraid to try something knew and if you find yourself sitting behind motionless rods then before tampering with your bait, take a look at your location as this is without a doubt the most important part of catching.