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CARP FISHING FLAVOURS SECRETS – Making Secret Flavours Dips and Soaks

March 29, 2007

Fishermen are always on the hunt for ‘short-cuts’ to success! One very quick easy instant solution is to use a 'special' devastating new or different bait flavour, or combination of attractors oils, flavours etc... Find out how to make them here!

Many fishermen have yet to enjoy the incredible success and satisfaction of making and catching on their own, homemade baits. They do not realise how much harder this can make it to consistently catch bigger fish than their peers, without having exceptional angling ability, innovation and experience.

They may even want an ‘instant method’ which will make their baits that ‘little bit different’ but still using ‘proprietary readymade shop baits.’ Ironically enough, the commercial bait companies offer products meant to do just this task. But of course news travels fast on the ‘fishing grapevine;’ fast enough to see even unique products become exploited by the majority almost overnight!

This is why making your own unique flavours and attractor mixes is so much more potent! (Just like making your own baits!) Flavours is a fascinating subject and deserves quite a bit more explanation than first ‘meets the nose.’ Very often bait flavors are highly complex.

Most carp flavours will have at least 10 components and food flavours can have 100! (The “MacDonald’s" Strawberry milk shake flavour had at least 25 components, at my last look at the recipe on the web!

Anglers have ‘love affairs’ with flavours – perhaps because they simply smell so great! Some anglers always use particular ones and it’s true that some flavours used as the attractor on their own, are brilliant in baits! Some forms of flavours are simply in a ‘different league’ when it comes to attracting fish of all kinds to your net! Let’s see why!

It really pays to experiment with flavours in making your own homemade flavours and dips etc. Fishing is getting more and more competitive in many areas of the world and certain fishing situations require more adaptability and creativity to be successful – or even to get ‘a bite!’

Discovering great unique flavour or attractor combinations can be a massive ‘edge’ over your competitors ‘standard’ or proprietary baits. This even gives you the opportunity to take advantage of their shop-bought baits success, by using a new, ‘uniquely different’ and extremely original effective attractor bait soak!

Many anglers ‘swear by’ cheaper synthetic type flavours based on the ‘flavour carrier’ - propylene glycol. (Some even swear by vinegar (ascetic acid) based ones from the supermarket!) These are fine if you are fishing lakes or waters where carp or other fish do not get much exposure to these in baits, or don’t get many captures on baits using these as attractors or ‘labels’ in baits, dough baits, packbaits etc.

But in highly intensely competitive situations, perhaps on competitive pay lakes, ‘syndicates’ or heavily fished club waters, then individual flavours on these chemical bases can ‘blow’ very fast. (Just like many other ‘solvent’ flavours in use by the majority of anglers on a water.)

This really means that there can actually come a time when your flavour has caught or hooked enough fish, for it to become a ‘negative’ rather than ‘positive’ part of your bait. This ineffectively produces diminishing returns for your efforts. In fact these flavours can very quickly even become a deterrent to fish when used in high doses.

Glycerol is also called 1,2,3, propantriol. One crude method of its production is called ‘Tallow saponification.’ This links up with a very popular bait made for catfish, i.e. ‘catfish bait soap’ made using heating of a special mixture:

A mixture of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and a fat source, like beef fat (‘the tallow,’) is heated to 105 degrees Celsius.)

In general, fats come from animals and oils come from vegetables. Fats and oils are also known as ‘triglycerides;’ made of three ‘fatty acids’ and a glycerol – which we relate to here. It all connects; we like alcohol, and so do carp – we use alcohol based flavours for carp fishing and they are excellent!

Glycerol chemically has 3 ‘alcohol groups’ which is interesting for us because we like alcohol – and so do carp! Part of the result of this ‘saponification’ reaction is soap or ‘fatty acid salts’ (Usually sodium salts.) The other part is glycerol. Sodium, along with potassium are essential to fish – and humans too!) Obviously these salts and glycerol really help the catfish feeding triggering response.’

More sodium chloride salt is added. All this salt is significant to us and our fishing baits because sodium chloride is extremely stimulatory to fish - even more so than many ‘fish essential’ amino acids!

