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Particle fishing baits: fresh, fermented or rotting!

Particle baits: fresh, fermented or rotting!

How do you like your particle? Fresh or fermented?

The answer to that question depends entirely on the bait in question. The perceived wisdom is that ALL particles should be left to stand until they start to ferment. However, I think that many folks are in danger of confusing ‘fermenting’ with ‘rotting’.

So, how can you tell which is which?

Well as a general rule of thumb, if the bait smells slightly sweet and possibly alcoholic it is fermenting: if it smells rank and unpleasant it is rotting.
Hemp seed

This is a bait that should be used as fresh as possible, where possible straight from the pan while it is still hot! Keeping hemp seed for any length of time will greatly decrease its effectiveness and once it starts to turn it starts to rot. You only have to smell it to tell that there is something deeply unpleasant going on in there! You are far better off throwing away than using it, and don’t throw it in the lake! This will ruin a swim for weeks! Under no circumstance should you be tempted to use hemp that has any hint of an unpleasant smell to it. Hempseed more than any other, is a particle that MUST be used fresh.


Maize really stinks when it ferments and gives off a sweetish and slightly boozy smell. Many anglers prefer their maize like this and certainly maize, when it is fermenting does break down and release its attractive sugars. When it is like this maize is at its peak and should be used as soon as possible. Do not try to take the process on any further, as the fermentation will slow and then stop altogether and the rotting process will begin. I personally would never use it like this.

I know some anglers who leave their maize until it has a scum of gooey bubbly foam on the surface and smells of vomit. I do not buy into this one little bit. As far as I am concerned when it stinks that badly there is only one place for it: the dustbin!

Red maize should also be used fresh, as should popcorn maize.

Maize, Red Band and hemp seed blend.
Red Band Fishing Bait

This is one of the most effective mass bait blends going and the best way to prepare it is to bung it all in one big pot. Mix together equal amounts of Red Band Pigeon Conditioner, Hemp seed and Yellow Maize. Add boiling water and soak the blend for 24 hours. Then place in a suitable saucepan or boiler and bring to the boil. Simmer until the hempseed is ready, by which time the Red Band and maize will have become very soft and they will absorb much of the boiling water. The blend is now ready to use. I suggest that you use this blend as soon as possible.

You may be tempted to allow this blend to stand for a few days so it can ‘ferment’. Be warned! After a couple of days the blend will start to rot, it will not ferment. The maize and Red Band will be OK but the hemp will turn very quickly. If you find that the blend is starting to go off at the water’s edge, you may be able to revitalize it by washing it in a carp sack in lake water, and then giving it a quick boil on your stove. However, if it is starting to smell really rank I would NOT be tempted to use it.

Any blend that contains hemp seed should ideally be used as fresh as possible. However, in the case of the maize, Red Band and hemp seed blend I think you can allow a maximum of three days before the hempseed content will begin to go off and spoil the batch of bait. When hempseed starts to smell it is not fermenting but rotting. Not nice.

Red Band


Let's set the scene first. I doubt if there are many anglers in the UK who have been using gooey tigers as long as I have, and when it comes to generating the slime, I am The Man! Some of the best writers and carp fishing experts have come to me for advice on how to achieve tiger slime effortlessly and consistently, as I do. So, yes I guess you could say that I was a bit of a slime-kiddie when it comes to tigers...

...And then I just thought to myself, 'Why have you not tried using them fresh?' I did so and the results were no better or worse so I thought, why bother with all that messing about when they appear to catch just as well when they are fresh.
So a few years back I started using tigers straight from the pan, and to be honest, after a while I realised that I was actually getting a better response to fresh tigers than I was on the fermented ones.

Tiger Nuts

So an experiment was called for!

Selecting a local lake where I can watch the carp feed, I introduced equal quantities of jellified and non-jellied tiger nuts dropping three handfuls of each into marginal areas about 15m apart. I then sat back to await developments. After a while the fish came in on the fresh bait, eating all the tigers in this pile. They then drifted out of the swim. This allowed me to add a couple more handfuls of fresh tigers where they had just been scoffing. In the meantime the slimy tigers remained untouched. The carp returned to the fresh bait quite soon and ate it all without demure. A few drifted across to the slimy ones but it was immediately apparent that they were not too keen on them, as they picked at the baits in a most perfunctory manner before moving away.

I put a couple more handfuls of fresh tigers into the swim on top of the slimy ones and this time they came back and fed more aggressively. However, it appeared to me that they still preferred the fresh tigers.

I repeated the experiment four more times and on each occasion the carp showed a definite preference for the fresh bait. Consequently I now use fresh tigers and have completely given up on all that messing about with sugars and boiling times and the rest of the nonsense!

By the way, in the event that you try to create gooey tigers and the slime doesn’t form within five days, let me tell you…it isn’t going to! Not only that, the liquid will start to turn vinegary and your tigers will taste the same. The sweetness seems to leech out of them. Bung then in the bin sharpish!

So to sum up on tigers, do yourself a favour and try making up small batches daily. You only need to prepare four or five ounces at a time. Soak for 24 hours then boil for 20 minutes and then use them as fresh as possible. You WILL be pleasantly surprised...Promise. (If you still want to create fermented (slimy) tigers, you will find an article specifically about the nuts elsewhere on the articles page.)

So to sum up. As a once big fan of so-called fermented particles I have since done a lot of fishing with the freshest possible bait and going by results I would now suggest that generally speaking (though not right across the board) fresh is best. Give it a try. It’s nice to go against the grain, and it’s even nicer to be successful when you do so!
Fresh Hemp Seed

Hempseed more than any other, is a particle that MUST be used fresh.
Fresh maize

Maize in all its forms is a bait that should be used as fresh as a daisy.
Blend of maize and hemp

This blend of Maize, Red Band and hempseed is one of the most effective mass bait blends going.
Ken Townley

I’m The Man when it comes to getting tiger nuts to-u jellyp!
Tiger Nuts

But nowadays I think they are far more effective if used fresh. You only need to prepare a few ounces for a 24-hour period. Simply soak the nuts for 24 hours, boil for 20 minutes and then use as fresh as possible.
Ken Townley

A large common caught at extreme range on a single (FRESH!) tiger nut.

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