Groundbait is, strictly speaking, a particular mix of ingredients that attracts fish to your swim. It is breadcrumb or biscuit crumb based, and is distinct from loose-feed such as maggots or sweetcorn – even though you may use loosefeed to attract fish to your swim in a similar way.
International matches show that foreign groundbaits can outfish traditional British breadcrumb groundbait. So what is the secret of this continental attraction? And has bread-based groundbait crumbled against the opposition?
The right mix
The simplest and cheapest groundbait is the one you make at home from dried and crushed bread. Dry it in an airing cupboard or in an oven for several hours at a very low heat and then put it through a food processor.
How it behaves in the water is decided mainly by the amount of water you add and on the size of the particles. The most important feature is the texture. Fish it dry and fine – or sloppy and fine – for a cloudbait; moist – but not stodgy – to break up in the bottom half of your swim; or wetter, in larger particles, for a ball that stays together when throwing long distance or fishing fast waters.
Commercial groundbaits such as the French Sensas and the Belgian Van Den Eynde contain everything from vanilla and sweet biscuits to pigeon droppings!
Experts develop different mixes to do different things – depending on the type of water fished. Not all continental ground-baits are suitable for English waters. Some very heavy groundbaits designed for the industrial waterways of Germany are not marketed in England.
To take three examples: you might want a fine surface cloud mix for surface feeding fish, a semi-buoyant mix for silted or weeded water, and a heavy groundbait for fast rivers.
Special, Michiels, Ablette, Record and Cosmic Cloud are all surface cloud mixes. Roubaisen, Z72, and Kastaar hang enticingly in the water. Turbo+, Michiels Special Food, Magic and Natuur are heavier groundbaits. Most practised anglers blend a variety of groundbaits to get exactly the effect they want. Long experience tells them what is required.
Different water conditions suit different types of groundbait and different methods of groundbaiting. In still waters a light cloudbait mixed with a few squatts often attracts small rudd, roach and skimmers.
In faster water you may need a heavier ball. It shouldn’t start breaking up until it reaches the river bed. When using lighter groundbaits in fast moving waters – typically those that start to work about halfway to the bottom – be sure to introduce your groundbait upstream of the swim you want to feed.