Image of finished red boilies

Understanding Bird Food Baits: How to Use Them Effectively in Fishing

A long time ago when modern boiled baits were being developed in the UK the very first specialised base mixes were all formed using ingredients intended for feeding caged and wild birds. These came to be known as bird food mixes and they are still one of the most popular carp baits in current use. They have the twin advantages of being usually comparatively cheap and yet highly digestible. They are therefore very attractive to carp.

Bird food baits have been around since Noah was a lad, but while today’s mixes are pretty sophisticated, to start with such baits used the high attract principle to catch. While this is no bad thing, as it achieves the desired result, relying on attraction alone is really a short-term policy. A more enlightened attitude prevails these days. Most of the modern base mixes currently available from Europe’s bait companies now include not only a blend of birdfoods, but also selected proteins, effective binders, products such as dried kelp and kelp powder and a vitamin and mineral supplement so as to give the base mix a more attractive nutritional profile. This can be made even more attractive by using flavours and other additives at greatly reduced levels thus turning a standard birdfood mix from what is generally regarded as a pure attractor bait into a more refined, viable long-term food bait. Provided the flavour and attractor levels have been sensibly applied there is no reason why a well-made birdfood bait will not last several seasons.

Top Tip 1:

You can make your favourite mix go a bit further by simply cutting the shop-bought mix by 50% and replacing it with an equal amount of either Nectarblend™ or Red Factor™. Add liquid attraction as usual, and you will have a perfectly acceptable bait that will certainly catch carp all season.

At certain times of the year, especially in the late spring and early summer months, birdfood baits can be surprisingly effective. In fact it is even possible to make your bait the only one the carp will accept, so avidly do they react to a correctly applied and flavoured birdfood. On some waters where Robin Red® based birdfoods are used the fish can eat so much bait that they actually begin to take on a red tinge to the lighter flesh on their bellies! This certainly was the case on some of the SW reservoirs where the carp seemed to queue up for a feast of Robin Red®-based boilies.

Some of the best and most widely used birdfoods come from Haith’s® and the legendary Robin Red® and Nectarblend™ form the basis of many bait company’s mixes. In addition there are countless so-called ‘red’ mixes these days and it is almost certain that in all cases the ‘red’ part of the bait is, in fact Robin Red®. The success of these types of base mix has been astonishing, and Robin Red®-based mixes are certainly among the best birdfood mixes you will ever find. You may also note a number of base mixes on the market called Yellow Birdseed or something like. In this case the ‘yellow’ in the title in all probability will be either Nectarblend™, Egg Biscuit Softfood™ or Red Factor™!

Top Tip 2:

You can make an effective boilie by adding a strong attractor package to a comparatively inexpensive bait mix. Though such a mix is unlikely to have an indefinite catching life, it should last a summer. A simple boiled bait can be made using fine ground egg biscuit. As well and the familiar brands Nectarblend™ and Red Factor™

Haith’s® also offers Egg Biscuit Softfood. This too is highly effective and though it is less well-known than the more famous brands it can in fact be used in place of both Nectarblend™ or Red Factor™ in mixes where overall cost needs to be taken into consideration. It has an exceptionally high egg content providing all the essential nutrients. Like Nectarblend™ and Red Factor™ Egg Biscuit Softfood™ needs to be ground to a fine powder.

One of the prime factors behind the use of birdfoods is the fact that egg-biscuit based ingredients (Nectarblend™, Red Factor™ and Egg-Biscuit Softfood™), assist in improving the bait’s solubility. It is important to include a good percentage of soluble ingredients in your bait, because they react with the lake water and start to break down on contact. This helps in attraction as the solubles leak out but it also helps in digestion. Coarser ingredients such as some birdfoods also help by allowing the lake water to seep into the heart of the bait, where it can start work on releasing the attraction previously locked into the soluble ingredients.

Some of the best birdfoods are based upon crushed seeds, ground hemp and ground pulses, egg-biscuit™ and a wide selection of other goodies. As their name implies, birdfoods are designed to improve and maintain the condition of show birds such as parakeets, canaries and budgies, and there are also some high-energy products that are designed for racing pigeons such as the legendary Red Band®. Crushed blends or seeds such as hempseed perform a similar function described above, as by their very nature they allow water to penetrate the bait matrix aiding the dispersion of the solubles.

Top Tip 3:

Try adding ground hempseed to your mix at a rate of 50-75g/500g. This will add sparkle to any mix and is especially effective when used to enhance the attraction of otherwise bland 50/50 mixes.

Most birdfoods are usually blended at the manufacturers with an easily converted source of fat, often a food oil of some kind and it is the fat aspect of most birdfoods that makes them so useful as carp bait additives. Fat is the most readily converted source of energy and especially in the colder months, the carp’s energy requirements can be supplemented with a high fat/high energy bait such as birdfoods.

Birdfood baits are among the most popular choices for those anglers who make their own baits as they are very effective ingredients, highly attractive, supremely easy to digest by the fish and, best of all, inexpensive. Modern birdfoods can now truly be recognised as effective long-term baits with a virtually unlimited catching life.

