Bloodworm is a staple, natural feed for carp. Buying it live from match-orientated shops would bankrupt you, but bulk blocks of frozen worm are available in aquatics shops as a pet fish feed. They may not be as good as live worms, but adding a handful of frozen worm to your hemp really perks up the feeding reaction. I give a block of frozen worm a smack on the lid of the chest freezer and lob a slab in with the hemp to thaw on the way to a session, mixing it in before feeding. Be aware that they go off very quickly in hot weather, and your bait bucket will be rotten if left in the sun for a couple of days. Even worse, bream love it this way! The smell of worms on your hands is foul, but carp love it.

Crushed whole hemp added to a bucket of prepared grains is a useful dodge on several levels. First, stir enough crushed hemp in to stodge the hemp up significantly, helping it stay put in a spod rather than spilling out on the back cast. Crushed hemp also adds a great cloud of attractive particles and smell in the water column, turning the water milky as it sinks. It’s brilliant for adding an extra dimension on runs waters, where regular baiting keeps the swim full of interest, and also gives you options fishing up in the water as carp intercept particles as they sink. Spodding stodgy hemp and fishing zigs underneath is a bagging tactic where carp are plentiful.

Two of the absolute classics that give hemp a real kick are chilli and salt. It’s been an open secret for years now, but still few people seem to spice up their spod mix. I prefer chilli powder rather than flakes, and sea salt is better than table salt, which contains chemical anti-caking agents. I’ve found that carp will respond to surprisingly high levels of chilli and salt, and I seem to catch more fish when I’m more generous when lobbing it in. As a guide, start with one or two tablespoons of chilli in 5 kg of hemp, and one tablespoon of salt, with lots of room for experimentation. In reality I’m not much of a measurer when preparing bait, and tend just to dollop things into the particle bucket, Jamie Oliver style.

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