Hard-boiled recipes

Mystery abounded in the 1970s when boilies were the new thing. There was a kind of boilie underworld dealing in secret recipes and under-the-counter exchanges of the latest baits – all very hush-hush!

Boilie boom

It’s pretty well above board now. Boilies are established as a more consistently successful carp bait than pretty well anything else and are more popular than ever. There is a staggering range of boilies – in a huge number of colours and flavours — available from bait suppliers and tackle shops around the country.

Many anglers, however, prefer to make their own rather than buy ready-made boilies in packets. Shop-bought boilies are expensive but buying the ingredients to make your own can cost a fair bit too. Getting together with some friends to buy ingredients in bulk is one way to keep the cost down. Home cooking is perhaps not as convenient as buying off the shelf, but it has certain advantages apart from cost.

Because you know the exact make-up of the bait, you can judge which recipes work best in the waters you fish, and alter the ingredients accordingly. By making only slight adjustments to the recipe you may well create a highly successful bait to beat anything out of a packet. Detailed fine tuning and in-depth experimentation can help to give you confidence in your own baits -and if you catch a specimen on your own creation, that’s an extra buzz.

Making your own also gives you the chance to score with a secret weapon – once you’ve cooked up a killer bait, keep the secret recipe to yourself!

Domestic science

Boilies consist mainly of high protein ingredients, but they also usually contain a balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. They are often referred to as ‘HNV – high nutritive value baits – because they contain the concentrated elements which give the carp a balanced diet.

Perfumed principles When making your own boilies, aim for mixes which follow the HNV principle. Initially this means sticking to recommended recipes until you get a feel for the right sort of proportions and balance of food types needed.

In addition to using ingredients with a high protein, vitamin and mineral content, you need to put in others that give stickiness and bind the substances together -wheat gluten or flour for example. And don’t forget the important taste and smell ingredients that can be the key to a successful bait.

Once you have grasped the principle of creating an effective boilie base, you can start to experiment with myriad flavours and tinker with proportions until you discover your own personal favourite combinations.

Walk first Before you start to improvise it’s a good idea to get the boilie basics under your belt; make your first attempts from ingredients which have proved themselves as carp catchers. There is now a whole range of easily obtainable substances which are established ingredients for HNV baits.

Basic method

For a bait of the highest possible protein content, start with dry ingredients such as casein, calcium caseinate or sodium caseinate. These, consisting of at least 90% milk-based protein, should not make up more than 50% of the bulk of your recipe. Most anglers use only about one third.

Make up the rest of the mix from carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to give a balanced food product. Add a binding agent and any flavours or colourings to complete the ensemble.

Boilie recipes generally combine a selection of these dry ingredients with eggs which provide liquid. The eggs also put a skin on the surface of the bait after it is dipped in boiling water, making it hard.

The method shown here for preparing your different recipes gives you a bait that stays on the hook or hair, lasts in the water and is to some extent selective – attracting carp rather than irritating tiddlers.

Three of the best

Once you’ve mastered the basic method for making boilies you must decide on what exactly to put in the mix. The hst is enormous and to some extent all recipes are made by trial and error.

You can grind up or liquidize any edible substance and mix it in with eggs and other ingredients to make boilies, but over the years certain raw materials have emerged as consistently successful bait ingredients; they are now recognized as the most powerful options on the boilie artist’s palette.

Some of these regulars are mentioned in the recipe suggestions included here, which are designed to cover three popular and proven boilie mixes — milk-based, fishmeal-based and seed-based. Many other suitable raw materials for HNV boilies are listed in bait suppliers’ catalogues. effective that it catches fish when other baits won’t raise a bite. But it is not just a bait for small fish when the going is tough. Bloodworm is a natural, all-year-round food for all fish – be they bream, tench, carp or gudgeon and roach. Yet in many competitions bloodworm is banned.

Controversy and mystery One argument for banning it is that it is available only to the select few who can either afford to buy it or know how and where to collect it. In fact, a pint of bloodworm is enough to give you a crack at many matches, and in these quantities its cost compares favourably with the cost of bait for a maggot