All posts by Gav Astley

I have a passion for all things angling, having a particular fascination with bait. This blog is intended to give an insight into Beechwood Baits and what its all about. Along with the journey through the bait world, there will be frequent diversions into the broader field of life itself. I hope I dont get too deep for you!

Overcoming Snags on the way to Success!

Arrived at the lake, Etang Cache, late Tuesday afternoon as my flight had been delayed.  I was feeling ready to unwind and get the rods out.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to fish the snags as there were some lads on them before me, but they chose to move as they had done two nights and had no fish.  I set up and got talking to one of the owners and was told that there hasn’t been a fish out of the swim for 3 days but over 75kg of bait had been put in that week.  So, I opted to fish little bags of crushed Musselberry and just flick a few boilies over the top of each rod, just a hand full on each.

The night went by with no bites and I woke to rain and wind.  Great!  So, I thought I would leave my rods in as I knew they were on the spots, and the bailiff came and had a chat with me before breakfast.  The lads also come over from their peg to have a chat.  I am now getting to know them pretty well, and as we are all talking, the middle rod lets out a few beeps…..

I’m fishing locked up fishing tight to the snags, I run down heart in my mouth, hit the rod and try to turn the fish.  I managed to turn the fish and 5/10 minutes of a mental fight ensued with the fish going in and out of the snags.  It was intense!  I eventually managed to wrestle it away from the snags and land the fish.  A few minutes after thinking to myself that was an epic battle.  Little did I know that every battle after that was to get more, and more insane.  The fish went 28lbs so I was made up as it was bigger than my UK PB and was off the mark.


A few hours after the first fish I decide to go around to the stalking swim.  I fished the same rig and bait but instead of casting out then bait up I choose to put 10 boilies out about 5 minutes before I cast out so I could spook the fish with food not a rig.  I get the rig sorted and drop it on the spot first time, only a 20yrd cast but tricky so I was happy.  Within 5 minutes I see a fish roll over the spot.  I turn my camera on and start to record the rod.  A few more minutes go by with no signs or shows.  I roll myself a cigarette and just about to light it and the siren lets out beep beep!  I look and the rod is wrapped round to the left, I hit and again an epic battle unfolds.  I could see the fish in shallow water scraping along the bottom, turning it up.  Shaking its head trying to get the hook out.  I’m using barbless so I’m thinking it’s going to throw the hook but luckily, I manage to get it over and into the net.  I Lifted the net up and saw a chunk in the bottom of the net and see that it is a fish known as ‘Little Lumpy’ (Lump’s little brother) I’m buzzing.  I have the cigarette to calm me down.  I am sure it will go over thirty so I wait for the owner to come around and help with the weighing and the photos.  The fish went 36lbs and was a well know fish that hasn’t been out all year so I’m proper buzzing now.  I give it a few more hours with nothing so decide to go back to my main swim and sort my rigs out for the night.


I get the rods out just before dinner casting from the bank, not opting for the boat.  Same approach few boilies and a little stick but this time with a little special hook bait which I tried for the first time.  Dinner was a mean chilli cooked by the owner Dave.  After having a mint tea and a great time catching up with the owners, I get settled down for the night.  Just is I’m nodding off the left rod screams. “It’s taking line, I’m locked up, really!?” I thought to myself as I hit it.  It’s like hitting a bloody train.  I don’t think I’m was going to be able to stop it before it hits the snags.  I wound down and gave it some proper stick and just managed to turn it as I start to feel the line rubbing on the roots of the snags.  After a dogged battle for 20 odd minutes it goes into the net.  I look down at the net and it’s another chunk, but this time a common.  Gav did say these hookbaits would pick the commons out!  Its late just after 1am, so no one is up to help with photos. I get the camera on the tripod and get my selfie face on.  Then I get the fish into the sling, then out of the water and on to the mat.  When I weighed it, the fish goes 36lb, epic!  Get the shots down and let the beast go back home.  I went on to catch another two that night with every rod going, only high twenties but I was not complaining.


The next day I go stalking and manage to get a small low 20lbs with a little damage to it, as all carp I catch I treat it with a little carp care and sent it back on its way.  Nothing happened after that just like the day before, so I went back to the main swim and started getting set up for the night.  I get all the rods out really quickly 1st time on every rod, a little scatter of bait over the top and I was fishing for the night.  Sitting tying new rigs for the next day and out of nowhere the middle rod is away, and its going.  I run and pick up the rod.  There was no stopping this fish, it just took line and ended up going into the snags.  I was gutted.  I had that sinking feeling in my gut, and just knew I wasn’t getting that fish back.  I wanted to make sure the fish wasn’t snarled, so I jumped in the boat and made my way over to where the line was exiting the water.  I get right next to where the fish is snagged and can see that the fish and managed to go around one branch and then into the snags, and throw the hook.  I manage to get all of my tackle back and then made my way back to my swim.  Sulking!

On getting back to the peg I was met with the owner who was watching my other rods while I was in the boat.  “Never mind” he said, plenty more.  I laughed.  He was right there were more.  Got my head straight and concentrated on getting the rod back out on the spot.  New rig on the rod went out first time.  I’m getting good at this casting thing.  I set the rod on the rest, clip the bobbin on, and sit back watching the rods.  I’m sitting there enjoying the sun for the short time it was out.  I then go back into my bivvy because of a passing storm.

As I’m waiting for the storm to pass, the middle rod screams.  I go to hit the rod.  But as I’m running out of my bivvy the screamer just stopped, like just stopped, I look up at my spot and see a fish crashing.  I lift in to the rod knowing there is going to be nothing on the end.  Again, the sinking feeling.  That’s two fish out of two I’ve lost now.  What is going on?  I reel in and inspect the rig.  All seem to be fine.  Hook still sharp.  Putty hasn’t moved.  Everything was fine.  I had just been done.  I was not happy, I take this time to reel in get my myself sorted mentally.  I head over to the lads for a chat.

We are trying to organise a trip when we are all back in England.  As we we’re talking one of their rods was away.  One of the lads runs and hits the rod.  Rod hoops over and we all look at each other and say this has to be a chunk and a long hard battle commences.  I have the pleasure of netting the fish and manage to get the fish on the first attempt.  The owners are here at this point and as we lift the net to see the prize there was 5 of us, all round this one net.  As we are looking we can see that is a really good fish and it came in at a whopping 44lb.  I am over the moon for the lad as it is his new PB. I get some shots for him and a few with him and the owners.  It felt so good to be a part of that event.  To me that is one of the best things about fishing, all coming together having a laugh and catching carp.  I stay there celebrating with beer, wine and good food.  At this point I’m feeling good and have completely forgotten about the two fish that I had lost only a few hours before.

I head back over the swim feeling really good for a bite or two that night.  I end up taking a long time getting the rods out, I think that beer had a big part in that.  I eventually get them where I want them and sit back and relax watching the sun set, enjoying the last of the wine.  I roll myself a smoke, and enjoy the whole atmosphere of this place, it’s completely different to what I am used to.  I can’t put it in to words.  After watching the sunset, I retreat into the bivvy and just as I’m going to sort my bag out the left rod is sprung into life.  As I hit the rod I can just see that the fish has made it to the snags and I can feel the fish grating against the snags.  I was only in contact for 5 to 6 seconds and it snapped me.  I throw the rod on the floor and walk away holding my head in my hands.  Why can’t I catch a damn fish?  3 fish out of 3 lost.  At this point I don’t even want to be there I want to go home.

