A SIMPLE but incredibly effective change on many waters, especially when targeting carp, is switching to marine pellet hook baits.
They are catapulted and spodded in by the bucket load, but most often anglers take the easier option of plastic or boilie hook baits over the top.
Carp can be very particular feeders, and a small pellet can be taken much more enthusiastically than more mainstream hook baits.
People shy away from pellets on a hair because they are bit more fiddly than boilies, but Fox’s Arma Mesh makes a reliable pellet hooker a doddle.
1. Making any Arma Mesh hook bait is just like making small cobweb PVA bags, and this stuff has so much mileage for making alternative hook baits that everyone should have a tube in their bucket. Push a small marine pellet down the narrow Arma Mesh tube. A 14 mm pellet is the typical hook bait choice, but some anglers find they get more bites on 10 mm versions.
2. Twist the mesh tight, so that the pellet is neatly wrapped, and then tie an overhand knot in the mesh, taking care to trap it flush to the top of the pellet as you draw the knot down, so that it is nice and tight. Then snip the wrapped pellet off, and trim and tidy up the hairy ends of both knots. You can carefully blob them with a lighter to neaten the knots, but it makes little difference to the carp.
3. Try short braided links for pellet and PVA bag fishing. Take one end of a length of braid and thread it carefully through the mesh and out the other side directly underneath the knot. You can use a fine lip close or splicing needle to help you if you struggle with fingers and thumbs. Now tie a three-turn grinner knot in the braid and tighten it down, so that the pellet is knotted to the end of the line.
4. Now you can set the hair length and whip a knotless knot as usual. A size 10 hook suits such small pellet hookers. As always, increasing the clearance between hook and bait tends to result in more takes and better hook holds – start with a minimum of an inch.
5. With a bit of practice it’s only a few seconds’ work to knock each hook bait up, and being shelf-life, these meshed pellet hookers can be prepared in advance and stored in your box or a tub. Water ingress is much, much slower because there’s no hole made in them by a needle or drill, and the mesh helps keep them together, preventing them swelling as they try to take in water. You’ll get at least 12 hours out of them – meaning overnight and through the morning feed is no problem at all.
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