Building a Boilie Mix
When constructing a boilie mix, it can seem quite daunting at first, there are so many ingredients out there, and making sure you have right combination to give a bait that rolls well and catches fish consistently can be a big challenge! However, there is nothing more satisfying than catching fish on a bait you have made yourself.
The aim of this article isn’t to give recipes. It is to give a basic idea of the reasoning behind the different types of mixes, and to give some idea of what ingredients and levels to consider when you are designing a mix. All percentages are BY WEIGHT.
Essential Building Blocks
Here are the basic ‘building blocks’ that you should try to incorporate in your mix:
This will usually make up the majority of your mix (up to 50%). A good binder is essential, without it, the mix will not roll! The most commonly used binders are soya flour and semolina, but most flours will work, such as rice flour, maize meal, wheat flour etc etc.
The amount of binder you need to use depends on the other ingredients. Start at 50% and see how it rolls, you can always reduce the amount of binder if you find you can get away with it.
Semolina makes harder baits than Soya, a 50/50 mix of the two is a good starting point as a binder
A good protein content is essential for a ‘long term’ bait. You can make a bait without any high protein content at all, but the inclusion of a good level of protein means that the fish will keep coming back for more!
Some proteins are more digestible than others, but as we are trying to keep this article simple, we will stick to the two main forms of protein used in baits, milk proteins and fishmeal.
Fishmeal is a good source of cheap protein, most fishmeals have a protein content of 70-80%, and are readily accepted by the fish. Pre-digested fishmeals have been refined and have a higher protein content around 90%, but are more expensive.
Milk proteins such as Casein or Calcium/Sodium Caseinate are generally more nutritious at 90%+ protein, and are much easier for the fish to digest at low temperatures, but are more expensive than ordinary fishmeal.
An finished 'HNV' base mix is typically between 35-45% protein.
Some people don’t think too much about the texture of their bait, but for me this is very important. Carp love to ‘crunch’ on food, their diet contains a large proportion of shelled animals, so if you can replicate this in your bait, it can be beneficial. You are also opening the texture in order to release more flavour into the water.
Birdseed is the most common ‘texture’ ingredient, but the protein content is not so high. Birdseeds tend to be used more in short term ‘attractor’ baits, and there are other additives that you can use to create some crunch at lower inclusion levels, such as oyster shell (from pet shop), eggshells, and some types of meals such as coarse kelp meal.
You can use any kind of ground seeds or nuts, or any of the ‘rearing foods’ or specialist budgie / Mynah foods found in pet shops.
Many other pet foods can also be used, ground dog and cat biscuits can give plenty of texture and add smell.
10-20% of coarse ingredients will produce a bait with a good texture that still rolls quite easily, but you can go as high as 30% in some mixes.
You should always try to include some kind of soluble ingredient, it is this that leaks from the bait and carries food signals into the water. Soluble fishmeal is one option, and there are several milk products on the market (calf milk replacers such as LamLac and Vitamealo) that do the same job.
It is important not to go too high with the levels of soluble ingredients, start at 10% and go up to 20% if you can, any higher and the boilie will tend to soften too quickly.
Vitamins and Minerals, Taste
Minamino is the most commonly used supplement, this provides everything a carp needs in its diet in terms of minerals, vitamins and trace elements. There are also many other extracts than carry most of the minerals needed and also provide food signals, such as betaine, liver powder, squid extract, GLM extract, etc etc. These can add quite a lot of cost to the mix, but they are worth getting right, particularly if you are looking for a long terms bait.
If you can work out the vitamin and mineral content of your basic mix, you may find that you don’t need to add a supplement, but it’s much easier to just to use one anyway!
Sweeteners, Salt, Chilli oil can all be added to change the taste of a bait.
Other additives are proven attractors in their own right, these include Belachan, Robin Red, Yeast powder etc.
If you are working to a budget, you should consider very careful what additives to include, as they can easily add 50% or more to the cost of the finished bait!
Oils are used to add to attraction, and to help the bait roll more easily. You can use an unflavoured oil, or a ‘smelly’ oil such as Salmon oil or Hemp oil. 5ml per egg is about the right level.
