Pulses are excellent baits for carp, and also catch other species such as tench. They can be introduced to a water in quite small quantities yet they often produce immediate results.
Their success may be due partly to their similarity to the natural foods of carp. Peas or beans thrown in as free offerings lie about in small groups, much like freshwater snails, for example, and are of a similar size. Carp are therefore likely to look on them as food straight away.
Preparation is essential — you should never use pulses as bait or free offerings when they are dry. Unsoaked, uncooked beans and peas absorb water and swell up inside the stomach of the unfortunate fish which eats them. At best, this causes discomfort to the fish, but at worst it can be fatal.
All pulses must be soaked in cold water for at least three to four hours and then cooked. After soaking, put them on to boil for three or four minutes, and then allow them to simmer for another five to ten minutes. Some beans can be harmful even to large animals like humans if not prepared thoroughly. Kidney beans in particular should be soaked overnight and then well cooked. Even so, try to avoid overcooking or boiling for too long as this removes some of the nutrients, making them less attractive to the fish or too soft for effective use as hookbait.
Feeding and using
As with any new bait, pre-baiting can increase the effectiveness of pulses. Carp and tench sometimes need time to get used to the idea that a new object is edible. Often, however, the possible resemblance of pulses to natural food seems to ensure that fish take them from the start.
Very heavy pre-baiting, as with boilies on a new water, is not necessary, although you may need more on waters heavily stocked with other species. You’ll find that on most waters, light pre-baiting is all that is necessary to switch the fish on to whichever pulse you want to use.
Beans to try include black-eye beans, tic beans, adzuki beans, pinto beans, mung beans, lima beans, soya beans, coffee beans, butter beans, kidney beans and haricot beans. The larger ones – such as butter beans – are less successful as multiple, or particle baits. The carp seem to lose interest in them more quickly – perhaps because of their size.
Of the peas, chick peas are usually regarded as the best, and indeed they generally outfish all other pulses. Other peas to try include maple peas, gunga peas and dun peas. The smallest pulses, such as maple peas, are often successful with species other than carp and tench.
Many tackle shops now sell beans and peas, particularly those which specialize in carp gear. They can also be bought in bulk from suppliers who advertise in the angling press. Other good sources include health food shops, delicatessens and food stores devoted to Asian foods, which often have a huge variety of pulses.
The advantage of pulses as baits, espe- 2.5-5cm daily for carp, is that fish seem to take to them very quickly. On hard-fished waters where boilies and other large baits are mostly used, they are an excellent alternative. Their only real disadvantage is that it can be difficult to bait up with them at long range, even with a catapult. Chick peas, however, are quite hard and can be fired quite a distance.
If you are looking for a new bait to try for carp and other species, which doesn’t require huge quantities of pre-baiting, try one of the pulses. They’re comparatively cheap too!