When using luncheon meat don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes. It might be easier to cut soft meat into cubes but on hard fished venues the occupants soon wise up! Try ragged shapes on the hook, which will often fool ultra wary barbel, chub, tench and carp. It’s also worth mashing or mulching luncheon meat into small pieces to keep fish grazing over your feed for longer periods.
Spicy Peperami sausage is a very popular hook bait for big fish. It can be presented with a few free offerings, or used in conjunction with luncheon meat, hemp and pellet feed. Peperami is tough so it stays on the hook well and it can also be hair-rigged. It’s a robust hook bait for long range casting, also good for trundling through fast flowing river swims. Barbel in particular love this stuff.
If you want a really hectic session, try feeding smaller pieces of meat in combination with feed pellets. Laying down a big bed of this mix through a feeder, via a pole cup, with a catapult, or baitdropper will hold fish in your swim for ages. A slightly bigger hook bait stands out when targeting specimen sized fish, while smaller hook offerings bring more bites and greater species variation.
There are occasions when square shaped luncheon meat is more practical. If you cut your free offerings into uniform cubes they can be fed in a tighter grouping with a catapult. This tactic works best on heavily stocked and coloured commercial fisheries. But be careful here, feeding too many large cubes will soon fill the fish up. It’s better to feed small amounts of big baits regularly.
Raw stewing steak is very tough and stays on the hook well, helping to beat the attentions of small fish and surviving many casts. Use this hook bait with minced beef, which is a brilliant pulling and holding feed. This rare combination works brilliantly for river chub and barbel, also on stillwaters for tench, bream and carp. A top method is to feed mince through an open-end or blockend feeder.
One problem with soft meat is it doesn’t stay on the hook (or hair rigs) well on the cast, while small fish soon knock it off if you do manage to get your bait where you want it. The solution is meat stops. These winged Fox stops can be pushed under the bend of the hook when directly mounting meat, or used like a conventional bait stop when hair rigging.
You’ll find lots of ready flavoured luncheon meat in tackle shops. It’s very popular and typical flavours include Scopex, Strawberry or spicy variations. Species like carp, barbel, chub, crucians, bream and tench love flavoured meat, particularly in coloured water. Flavoured luncheon meat specifically produced for angling also tends to be a bit tougher, so it stays on the hook better.
Another good way of toughening up soft meat so it stays on the hook for longer periods is to fry it. This forms a hard skin, which helps to stop small fish from whittling away at your hook baits. It’s a good idea to introduce some extra flavour when cooking. Adding some food dye to improve visibility – or darken down your baits – are other options. Frying seals in flavours and dyes much better.
THE CAT’S WHISKERS
You need a strong stomach to use cat food, which is extremely pongy, but also brilliant bait! Match anglers clean up with this gear on coloured commercial fisheries, often landing some really lumpy carp with it. Cat food tends to have a medium consistency so it stays on the hook quite well. You need to use a big strong hook and stepped up tackle, fishing hard on the bottom with float gear.
Cat food is very filling so it needs to be fed carefully. You can chop it up with a knife, mulch it with multi blade scissors, or push it through a metal maggot riddle. This is a messy job, resulting in a semi liquid goo. If you want to tidy things up a bit, trying mixing some fishmeal groundbait in to stiffen up the feed. Another good trick is to mix in some micro pellets, or some dry brown bread crumb.
The only really viable way to feed mashed cat food and all the rich gravy it comes in – without adding any extra ingredients – is with a pole cup. This slop might look pretty disgusting but on many venues it drives carp wild! Pouring a sloppy mix like this into a swim creates a big lingering cloud and covers the bottom with a fine bed of feed. But make sure you use a strong pole with this method!
Meat punches are really handy tools because they allow you to cut out lots of regular sized baits very quickly. You can buy square or round punch sets and most tie in with popular pellet sizes. This allows you to feed a similar mixture of meat and pellets, or to use a soft meat hook offering over identically shaped pellet feed. Softer pellets of meat tend to pull more bites over pellet feed.
SPICING IT UP
All types of meat absorb flavours well and one of the most popular enhancers are spicy ones. Turmeric and various curry powder recipes work wonders with barbel, chub, tench and carp. Try dusting meat after you’ve cut or punched it into the right size for feeding or using on the hook. Apart from flavouring the meat, this creates a fine enticing cloud of extra flavour as your bait sinks.
KEEP IT SEALED
After flavouring meat seal it in a plastic bag or airtight container and leave it in the fridge overnight. This allows the flavour to fully absorb. You can store flavoured meat for long periods by freezing it if you wish. After thawing it’s a good idea to let the meat dry off by leaving it exposed to the air for a while. This helps to form a slightly toughened skin, which makes hook offerings stay on longer.
Tinned meat is very handy because you can store it for long periods and always have a spare can with you for emergencies. However, tinned meats are normally quite soft and tend to break up when you try hooking them. Baiting needles are useful here. They allow you to pull the bend of your hook through the bait and then turn it for better anchoring. Hair rigging is another option…
…Meat can be anchored on a hair rig with various types of bait or boilie stops, but these tend to be on the small side and pull through soft baits quite easily. There are bigger meat stops you can buy from tackle shops, although there are plenty of impromptu stops you can normally find out on the bank. Short cut pieces of grass, reed and stalks make brilliant anchors and they don’t cost anything!
One of the best ways of presenting big meat baits is to free line them. This works well down the margins when stalking stillwater fish, but is even more popular when targeting big river chub and barbel. In flowing water it pays to work the bait through the swim and the best way to gauge bites is by touch legering. By holding the line just above the reel you can feel the slightest indications.
You’ll find plenty of meaty offerings in tackle shops these days, including preformed tinned baits, meat flavoured boilies and ready to use pastes. Another option is to explore the aisles in your local supermarket. There are countless shelves stacked with convenient meat products. Some you can use straight from the can such as meatballs and hot dogs, while others might need some preparation to make them usable. The great thing is if you experiment, you will have a bait that’s a bit different to what everyone else is using. That’s never a bad thing!
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