I pick myself up after a few cups of tea.  I questioned the owners if I was doing anything wrong or was it just me.  They reassured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that all this is a part of fishing.  At this point it is dark and I decide to pub chuck the rod, I know it’s only say a 40-50 yard cast to the edge of the snags so clipped myself up at just over 40yards.  It went out like a dream, hit the clip, landed nice and soft on the silt lovely!  After all this I get woken up at an hour I didn’t know existed by the sound of a screaming siren.  Boom I’m in.  I run out of the bivvy still in the sleeping bag and hit the rod.  It’s a beast.  It frights hard for nearly 10 minutes right on the edge of the snag.  I wasn’t losing this fish.  I pulled hard and the fish pulled harder turning me.  My god this is a strong ass fish.  I end up playing it for 40 minutes all in all and I would say 90 percent of time was next to the snags.  In all honesty, I didn’t think I was getting it in.  I eventually netted the hardest fighting carp I have ever had.  I was right, this is a chunk and by far my PB.  But as its 3.30am no one is awake.  So it is up to me again to get my best selfie face on and get the camera set.  I get the fish on the bank and recognise it as the fish that my cousin had the pleasure of naming.

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The fish was ‘Golden Two Tone’ and was an absolute beast.  A stunning common, long and deep, a proper fighting machine.  One of the most impressive fish I have ever caught.  It went 43 and a half and was a new PB by 4 pounds.  I have no words for how I felt.  Only the pictures can show how I was feeling.  An epic fight, an epic carp, from an epic venue.  I am so made up after losing those three fish.  I got the fish back safely, it went away strong drenching me in the process.  I went on to have another three fish that night to 37lbs and it was the most productive night yet.



I was woken up in the morning with a sausage and egg bap being shoved in my face along with a nice cup of tea.  It was the owner, I told him about the night before and he was made up for me.  I said I think I might have had two-tone.  At this point I still wasn’t too sure but I know by the size of it has to be.  I show him the fish and he confirms it as Golden Two Tone for me, and congratulates me.  He asks what rig I’m fishing so I show him.  It’s a size 4 curve hook with a swivel on the shank no hair, down to a little kicker tied with supple braid as I was fishing on soft silt.  He looks at the rig then looks at me and nods.  It’s just a nod but I knew the liked it just be the way he was looking at it.  I have a drink with him, then head off stalking.  I manage to catch a low 30, 32 I think.  It was a lovely fish, perfect in fact not a mark on her.  She was full of eggs as they were close to spawning so a quick pic and off she went.


It goes dead after that, just like the days previous so I enjoy the sun with just one rod in the water whilst listening to a bit for music, I just chilled as I was knackered from being up all night with fish, and I ended up falling asleep.  I woke to an alarm but not mine one of the other lads.  It was 6 o’clock.  I was asleep for 5 hours, luckily in the shade.  I decide to pack up and go around and see the fish.  As I get to the back of the lad’s swim one of them is still playing the fish so again I get to do the netting and while other lad is getting the photos.  The fish goes in the net, it’s a low 30lb common, an immaculate fish.  We get the photos and I head back to my swim.


Tonight, I was going to change tactics a little; I would be keeping the rig the same but I was going to place them with the boat and fish particle over the top.  Just standard pigeon mix with added maze, a few boilies and jobs a gud’un.  I get all three rods out with the help of Dave the owner, I get back to the swim and unload the bait from the boat set the rods up and wait for the bite.  Within around 30 minutes there was bubbles starting to appear over the middle rod, I focused in on them as they started to get more and more aggressive until my whole spot was pretty much fizzing.  I start getting liners, I’m bricking it.  I’m crouched over the rod waiting for it to go, liner arrr liner arrrr liner ARRRR.  I can’t take this.  The rod never goes.  The fizzing stops and I know my chance has gone.  That night all I had was liners.  No fish just liners.  I woke the next day like a zombie, slept through breakfast it was like 11am.  I was trying to come to terms with why I didn’t get a fish.  I put it down to that they were just interested in the particle not the boilie.  As I was fishing boilies on the hair and pop ups they didn’t even give them a second look.  The day went by with no fish, I slept mostly and thought of a new attack for the last two nights.  So the new attack was just fish the pellet that they feed the fish on and boilie.  NO PARTICLE.  The pellet breaks down fast and creates like a fluff on the bottom.  So when the fish come in hungry looking for food they start to eat the pellet, find the boilies as an easier, more satisfying meal and start looking for the boilies.  This worked a treat and had the best two nights of the trip.  Another hand full of fish, and a new PB at 44lb!




Also another known fish, known as Steve at 39lb.  Right at the last-minute as I’m packing up I caught the last fish of the trip, a beautiful mirror at 34lb that just topped the trip off for me.


All in all, catching 17 in total I was made up.  This trip was the best trip I had been on and will definitely gong back next year.

Till next time.




A Year to Remember – By Liam Watts

I shall start this blog off where I ended the last one, the 8th of May 2016, the night I’ll never forget (you can see my previous blog here). We were back on our way to Reedy Pit because the hold it had on me was too much to ignore. The night started the same as all the others, an intense, exciting mission through the undergrowth to get to the water’s edge. I was on my own in my preferred spot and as soon as I looked out onto the water I could tell there were fish on the baited area, big shapes moving about in the darkness, fish feeding and crashing on the spot, unaware of my intentions to catch one. I managed to get both rods set up in the pitch black, barely making a sound. I put on two bags of crushed Trigonella that had already been tied up at home. If I’m honest I really enjoyed the preparation for this type of fishing, doing everything possible to make sure you can just set up on arrival with no lights and get two rods out with very little disturbance is crucial.

Both rods went out perfectly before I sat back in the bushes with excitement, after what seemed liked two seconds I was getting liners! I knew it wouldn’t be long before one of the rods ripped off, as I got up to have a look at the water bang went the rod and the line was ripped from the reel, I hit into the fish and knew instantly it wasn’t a big fish. I managed to drag the fish away from the spot whilst trying my best not to disturb the chunks that may have been feeding on the spot. It was then I netted the small common, no bigger than 10lb.


As I slipped it back to its watery home the other rod was away, again I hit into the fish and knew it wasn’t a big one. I did exactly the same with this fish, I dragged it as far away from the spot as possible and netted it. This fish being a bit bigger, mid double size. The fish went straight back out the net, clearly wanting to make as little disturbance as possible. I had two rods on the bank and had managed to land two fish. I then realized that one rod would suffice as there were more than enough fish feeding. So with the one rod and a bag of crushed Trigonella I sent it back out. I then sat back and thought I may have put the fish off by catching the two small commons off the spot. Then a huge line bite occurred and the bobbin smashed against the blank of the rod and then settled back down. I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I was going to be into a fish again, catching the two small commons hadn’t put them off at all.

After a minute or two the rod that was out came to life, the line was been pulled from the reel and the rod tip was bouncing around in the moonlight. I hit into this fish and instantly knew it was a much bigger fish as the fight was on another level. I was grateful that I didn’t have another rod in the water to worry about, this fish absolutely pulled like a train and wasn’t giving up easily. I grabbed the net and waded out into the water after it, every now and again seeing its scales in the moonlight. I knew it was a common and I knew it was the biggest fish I had ever hooked into, the feeling was indescribable. I was excited, nervous and scared all at the same time, my legs were shaking. As it came up after a long fight, I managed to scoop the net underneath it. I had done it, trying my best not to let out a yelp. I slowly waded back to the bank and got everything ready to see how big she was, as she sat in the sling I was an over excited mess, giggling to myself and buzzing at what I’d just achieved. Whilst at the same time trying to be as quiet as possible so I didn’t alert the rangers of my presence. After the photos were taken and I slipped her back, I just sat there, no rods in the water and in a state of shock. The sense of achievement was unreal, I would say I was the happiest I had been in a long while and that was all down the fishing. The drive home that night was one I shall never forget, I had achieved a goal in my angling and that was to catch a PB carp.


