Things have moved forward quite a lot since my last bait blog, if you haven't read that one you can check it out here Starmer Baits Part 1. We've seen a few baits disappear, not because they didn't catch fish, all the baits catch fish it's just the simple fact that some of the flavors sell more than others, so over time the poor sellers get phased out. The positive side to this is, with each bait that falls by the wayside another one is added to the range. One of the first new arrivals was a bait called 'TigerFish', the signs were very strong early on that this was going to be a great seller because it caught from the off, new customers were genuinely getting in touch with their catch reports. I can vouch for its effectiveness because I've caught, and continue to catch a lot of fish on it, as do a few other guys I know that have been on it for a few seasons now. I'd like to emphasize that this isn't a "wonder bait", there's no such thing, you still have to use watercraft and put the bait where the fish are. As we all know, you can't catch carp if they're not where you're putting your baits. I'm no bait scientist but the information I can give you is, it's rolled on a 60/40 birdseed and nut base mix and it has a hint of caramel to it, it's a great bait.
One of my favorite carp baits from the past was the Honey Nectar, this goes all the way back to the early 90's when Kevin Maddocks produced his own range of boilies. Honey Nectar was the bait I caught my first ever 20 on, all these years later I can still see that bite as clear as crystal in my mind. As time passed, many of the 'old skool' flavors seemed to fall out of favor. When I was looking around for bait companies that still produced some of the classics, Starmer was the one that stuck out. You had your 'Strawberry', 'Peach' and 'Pineapple' but to my extreme joy they were the only ones producing the Honey Nectar. Throughout the past 8 years I used a serious amount of this bait to great effect. A couple of years back due to the 'Nectar' part becoming hard to come by, it got phased out. A new boilie came along to take its place, thankfully still incorporating the vital 'Honey' element. We now have the rather 'sweetly' titled 'Honey Nut'.
An Old Original Caught On The Honey Nut
I jump to different baits like a madman, depending on the time of the year and what takes my specific fancy, but I decided to stick to the Honey Nut for a whole season. I had some awesome catches on it. It's very unique, again it's made on a 60/40 sweet birdseed base mix, to smell, it has the perfect balance between both the honey and the nut and it's a lovely 'unassuming' washed out color, I've found it to be very versatile, having had good results on singles, stringers and large beds, even though I still miss the good old Honey Nectar, the Honey Nut is a great addition to Starmers back catalogue.
Moving on to the final addition to the premium boilie range and another bait that I rate highly, Halibut & Tuna. It's made with a fishmeal & betaine base mix and it's black in color, it's very similar to the Coconut & Halibut that's now been moved over to the U.F.B range of boilies - 'I'll explain about the U.F.B shortly'. Despite popular belief, combination fishmeal baits can be really effective all year round, I've caught carp on the Halibut & Tuna in the dead of winter on lakes with dark bottoms when, in theory, a bait like this isn't believed to be effective. Once again it's different to a lot of other baits on the market and worth a go if you want to offer the carp something different.
Halibut & Tuna
Candy Sweet Cream U.F.B Soaked In Honey Nut Liquid Feed
The U.F.B has a classic range of flavors 'listed below', most notably the return 'by popular demand' of Garlic Mint. If you want a blank canvas to create your own unique boilie flavor you can buy the generic fishmeal & birdseed bait and use them to add your favored flavors to, between both the glugs, fish oils and the new liquid feeds, which I'll write about shortly, there are literally hundreds of combinations and options for you to experiment with. Two of the range that react very well to the odd 'tinkering' are both the Hempseed & the Bunspice. The possibilities are endless, don't be put off by the price, it's proper value for money and I've caught really well on the whole U.F.B range.
Value For Money
Moving on, one slight grey area that suffered inconsistencies were the pop ups, this was a factor that everyone involved was aware of. If you're using cork balls/dust or other unnatural ingredients it's easy to get a really buoyant bait. However both Ian and Gareth at Starmer prioritize fish welfare above everything so the challenge was to produce a pop up that contained natural/safe ingredients. I'm happy to say that after a hell of a lot of trial and error, the old pop ups are a thing of the past. There is now a completely new 'buoyant' pop up that is not only safe for the fish, it breaks down after around 72 hours of being in the water, like all the bottom baits do. Last season I fished pop ups 'almost' exclusively due to the weedy waters I was on. They performed perfectly, on the days where the baits had been out all day and a bite didn't come, upon reeling in they still remained buoyant. I'm personally really happy with this development, there's a huge amount of flavors to choose from.