In homemade catfish soap, additional ingredients are added; such as liquidized liver or squid, fish or blood meals etc. These add extra attraction in the form of proteins and amino acids to the bait. (As in making carp baits too.)

(Please note: This special ‘cat soap’ has no repellent artificial ‘perfume scents’ etc!!!)

But on to carp flavours again!

The often used ‘cheap and convenient’ propylene glycol based flavours, are not completely soluble in water or alcohol and can take many days to fully break down. So used in your bait as an attractor, it is far less effective than any flavour or attractor which is immediately or completely soluble in water. Primarily it is the flavour ‘in solution’ which attracts your fish!!!

Also, in baits flavoured with propylene glycol, in waters where these flavours have ‘blown’ such baits are even less effective because where baits are left uneaten, the flavour can take many days to fully leach out and break down in the water. So for days, your ‘free baited spot’ could become a ‘repellant ‘no-feed area’ for wary carp!

‘Natural flavours’ are from animal or vegetable sources. They may be used raw, or processed by physical, microbiological or enzymatic methods. An example is ‘citral’ from extracted from lemon grass and ‘benzaldehyde’ from bitter almonds.

‘Nature identical flavouring’ are identical to natural flavourings, but are prepared or extracted using chemical methods. They are identical to the molecules found in nature and the body cannot distinguish between them.

Nature identical flavouring substances include: ‘ethyl acetate’ (identical in nature to many fruits,) and ‘decanal’ (nature identical to orange.) Ethyl acetate is used in many  commercially produced ‘fruity’ carp bait flavours.

Vanilla may be obtained from vanilla pods but is now produced chemically using plant lignin with ‘Talin’ an extremely sweet, natural plant extract and also used in many proprietary carp bait flavours.

‘Artificial flavours’ include ones not found in nature, such as ‘ethyl vanillin’ and ‘ethyl maltol.’

Ethyl alcohol based flavours( like glycerol based ones,) are favourites for winter carp baits and low water temperatures. This is because they are fully soluble in water, so their attraction power is maximised and molecules dispersed immediately throughout  the water column.

In its pure form, the flavour base glycerol, is an odorless, colourless sweet tasting substance. Carp are very attracted to sweet tasting or ‘saccharide’ type substances, probably mistaking them for their nitrogenous based ‘polysaccharide’ staple food, ‘chitin’ from crustacean and mollusc shells etc.

Incidentally, glycerol is very ‘volatile.’ It is also corrosive and used as a solvent.) Significantly, it is completely soluble in alcohol and water. This solubility and ‘volatility gives these flavours great fish attraction characteristics in water.

When mixed with other solvent based flavours the glycerol one is very soluble with ‘no solubility limit’ for water, alcohols, acetone and essential oils, but only slightly soluble with other solvents.

It can be used as an ideal ‘carrier’ for extracts and many diverse flavouring agents in your secret flavour mix. ‘Nature identical’ and many ‘artificial’ flavours can be used and even fruit juices and plant extracts and so on

‘Glycerol’ is the pure product; the commercial version, is called ‘glycerine’ and is marketed as different grades and even used in dynamite! Glycerine is a proven fish feeding trigger. (Especially in combination with other substances like betaine hydrochloride, for many species of fish.)

Glycerol based flavours are a ‘natural product’ of vegetable oil, (for example,) produced using a ‘catalyst.’ (This process has links with use of ‘energy production’ in cars that use ‘bio-diesels’- those which emit very low harmful pollution levels compared to ‘standard’ petroleum and diesel products.)

So this is in contrast to using an artificial flavour like strawberry, which may be based on a recipe of very many different components including lots of synthetically produced esters. These are produced by the combining of various acids and alcohols with an energy source like sugar, to produce various different flavours and flavour ‘tones.’

This process often produces fruity and sweet ‘acid’ flavours. Many of these flavours are found on an ethyl alcohol base. Familiar ‘standard’ carp bait flavours to choose from include:

Strawberry, blackcurrant, pineapple, plum, peach, cherry, banana, cranberry, passion fruit, guava, maple, apricot, mango, raspberry, blueberry, rum and raisin, liquorice, lemon, orange, mandarin, tangerine.

