Aniseed is probably the best known and most controversial ‘deadly’ ad-ditive of them all, yet there are thousands who have been taken in by its mythical reputation. The author rates the results he has achieved with it as being quite inconclusive. There are a number of expensive ‘revolutionary’ fish at-tractors on the market, most of which are based on aniseed – try not to get caught! Aniseed is also sup-posed to be a deadly attractor of cats and dogs, but when the author tried it on several cats they at best ignored it.
No bait manufacturer can package and put a price tag on success, much as he would like you to think so. Additives need intelligent handling before they begin to improve your fishing.
Since the days of Walton the topic of ‘secret deadly baits’ has captured the imagination of anglers. The whole question of wonder additives and closely guarded recipes is emotive to say the least. It can con-fuse, frustrate and disillusion the novice. However, additives continue to be in vogue and are obviously here to stay. In fact there are thousands of possible additives belonging to eight common groups: oils, essences, colouring, meat ex-tract, blood, sweeteners, pulverized seeds and natural juices. In recent years a great deal of effort has been expended (mainly by the carp fishing fraternity) in developing special meat and ‘high protein’ baits; they will not be covered here as they are fully discussed in the bait section of issues 16 and 43 of the New Fisherman’s Handbook.
Turned up their noses!
The traditional way to use oils like aniseed is to incorporate them in a breadpaste, while a few optimists immerse their hookbait in a concen-trated ‘dip’. Some additives, notably aniseed, are even supplied in aerosol cans so that you can give your baits a spray at the water’s edge.
Oil of geranium
Another additive, reputed to go down well with roach, is oil of geranium. It is not very pleasant to us humans, but apparently it has worked for some anglers. Some years ago, the chemists in Hertfordshire sold out when the rumour leaked out that local experts were using it to make exceptional catches.
If you can tolerate the mess and obnoxious smell, pilchard oil is cer-tainly an additive that can be used to advantage in pike fishing. A variety of methods can be used to introduce this into your swim; the most effective is probably to mix the oil with groundbait and scatter it around. This will attract the small fish which in turn will draw the pike. This attractor in many ways resembles the ‘rubby dubby’ well proven by sea anglers.
There are several common essences used by the housewife that have been borrowed, with moderate success, by carp and tench anglers. These include vanilla, almond and banana essence. All are blended into conventional breadpastes and, unlike many renowned additives, their smells are not obnoxious. All three of the above additives have been proved to some degree by anglers of repute who have carried out carefully planned ‘control’ experiments with identical tackle and plain bait set-up in the same swim as a rig using an essence additive. The most notable devotee was probably Bob Reynolds who, in the late 1950s, made some formidable carp captures at Billing using banana essence to flavour his baits.
There are many colourings available, the most widely used being the maggot dyes, and these can also be used to colour pastes and ground-bait. The whole question of whether fish hunt by scent or colour-sensitive vision, or a combination of both, is most complex. Nevertheless, a change in colour can make all the difference in certain conditions. Frequently the angler does not know why, but reasons seem unimportant while his success lasts! The author had a very successful tench season some years ago when, for some reason, the tench showed a quite definite, temporary preference for yellow breadpaste.
Sausage meat and gravy A variety of meat extracts are widely used by carp and barbel anglers. They are simply commercial culinary products such as gravy browning, Bovril, Marmite and Oxo and are not to be confused with the much more sophisticated recipes for high protein baits. But they do have a place among the other purpose-mixed preparaions.
In recent years Continental bait additives and groundbaits have been imported in ever increasing quantities. Much of their popularity stems from the match performances of foreign teams, particularly the French, when competing in international events.
Although dozens of products are now appearing on the market, three of them are proven fish attractors. Probably the most popular is a pro- duct called ‘Roubaisen’. This is an extremely light and fine mixture of fish attractors containing 20 different ingredients. Bream of all sizes are attracted by its smell and as the product contains little, if any, cereal, the fish do not feed on it. The effect is to excite them into a feeding frenzy and if your hookbait is correctly presented, the bites that result are positively amazing. ‘Magic’, like Roubaisen, is a com-bination of many ingredients, reportedly 14, the base of which is a strong chocolate smelling substance. As in most Continental feed baits, ground hempseed is added for its oily content. This groundbait is again particularly effective for bream but also seems capable of attracting the majority of British fish.
An ideal additive to traditional cereal groundbait is Sensas 2000. This product is extremely effective in rivers owing to its bulky nature when mixed, yet is capable of breaking up on the river bed, giving off a scent which attracts fish from downstream swims.
To get these additives into perspective, it must be remembered that they are not an easy way of catching fish; they are merely attractors and stimulators. The most im-portant factor is the correct use of the correct bait in the right place.