Tackle shops now carry a wide selection of modern colourings, and more products appear each year. The choice reflects how keen anglers are to use colours to enhance the pulling power of their baits.
The response of fish to colour is a complex subject, influenced by many factors including light, depth and clarity of water. But to the angler there’s no doubt that coloured baits are worth a try when the regulars have lost their touch.
You can experiment with many combina- tions of baits and colourings, but some are established fish takers.
Use only food dyes to colour baits and choose dyes/additives which have been tested and are safe and easy to use. Don’t handle strong commercial dyes. Some can be a health risk. Try colours and flavours separately at first to see which actually attracts the fish. Coloured maggots from tackle shops are tinted with commercial dyes put into their feed. These dyes are powerful and shouldn’t be used at home. Most shops make little or no extra charge for coloured maggots.
Maggot colour is down to personal preference, but red ones are the most popular for taking big tench and bream from gravel pits. They are useful fished with red hemp -a crucial coupling for barbel on such venues as the River Kennet.
Turmeric maggots By adding turmeric powder to white maggots you get a light bronze coloured maggot which has a distinctive flavour. This curried critter proves deadly on tidal rivers for dace. Coloured bread paste Add colouring to the water used to make bread paste and you’ll end up with a soft, effective bait.
It’s always a good idea to try your own colour experiments. Bill Rushmer finds paste dyed orange fished over a bed of mini boilies particularly successful. Red hemp First cook the hemp, then stir in red dye as it cools. On venues heavily fished with natural hemp, the red dyed sprouting seed is effective.
In hot weather red hemp works well on sections of the Thames, producing good bags of roach and dace. As well as being potent on the hook, red hemp is a deadly attractor fished with a red maggot hookbait. Sweetcorn Coloured sweetcorn is a very popular bait on waters where the fish have become wary of natural sweetcorn. All you need do for a super bait is put some dye in the sweetcorn water.
Chick peas jazzed up with colouring are a worthwhile bait – useful for fish that wise up to chick peas in the buff. Soak them in water containing the dye before cooking. Floaters Chum mixers are a popular surface-fished carp bait – often used so much that fish get hammered on them and become wary. But coloured floaters make a refreshing change for choosy fish.