After that session on Reedy it became a tad on-top to say the least. We managed to get a few more sessions in and caught a few more lovely fish but the police presence and nearly been caught by the rangers a few times had put us off.

We then decided to move onto to the river and a few new waters on a ticket we had just obtained, they did not disappoint in the slightest. Going on to catch some amazing Carp and some very impressive Barbel. The biggest I managed was 10lb 10oz after many nights blanking the night the Barbel went in the net was one to remember. The fight was like nothing I’d felt before and is definitely addictive. The power of the river, the challenges that come with it all make for some real exciting fishing and I’ll definitely be doing a lot more fishing for them amazing powerful fish.


The one other part of the year that was near the top of the list was when we took on the mission of the 210 acre res. For sure the biggest water I have ever cast a line into. We managed to catch a common each on the first night and I lost another two fish that morning, due to been cut off by mussels. A tad disappointing to say the least.


More nights were spent on the res but no more fish for me. The year continued and many more missions were undertaken, most of them being with a very good friend of mine that I met threw fishing, Fred Reeve. An all round top guy and brilliant fisherman, big up Fred! I’d also like to give another two lads I’ve met along the way a shout out and that is Phil and Jody, both really good anglers and all round nice guys.

I had many sessions with all three of them throughout 2016, all of which were memorable missions, that’s for sure. I could go on forever about all the adventures I underwent last year and the amazing times we all had, but I’m sure you’re all already bored to death and if you managed to get this far you have done well.

Remember people you need to get out there and try to achieve your goals, tight lines and wet nets. Go out there and achieve the unachievable.

#TeamBeechwood #CarpyWatts #ItsOKNotToPay


HNV Uncovered

HNV is a subject often discussed by carp anglers, by those with a deeper interest in bait, those that have been around long enough to remember its first ‘birth’, and those just coming across it in their own journeys through carping.  Whatever your exposure to it, you’ve almost certainly heard about it, and discussed it at some level.  So, what is it all about, why do some rave about it and others dismiss it, what are the real HNV truths?


Now, make no bones about it, I’m a fan of HNV baits, however this is an open and honest account of what they’re about, so let’s get that out-of-the-way now.  If you want to challenge any statements made here, please feel free, the comments section below is there for you to use, so use it.

I’ve got a deep love for science, especially chemistry, biology and physics, indeed I spent all of my further education studying the subject of Environmental Science, right through to University level; I just love learning about and exploring the wonders of the natural world.  No doubt that core founding in science is what initially took me down this path with my bait, it all just makes sense, its how the natural world ‘works’.

Let’s start by properly defining what I deem HNV to mean, just so we’re all on the same starting page.

Defining HNV

HNV stands for High Nutritional Value.  This is commonly taken to indicate baits with a very high protein content, and dizzying numbers such as 80% and even 90% protein content stats start to get banded about in conversation.  However, that’s not really high nutritional value, not in the true sense of the term, that’s just a glut of protein.  Add to that you are hard pressed to find useable and more over attractive (to carp) ingredients carrying such high levels of proteins, and you start to question the validity of it all, and rightly so.

No, high protein levels should actually be considered to stand at much more sensible levels, and 50% is actually high in this sense of the term.  High protein doesn’t equal a better bait, however, high food signals of course does, and that’s what is partially being tapped into in these high protein baits, amino acids, food signals.  A bait by its very nature is, or should be, designed to entice the carp to eat it, that’s how we catch them!  The trick often missed with these high protein baits is digestibility and solubility, or lack of, and the type of aminos, especially free aminos available in the finished bait.  A fish can’t even attempt to eat what it cannot find.

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The basic make up of a carps ‘smell’ sensory system, what do you notice?
True HNV for me means; a bait that is as close a match as possible to the carps entire dietary requirement.  This is where you start to understand that actually, whilst high protein can carry decent levels of food signals, it also has heavy drawbacks.  Carp do not need as much as 80% protein in their diets, and eating foods of such un-balanced nutrition actually harms catch results; carp spend vast swathes of their time digesting the protein saturated meal, totally un-catchable in the mean time.  This situation doesn’t impart a lasting positive imprint, on the fish or the angler!  True HNV however, as a fully balanced bait in every aspect, certainly does.  The fish don’t search for nutrients per say, but they do search out that feel good factor, as all living organisms do by default thanks to evolved instinct.  Feeling good is a survival instinct in the natural world.

This is hard for us to grasp as humans, given the ‘McDonald’s V Fresh Salad Theory’ no doubt some of you reading this are thinking about.  But consider this, we are so removed from our natural instinct its unreal.  We go to the gym, we are told to eat 5 a day, eat plenty of fibre and on top of all that take 2 multi-vitamin tablets a day.  Oh, and let’s not forget regular checkups with the doctor, to make sure we’re healthy.  In the natural world you have none of that blanket of detachment from survival; you either eat to survive, or you die, game over.  Those that thrive, are those that instinctively know what to eat, and that instinct is carved out over many, many years of evolution.  Organisms that evolve to fine tune their senses into what enables them to thrive, inevitably do just that, thrive.  This is where the carp’s link to amino acids comes from, it’s the reason they’re sensory receptor sites are evolved perfectly to detect amino’s.  It’s not coincidence, it’s simply evolution.  Again, you can now see why early protein heavy baits did well against the competition at the time, which was certainly more cereal and carbohydrate based.  Again though, please remember high levels of anything only tick one box, and all amino’s aren’t made equal, far, far from it!!

What Lysine ‘looks like’, or is that ‘smells like’?
That’s why HNV to me means EVERY box ticked nutritionally, so that maximum positive imprints are imparted on the carp, which in turn helps massively to overcome negative, danger signs when the carp comes across the bait in the future.  Of course, all this is pretty useless if the carp has to again spend large amounts of time digesting its food, so this is why it absolutely has to be balanced nutrition, you most certainly can have too much of pretty much anything when it comes to bait ingredients, especially regarding excess nutritional elements.

Carp Poop!  This is all you really want to see on the mat, just a sign of your bait.  Bucket fulls spilling out aren’t good, just a natural healthy amount is what you, and the carp want.
Critical to any baits success is how easy it is to find for the fish, once you’ve done the hard part and imparted those all important positive imprints, you really want the bait to be easy for the fish to find again.  This is where amino acids really start to play their ace card, seen as the carp are physiologically engineered to detect them, and hunt them down.  Solubility is vital for anything that you want to travel through water, sounds obvious that but its amazing how many people seem to forget it.  Again, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record but this is where high protein doesn’t equal high attraction, protein isn’t always soluble, so how can a fish actually know it’s there?  The signals have to be soluble!

The trick with bait is to make sure the carp get that strong, overwhelming positive imprint, that they like to eat the bait and crucially can easily find it over distance time after time.  A high quality HNV bait can tick all these boxes.

Musselberry Wafters soaked in glug
The Musselberry wafters soaked in matching glug, this bait has accounted for numerous PB’s and lake records.  It ticks all the boxes, & as such it just keeps on delivering the goods!

Common questions about HNV

‘The HNV theory’s flawed, how can you be sure the carp eats a full kilo of your bait?  If it doesn’t it’s not getting the full nutrition from the bait is it?’

This is a question I’ve seen and heard lots of times, what’s missing is the point that carp don’t need to eat a kilo of bait, they just need X nutrient in Y quantity PER kilo of food consumed.  Depending on conditions, size, age and many other factors a kilo of food might be consumed every few hours, or every few days, and it really doesn’t matter, it’s whatever suits that particular fish at that particular time.  Whats important is the ratios of nutrients, that’s why they are (or should be) always stated in percentage terms.