Also: grapefruit, kiwi, water melon, quince, apple, loganberry,  ginger, sweetcorn, rose, jasmine, peppermint, spearmint, vanilla, coconut, toffee, coffee, chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, milk, malted milk, evaporated milk, cream soda, crème de menthe, cream, butter, Cornish ice cream, tiger nut, hazelnut, peanut, walnut, etc.

This list includes countless versions of “Tutti Fruitti" and even ‘spicy’ flavour versions.

For example, like aniseed and bun spice, cinnamon, or ‘spice.’ From ‘fruity’ or creamy or sweet combinations and various variations and versions of each other: even  leading off into ‘sweet savoury’ types like luncheon meat, roast beef, certain ‘fish’ and ‘shellfish’ flavours etc.

Some ‘flavours are so powerful just one to 3 drops is enough to make a significant difference to your catches, including amyl acetate (pear drops smell) and n-butyric acid. I recommend you do not follow trends as written about in magazines with concurrent products being massively promoted in ‘in your face’ colour advertisements.

This is not because I am anti–commercialisation of fishing, but mainly because it is the act of thinking, acting and using different products to the majority which tend to work most consistently. I would recommend getting onto a readymade bait perhaps 5 years after it was ‘big’ and ‘top’ it with your own flavour and attractor mixture.

(How to easily produce these successfully is described a bit later.)

Larger commercial bait companies and suppliers that can be found on the web, whose proven and trusted bait, boilie and pellet flavours include:

Nash Baits.
Solar Tackle.
Premier Baits.
Mainline Baits.
Rod Hutchinson.
Archie Braddock Baits.
DT Bait Developments.
Specialist Baits Supplies. (SBS.)
Stream Select (Richworth.)

(On a technical note for those who are into chemicals and natural extracts in bait flavours, glycerol counteracts ‘phenol’ burns – certain phenols are significant in bait flavours.)

Like many other anglers, I have found it very beneficial to make my own unique flavour combinations..

I had my first significant success using bait soaks was using ‘neat’ flavours a combination of 5 different forms of “Tutti Frutti" on different bases. This experimental bait soak quadrupled my catch rate instantly, on one particular carp water.

(This effect did not last for long, but constant changes to ‘the formula’ kept fantastic results coming, even without especially nutritious boilie base mixes being used. This method was used mainly to ‘top’ and enhance the attraction of the most popular  ready-made boilies at that time.)

A personally unique ‘flavour’ may be a mixture of glycerol, ethyl alcohol based flavours, perhaps mixed with an alcohol based vitamin and mineral liquid supplement.

This may be mixed with a liquid amino acid supplement like ‘Minamino’ or similar. You can make your flavour mix more unique and personal to you with added stimulatory effects, at different ranges in distance and water temperature too.

Perhaps use sweeteners like ‘Talin,’ ‘Thaumatin B’ or liquorice extract, molasses, sea salt, ‘Robin Red’ extract, flavoured amino acid liquid supplement. You could exploit betaine hydrochloride, corn steep liquor, herb and spice powders and extracts like liquorice extract and ground black pepper and individual or mixed essential oils like garlic, sage, basil, peppermint etc.

It may be noted that in scientific trials, glycerine has proved effective as part of fish feed triggering mixtures for fish as diverse as the European eel and rainbow trout in combination with Betaine...

I like to think I am stimulating as many of the carp senses at once as is possible in my bait. To me, this maximises the whole point of using a bait on a hook! This way you have more chance of a ‘take’ regardless of water pH, temperature etc and individual preference of particular fish and species and strain of fish.

For example, some big common carp will fall more readily for a bait with one particular flavour, or essential oil, flavour and sweetener mixture. It is beneficial to add lecithin to your special flavour mix for cold temperatures and these are great attractors themselves!

This is a very effective method of making a liquid to attract all kinds of other fish too. The great thing is you can store them chilled or freeze them. You can add to them and alter them as you prefer. You can add an oil like pure salmon oil or cod liver oil too. Or other highly attractive extracts like ‘Belachan,’ pure worm extract, squid extract, predigested fish protein, predigested yeast extract, etc etc.

