Pack bait is pretty popular among a lot of carp anglers. In certain paylakes it is almost second nature to most of the people fishing. But pack bait can also work well on wild fish, and on fish other than carp. A good pack bait can help you bring in other species like catfish. Channels cats seem especially vulnerable to a good pack bait setup.
“Prebaiting” or chumming is an effective way of getting carp into the area you plan to fish. Where the law allows, you can start throwing bait into an area you plan to fish days before you actually wet a line. In Europe this is known as “prebaiting a swim”. In the US most people would just call it chumming.
This chumming gets carp into the area, familiar with the bait, and freely feeding. In the best case scenario the fish actually become competitive and will fight over the food. So when you do finally drop your baited hook into the water, you have a great chance to catch fish.
Another way to get or keep fish in the area you are fishing is to use pack bait. This can help fish key in directly on to the location where you have your baited hook. It can also work as a sort of immediate chumming when you haven’t had the time or opportunity to bait up the area in advance. For example if you just show up to a new water and start fishing, having a wad of pack bait on your rig can help fish locate your bait out in the water.
What is pack bait?
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Pack bait is essentially a wad of bait or chum that you pack around your rig. The idea is that this chum will break down in the water and flake off of your rig. As it enters the water, the small particles attract fish. The fish then feed on these “free offerings” and become comfortable with the food source. They put their guard down and find your baited hook. They then take the baited hook and you are into a fish.
You can purchase ready made pack bait or ground bait for use in this situation. Or you can just make your own. You can basically use anything that will break down in the water and is legal where you are fishing. But some ingredients are more popular than others.
One of the most common and effective packbait ingredients is called panko. Panko is a Japanese style of breadcrumb that packs very well but also breaks up in the water. An easy way to make plenty of pack bait is to mix dry panko with a can of cream style corn. You just mix the two ingredients together and you have your pack bait.
You can also add in various flavorings. You can either purchase flavor for carp fishing or you can use powdered gelatin. Strawberry Jello is a very popular choice for flavoring pack bait. But don’t be afraid to experiment. Or simply use plain old panko and corn. It works.
How to use pack bait
Now that you know what pack bait is, you might be wondering how exactly to use it. The most popular way to use pack bait is probably to grab a big handful and smash it around a method feeder. A method feeder is basically a wire cage that you put on your fishing rig. The wire serves to hold the pack bait while the cast is being made. Then as the rig settles on the bottom, the pack bait can flake off into the water.
While method feeders are specifically made for this sort of fishing they aren’t a requirement. There are lots of other ways to use pack bait too. One way is to simply form a ball of pack bait righ around your baited hook. This is popular in some of the American paylakes. People there will put something like a piece of puffed corn cereal on their hook. Then they will hide the hook down in a big ball of packbait. The pack bait then breaks down in the water leaving the hook bait right in the middle. The idea is that fish will come along to suck up the pack bait and find the hook bait. It does work.
Another simple method is to adapt a sliding sinker or even a no roll sinker as a sort of method feeder. What I mean is that you compress a big ball of pack bait right around your sinker. If you get a good mix together it will ball up nicely around the sinker. Then you lob cast your rig out into the water. The pack bait will break off and attract fish. Pack bait normally falls off of a sinker a lot faster than a method feeder though. So keep this in mind.
Pack bait works well in a lot of situations. I don’t always use it. Especially if I had a chance to bait up the area before fishing. Though it can definitely help you catch fish that you might otherwise miss. It is just one of the many options to keep you on fish and catching fish, especially if you are targeting carp or catfish.