‘How can the HNV theory work with all the naturals and other baits in the water, the carp has un-balanced nutrition anyway?’

This is very true, the middle part anyway!  Quite obviously the carp often has a multitude of food sources available to it, chief among them naturals.  It’s no coincidence waters high in naturals are the ones people often find the hardest to get consistent results on, after all, when your competing with nature as we are when we angle, when nature stacks all the odds in its favour we have to expect the challenge becomes all the more healthier.

That said, again the points been missed a little; yes naturals can make catching fish harder, however there are no naturals that offer such complete nutrition as a true HNV bait, so we have a foot in the door.  Make that bait really ‘tasty’ and easy to find, and we have the door open and both feet on the ‘welcome’ mat.

When you take a step back and think about it, the more ‘un-balanced’ the naturals and other baits in a water make the carps diet, the more advantageous a HNV bait becomes; remember what a true HNV bait is, as defined above?  Every nutritional requirement met, and not exceeded too much; always winning, always offering whats needed.

Again, in this statement remember that its percentages and averages that matter, that’s what we’re working with here.  It’s the same as everything in angling, tipping the percentages and averages in our favour is essentially all we’re doing, all the time!

‘Do carp look for nutrients?’

I broadly agree carp don’t ‘look’ for nutrients, they don’t even ‘think’ about what they’re deficient in.  It’s actually much more basic and fundamental than that, it’s a matter of survival.  All living organisms need nutrients to survive, and they will at times go to great lengths to get at what they’re deficient in; not because they do it consciously, it’s a totally unconscious survival instinct, and if you stop and think about that, what can possibly be more powerful?

Carp aren’t overly intelligent, but they do have strong instinct, and a solid ability to learn by association.  That goes for both positive and negative experiences.  Carp learn by association; it’s a commonly held belief that carp learn danger signs; lines in the water, obvious rigs, hard fished areas, areas with little or no cover.  We readily accept that carp see these things as dangerous, they’ve learnt this by association, not thought, but instinct imprinted over time, maybe even over generations through evolution.   Why do we find it such a leap to accept that the exact same thing happens with bait, both positively, from top quality HNV baits, and negatively, from poor quality and low or un-balanced nutrition baits?  Carp spook off lines not because they ‘know’ they’re fishing lines, but because they’ve learnt to associate that line with danger, with being caught.  It’s exactly the same with bait, but more so.  Bait HAS to overcome the carps fear of being caught, or the fish won’t even investigate it to start with.

‘Do you need a HNV bait, carp are ‘mud pigs’ anyway that eat anything aren’t they?’

True, anything they find they will investigate, however investigate is a wide term and it certainly doesn’t fully over-lap with ‘eat’.  Carp are continually investigating their environment, through soluble molecules suspended in the water, sight and sound vibrations.  They are constantly ‘auto investigating’.  Quite conversely though to ‘eating everything’, fished-for carp more often than not evade most things they auto investigate; lines, noise, cold, alien objects, predators and anything else they associate with negative imprints driven by their unconscious from previous experiences.

Something new however will almost certainly be investigated more proactively, hence new baits or differing tactics or rigs often produce results, we call them ‘edges’ most of the time.  The problem here as far as bait is concerned though is that it has to impart enough of a positive imprint to be taken again, enough to overcome negative imprints already ‘learnt’ by the carp.  If the balance of negative to positive is too weak, the self-preservation instinct overcomes it, and the baits effectiveness will fade away.  Over time if enough carp gain enough negative imprints a bait can really lose its effectiveness.  There’s always the ‘mug’ fish that is wired up slightly differently to the rest of the population in a water, but the bulk will naturally learn by association of the impending danger.

The only way to overcome this is to impart enough positive imprints to out weight the negatives, palatability really helps, but ‘feel good’ positive imprints are the ultimate, and they come most readily through perfectly balanced complete nutrition

‘Are HNV baits instant?’

Whilst it is true that HNV baits become more and more powerful over time as they’re applied to a water, due to the positive imprints being imparted, this doesn’t mean they can’t also be ‘instant’.  It may have once been true of the baits developed early on in the theory’s ‘life’, and certainly might be true for baits simply relying on a high (non soluble) protein content that they are not especially ‘instant’.  Either of these maybe where this question has emanated from, or rather disappointingly it maybe due to really poor baits simply falsely claiming to be HNV, damaging people’s perceptions of whats really possible with a true high quality HNV bait.

Quality HNV baits contain all of the good points from other types of baits, plus the huge added advantage of those all important positive imprints.  Instant?  Yes, absolutely, and long-lasting performance too, you’ve got to ask what more you really want to get out of a bait, haven’t you?

Dom and I rinsed this water, using Musselberry, Excelsor and a bait we were developing, but at the time of writing this still hasn’t been released, none of which the water had seen before!  We caught almost 70 fish to just shy of 30lb, including a number of recaptures over a 6 day trip, where we fished for 4 days, and didn’t even do the nights.  Instant? Yes!

To round up

If you get HNV right, it can be devastatingly effective, your dialling into the most fundamental instincts of all, those of survival.  Through the fog of time some of its true meanings may have become blurred, so it’s no wonder it can be hard to determine whats fact, and whats fiction, but I do hope this blog has gone someway to answering your questions about it all.

If your still none the wiser, consider this question; the basic principle of a bait is to get the fish to eat it, so why wouldn’t you use something its instinctively driven to eat?

Bait should always be about catching fish, enticing the fish to take the bait into its mouth, so we can catch it!  After all is said and done however, confidence plays a huge part in our angling success, especially when it comes to bait.  Use whatever gives you the most confidence, and I really mean that!  For me, that means ticking all the boxes, all the time; I want instant, long lasting attraction over short and long ranges, I want maximum positive imprints, I want the bait to be highly palatable, digestible and recognisable.  For me, that means a high quality true HNV bait.

Tight lines everyone, have confidence in your bait and catch a shed load of fish!


Barbel on the Trent – 5/2/17, with Gav Astley and Adam Bowen

Its 5:05am on a cold February morning and I’m already running a little late, I’d arranged with Adam Bowen (Team Beechwood Member and Owner of Fishing in the North West) to be with him at 5am, and I was still ten minutes away trundling along the M56.  Still, Adam’s a nice chap, and I dropped him a quick message to let him know I wasnt far off, and as expected he was cool as ever with the news I was a little behind time.

Today Adam was going to treat me to something a little different, something that links in nicely with one of our ‘Team Twister’ challenges and something we’d talked about for a while, a full on barbel trip!  As you know our Team Twister is a series of challenges and ‘twists’ that Team Beechwood are all having a go with throughout 2017, one is simply called ‘Hunter’, and sets target weights of loads of fish to achieve.  The Barbel target is 8lb, and although I’d be happy with any sized fish on this trip, I couldn’t help but have that 8lb target rattling around in my mind.

The journey down for us took around about an hour and a half, but it genuinely felt like ten minutes, such was the constant flow of fishing chatter filling the car.  I’m a relative barbel novice, Adam however knows his onions, so whilst I had him as a captive audience we talked about barbel fishing all the way down.

Sunrise on the Trent Beechwood Baits.JPG
Is there any better sight?  Sunrise over your favourite swim on a crisp February morning!
When we arrived, in what is Adams favourite swim on the river, it looked truly epic.  The sun was just coming up over the horizon, lighting up the strong and meaningful flow on the water, and the river looked in great condition!  I’d been buzzing about this trip for weeks, and as always we anglers dream of what might be; could today be one of those days the dreams come true?

Adam set about rigging the rods up, and I setup camp, all in all it took us about 20 minutes and we had three rods in the water and were sat with a (posh) Douwe Egberts coffee each.

