Nashbait Then And Now
Julian Cunfiff looks back at his association with the Essex bait giant.
Seeing the new Nashbait booklet from Kevin Nash land on tackle shop shelves not just in the UK but all over Europe has been another one of those where-did-all-the-years-go? moments! To think Gary and Kevin have been supplying bait for over three decades... longer than many carpers have been alive let alone actually been carp fishing. It’s also hard to believe that it was over 25 years ago when I started to first dabble with the brand, doing really well on the Amber Attractor Base Mix, Chocolate Malt and Big Strawberry to name just a few.
On the Amber
Back in 1989 I’d enjoyed two semi-successful stints on the fabled northern Tilery, and I had pulled off in the autumn each time to concentrate on fishing down South through the colder months. For the new season I decided I was going to fish well into winter on the Tilery, so I needed an all-season mix not my usual fishmeal. After discussing it with Shaun Harrison, Nashy and Gary it seemed that the Amber Attractor Bird Mix would be ideal, a beautiful coarse blend of yellow seed ingredients that allowed the attractors to leak out even in the coldest temperatures. With 5ml Strawberry Oil Palatant and 2ml Sweetener I was in danger of eating it all myself.
The close season was spent rolling hundreds of mixes ready for the June kick off. It was just one of those years when I couldn’t go wrong and even with frost on the ground and iced up indicators in December the carp kept feeding on it. Twenty-two Yorkshire twenties and countless big doubles was pretty big news back in those days and the Angling Times and Angler’s Mail did me proud with cover shots. A brilliant mix and all the more memorable for it being the first time I’d ever caught 20 twenties in a season. I wonder how many carp Strawberry Oil Palatant has caught since those earliest years? Like Scopex and the squid baits it’s an absolute classic.
With Practical Carp Fishing to write I always knew the 1993 season was going to be difficult. With a full time job and patient girlfriend I could just about write the 140,000 words after work, even if I couldn’t go fishing.
Whilst fishing was out the window, walking around occasionally wasn’t and on a rare visit to the new syndicate I netted a stunning mid-twenty for one lad. Checking his bait (as you do) the smell was incredible and I couldn’t resist asking him what it was. Nashy’s Chocolate Malt... Something about the bait smelled so right that I made the decision there and then to use that as my attractor when I could get out fishing again.
After writing the book (and I do mean hand writing), keeping my job and holding on to my girlfriend, I experimented with and then rolled up dozens and dozens of mixes for the freezer. Because I intended to fish well into winter I chose a coarse yellow birdseed mix with 7ml Chocolate Malt and a heaped spoon of the Chocolate Powder Palatant. Kicking off in mid-August I couldn’t go wrong and fishing two or three midweek overnighters and the occasional Sunday the results were amazing. Bearing in mind we are talking almost 25 years ago in the grim North, in just four months I amassed 43 twenties and loads of doubles. The carp literally followed me and the bait around, and I only pulled off mid-December when I was starting to nod off at work! I really don’t yearn for the past, but if Nashbait could ever locate that combination again I’d be on it in a heartbeat, although the chocolate attractor package has been taken forwards over the years and now appears in the under-the-radar Amber Chocolate, which you’ll read all about in the new booklet. Yes, you can get it…
Back with a bang
Five years ago I rejoined Nashbait after a 20-year gap. Back in the day it was a fledgling company finding its feet. Nowadays I guess it’s the longest surviving bait company of all. Of course I’d kept an eye on what Nashbait was doing, but the sheer scale and service did take me by surprise. I opted for the Monster Squid and spent time with Gary Bayes talking hookbaits and how to apply it. Gary has always been part of the DNA of Nashbait, and having learned his trade with Rod Hutchinson in his glory years I wasn’t surprised at just how much Gary knew; not all heavy science, but as much to do with what makes carp tick and how to use bait as a tool to unlock the code to catching them. Bait is all about confidence and if I am confident then all I need to do is find, feed and catch. With advice on hookbaits and buoyancy levels, off I went, rolling the hookbaits and stocking the chest freezer.
My first year after rejoining Nashbait produced over 400 carp from six different venues which for a short session angler I was more than happy with! The following years I varied between Monster Squid, Scopex Squid and Amber Strawberry, and the results were just as good fishing countrywide all year round. Not baiting campaigns with other anglers, but simply applying it as I thought best wherever I went.
In 2016 I got on the Key and in all honesty I have never had results like it, even back in the naive eighties when I was first on a lot of waters with the bed of boilies approach. I had been told to keep the baiting lighter and to start with I did and the indicators were flying. However, the more I used the more I caught including one memorable occasion when I had over 20 carp in a day including eight 20-pounders. It seems that when they find it they won’t leave until all the bait is gone, and combining Key Flake with the barrels and 15mm boilies was deadly. As I type this on a cold March day I am just back from a short four-hour session which produced five big carp using exactly the same tactics.
Like I’ve always said: if it ain’t bust, don’t fix it!