Ahh, the humble PVA bag, such a simple little beastie! That said, how often are those simple little ideas the very best of them? Quite often I’m sure you’ll agree. PVA is widely used these days in its various forms, but it’s the solid bags I use most often, because they give me the options I need to carry the bait and the all important signals I want to get out into the water, in the format I want.
There are loads of PVA suppliers around, so find one that offers the size, shape and structure of bag that suits your needs; I use Mozzies, one because I trust all his gear implicitly, two becasue theyre cost-effective, and three, and most importantly of all becasue they do the job I want perfectly. Have a look here if your interested.
So why the title ‘Liquid PVA Bags’? Simple really, becasue the higher the liqid content in your bags, the better for this method of fishing. Also, I often include a liquid that ISN’T PVA friendly!
If you think about it, we only ever want a very minimal amount of actual food content in our PVA bags. If you want to get any amount of bait into the water, there are certainly much better ways of delivering it. What we want most often with PVA bags is to deliver a very small, very localised amount of attraction located more often than not no further than a few inches away from our hook bait.
A favoured method is to crumb up a few boilies or pellets, maybe add some stick mix or ground bait, maybe some corn for a flash of colour. There is nothing at all wrong with this approach, and it has certainly worked for a long time. However, in the colder months, or indeed on pressured waters, one of two things might start to happen to reduce takes; fish migh back of the little piles of crumbed boilies or pellets, or they might pick at the broken bits of baits and leave the hook bait. Also, are you really getting close enough to the aim at the start of all this? To deliver minimal food content yet maximum attraction?
There are of course scenarios where you want to introduce a small amount of food items, but lets assume for the moment you want the absolute minimum, the carp aren’t feeding hard and you want to induce a response but know triggereing competetive feeding isnt going to be possible. This is where liquids become the weapon of choice, and a combination of liquids can be really effective!
Let me show you how I approach my PVA bags, especially when the waters cold.
Pick the size of bag to suit your situation, and fill it to about 1/3 of the way up with your chosen stick or bag mix. I favour The Musselberry Stick Mix, becasue it has a high proportion of the actual baits base mix in it, so you get the benefits of crumbed boilie but even more so. Also, it’s got some very small food items in it, in the form of varuous finely ground seeds and berries. Some of the mix is highly soluble, which is superb for instant and lasting attraction, and some of the mix is less soluble, which helps to hold some of the liquids in the area, giving a more prolonged leakage. Its also designed to send signals and even particles of bait up and down the water column. Lastly, its already loaded with carp catching liquids, yet can easily take a lot more, so its ideal for this approach!
Again, nothing complicated here, just add your lead as you normally would. Give the bottom of the bag a few taps to make sure it settles right to the bottom of the bag, nice and snug. I leave the hook link out most of the time, personal preference here, but in this example I’ve used a stiff fluro hook length, as I often do, and never suffer tangles with it so it works for me. I like to know the hook link is free to work as it should.
Only other thing to mention here really is that I always try and get the lead arrangement completely inside the bag, including any clips and so on. It just helps to ensure its all neat and tidy, stays on and casts as well as possible.
Add an oil of your choosing, a little over 5ml is about right, so a generous ‘slug’. Here I’ve used our own high grade Salmon Oil, which is perfect for this tecnique. Hemp Oil is equally as good, if not better in very cold water. Oils such as these dont really provide a signal the carp can home in on in their own right, not until the carp gets very close to them anyway. They do however serve two other purposes, they help to disperse particles and other liquids up and down the water column. Carrying bits and bobs up through the water with them as they rise to the surface, and inevitably some particles fall back down again, which is great, we dont want all our signals on the surface after all. Also, and this is key, they really slow the PVA melting time down.
Now we can add some liquids that are not PVA friendly! I like to use the classic Minamino, it’s an awesome liquid in this, its pure form. You may well have other liquids you want to try out. With the oil already sat in the bag, on top of the stick mix, we can add pure Minamino without it melting the PVA instantly. As you add the Minamino it drops through the oil, protecting the PVA, and sits ontop of the stick mix, and ends up sandwiched between the stick mix and the oil. You could of course simply add liquids like Minamino to your stick mix, and let it soak it all up, but that creates a slower release, in this technique it’s all about a really quick burst of liquid attraction.
With our non PVA friendly liquid now in the bag (sorry, couldn’t resist), we’re almost done. At this point I add my third and final liquid, in this case Excesor Glug, which is PVA friendly. In the picture you can see it has pushed its way through some of the oil and Minamino, which is ideal; it’s the cloudy looking yellow liquid here amongst the darker contents of the bag. You can use anything here, I’ve used the Exelsor glug as it compliments the whole setup. As you’ll see if you watch the video clip at the end, the oils, Minamino and various particles of bait from the stick mix all move up and down in the water column. Some stick mix items also stay low, and so does the Excelsor glug. This gives a more focused area of attraction around the hook bait, along with the now signal rich water column. It also adds another element of sweetness to the whole thing, and has its own powerful signals to draw the carp in, including a very nice essential oil!
The final thing to add to the bag, is more stick mix to cap it all off. At this point fill the bag as much as you like, just make sure you leave yourself enough space to finish the end off and seal it all up. You can clearly see here that the liquids have interspersed with each other, they havent mixed totally of course, but the three I’ve used here sit well enough together to get the overall effect I’m after, and keep the bag intact. Now you might be concerned here that the oil will stop the bag from melting, but don’t forget, as soon as you cast it out it’ll be completely covered with water on the outside, the oil is inside. Again, the video link at the end lasts just 5 mins, and you’ll see the break down in what was cold water.
Finish the bag off in your normal way. I use the standard, ‘lick and twist’ method, you do whatever works for you. It’s also well worth sealing the corners down too, not only to tighten the whole thing up further, but it really does help casting. The thing you might notice at this point is how different to normal the bag feels if you’re not used to loading so much liquid into your PVA bags. They do feel a little strange at first, a bit squishy! You can also see from this pic that the liquid combination has crept up the stick mix almost to the very top. We now have a liquid bomb waiting to be launched into action!
So what does all this look like in the water? What happens? Have a look at these two pictures, taken from as close an angle to each other as I could get. You can see how the liquids and stick mix have created a cloud around the hook bait. That cloud is jam-packed full of attraction, but with very minimal food content. The only meal worth having here, is the hookbait.
You can also see the movement of particles of bait up and down the water column on this short video clip. You can also see the moments the various liquids ‘do their thing’, at about 40 seconds, you can see the Minamino really coming out and spewing into the local area of water across the bottom. 2mins in, and the Excelsor Glug has created a lovely thick and creamy haze around the bottom of the jug. All the time, the stick mix is gradually breaking up and collapsing, with particles of bait settling on the deck, and some traveling up and down in the water column.
That’s why I like this ‘liquid bag’ setup so much, it really has got it all going on. Some signals are sent far and wide, throughout the water column, but it retains the nucleus of signals around the hook bait area, so drawing the fish to where you want them to be. Some people I’m sure will question why I used different bait ‘labels’ here, but this combination enhances the overall effect. No signals are overpowering, quite the opposite, it’s a super quick hit of subtle yet powerful carp catching attraction, in a bag!