Tactics for the day would be:

Tackle – 12lb main line through to 10lb hooklengths, 4oz gripper style leads, each rod with 2xfloat stops 20″ from the lead, size 12 Drennan Specialist Microbarb hooks.  All setup running rig style.

Bait – 6mm Halibut pellets, Excelsor paste, Meat and some of the soon to be released bait, the FEED+X.  Being carp baits, we did add some blue cheese and garlic to the paste and hookbaits to really make a stink the barbel could home in on in the flowing water.

We fished the three rods along the crease, at different points from far left, central and right of our swim.  The tackle was brilliantly balanced, held bottom on the crease perfectly, and the float stops 20″ from the lead is a really neat trick.  We weren’t really troubled on the day by weed and stuff being brought down stream, but what did flow through and catch on the line gathered behind the stops, ensuring our presentations weren’t effected.  I seriously recommend you try it on your setup if you like fishing flowing water, and never find your self tearing your hair out over being wiped out by weed again!

We fished meat to our left, and Adam commented this was the rod he thought would go first, being down stream, centrally we fished the boiled bait, and to our right pellet.  All leads we’re wrapped in Excelsor paste, and the boilie and pellet hookbaits also got wrapped in a big dollop too.  The paste worked perfectly in the powerful flow, sticky and grippy enough to stay put, slowly releasing oodles of attraction over the hour or so between re-casts, with just traces left by the time we reeled in.

Adam re-casts the middle rod as the sun goes down
Over the course of the day we had lots of attention on the FEED+X hookbait fished centrally of the three rods, but very little indication on the other two rods, and no barbel off any.  It was early February after all, and winter fishing can often be a challenge in itself!  We focused on the middle rod, adjusting hair length, changing hooks, casting at spots around the central crease to try and turn the indications we were getting into solid takes.  We stuck to the plan throughout, re-casting to firm spots every hour to hour and a half, each time with paste around the lead and hook baits, this way throughout the day we would slowly build the swim without risking overfeeding it in the cold wintry conditions.

The day rolled on, lunch was a cracking bacon and cheese baguette and chips from a local pub, whilst we fished on, watching the river relentlessly flow past us, and our rod tips sat defiantly upright, and still……….

Barbel are super strong fish!
It wasnt until we entered the last hour of our trip that one of the rods finally ripped off.  Adam said just one word, ‘BARBEL!’.  I zipped over to the rod and lifted into it, sure enough we were into a powerful fish, somewhere out there in the inky blackness!  Adam took the left hand rod out-of-the-way so I could play the fish towards the left of the swim where the water was deep close in and snag free.  The unseen creature tore down stream on a powerful run, using all its strength and the rivers flow.  I teased it back slowly, we’d waited all day and now into a fish I really, really didn’t want to lose it!  Closer in it came, then tore off again, seemingly still as full of beans as when it was first hooked.  I wasn’t sure it’d make it over the 8lb mark, but as Adam slid the net under the fish, I had second thoughts, it looked long and solid.  The scales would tell us……

Gav Astley 9lb 8oz Barbel Beechwood Baits.JPG
9lb 8oz, Happy days indeed, my new PB Barbel!
On the scales the fish crept around to 9lb 8oz, so not only had we got what we came for, but I’d also got a new PB fish, and mission accomplished on the Team Twister!  Bingo bango banjo, or words to that effect!!

We were just in the process of preparing to return my fish, when the same rod hooped over and the alarm screamed in delight!  Adam had quickly, and sensibly, re-baited and re-cast the rod whilst I got my waders on to return my fish, which was recovering in the margin.  The fish had clearly switched on, and we were right in the middle of a feeding spell.  Now the way we’ve fed the swim really pays off for us, because we’ve used largely Excelsor paste with a few pellets pushed into it all day, there isn’t a lot to eat in the swim, but there is masses of attraction.  Had we lumped loads of bait in, the same feeding spell would have taken place, but our hookbait would have had a much reduced chance of being picked up.

Adam plays his fish in perfectly, and as he draws it to the net it looks a very similar size to mine.  However, as it rolls over the net cord, its depth and width are really impressive, it’s now clearly a bigger fish, and Adam quietly passes comment that it might be a PB for him, might be.

Adam Bowen 12lb 10oz Barbel Beechwood Baits.JPG
Yet another PB, at 12lb 10oz Adams fish is seriously impressive!
We hoisted the fish up on the scales and both hold our breath, it registered 14lb 20z, we deducted the sling, and the fish entered angling memory at 12lb 10oz, and yes, a new PB for Adam!!  I was made up with my fish, and of course my new PB, however I was over the moon for Adam.  He targets the barbel and as such his PB is much harder to improve on, and I felt really privileged to have witnessed him bank it.  Two PB’s, two Team Twister challenges ticked off and two very, very happy anglers!!

With my fish now safely returned, we took some pics of Adams fish, once he’d expertly removed some old netting from its dorsal fin.  Fortunately Adam’s not only a well seasoned and conscientious angler, but he’s also a nurse, so his forceps and surgical scissors are of the very best quality, along with his skills in using them, and he removed the netting expertly.  It is worth noting though, that landing and keep nets are not something anyone should skimp on, poor quality nets can cause you and the fish all sorts of problems, and none of us want to see fish with any damage.

With that we released Adams fish safe and sound, and begrudgingly reeled the rods in and started to pack away our gear.  We were both grinning from ear to ear, it’d been a long time coming good, but we kept the faith and stuck to the plan.  Anyway, is there any better way to spend a day other than sat by a really stunning piece of river, in great company, watching the world slowly drift by?

Tight lines


Manley Old Hall, 11th Jan 2017 – By Brian Coakley

Today was a new challenge for myself and some of the lads at Manley Old Hall but a return visit for Dave all be it on a different pool.

Cherry Pool is the middle water and also the largest and deepest with depths up to 8′.  This is a mixed species water which makes it good fishing all year round.  This is an ideal match water and bookings can be made through Billy Bristow on 07986339955.


Easily found off the M56 junction 14, take A5117 sign posted Helsby.  Through the traffic lights and then first right Primrose Lane.  Up hill to T junction turn right Helsby Road.  To next T junction turn right Manley Road.  1.5 miles right turn at Manley village school (School Lane).  300 yards right Sugar lane.  200 yards fishery on right.


Bait tactics today for me on a calm roasting hot day, well it felt like it after previous sub-zero trips out, was 4mm expander pellets soaked in polony oil and dead red maggots soaked in the very impressive hemp oil from Beechwood Baits, both of these prepared the day before to allow a good soaking for hook baits and micros lightly dusted with Dynamite baits silver X roach for my feed which was regular fed with a pole cup or a small Frenzee pole pot into three swims at 8m, 6m and a margin swim.


Spread round the lake everyone started catching a steady flow of silver fish on the maggot with the odd decent perch putting in a appearance along with some decent skimmers and Bream, then what we was all waiting for the first decent carp of 2017 and it fell to Stu as did a good few more all on the faithful dead red maggot, yes you guessed soaked in hemp oil, back over on my peg I opted to start on soft pellet for an hour and caught or got a bite every put in, the second hour seen me try a bit of shalla slapping and a couple of different swims in open water resulting in a slow down of fish so it was back to my 8m line just off some reeds about 4m out, this swim brought me some really good roach (and some tiny ones), skimmers and my first carp of the year after loosing a few which i put down to the fine hook I was using, the highlight for me was some of the Chub I was catching and looking inside their mouths you could see they were realy on the feed.


All six of us caught a lot of fish on a warmer winters day on a new venue for us, we certainly will be coming back here for regular visits because it has so much to offer and I certainly want to get into catching them carp and the bigger chub, this is only a brief account of the day, and if you would like some more information please leave a comment below and I will get back to you asap.