Once you get into the practice of experimenting with these, you most frequently find your catch rates soar. This is particularly true where you do not just use your flavour at low levels, perhaps when mixed with eggs in a boilie bait base mix, but especially when repeatedly soaking and re-freezing it into your baits.

I’d recommend you do this multiple times to get the best benefit. Some of my most amazing and instant catches came as a direct result of repeatedly freezing and soaking  my hook baits. Very significantly, often I will do this to all my free baits too, using similar mixtures.

However, I tend to vastly increase the betaine and amino acid supplement content in these free baits, which are normally not boiled at all. Their power of attraction is simply awesome. It just fills you with confidence!

Many times I have been able to bait-up knowing that big, highly feed-stimulated fish will be feeding in the swim far quicker and more intensively and in confidently pre-occupied mode, than is often the case with competing anglers baits.

This mass baiting, soaking approach can often cause ideal conditions, in which the attracted and stimulated bigger fish start to compete between themselves in the ‘food pecking order.’

Multiple big fish catches can regularly be achieved with constant changing of the attractor mixture, to keep it ‘new and different’ to the last successful one. I have achieved a number of multiple catches of 30 or 40 pound carp using simply this principle and baiting approach.

Always write down what flavour mixture ingredients you use in what levels and quantities. I used to be fastidious - always using a ‘bait diary.’

This is absolutely invaluable; when you return from a ‘red letter’ session and have forgotten the exact mixture that produced such memorable results! It also makes patterns very clear about what combinations works best together at what time of year and temperatures.

How about ‘thinking out of the box’ and trying some ‘alternative ingredients and flavours: (Some are ‘truly carp addictive!’)

Angelica root powder, ginger root powder, aniseed powder, asafoetida powder, barley sprout powder, bladder wrack powder, kola nut powder, mace powder, oregano powder, mulling spice blend powder, kelp powder, fenugreek seeds powder, fennel powder, grapefruit powder, garam masala, chicory granules, coconut powder, celery seed powder, galangal root powder, or even Aloe vera powder with laxative effects like glycerine?

Just a word about taste enhancers. Table salt or ‘refined’ sodium chloride salt is great and better than not using it at all. But natural fine sea or rock salt is superior, being rich in natural carp attractive minerals.

Also try exploiting and integrating into your baits, the natural taste enhancer; ‘glutamic acid.’ This is found in tomatoes, some cheeses, yeast extract, peas and mushrooms is ideal.

The salt form of glutamic acid - this most naturally abundant amino acid, ‘protein building block,’ is the familiar food taste enhancer ‘monosodium glutamate.’

There are many forms of taste enhancers that have been developed for carp baits and particular proprietary ones will enhance baits of different types. From sweet and creamy, to spicy, fishy, fruity, or savoury.

(All I can say, based on tests I’ve done in real fishing situations, is that they can really work well – so please do not neglect them!)

Just to be different with your flavours and bait dips and so on, has anyone tried the following, for example:

Natural tomato powder with capsicum powder and nature identical tomato flavour? Or cocoa powder with cayenne powder with added sweeteners? Or basil essential oil with lemon essential oil and lemon flavour, with liquorice powder or ‘Talin,’ to sweeten the bait, or ...YOU fill in the blanks!

The author has many more fishing and bait ‘edges’ up his sleeve. Every single one can have a huge impact on catches. (Warning: This article is protected by copyright.)

By Tim Richardson. ‘The thinking angler’s fishing author and expert bait making guru.’

For the unique and world acclaimed new massive expert bait making ‘bible’ ebook / book:


47,079 - 407 - 4 - US
Tim Richardson is a full-time specialist bait secrets ebooks author. He is a big carp and catfish fisherman of over 30 years experience and has spent decades making and researching baits to target big fish. He has had over twenty 40 pound carp and over thirty 60 to 110 pound catfish captures in the UK on his homemade baits, the biggest carp he hooked was over 80 pounds at Rainbow Lake France in 2006.  
He has been published in carp and catfish magazines in Holland, USA, Denmark, Germany, UK, Spain, South Africa plus online, and is a member of the well respected 'British Carp Study Group. Find many more free articles and free ebook extracts plus ebook details at his specialist website: