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Essential Oils by Ken Townley

Essential Oils

If you look through the catalogues of the main bait companies you will be hard pushed to find many suppliers of essential oils. I find this curious as there was a time when the carp world clamoured for every bit of information about them that there was available, as they were seen as the key to attraction.

Do you remember when Tim Paisley first mentioned garlic essential oil in print: how we all went berserk trying to find a source? Similarly when Rod’s first flavours hit the market, or Geoff Kemp’s, or SBS’s? Remember Mystere and Kempy’s Perfume Spray? Did they ever do some catching! But did you know that at the heart of some of the most successful flavours lurked an all-important essential oil?

Fishing set up

This is College Reservoir, a large carp fishery (now sadly closed) in the South West. It was here that Carole and I did a huge amount of field testing of various essential oils back in the early to mid-80s when the fledgeling bait firm Nutrabaits was doing a tremendous amount of research into EOs and their most effective levels.

Carp fishing

We also did a great deal of testing on a little club lake near our home on Cornwall. Roche' AC's Waldon Pool was at the time and ideal venue on which to run our tests, ad they water was gin-clear and the carp were plain to see. At a glance we could tell if a bait containing one of several oils were had been asked to test was acceptable to the carp. If they seemed attracted initially but then turned away as they approached the bait, we knew that inclusion level was too high. We simply lowered the level until we found an optimum level that was acceptable/preferred.

Carole Townley

This is my missus with a little scamp of a mirror caught on a bait containing 1ml of Germanium Essential Oil, which we were testing on Waldon prior to the release of the compound by Nutrabaits.
 Nutrabaits oils

An essential oil is a concentrated liquid that contains volatile aromatic compounds from plants and they are used in perfumery, aromatherapy, cosmetics and as flavourings in the food and frink industry. The term essential is intended to indicate that the oil is the fragrant essence of the plant from which it is extracted and not in the more common grammatical sense of being indispensable. The term should not be confused with “essential” fatty acids or “essential” amino acids. Nutrabaits are well known for pioneering the use of EOs in carp bait and these are some of the best and most effective on the market.
By the late 80s essential oils had taken the carp world by storm, however, essential oils seem to have got somewhat overlooked of late, something I find rather curious as, in my opinion, some essential oils are highly effective.
Nutrabaits Geranium

This essential oil is widely used, blended with other ingredients, to create artificial flavours. You have probably used it in your own baits but have been unaware of the fact. Some of the most widely used attractor blends contain essential oils, which probably accounts for their effectiveness.
Black Pepper liquid
Black Pepper EO seems to be in vogue at the moment, as it seems you cannot go online or look in the mags without finding somebody waxing lyrical about it. There are several versions of BPEO on the market and there is also a version available from Feed Stimulants that is water-soluble. Black Pepper is just one of many essential oils that will make a noticeable difference to any carp bait and it works particularly well in the colder months.
Essential oils

Many essential oils compliment perfectly the flavour notes of certain commercial flavours and some combinations of oil and flavour have been exceptionally productive. It is no secret that several well-known angling writers, journalists and broadcasters in part made their reputations on this famous flavour and essential oil combo.
Other tried and tested combos are as follows:
On bird food bases:
•    4ml Cream with 8 drops Black Pepper oil.
•    3ml Toffee flavour with 6 drops of Juniper Berry oil.
•    3ml Strawberry, 3ml Cream and 6 drops Bergamot oil.
•    3ml Cranberry flavour with 8 drops of Geranium oil.
•    3ml Tutti-Fruiti flavour with 6 drops of Ylang-Ylang oil.
On fishmeal bases:
•    5ml Caviar with 12 drops Black Pepper oil
•    4ml Peach flavour with 1 drop Garlic oil
•    4ml Peach with 24 drops Black Pepper.
•    5ml Plum with 1ml Geranium.
•    5ml Blue Cheese and 2 drops  Mexican Onion oil.
•    12 drops N-Butyric Acid and 1 drop Garlic oil.