Until next time its been a pleasure!




Rod V Pole – 14/1/17, with Barry Smith and Brian Coakley

Something new here for you all, it’s the Beechwood Baits Team Twister!

We’ve set-up a whole year stuffed with twists for you, which are basically challenges we’ve set ourselves.  Some are big, some are smaller, some will take us far and wide and some will be on our doorstep, what they will all be is varied, interesting and exciting twists on our fishing.

So, our first Twist takes us to Rosemary Wood Fishery in Ormskirk, on a Rod V Pole challenge featuring Barry Smith and Brian Coakley, both of whom I’m sure your familiar with from their respective blogs; ‘Its a Pleasure‘ and ‘Fishing on the Edge‘.

The whole idea for this Twist was to see which method is quicker at catching a few fish on a short session; the rod and line, or the pole.  Rules for this one were pretty straight forward, anglers set a peg apart, fishing with maggots on the hook and of course one using running line and the other on pole tackle.

Conditions when we arrived were less than favourable; Rosemary Wood fishes better with a ripple on the water, but at 7am on the 14th of Jan 2017, it was blowing a real wintry gale and the wind was carrying horizontal rain with it across the fisheries exposed banks.

We deliberated a move of venue, and a change of date, it was that harsh, but decided to crack on regardless!

Brian and Barry shake hands as the day gets underway

Barry setup on peg 42, today armed with the option of fishing a rod only, whilst Brian set up just to his right, given the option of fishing the pole only.

Both decided to start fishing close in, tight up to the reeds, or what was left of their winter ravaged stems.

Over to Brian to talk us through his opening tactics:

‘My overnight prep consisted of castors and dead red maggots soaked in hemp oil and 8 rigs made up, two of each float pattern with 0.16 main line and 0.129 hook lengths with size 20 and 18 hooks.  Four top kits all with different elastic’s unsure of the stamp of fish I was going to be catching and all rigs made to top 2 length, ensuring plenty of scope to change my depth round knowing that the fish will feed up in the water or just off the bottom if you find them.  Also the spare line from dacron to float gave me slack helping my presentation, with the strong wind blowing my pole all over the place but not lifting my float out the water.’

So Brian was set with an array of pole rigs, and different pole elastic strengths, so he had as many bases covered as possible on the day with plenty of options open.


Barry’s approach was more targeted:

Fish close in and catch roach with a 1g loaded crystal insert waggler, 12” hooklength and a size 18 hook, strike and lift in one movement for speed and create a weight of fish, feeding dead red maggots with a coating of Beechwood Baits hemp oil little and often.  As well as this feed the long line every 5 mins, dripping in the maggots for when I drop in on that line hoping the fish will be there waiting.  Fish at 20 turns clipped up with a 3g loaded crystal waggler, no shot on the line at all, 12” hooklength and an 18 hook, searching the water columns for where the fish are, but hoping to catch on the drop.  Live maggots soaked in Beechwood Baits hemp oil.


From the word go Barry was focusing on catching lots of fish at speed, evident by his setup geared to fish to hand and nab roach at pace.  Watching Barry fish his ‘fish in one move’ technique is impressive, and if you check out his blogs you’ll see what I mean in his videos.  It’s a very smooth, and accurate approach, and its easy to see how it can bank a lot of fish, very quickly.

Beechwood Baits Ltd 019.JPG

The day didn’t get off to the start either angler expected, quite the opposite in fact!  Brian did say he thought the afternoon would be more productive, but he struggled to get any bites at all during the morning session from a close in spot he’d had a fish a bung from on previous trips to the venue.  Barry was finding it equally tough going, and he’d also struggled to get a bite on his close in spot.  However, having the rod in his hand meant Barry could fish a larger expanse of water, and from the off he’d been feeding a spot at 20 turns out.

Brian sums up the morning session;

So later than expected we gave it the all in shout and I started feeding 3 swims top 2 and 2 with castors and maggots and left that one but every now again just a bit more feed, my two close in swims top 2 and 1 were against the reeds then about 2ft off trickling feed into them regular after an initial two pots of mixed bait into both.  Two rigs set slightly over depth to keep the bait on the deck and two for mid-water.  The weather was causing me all kinds of problems, a really strong side wind was making presentation awful to achieve close in and further out.  Surely this wasnt helping me with no fish and no bites.  After the first hour I started to change things with shotting patterns but still no fish no bites heading into the third hour, this now got me thinking this isn’t to be my day, Barry by now picking off a few fish with the waggler.  Time creeping up to the break and first weigh my head was all over the place still no fish no bites.  Then the wind dropped a little and the sun came out and I started to see the hemp oil rising to the top which was telling me there is fish there and they are feeding so back out onto my top 2 and 2, five missed bites later I netted my fish, then three more, a deflated me headed off to make us all a brew and have a chat……..

Barry had enjoyed more opening success after finding some fish further out, but regularly connecting with them and getting confident takes was a challenge, so he got his thinking cap on;

Ok so the roach were not in front of me, and after an hour of feeding and fishing on a throw line and feeding the 20 turns line for later,  I had 1 fish, so out came the 3g waggler and I started on the long line…..After 20 mins no fish shallow and by this time the weather was not great, gusting wind, overcast, spots of rain, dull, and quite frankly not great.  I decided to change my long line approach totally, and opted for a less loaded float and nailed the bait to the lake bed ……… float dipped and fish on.  I started to get a run of fish but they were small.  My bulk shot nailing the bait to the floor was not working as effectively on the strike so I changed shotting and made the last 2ft of line sink slower and went at least 6” overdepth.  Again a few fish came to the bank but small ….. then we had a break.

It was of course by now pretty obvious that the fishing wasnt going to be easy today, not by a long stretch, but then it is the middle of January and although a ‘balmy’ 4°C on the day, previously we’d had some hard frosts and biting winds.


The wind was causing both anglers issues to deal with, Barry changed his float numerous times until he got the presentation he was after, and Brian changed rigs, elastic’s and float to pole length often, again to get his presentation just right.  In these conditions and with bites at a premium, the guys knew despite cold hands they needed to remain focused and fish hard to get any results at all!

By the break both anglers were fishing further out, after the close in lines had proven fruitless.  Both had the foresight to feed lines further out, and this proved invaluable as this is where the bites had started to come from just before the break.  Both starting mid-water, and gradually moving down deeper, both had found that the fish wanted a bait presented hard on the bottom at this point, and the bites started to come.

Brew and catch up done, Brian’s a little more chipper now he’s had some action;

I was looking forward to getting back on my box just to see if the fish had stayed in my swim because the break was the last thing I needed.  What happened then and for the next 2 hours or so was rewarding and put a smile on my face, fish and bites came plenty on all my rigs and in two of my swims, I stuck to a pattern of throwing in 4/5 castors in every 30 seconds keeping the fish fighting for my hook bait sometimes taking it on the drop, now this is what I came for decent hybrids, roach, perch and some small skimmers meant I was now quickly putting a weight together. 

Barry’s tactics now totally adjusted and refined, the second half sees him enjoying some pretty frantic action;

After the break I caught steady, but again the stamp was very small.  It was satisfying to eventually figure out the peg on a particularly poor day.  The temperature dip from the day before was not great and this had an effect on the roach fishing.  Although I caught more fish than Brian, my stamp was not anywhere near what Brain was hooking into, with him hitting some big hybrids and me with all small roach.

The second half of the session was incredible to watch from a neutral point of view.  Battered by not only the testing conditions, a restriction on methods available and the fishing being really testing, both Brian and Barry dug really deep, constantly changing and adapting to the conditions.  In the second half Barry was now catching fish steadily, and his focused turned from getting bites, to hooking fish more often, to getting quicker bites, and back round the cycle again in a seemingly relentless pursuit to maximise his catch rate.