Top Tip 4:

You can make an inexpensive birdfood boilie from ground canary seed mixes or pigeon feeds. These blends are well-balanced foods and all you need do is grind the seeds to a very fine powder using the coffee grinder, add a binder such as wheat gluten or whey protein food followed by the eggs, flavour and sweetener. Then all that remains is to then roll out the mix, form into boiled baits and then boil for 2-3 minutes.

The coarse nature of most birdfood allows an almost immediate water exchange once the bait is in the lake: water goes in, flavour and attraction comes out and it is this factor which has encouraged their current strong revival under the new guise of ‘high leakage’ baits. As such birdfood boiled baits are proving very effective as both attractor baits and as food baits. In the first instance it is the swift leak-off of flavour from within the bait that makes birdfood baits fairly instant in their attraction. By the same token it is clear that birdfood baits with a reasonably low flavour level are often quickly accepted as food by the carp and heavy baiting can reap significant rewards.

Many birdfoods contain their own in-built source of attraction. For instance Robin Red® is a superb birdfood ingredient, but it is also a brilliant attractor in its own right, never mind simply as a nutritional food ingredient. Its unique smell and taste have tempted literally thousands of carp over the years and it shows no sign of falling off just yet awhile. The active ingredients in Robin Red® include a blend of peppers, enhancing food oils and selected highly attractive spices.

The beauty of birdfood baits is their simplicity. They create are straightforward, basic mixes that are easy to make and at the same time are highly effective…and you don’t need a science degree to figure them out! I have always had a great deal of confidence in well structured birdfood base mixes and I know of guys who have used the same recipe for years without any sign of the bait loosing its effectiveness. These baits are usually instantly successful and should catch anywhere, anytime, and provided the flavour levels are not exceeded, they will give you many successful seasons on any water.

Top Tip 5:

A cheap yet effective base mix can be made by blending either ground Nectarblend™ or Red Factor™ with Robin Red® on an 80%/20% basis. This simple base mix may not be what you might call sophisticated, but believe me, it will catch carp and will not break the bank. In addition this is a mix than can be prepared with water rather than eggs. How’s that for an edge!

To make a cheap yet effective bait follow these simple instructions: 1) Grind down 450g of any egg-biscuit product to a fine powder using a coffee grinder.

Now add 50g of Robin Red® and blend the two dry powders together.

Break 4 large eggs into a bowl and add your favourite flavours, and other attractors.

Now blend in the ground egg-biscuit to form a paste.

Roll out into boilie sized balls of paste then boil them for 2 minutes.

The resulting boilies will have a potent attraction from the flavours and a reasonably good all-round nutrition.

While I am claiming that the above recipe follows all the accepted nutritional guidelines that are applied to a good HNV/food bait, by including one or more of the Haith's® birdfoods provides plenty of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are necessary for life.

A Cheap Yet Nutritious Boilie Recipe 

Image of ground hempseed in someones palm

Try adding ground hempseed to your mix at a rate of 50-75g/500g. This will add sparkle to any mix and is especially effective when used to enhance the attraction of otherwise bland 50/50 mixes. 

Image of a row of four bird food baits in branded bags

Using just these four of Haith's® range of birdfoods allows you to create loads of different base mixes, boiled baits and pastes. 

Image of bird food base mix in some weighing scales

For a simple birdfood base mix weigh out 8 or 9 ounces of Nectarblend™ or Red Factor™ (this is the former). 

Image of Robin Red and bird food base mix in weighing scales.

Now add an ounce or two of Robin Red®. 

Image of broken eggs and bird food base mix being mixed together

Break 3 eggs into a bowl and add your attractors. 

Image of dry fishing bait in a coffee grinder

Using a coffee grinder blend the dry ingredients to a fine powder. 

Image of powdered mix

This will produce a 30-mesh red bland that can now be added to the eggs. 

Image of bird food base mix being whisked with egg

Whisk the eggs to blend in the liquid attractors. 

Image of red bird food base mix being shaped into a ball

Now add the dry powders a bit at a time until the correct consistency is achieved, and the mix can be rolled into a large paste ball 

Image of a ball of red bird food base mix being put into a fridge

Place the ball of paste in a polythene bag and pop it into the fridge for 15minutes. 

Image of red bird food base mix being cut into sausage shapes

You can now start rolling out the sausages ready to cut into boilies. 

Image of individual red balls in boiling water

Roll out the individual baits and then place a few at a time into boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes. Image of red boilies being dried on kitchen roll

Now remove from the pan and set to dry on kitchen towel or newspaper. 

Image of a boilie attached to a hookbait

They are now ready to use!

Image of yellow powder bird food in a bowl

You can make pure Red Factor™ boiled baits and pastes in much the same way. Measure out three or four ounces of Red Factor™. 

Image of yellow bird food base mix blended with attractor

Break and egg into a bowl and add attractors. Here I have used 2 drops of Eugenol and very strong clove flavour. Blend in the Red Factor™. This can be used un-ground, as in the photo, or ground down to a fine powder in the coffee grinder. 

Image of a round yellow boilie with a bottle of oil

Lightly oil your hands to prevent the paste sticking and then roll the paste into a ball. 

Image of flattened boilie with hookbait

You can either go on to make boilies or use it in its paste form as a boilie wrap. 

Image of finished boilie

The finished wrap will look rather like this.

Written by Ken Townley

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