Tom McGregor reveals some insights in to bait and the industry
Sometimes, it's only when you're on the inside, that you know more of the facts. I've fished for thirty years, carp fished for 25, worked in the carp bait industry for ten, and been lucky enough to run DT Bait Developments for three.....here's some answers to frequently asked questions that I hear day to day:
Q: Don't all bait brands produce their own bait?
A: No, in fact the majority don't, and that even includes some of the big boys who contract the production out. As a result they have less control on quality, and the profit is split between the brand owner and the producer...so that pushes the product cost and standards down. At DT Bait Developments, everything we sell is prepared by us.
Q: Some brilliant anglers choose what bait to use, because they think it's the best, right?
A: They are paid to use it. The highest bidder wins. Many high profile anglers shift bait companies when they are offered more money. Here at DT we are approached every year, but we choose not to go down that route.
Q: Bait is bait isn't it?
A: Not really.....sure it can all be eaten by carp, but there are two facts that make the case for using better bait: the first is that in pressured lakes, feeding is competitive amongst carp...the bigger carp want to dominate the most nutritionally valuable bait. The second is (and we know this from working with Sparsholt College) that carp can actually detect the nutritional quality of bait - not just the flavour like you and me - and when a number of baits are on offer, they will positively choose in favour of the one that is best for them. So it pays to put more nutrients in to the bait - it attracts the bigger carp!
What would you choose - bread and water, or steak chips and veg?....they're both food that can be eaten, but only one is likely to be more attractive to you in taste, and nutrition.
Q: But all baits use the same ingredients don't they?
A: To an extent....the process of rolling a boilie means that you have to use certain ingredients like soya, maize etc are which are quite cheap - and they help the rollers produce a sphere that boils to a firm ball......but you can have a boilie which is 100% of these base ingredients, with a dash of flavour; or, you can have a boilie with just 60% of these (which is about all that's needed to make the machinery work and produce great shaped boilies), but with the balance of the other 40% made up of attractants, palatants, trace elements, vitamins and aminos....all of which the carp need, and will detect.
Q: I hear you've got a three roller machine - what's the benefit of that?
A: DT is unique in having a three roller machine built in Germany - three rollers counter spin and turn the boilie in 360 degrees to ensure a perfect sphere....two roller machines produce boilies which are round in one dimension, but then have more 'square' sides as the boilie is only briefly pressured between the two wheels.
Q: How should I choose the best boilie - what do I look for?
A: Well, linked to a point above, there's only certain things that the human being can detect...the smell, and the appearance which reveals some of the ingredients, and you should certainly assess baits on that evidence.
But there's a lot more to a bait that humans can't detect, but carp can: the actual nutritional quality of all of the ingredients....and don't forget at depths in silty water, the visual of the bait is going to be largely replaced by the ability of the carp to use it's olfactory senses to work out what's in front of it and how good it is for them.
And to have confidence that your bait has the right hidden qualities that appeal to carp, you should ask yourself: Does this brand produce their own bait? Are they a trendy brand, or are they committed to high standards? Do they know what they are talking about? Do they use celebrity anglers (which they pay) to build their reputation? Have they the experience of thirty one years that the likes of DT has built up?
Q: Why is bait so expensive?
A: Often it's expensive because many people are taking a share of the profits: the producer, then the brand owner, then perhaps a shop, and then of course marketing costs like using high profile anglers. The alternative, and this is what DT does, is to put all the cost in to the bait and let it do the talking, and the best ingredients come at a cost......you can't buy a Ferrari for the price of a Mini. We have some ingredients that cost so much - for example a delivery of a few litres of the famous Green Beast flavour sets us back way over four grand.
As a producer, we've got to take a view if it's worth it, and we believe it is - in fact we know it is because its the results that count.
But overall, the bait industry isn't an industry that makes folk rich - quite the opposite - there are few high-rollers in the bait industry. It's very competitive, and overall anglers are getting very good value.
Q: If you weren't working at DT, what bait would you use?
A: Well I did use DT for many years and notched up PB after PB......you couldn't bribe me to change even when I was paying full price - that's why I jumped at the chance of owning it because I believed in it so much - not just belief though, it delivered!
But outside of DT I have a lot of respect for John Baker. I respect a few bait brands who actually produce the goods themselves, and who believe in giving the angler the best edge possible - cause that's what our customers should expect at the end of the day