Garlic oil

You will note that the last one on that list does not include a flavour. That is because the Garlic Essential Oil is so pungent that it overwhelms the flavour note of even the most powerful flavours.
Caproic and N-Butyric
The popular organic acids such as Caproic and N-Butyric blend well with essential oils. This blend of Garlic Essential Oil and N-Butyric Acid smells disgusting but it works! For some strange reason, this combo works better on birdfood base mixes than it does on fishmeals. This is probably due to the coarse nature of most bird food baits as many are based on coarse ingredients such as Red Factor or Nectarblend.

Red Factor


Nutrabaits Nutrafruit oils

It pays to experiment, as you can make up your own blends using your favourite essential oils and flavours. As a general rule, I would suggest that you use as a starting point half the recommended level printed on both bottles. In other words, if the recommended dose of the flavour is 6ml/500g and that of the essential oil is 12 drops/500g, I would suggest that you start off at 3ml of the flavour and 6 drops of the essential oil. You will be able to judge the effectiveness  - or lack of it - of these levels after a few trips and you can then adjust them as you think suitable. For instance, if you were using this particular combo I'd use a starting point of 3ml of the flavour and 10 drops of the essential oil.
Black Pepper and geranium oils

In much the same way as you can blend different flavours together, so too can you blend together two or more essential oils. One of my favourite blends is a 1:1 mixture of Geranium and Black Pepper Essential Oils. I find it easier to make up a separate 20ml bottle of the blend and then use 10 drops of the mixture. This seems to be the most effective level.
These days everybody is looking for an edge to make their own bait stand out and the above blends are just one way of making a flavour signal that is unique to your own bait. You need not limit yourself the use of essential oils solely in boiled baits either. I use them to boost the attractiveness of many seeds and particles and hempseed, in particular, seems to become even more effective when flavoured with Butyric and Black Pepper EO.

Liquid Robin Red (HB)
One final point…there are several grades of essential oils available and not all are effective. Though they cost more, essential oils that are classed as human food quality are much more effective than poorer quality oils that are mostly used in aromatherapy. Human food grade oils are usually classed as edible, whereas many lesser quality aromatherapy oils are, very often, not intended to be taken internally and are cut with almond oil.
Liquid Robin Red

Uses of essential oils are many and varied and the food industry uses human food grade oils for all kinds of applications including as concentrated seasonings and similar products that require a strong, long-lasting aroma. You may also have heard talk about the so-called 'secret' ingredients known as oleoresins. Trust me, there is nothing secret about them, as you have probably been using one in you attractor package without being aware of the fact. However, they certainly are worthy of the carp anglers consideration and one of the best blends I have ever used (and I must admit I stumbled across it when experimenting), is Liquid Robin Red and the oleoresin of Paprika, which is shown here.
Liquid Robin Red

I have used Liquid Robin Red a great deal over the past few years since it was released. It works remarkably well with oils and essential oils as the solids in the LRR are mixed with the volatile compounds in the oils and are thus carried into the water table where they act as positive feeding signals.
Liquid Robin Red and the oleoresin of Paprika

Here LRR and the oleoresin of Paprika have been blended with a small amount of hemp oil and some Geranium EO to create a potent bait soak, which I have used to great effect of late. The oil helps to carry the tiny solids in the LRR to the surface creating a column of attraction through the water.
An assortment of carpy bits and pieces soaked in LRR

An assortment of carpy bits and pieces soaked in the above. Mmmm!
solid material in LRR

As you can see from this photo, there is quite a bit of solid material in LRR and it is this that is mixed with the flavour compounds of the oils.

Robin Red HB

Ken Townley

I have used essential oils, often in conjunction with Liquid Robin Red or on-base mixes containing Robin Red, extensively and I use them in just about every bait that I make or have made for me. Quite frankly I wouldn't be without them.

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Written by Ken Townley

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