Why should we use PVA bags in our fishing?
As well as being very effective, carp fishing with PVA bags can be great levellers. They’ll ensure that you have decent presentation on pretty much any lakebed so, if you’re unsure of what you’re fishing over, you can be confident that your rig isn’t tangled or compromised. You are going to fill them with free bait as well as a hookbait so the trap will provide its own attraction facilitating a bit of play as far as casting accuracy is concerned. Their contents allow you to offer a small parcel of attraction without a baited area giving you a sort of compromise between fishing over bait and single hookbait fishing. They are a terrific tactic in a variety of situations too and are a versatile method to have in your armoury.
What situations are they then?
PVA bags can be used in almost any scenario although there are some situations in which they really excel. They can be used to give a concentrated spot of increased attraction within a baited area to bring bites more quickly as well as used in isolation. PVA bags will often bring a bite when nothing else is working so they are just the thing for scratching time. They are as good for the margins as they are for distance work and they also allow the angler to get some bait onto the spot with little disturbance and without drawing the attention of gulls.
Short sessions are a good time to take advantage of their qualities as there is little chance of over-feeding a swim. Casting at showing fish, where the composition of the lakebed is unknown is a perfect way to utilise their qualities too. They lend themselves well to the mobile angler meaning a number of swims can be fished effectively without having piles of bait spread around the lake. Oh, and they can be used with just about any bait you like. Pellets, particles (ready-cooked PVA-friendly ones), groundbait, chopped or whole boilies, naturals like maggots and casters and even pure liquids provided they aren’t water-based.
This can be a particularly good option for the first couple of days if you are on carp fishing holiday. On lakes which offer week long trips, often you will not know how much bait is already on the lake bed in front of you. Rather than pile more bait in, a PVA bag is a very good option.
What’s the best lead arrangement to use with PVA bags?
Whilst it’s possible to use any lead arrangement they are best when fished inline style keeping everything neat and compact. The lead isn’t taking the brunt of the cast so a breakaway set-up with the leader running around the lead instead of through the centre is a good option, especially on weedy or snaggy venues. The tubing or leader can be kept short, increasing casting distance, as the rig inside the bag isn’t going to tangle.
What about the rig? Does anything go?
Not really no. The hooklink is going to be coiled up inside a confined space so it isn’t the place for a stiff nylon material. It needs to be supple and an uncoated braid fits the bill although you can get away with a coated one if it is very soft. You also want this to be short for a couple of reasons. Firstly a short hooklength is much more manageable and makes your PVA bags easier to tie and secondly the feeding scenario demands it. You see once the PVA bag has melted it will leave a neat little portion of food in a small area upon which a carp can feed without moving. A short hooklink is therefore going to tighten and bring the lead into play instantly. We’re talking really short here, around four- or five-inches.
There is little need for bells and whistles and a simple rig is your friend. Anti-tangle sleeves and the like are superfluous as the rig cannot tangle and would prove a hindrance when trying to tie up a small, neat PVA bag. The style of presentation doesn’t lend itself to a high pop-up either as the hoovering feeding action that it promotes sees the carps mouth close to the bottom necessitating something much nearer the deck. Of course you can use a popped up presentation but it is as well to keep it low. Hooks are generally on the small side to balance a small hook bait.
Why small hookbaits?
Unless you are using whole boilies in the bag, which is rare, it’s a good idea to keep them minimal to compliment the small items in the PVA trap. Boilies and pop-ups can be trimmed down to look more like a pellet and make very good offerings as do medium sized particles such as maize, tiger nuts, peanuts etc.
Straight sinking baits are fine but some buoyancy in the hookbait is a good thing. The idea with this type of trap is that a carp comes across a meal and sucks at the little pile of bait. Balanced or slow sinking baits will readily fly into the mouth without the fish necessarily deliberately taking it. Tiny 10mm pop-ups (bright ones bring some visual attraction to the party) are perfect as they can be used with a slightly larger hook to achieve a wafter type presentation with no need for putty or shot to counterbalance them. Plastic corn and maize both lighten the load and can be used alone or in combination with the real thing.
What size bags are best?
They’ve all got pros and cons. Bigger ones are easier to make up but are unwieldy and tricky to cast requiring beefy rods whilst the small ones can be blasted for miles but hold a much smaller payload.
How do you make up a bag then?
It takes a little practice to become proficient but anyone can do it. There are a few products which help but a plastic spoon is a good, cheap option to begin with. You’ll need a dry environment in which to work as a single drop of water will ruin everything. Dry off your rig with a towel and cover it in some groundbait to make sure any moisture is eliminated.
Put a layer of something fine in the bottom along with your hookbait. Groundbait, crushed hemp or base mix are all good as they are fine enough so that there is no possibility of the hook point being masked. Drop a bit more bait on top of this layer. You can incorporate a few bigger items here like boilie crumb, chops, micro/mini pellets, PVA-friendly hemp, corn or nuts. The smaller the items the more compact the bag will be.
Nestle the lead in and top up with more bait to cover it. A squirt of glug doesn’t go amiss to boost attraction even further. Hold the top of the bag and twist whilst squeezing to compact the contents, making a nice tight parcel.
Wrap and tie the top with PVA tape, carefully trimming any excess PVA if distance is required. Lastly push and mould the bottom corners to create a tight, aerodynamic parcel before licking and sticking the bottom seam and corners down to help it fly true.
So will they help catch more carp?
Undoubtedly carp fishing with PVA bags will enhance your chances especially in situations when you don’t know the nature of the lakebed. Next time you’re on a short trip or have just set up on showing fish, rather than disturbing the swim with the marker rod, try using PVA bags for a quick bite.