The mighty pinkie

You’ve probably seen bluebottles buzzing around your house and garden in high summer and know that the larvae of these flies are large white maggots. You may also have seen greenbottles. These have dark green, slightly iridescent bodies and are responsible for producing the maggots known to anglers as pinkies.

Although pinkies are smaller than white maggots – coming closer to a squatt in size -they should not be thought of merely as a feed maggot. They are an excellent hook-bait in their own right.

Small but lively

When fresh, pinkies are virtually white but after a day or two they take on the pale, rose-tinted hue which gives them their name. But it is not so much their colour as their liveliness which catches fish. Hardy Throw a few squatts into water and they soon give up the ghost – especially when the water is cold. This is not the case with pinkies. They wriggle long after they are thrown in – continuing to attract fish more harm than good.

On shallow waters, however, where there is little or no flow – such as canals, drains, pools and the margins of slow rivers – loose-feeding with less dense baits can encourage fish to feed on the drop. You can try feeding them by themselves or mixed in with larger maggots.

For example, you can often get a shoal of perch boiling by steadily trickling in a few pinkies. Because pinkies are slightly bigger than squatts they are easier to put on a hook and less prone to damage by it. Size selection In general, small baits are less selective than large ones – as the size of a bait increases there are fewer and fewer fish that can swallow it. This means that if you use a large bait you may have to wait quite a while for a bite.

If you are after a specimen carp, tench, bream, chub or barbel you may be prepared to wait. But if you are pleasure fishing or fishing a match, and struggling for a bite -from any species – it usually pays to use a small hookbait. So why choose a pinkie -why not use a single large maggot?

On hard waters, where fish above a couple of ounces are few and far between, a large white maggot can be considered a large bait! The principle of selection still applies: fish that have difficulty in swallowing a large maggot probably won’t get caught on one. A pinkie seems to be just the right size for roach of lAoz, gudgeon, ruffe and little perch, and still gives you a chance of connecting with a bonus tench, carp or bream.

Colour and hook size

Red pinkies are a popular bait for bream and perch, with natural pinkies good for roach and gudgeon. Fluorescent pinkies come in pink, orange and occasionally blue and green. They are extremely bright and can be worth a try – especially as a cocktail with worms.

Single pinkies sit well on a size 24 or 22 hook, with doubles on a size 22 or 20.

Nuts – Carp go crazy for ‘em

Unlike most other carp baits, nuts seem to retain their appeal even after lots of fish have been caught on them. Why this is so is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps, like us, carp simply find nuts rather ‘more-ish’! As with other particle baits, however, nuts usually only catch carp consistently in summer.

Nut safety rules

Misused, nuts can cause carp to lose condition and even die. Too many anglers baiting up with too many nuts can make carp become preoccupied with them to the exclusion of other foods, resulting in the fish suffering vitamin deficiency. Uncooked or only partially cooked nuts, meanwhile, can swell fatally inside a carp’s gut. These problems have led to nuts being banned on some carp waters. Where nuts are still allowed, no harm at all can come to the carp provided you don’t use them by the bucketful and only use fully cooked ones.

Buying and cooking

The most widely used nuts are peanuts, especially the jumbo variety. You can get them from pet shops and supermarkets. It should go without saying that it’s the unroasted, unsalted ones you want!

Next – and, many anglers believe, as good as peanuts — are tiger nuts. Supplies of these have been erratic in recent years but when obtainable you can buy them from health food shops and some tackle shops.

Less frequently used are hazelnuts, almonds and brazils. These can all be bought from supermarkets but are rather expensive. They tend to be used mainly to overcome peanut and tiger nut bans -although increasingly these days you encounter blanket bans on all nuts.

Soak the nuts in a saucepan of cold water for at least 24 hours, then bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes in the case of peanuts and hazelnuts, 30 minutes in the case of tiger nuts, almonds and brazils. Incidentally, don’t expect tiger nuts to soften as much as the others – they remain quite hard however long you cook them.

Fishing with nuts

Most nuts are best fished two at a time on a 2.5cm hair. Brazils, though, can be fished individually or in pieces. With Dacron or multi-strand, a 30cm link, 2oz fixed-lead and tight line is usually best. With a monofilament link it’s normally better to shorten it to 15cm, to reduce the risk of bite-offs, and use a loz running-lead and a slack line.

Most cooked hazelnuts have almost neutral density, which makes them useful for fishing over silt or weed. Some cooked hazelnuts actually float; with the addition of a small piece of rig foam these can be fished pop-up style.

Some anglers think carp have to be weaned on to nuts by prebaiting. In fact, carp take nuts enthusiastically from the outset. Catapult two or three pouches around each hook-bait at the start of a session, then top up with a further couple of pouches after each run.

The shape of almonds, by the way, makes it impossible to catapult them any great distance, so they are only really suitable for fishing in the margins and just beyond.