Brian in the second half had got his longer line and his close in reed line both rocking, and his focus and grit really shone through.  He didn’t back off, he just dug deeper, and stuck to his plan, and slowly but surely it was paying off.

Interestingly both anglers had worked thorough the day to find what the fish wanted, and had found initially going further out, with baits hard on the bottom, and less frequent but slightly heavier baiting was the order of the day.  Neither really knew what the other was doing, but both had unlocked the code, come to the same conclusion and we’re catching at pace.  Both had also found that dead reds soaked in hemp oil seemed to be the one on the day for the hook.

Beechwood Baits Ltd 024.JPG

The only real difference was in feeding strategies, Barry was feeding maggots, dead and live, whist Brian was feeding caster, maggot again dead and live, and a few micros.  Would this prove to have a bearing on the results I wondered?

At the close of play, I was amazed at how many fish the guys had both caught.  On a day when the conditions would have put some off, indeed even we questioned our sanity for a moment, and looking round the lake action elsewhere seemed thin on the ground.  That’s no reflection of the venue at all, these were really rough conditions make no mistake, it’s simply a measure of how the hard work the guys put in paid off.

Brian Sums his day up;

I finished up with a net weight of 11lb 4oz not bad for 2 hours of catching after all that mother nature threw at us all week and then on the day of fishing.  Not able to see what Barry was catching every time I bumped a fish or missed a bite had me thinking how important it was just to stay calm and not to rush things and just keep to the feeding pattern going and get them fish in the net.  3-30pm and we was out a brief chat like two poker players not giving much away what was in our nets, my net out first and I was pleasantly pleased even before I got it onto the scales but 11lb 4oz oh I was so made up considering less than three hours ago I hadn’t a bite, Barry although catching over 40 fish weighed in at 5lb 2oz.  So hands were shaken on a hard day were I would say we just got the better of the weather with the fish we ended up with and for me a lesson in don’t give up and dont be scared to make not just a change but several changes.  Is the pole quicker than rod?  I’m still in favour of the pole, on a different day it so easily could go the other way, I am a believer the weather conditions will always have a big say on any future duels.


Barry concludes;

I took a lot from this challenge and here are my thoughts: Brian impressed me for showing mental strength, he didn’t have a fish for 4 hours and was very dejected, but he stuck at it and made changes, showed his personality and he did very well, this told me a lot about the man and what he is made of.

Rod faster than pole?  I have learned that you can’t judge a method over another because every dog has its day and given a different set of circumstances, the results will always be different. What I do know is no matter how hard a place fishes, if you stick at it, work it out, and never give in, then every fish you catch that day is worth its weight in gold.


So there you have it, on the day the pole came out on top, but as both guys pointed out, on a different day it could have been a different story.  Both anglers agreed that given the conditions they would probably have fished a small feeder setup, given the chance.  However, under the Team Twister challenge restrictions, the guys we’re forced to dig deep and work hard on methods not ideally suited to the situation, scaling new heights of angling mental stamina and resolve.

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A huge well done to both Brian and Barry, not only did I find the day really enjoyable in their company, but it was magic to see two anglers so dedicated to the mission at hand.

See you at the next Twister!


Check out our short video of the day here: Team Twister, Rod V Pole


When A Plan Goes Wrong…… By Barry Smith

It’s great when you set out in the morning with a plan to execute, and it all goes swimmingly well.  Nothing better!

I don’t know about you, but for me this is not the norm, but absolutely it’s nice when days like this happen.  A feeling of satisfaction and most importantly great validation that you’re a good angler, you know what you’re doing, it worked!!  I was right!!  Tactics spot on etc. …… and all those other testosterone quotes we tell ourselves when it goes well.


But what about when it goes wrong?  And adding to that you have left at home an essential piece of kit that could have got you out of a bad days fishing ..ARGGGGGGGG!

This blog is all about exactly that scenario ….. and it happened to me on 7th January 2017. So put the kettle on,  sit back, relax, and enjoy my failure 🙂

Plan A was discussed with my team-mate, Stewart Rusling, some other anglers online and John from my local tackle shop who always helps me simplify things.  A simple plan in the end from a complicated start … I like to call this plan “consistent and accurate”.

  1. Set up a 24g ground-bait method feeder with dead red maggots on the hook.
  2. Take my 2.75 Sonik carp rod, and reel loaded with 12lb line with the biggest cage feeder I had.
  3. Set distance sticks at 11ft ….. and fish 8 wraps out (27 metres for young uns)
  4. Use a mix of dark fishmeal and heavy binding ground-bait, with a pint of dead reds and a healthy squirt of Brazem.

The plan was to be consistent and accurate, casting 10 feeders out at the start of the session with my carp rod clipped at 8 wraps, leaving the swim for half an hour and then simply over the top with a method feeder for bream and skimmers, again clipped at 8 wraps.

First cast and it hardly settled and my tip wrapped, and I landed a healthy skimmer …………. I am, a good angler, I know what I am doing, tactics spot on …. I could feel the testosterone running through my veins ……… then not a single touch for over 2 hours. The odd indication, but no skimmers and no bream.  I kept the casts accurate, kept the feed trickling in, changed feeders to a smaller feeder, hybrid feeder, bomb, Olivette, changed hooks, changed baits, hook lengths, did all the usual stuff, but it just wasn’t happening.  I have no clue what I am doing, I am failing, why can’t I buy a bite???  The testosterone had all but disappeared………. I got off my box and went to the car for a coffee and a butty and a think.

Stood at the boot of my car I knew I had to make changes or face a bad days fishing.  Having had a lot of roach out of this water on short pole tactics it was my only real option until I realised I had left my pole in the house …….. DOH!

Then my lightbulb moment that changed my whole session ………….. well if I aint got my pole then why not go old school and fish how we all used to fish before poles came on the scene and tried to take away the finest way of catching fish in the world … with a float and rod!!!!!!

Plan B

  1. Set up an 11ft waggler rod with a small loaded crystal insert waggler, no bigger than 1g, with absolutely no shot on the line, just let the hook sink the maggot.
  2. Soak my dead reds in Beechwood Baits Hemp oil (3 caps to a pint ;)) because I know this works from previous sessions.
  3. Fish the waggler set to hand, so effectively a rod length out, with an ever so delicate clutch setting to give the rod tip a hand.
  4. Throw 8-10 maggots in and underarm cast the float out so the maggot sinks with the loose offerings.

Float set at dead depth off I went, first put in and a bite instantly, small roach.  Searching all around me I kept the bait going in but not in 1 place.  I literally fished at 12 O’clock  and worked the float back to 9 O’clock with each put in, then started again at 12, so I never put the float in the same place constantly.

Scary thought is how may roach could I have had if this was my plan from the outset because the fish came thick and fast so much so that I adopted a tactic to speed up the process:

Once I struck into the fish, because I was using a rod as opposed to a pole, I had the advantage of leverage, so I lifted the fish out of the water with one movement which startled them.  So to recap, what I did was strike, and continue lifting the rod in 1 movement which swung the fish out of the water and right to my hand.  It was great fun, you should try this!

The question this posed for me was “is a rod faster than a pole for short line roach fishing” ……. What do you think?

Maybe we should put this to the test with the Beechwood match team and see if the rod beats the pole.  Watch this space!!

If catching a huge amount of roach is failing, then I love fishing!

I learned so much on this session which started bad but I am sure Plan A will have its day soon.

I went back  to school and it felt great, it was rewarding, and I kept fishing on the edge!  

2016 Winter Round up – By Brian Coakley

So I thought I’d share a few pictures with you to close the last few sessions of 2016.

