I have to be honest with you and say that I am a little surprised when I hear anglers occasionally say they prefer unflavoured plastic to the flavoured variety! Because on virtually every water where I’ve fished and done my usual comparison tests I have certainly found this not to be my finding, I would go as far as to say that if my corn for example has been out in the lake for more than 24 hours and I feel its lost its smell a little then I change it for a fresh piece instantly, I am totally confident with both but from my findings my confidence lies with the flavoured type.
I remember fishing one of the “fish with the stars” events some years ago and the bloke who drew myself as his partner for the pairs match that followed told me he was an out and out boilie man, I opted for a good bag mix laced with sweetcorn in conjunction with a Pineapple and N Butyric plastic double corn hookbait, I also opted to fish this over a scattered big bed of boilies! A somewhat unusual tactic! The idea being to go against the grain of the usual popular spodding tactic and give the carp a spread of bait that would get them looking, then I wanted to focus attention on my corn hookbaits with the bag mix, the trick worked and we had 22 runs in 2 days, my partner had not one single run on his rods on boilie hookbaits until he changed over near the end of the comp to avoid a blank, his appreciation of how good plastic can be grew on that trip I can tell you.
Out of interest if one of my hookbaits didn’t produce a run for a couple of hours I would have it in then put on a freshly flavoured hookbait and that would usually go very quickly, especialy at night, surprise, surprise.
Another tip is you can make your plastic hookers more effective at soaking up flavours/attractors by taking the time to prick the plastic baits with a needle, making multiple holes in it for the flavour to seep into, this gives a more varied smell release in water and whilst it sounds a bit of trouble to go to its well worth the extra little bit of attention to this small detail.
Many years ago I found out that emulsions made from fish oils are used in many plastics during the manufacturing process, this I think is what makes plastic baits acceptable partly to fish, I think they can with there well developed olafactory system detect this, this would explain why rodents often want to eat the plastic on reel handles, its very common apparently (happened to me twice) Craig Brew of Shimano told me he has loads of replacement handles they send out where rodents have tried to eat them.
Explain this then? I have had carp to more than 40lb in the UK on single or double pieces of plastic unflavoured corn in the dark without use of a PVA bag or any free offerings whatsoever, it begs belief how this can possibly work but it has and on many occasions, I think for a certainty carp have nocturnal vision and probably as good a sense of smell in water as a sniffer dog has by comparison on land, how else could this be explained?it happened by accident the first time when after a long drive I arrived at a distant lake, dog tired I simple chucked out three rods in driving rain and darkness, the end gear had only double plastic corn on from a previous session, all the flavour had disappeared and I only did it so at least I was fishing of sorts, not really expecting anything I thought I would sort it out in the morning! To my absolute shock, I had a number of predominantly very big fish that night, you never stop learning do you?
These are a lovely variant on 10mm boilies, as mentioned previously their buoyancy remains constantly perfect and just one small bait will negate the weight of a size 8 hook and make it neutral, two of these baits will lift a size 8 hook indefinatly, sometimes requiring a small split shot, so presentation is always perfect over weed or silt and general rough ground, I did the testing and flavour combinations on these baits and they certainly work very well, I have used them to good success all over the place but I always smile when I think of the hits we have had on our yearly Easter trip to Anglers Paradise down in Devon, perhaps its the deep red murky water down there that makes these baits so effective but they caught my sons and Jason Cann my friend and myself crazy amounts of carp, where we found it slow on real food items, it realy does defy logic, but other anglers who were struggling that we gave them to caught virtually straight away!
Plastic really comes into its own when using Zigs, one of my all time favorite Zig baits is a trimmed down plastic Tiger Nut, made to look like a mixer, I cant tell you how often this has caught me fish both on the surface on a controller or subsurface on a zig rig, also when fished 2 feet over depth on top on a zig, fantastic! I designed some soft rubber zig baits last year specifically for their buoyancy in case you are having to use a very long hooklength on your zigs, nothing worse than getting carp feeding and finding at the end of a fruitless session that you piece of foam takes in water and becomes over a matter of hours a balanced bottom bait unbeknown to yourself!
Glow in the dark baits on zigs may seem strange but again it works, I believe Benson the old massive common that lived in The Bluebell lakes complex got caught at least 2 times on glow in the dark zigs, and in Winter!
You only have to look at how all fish can become preoccupied on naturals, especially fly hatches to realize why zigs work, carp are investigating everything that’s drifting around in the middle layers of water at hatching times, which can be most of the year round incidentally, with spring being prime time, little wonder that dark brown and black plastic or foam works so brilliantly, not only is it silhouetted against the sky but as I said earlier I think carp have nocturnal vision so these colours work amazingly well in the dark on Zigs also, I guess they think its moths, nymphs, and flies when they gulp them in.
Black corn is a superb choice for a hookbait when fishing over a bed of hemp, the carp simply don’t expect it, after all they are usually busy sucking in and separating the hemp from mud, and detritus which they are masters of, however they are far from stupid and I have learned a lot from many campaigns over the years of using hemp that choice of hookbait contrary to what you may think is critical to success, I found light small baits that fly into the mouth the best, maggots mixed fake and real are hard to beat, Sweetcorn in Black or Yellow plastic are great, especially when you leave the grains to soak in the real Juice from a tin of sweetcorn for weeks, to do this I use an airtight plastic pot to mix the two together soaking!being a mixture of salt and sugar in the watery juice it tends to keep for ages but boy does it work, yet again enhanced even more by pricking the plastic with a needle loads of times prior to soaking.
Also it may sound a bit obvious but should you fancy a change of flavour on your plastic baits a quick plunge into a pan of boiling water will purge the baits of any existing flavour leaving it clear or ready for another dosing should you require.
Good luck with it