Ingredients to Give Specific Properties
Some ingredients are used to give the bait specific physical properties, such as making it lighter, harder after boiling etc.
To make a bait lighter – shrimp meal, sodium caseinate
To help with binding – whey gel, wheat gluten
To make the finished bait harder – egg albumen, whole egg powder, blood powder, whey gel
Summer or Winter?
You may ask ‘why use a milk protein bait at all, when they are so much more expensive than a fishmeal?’. This is a contentious issue among bait gurus. some are happy to use one bait all year round, others feel that milk proteins give an edge in winter, reasoning as follows:
Carp digestion differs greatly between summer and winter. In the summer, the digestive system can break down a boilie quickly and extract the goodness. In the winter it takes much longer. This why fishmeals work best in summer. Fishmeal is readily digested at higher temperatures, but at lower temperatures, you need a bait that the fish can extract the goodness from more quickly (with more carbs to provide ‘instant energy’.
You can still use a fishmeal in winter, but when the carp eats the bait, it will take much, much longer to digest, so fish activity is reduced.
This is where milk protein baits come in, they provide a fast source of carbs to the fish and therefore more energy, whereas the proteins in a fishmeal take longer to break down when the metabolism of the fish is slow.
If you are a ‘summer only’ angler, then fishmeals are the best answer, but if you want a bait that is good all year round, then a milk protein bait would be a better answer for you, or you should consider reducing the amount of fishmeal in your baits for the winter, and replacing it with more milk proteins.
Instant or Long Term?
Instant ‘attractor’ baits have always caught plenty of fish. They tend to be quite low in protein and have higher levels of attractors such as flavours. A typical ‘attractor’ bait will contain higher levels of cheaper, lower protein ingredients such as seeds, soya and semolina.
In the short term, they can work well. But carp are clever creatures, and know what is good for them! If you want to get them used to feeding on a bait, the first step is to make it of good food value.
So if you are moving around, or haven’t got the time or money to invest in a long term baiting campaign, attractor baits will be fine for you.
There are hundreds of recipes out there that work well and catch fish, the aim of this article isn’t to provide recipes, but to give an idea of the thinking process behind the main ingredients. So consider what you want from a bait first.
·Is an instant ‘attractor’ bait OK for you?
·Is price important?
·Do you need a bait that works all year round?
·What works well on your lake already?
·Are you looking for short term or long term results?
·Do you really need a flavour, or are you only putting it in for the sake of it?
Then look at the ingredients you will need. Formulate a recipe and make a one egg mix first. The first objective is to make sure it rolls OK! If it won’t roll, then you don’t have a bait at all.
A good guide is as follows, this gives a recommended starting percentage of each type of ingredient, as a proportion of the whole mix:
'Protein' ingredients- up to 50%
Binder - 50%
Soluble Ingredients - 10-20%
Texture - 10%
Milk Protein mix
'Protein' ingredients- up to 50%
Binder - 50%
Soluble Ingredients - 10%
Texture - 10-20%
'Protein' ingredients- up to 30%
Binder - 50%
Soluble Ingredients - 10-20%
Texture - 10-30%
Supplements – add as directed
Oils – generally 5ml per egg but use as directed on the pack
Flavours – generally, higher levels = shorter term results
·Don’t be tempted to go lower than 50% binder with a fishmeal, fishmeals are notoriously bad at binding! Adding some wheat gluten will help if you are struggling.
·Milk Proteins can end up quite soft, consider a hardener such as egg albumin if using a higher level of protein
·Seeds should be ground up before adding, finer grinding will reduce texture but make the baits easier to roll.
·Eggs will comprise 30-40% of the weight of the finished bait - as a general rule, 1kg of base mix needs approximately 8 eggs, although this can vary up or down.
·In winter, consider using less oil, or an emulsified oil (that can mix with water). Oils flow much less in lower temperatures and can ‘lock in’ the flavours you want to release into the water
·Boiling denatures the bait (reduces the goodness). It is best to minimise boiling as much as possible. 90sec is a good starting point