There has been lots of talk about boosting baits in recent years but one thing I have not seen much information on is how these ‘boosting’ procedures effect other aspects of the bait rather than just the attraction of them. The most obvious example of this is when you see someone complaining about the lack of buoyancy in a particular pop up and then you find out they have had them sitting in 2 inches of liquid for 6 months so I will start with how I boost my pop ups.
Boost does not just simply mean largely increasing the flavour or smell as most people would think, you can boost the effectiveness of a bait without seeing, smelling or tasting much difference in it at all.
I start by air drying my chosen baits for 5-7 days for this example lets take CcMoores Chod Bitez because I love the pastel colours and when used with my chosen flavour for the process it is also giving me a customised pop up without having to roll your own from scratch (air drying them first makes sure that the liquid content you are about to introduce does not effect the buoyancy of the bait too much).
Once they have been air dried in a hook bait bag or empty egg carton for a week I put them back into the original tub and I spray or add a few drops of my chosen flavour for this pop up I use the northern special booster, just give them a light coating so they are just glazed. Shake well and leave to soak in for 24 hours I then add a small sprinkle of fructose concentrate and again another spray of the northern special booster.
Try not to have excess liquid sitting in the bottom of the tub not only will this give you slightly varying buoyancies of pop ups within the tub because some will be sat in liquid and others wont but the baits can only absorb so much liquid, the excess is doing nothing at all, its a waste of liquid. Shake the tub well to make sure the powder and liquid mix is spread evenly and by the time you come round to using them you will now have washed out pastel coloured northern specials with an extra fruity kick. This can be tweaked on any colour or flavour pop up of your choice the world is your oyster just experiment and find out what works best for you.
I can not remember the last time I put boilies out into the lake that have not had some kind of extra attention, the main thing to consider when boosting your freebies is that no matter what you add you will be effecting how it acts when submerged in water over time, I think you should always be aware of this because I see a lot of people talk about using frozen bait and praise its benefits over shelf life baits such as how it breaks down quickly and is very active but then say they are coating the said baits in a particular liquid additive or booster without considering ‘preservative’ in the liquid (certain products need preservative to make it user friendly and stop it going off while it is sat on the shelves in a tackle shop) by adding these types of liquids to your boilies you are introducing a preservative to the bait which will make them shelf life to a certain extent.
So if I’m using a frozen bait which I normally am I try and think about how the chosen liquid is going to effect the bait when on the lakebed and again just like I mentioned above in the pop ups section its not all about the quantity you add its more about applying it in the correct way. I love mint sauce but would I want a litre of it on my christmas dinner? no a teaspoon is normally more than enough.
Lets take pacific tuna boilie's for this example, I use the hot chorizo liquid a little bit of Chilli powder and a little bit of pure betaine powder to complement them and I get all this goodness into my bait by adding them to hot water first, if I start with roughly 3 kilos of boilies I would take a 5kg bait bucket with a secure lid and add roughly 2 litres of hot steamy water then add my hot chorizo liquid to the water first its up to you how much you want to put in here but a generous guzzle is what I aim for maybe a quarter or a third of the bottle at most, I then add a teaspoon of chilli powder and a heaped teaspoon of pure betaine powder to the water. Stir this well and make sure its evenly mixed then put your boilies in the bucket and close the lid (a weak flimsy bucket will just swell up and the lid will pop open hence using a good solid bucket with a tight lid). The warmth from the water will not only help dissolve the powders but help them penetrate deeper into the baits due to the thin nature of the mix whilst also kick starting the active ingredients within the bait you are boosting, several properties at once with this process not just a simple increased smell or taste.
I have found this method works fine for me when done on the bank but you can do it the night before to allow the baits to soften a little bit more, a couple of things to note here is how you are applying your bait, because soft swollen baits wont go out very well in a throwing stick, and to what kind of venue are you fishing. If nuisance fish are a real problem I would personally forget the water content and just add thicker liquid additive in small amounts to harden them over time rather than soften them overnight, and finally the water quality if your fishing a clear gravel pit then consider the colour aspect of the boilie and liquid combo you’re using and boost the visual aspect of it at the same time. If it’s a murky venue I would personally concentrate on the attraction and forget the visual aspect.
Take a couple of liquids and try them neat in water to see what they do, some are heavy and stick very well to baits like a skin with only a little penetration and other liquids are thin and very soluble they cloud up the water quickly and will penetrate a bait much deeper. they are all great in their own ways, the most important thing to remember is there is no right or wrong answer and the options are endless, so with a little bit of thought and finesse you can adapt and improve a good bait to work even better for you.