New Revised Pop Ups
Along side the development of the new pop ups a dedicated pop up base mix containing the exact ingredients has been put together that you can purchase and make your own at home. It comes in 4 different blends, Milk Protein, Fish-meal, Sweet Birdseed and Green Lipped Mussel. It has been designed so you can roll it on any rolling table, you can use any combination of flavor, color, additive etc. You simply roll the baits to your desired size, boil them for 2/3 minutes, leave them to dry or put them in the microwave and you're good to go. I'd like to stress the point that you don't need to add extra eggs to this mix.
Pop Up Base Mix
Moving on to another two great products, both 10mm and 6mm pop ups are now available, they come in a range of colors, both 'fluro' and standard. Individually both these sized baits are extremely buoyant, I was really surprised by this when I first used them. I find these great for solid bag fishing, you can create a 'mini snowman' presentation using both the 10mm & the 6mm combined. Not only that but they're perfect for topping off other baits, I personally think the 6mm range is a lovely touch. You have to use your common sense when using a bait this small, two tips I can give you to stop them splitting when threading, is to use the thinnest boilie needle you can get and always make sure the 'hair loop' is larger than usual. This will cure the problem of the bait 'splitting' on the knot of the hair loop ....... I hope that makes sense. Both come in an array of different flavors ranging from tangerine & peach to raspberry and krill.
10mm Mixed Pop Ups
6mm Mixed Pop Ups
That pretty much covers all of the 'boilie bait' developments, add that all to the existing lines and there's plenty to choose from and a lot of what is on offer is different to that of the mainstream companies. So I'd like to move on to one of the products that probably goes down as my current favorite, that's the liquid feeds. This was something that Starmer originally produced way back in the 90's a long time before most, but it never quite took off. Now with the popularity of spombing/spodding and zig fishing, liquids have had a huge upsurge in usage.
Liquid Feed & Sloppy Zigs
The liquids come in a large variety of flavors ranging from Whisky, Indian Spice, Peanut and Pineapple, I've used these extensively and come to notice that as it enters the water it seems to both sink to the bottom and rise to the surface, creating an awesome slick. This is especially good for fishing slop over zigs, 'as you'll see in the image above'. They're PVA friendly so you can inject them into solid bags, glug and soak your boilies, method mixes and pellets, a valid point to note is, they don't dissolve pellets they just make them a little softer. Along with all the above, as mentioned earlier they're perfect when combined with the U.F.B range, you can use a single flavor or add two or three together to create your own unique boilie flavor. All in all, they're a great product and I'm sure many out there will find them useful.
Moving on to another giant step .... pellets, they've come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, they're produced onsite and in-house by a 'mad scientist' machine that both Ian and Gareth designed and built. Once again the use of pellets within carp fishing has surged due to the popularity of spodding. I love to use them in solid bags and PVA sticks, they come in 2mm and 5mm sizes and both low oil and high oil are available. Within the 'attractor' pellet range you have flavors ranging from Coconut Cream, Hot Chilli Hemp and Tigernut & Maple. In the 'marine' pellet range flavors range from Krill, Green Lipped Mussel and Tuna. You also have a 'mixed option' this range contains a mix of flavors and sizes, one of my favorites from this is the black & white Coconut & Halibut pellet. Like all the other product lines there's lots to choose from, I've used all of the pellets off and on throughout my fishing and I find them effective and versatile. Another unique edition to the pellet range is the 'pre-drilled' halibut pellet, these come in 22mm, 17mm and a monster 28mm. Ideal when fishing for catfish, sturgeon and of course carp. These are a lovely product, super smelly and really oily, being pre-drilled there's no problem when sliding them onto the hair.
2mm Match Mix
Coconut & Halibut
2mm Match Mix
Pre-drilled Halibut Pellet
That pretty much covers the new and latest products, when you put them alongside all the existing ranges you have a very large, comprehensive selection to choose from that pretty much covers any fishing situation. There's a few things I haven't written about but you can always check the website out. Like I stated at the start of this blog, I'm not trying to sell anything here, or trying to tell you that the bait is "the best there is and you should get on it". Baits are a very personal thing and you've got to use something that you feel confident in. In regards to the mainstream companies out there, I've never really been particularly interested in anything they've ever had to offer, not just in fishing, pretty much everything from music to books etc, I've always found myself steering more towards the independent or unknown. I've never really been interested in what anyone else is using or what apparently 'works' and what doesn't. Like I stated at the start of this blog, I'd rather form my own opinion based on my own experiences. If you fancy trying something different and a little 'off the radar' then I can recommend Starmer as a good reliable 'port of call'.