The modern trend for using floating particles such as Chum Mixer and other cat and dog biscuits for carp fishing on the surface has overshadowed floater cake — an excellent surface bait. Easy to make, it’s one of the most exciting baits for taking carp off the surface. It can really get the heart pounding as you see the grey shadow of that big lunker slowly approaching.
Making the mix
Floater cake is essentially a mixture of eggs with a number of dry ingredients such as casein and soya flour, plus flavours and colourings. There are any number of successful recipes, though it’s probably easier to make it using one of the many proprietary base mixes on the market.
If you prefer to make your own base, mix your ingredients in the following proportions: 2oz of rennet casein; 2oz of soya flour; 2oz of sodium casemate; 2oz of calcium casemate; loz of vitamin/mineral supplement; and loz of dried seaweed
You can make alternative base mixes with 4oz of ground cat biscuits such as Munchies mixed with 3oz of sodium caseinate, or 4oz of trout pellets with 2oz of soya flour and 2oz of sodium caseinate. Use about 5oz of the blend of powders to four size 3 eggs.
When making boilie baits for use on the bottom the aim is to mix the eggs and the dry ingredients into a stiff paste. However, when making floater cake you need to reduce the ratio of dry mix to eggs considerably, so that the two, when mixed together, have the consistency of a thick soup. For instance, to four size 3 eggs you need to add 4oz Hi-Nu-Val.
Fishing the cake
Unlike particle floater fishing with, say, Chum Mixers, floater cake does not tend to encourage lots of fish to feed. Instead, it comes into its own with ultra crafty fish which are quite likely to spook away from a surface covered in floating particles. A thumbnail-sized piece of cake, skilfully presented, often fools these shy carp into making a mistake.
Another way to fish cake is to present a large cube in among a heavy floating carpet of unflavoured Chum Mixers. The carp is probably drawn to the cake by its smell and because its different shape, texture and colour make it stand out from the uniform carpet of Mixers.
Rigs and hooklinks
You can use a hair rig for fishing floater cake, but you must ensure that the hook itself does not hang below the bait where it will undoubtedly stand out and may well frighten a shy carp away from the bait – to say nothing of the fact that the carp would probably miss the hook on the take.
Instead, use a very short hair with a length of fine silicone tubing to hold the bait tight to the hook. This prevents the hook from hanging down and possibly scaring the fish.
Alternatively, try the set up where a tiny but very strong hook is supported by a small piece of rig foam so that it also floats on the surface. The cube of floater cake is fished on a standard hair about 1-2in long.
Use the lightest line you can get away with. The high-tech low diameter lines such as Drennan Double Strength are excellent. For instance, in open water pick 6 lb Double Strength; close to snags or in thick weed use 15 lb Double Strength.
There could be times when ultra cautious fish may be aware of the nylon hooklink’s presence on the surface. Under these circumstances, switch to Kryston Multi-Strand to form your hooklink. This is almost undetectable since its myriad strands separate on contact with the water, making it all but invisible on the surface.
Floater cake tactics
The standard tactic when fishing with floater cake is not difficult – simply catapult 30 or 40 cubes out among the basking fish, then cast with your hookbait in among the free offerings.
Carp which haven’t seen the cake before readily respond to this approach, but they soon wise up after they have been caught on it a few times. That’s when it pays dividends to fish the cake either on its own with no free offerings, or among a carpet of floating cat or dog biscuits.
The art of floater fishing is knowing when to strike. There are times when you see a huge pair of lips that seem to engulf the cake – almost unmissable, you think. Yet the consequent strike hits thin air and the bait comes flying out of the carp’s mouth. Often, the carp seems more puzzled by this strange occurrence than you, for it seldom spooks when this happens.
To avoid this you must always wait for the fish to level out just under the surface after it has taken the cake before you strike. It’s a matter of self-discipline, of course, since there’s a great temptation to strike as soon as the fish mouths the bait. Resist it if you can. Count one…two slowly to yourself, and THEN hit the take.