Lloyds meadow, Rosemary wood, Cheshire fisheries, Greens Lane and Blakemere all featured for myself and a few of the lads at the end of 2016, along with a variety of species from carp, crucians, roach, perch, tench and bream.  You name it, we caught it!


Temperatures as low as -4ºC and not reaching above 10°C didn’t make for prolific catching during November and December ……. but we gave it a go, and we still had a few!


With conditions changing such as frozen lakes to freezing winds added to that bright sunshine and gin clear water, with water levels at their lowest, tactical preparation was a bit difficult so it was back to light tackle and small baits, along with my first try on the Beechwood Baits Excelsor Winter Match Pack.  Something not currently available, but we are working on bringing out match packs to compliment all the baits in our range.


Cheshire fisheries pool 3, great place for winter carp and the odd Cray fish.


A Saturday trip to Lloyds Meadow, Badger Lake proved to be a step to far for myself and Barry to catch anything else apart from a few roach after we had broke the ice

As you can see it was a tad cold at Lloyds so most of the day was spent chatting and picking the brains of Danny for our future carp adventures


Rosemary wood different day different weather maggots soaked in hemp oil from Beechwood Baits for silvers and it got  smashed by the lads using the pole , not a sniff on the feeder or the waggler for the better stamp of fish on bigger baits .


Gawsworth hall was a new venture and quite a treck  from the car park for the lake we chose.  This is a must when the weather warms up.


Our Beechwoodbaits social at Blakemere  saw me have a dabble behind some alarms, such a beautiful place with great rewards on offer.


Back to Cheshire fisheries pool 4. Not the best of days but a few fish caught none the less.


Please, feel free to have a scan through my previous blog posts, where you’ll find write ups on loads of my fishng trips, including the ones I’ve briefly rounded up here which I visited through the colder months.

When you have a great bunch of mates like I do (Stu, Ian, Michael,  Callum and Barry) when I go fishing sometimes it’s not about how many or how big the fish are; it’s the banter and friendship, which to be honest I would not have met these lads if it wasn’t for fishing!

So, tight lines for 2017, until then it’s been a pleasure!

Hemp Oil for Silvers – By Barry Smith

The water temp has dipped, the wind is bitter, the frost has bitten and the fish have been affected, haven’t they?

1Now I do understand why a lot of anglers slow their feed down during the cold months, and I also understand why a lot of anglers don’t even bother during the winter months, I am often up at “sparrow Fart”, looking out of the window of my bedroom and thinking “Barry you must be bonkers”.  Then the Mrs turns over and actually says “you are bonkers” …. But I carry on regardless (there is a song there somewhere).

Today’s 3 hour session was simply to introduce you to Beechwood Baits Pure Hemp Oil and its potential.  The target species is a well-known lover of hemp seed so I guess using hemp oil is matching the hatch so to speak.

I am talking about Roach.  The species that keep feeding during the coldest of months and live in huge shoals, often in abundance in specimen carp waters.  What baffles me about this particular fact is this …… it is written about so many times over and over again in most fishing magazines, year after year, and yet many anglers overlook the potential sport that is right under their nose on specimen carp waters.  I urge you to try your local specimen carp water for roach and silvers in general; you may be very pleasantly surprised.  And I would guess you may be hooking fish that are not at all hook shy.  I also put it out there that if you have never fished a specimen lake for silvers in the winter but would love to give it a try, maybe not confident of how to go about it, just starting out with your fishing, a little shy, or feel silly asking, please don’t be ….. Contact me and I will share the bank with you and show you a specimen carp lakes potential first hand, from rigs, line, hooks, bait the job lot.

One such venue which is local to me is Rosemary Wood Specimen Lake.


From a personal point of view Beechwood Baits have a fantastic relationship with the owners Phil and Pete Dewhurst who take an active interest in our activities and portfolio, and kindly allow Beechwood Baits to test baits, shoot promotion footage and showcase the potential of the lake which we are very grateful for.  As a result of such a great relationship we have used this venue for a team social and will use it for many more.

Setting the scene:

On the peg the freezing cold bitter wind is in my face left to right slightly which makes it near on impossible to present bait at any distance on the pole so I decide to leave my pole in the car and only take out my top two sections ……. (Another added bonus with Rosemary Wood Fishery is your car is right on your peg)

Using two top 2 sections both with white Hydro set loose, I opt for two wire stem floats that cock immediately allowing me to see bites right away.

The main rig is a KC Carpa Chimp 4X10 with 0.15 reflo to a 0.12 6 inch hook length and the hook is a size 18  B911 Kamasan spade end pattern.  3 dropper shot down the line shirt button style to let the bait sink slow, set at dead depth.  (For the beginners out there or the non-savvy terminal tackle angler please don’t be flustered with all this detail, it is really very simple once you know what you’re using and setting this rig up is very easy).  Again, if you want to have a chat about it, give me a shout, you can find me easily enough on Facebook.

The second rig was identical but set shallow with a little stem cut down and a little bristle cut off ………… how easy is that!


Now comes the reason I am writing this ……. Hemp Oil!  The star of the show.

Hemp oil is super rich in vitamins, minerals, Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils and is a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. But it does a lot more than have amazing stats…….. when added to bait such as maggots, pellets or corn it not only sends the oil slick of attraction through the columns of water to the surface, creating a playground for species such as roach and skimmers, it also has the added advantage of letting you know if there is any tow in the lake, because the slick is a giveaway when your bait moves on the lake bed. The flat spots of slick tell you exactly where your bait is.

On this occasion I was using a pint of dead red maggots and remember at the beginning of the blog I eluded to slowing down feeding during winter?  Well I personally don’t and in 3 hours I used just shy of a pint of dead red maggots.

Ok so how much hemp oil do I use …… simple …… 3 lid’s full to every pint is what I have found to be the optimum balance.  And one bottle will last you for many sessions using this ratio.

My feed pattern is again very simple but logical ….. It really is.

I loose feed every single put in, regardless ……. Using 8/10 maggots and then I whip the rig over the top of the loose feed right away.

If I don’t get a bite before the float has settled and the rig is at dead depth, I will leave for around 10 seconds and repeat the process.

If I find bites are coming on the drop I switch to a shallow rig but I constantly keep the feed going in bites or no bites.

On this session it was apparent that my loose fed maggots were being pushed close into my feet because I could see the slick rising up, this gave me two options, to either drop in over where my maggots where eventually settling or loose feed further out to ensure they settled where I wanted them to settle. This demonstrates the added attention to detail hemp oil gives your bait.

To summarise, how could a shoal of roach resist seeing a constant slick of their favourite nibble hitting the water.  And all I have done is added three caps full of Beechwood Baits Pure Hemp Oil to a bait ……… giving me the edge on a hard winters day.

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Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read my blog, and if you fancy a session for roach using Beechwood Baits Hemp Oil, then contact me and we can get fishing on the edge.


Liquid PVA bag’s – By Gav Astley

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.

close-up-on-musselberry-stick-mix-beechwood-baitsThere 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, solid-bag-components-close-up-beechwood-baitsbut 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.

Step 1


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!

Step 2

step-2-add-lead-arrangement-beechwood-baitsAgain, 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.

Step 3


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.

Step 4

step-4-add-pure-minamino-beechwood-baitsNow 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.

Step 5

step-5-add-excelsor-glug-beechwood-baitsWith 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!

Step 6

step-6-cap-off-with-more-musselberry-stick-mix-beechwood-baitsThe 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.

Step 7

step-7-seal-bag-as-normal-beechwood-baitsFinish 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.

Jug of clean, cold water

The same jug of water after 10 mins
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!

Tight Lines