PVA and other water soluble products which either melt, separate or shrink in the water are incredibly useful products for many carp anglers. Most would be totally lost without several different forms in their tackle bags. From PVA bags, mesh stocking tubes, string, tape and foam nuggets… all are fantastic carp catching aids when used correctly. It would be nice to think you could cut down on the gear carried and just use a couple of these but quite frankly you’ll need all the variations for different styles of presentation.
1. PVA String – Very useful for tying rigs up and quick simple stringers as well as tying PVA bags off. When using string for stringers I actually run a baiting/stringer needle through the baits a few times to enlarge the hole. This helps to allow the water to penetrate and actually melt the string. Put the baits on tight and you may find you wind in the whole stringer – particularly in the depths of winter. It is essential the water can get at it properly to do its job effectively.
2. 6mm PVA Tape – I prefer this for PVA stingers. I tend to use the thinner 6mm tapes for this. There is no need to tie baits off with this to keep the baits separated. The tape usually keeps them apart allowing the water to reach the PVA and actually shrink and dissolve in a reasonable time span. Again, tape can be used for tying PVA bags together.
3. Wide PVA tape – This is probably the most versatile product as you can twist it into string form, you can cut it into thinner strips for use as stringers and you can use it for wrapping around other products to slow the dissolve rate down. Another use I have of the wide tape is for patching up and strengthening PVA bags. Lightly lick the end and you will find it sticks to the other PVA then repair or wrap around the piece requiring attention. Lightly moisten the other end and stick it down.
4. PVA Mesh Stocking – I guess these are the most commonly used forms of PVA bag. Simply tie a knot in the end of the PVA, pour your bait down the plastic funnel inside the mesh, use a stick or ‘ram rod’ to create a nice tight bag and then finish off with a knot in the other end. A small food parcel which the hook can be simply nicked into and cast out.
I find these mesh bags to work better the tighter you can make them. I use the ram rod to compress everything nice and tight inside the stick whilst holding the end of the stick over my bait bucket lid. This gives a firm surface to work against. Make those sticks nice and tight and you will achieve a mini spread of bait when the PVA bursts rather than a small gooey pile with the PVA still clinging.
My favourite way of using these mesh bags particularly during the cold winter months is with mixed pellets but in a very small bag no larger than a 20mm boilie. I like everything including the hook bait to go into the carps mouth in one suck without it risking spooking itself on the line by pecking away at the pile of bait around a hook link.
The popular Stick mixes often in use these days were made for the mesh tubes. These can be all manner of things from method mixes through to crushed up boilies and pellets. Obviously it is important not to use items containing water. Oil based products are fine as the oil doesn’t affect the PVA in the same way. Most dips and glugs are PVA friendly.
5. Standard PVA bags – When presenting small piles of bait I much prefer standard type PVA bags rather than the mesh bags. The mesh bags can be a little delicate at times and often explode on impact with the water on a long cast or when using heavy leads which gives a totally different presentation than you may think you are using. I like to fill PVA bags with the lead inside and then tie them off with PVA tape around the swivel of the lead. I then tighten the bag up by teasing the corners out and sticking them back to the sides of the bag by using a little moisture. Obviously you need to be careful doing this so that you don’t melt the bag. A quick dab on the tongue is usually enough.
Next stage is to put the swivel which protrudes from the bag onto a lead clip in just the same way as you would clip a lead on without the PVA. I then insert a stringer needle from the swivel end out towards the front, hook the hook link material into this and pull it back through the bag hooking the actual hook into the bag the opposite end to the lead.
This gives a totally non-tangle set-up and takes longer to dissolve than the mesh bags which ensures the rig presents how you expect.
For long casting and for deep water use I usually double bag them and sometimes ever triple bag them.
6. Foam Nuggets – Brilliant items these are and again I would be lost without them. The main use for these is to protect the hook point from fouling up on the lake bed straight after casting but have the added bonus that they float to the surface giving you a target you can use for baiting up to. I like to cut ¾ of the way through them with scissors, pull the hook into the slot, lightly moisten the cut and stick the two sides together. I also use quite long hairs and a second nugget helps to avoid tangles with the hair wrapping around the rig on the cast and also cuts down the wrapping around the hook problem. I have used many different types but do favour the mixed colour bags offered by Solar Tackle.
Shaun Harrison, Quest Baits.