I have to confess from the start, that I have only been using Mainline Baits for a few years now. In the 80's and 90's I was using Nutrabaits Big Fish Mix with Cranberry or Tutti Frutti flavour's added to it. Thinking back to when I used to roll my own bait, the experts in bait making always said, if you can smell the flavour it was too strong. How times have changed!
I first started using Mainline Baits when I went to a water in France where I was told Mainline Cell was the going bait, so I bit the bullet and took 40 kilos of Cell. I'd heard a lot about Cell, how good it was and I'd seen the pictures to prove it. Also having my tackle shop ( CPS Tackle ) it was the number one bait that most people asked for. Once I got to my chosen peg, I put about 5 kilo in a Fox FX Air Dry bag to dry them through a bit to prolong their life span a little and left 15 kilo in my cool box at the back of my bivvy, which was a Nash Titan at the time. The other 20 kilo was left in the owners freezer for when I needed them.
I mentioned the name of the air dry bag because when I first started going to France fishing, I soon realised that air dry bags make great bird feeders and standard air dry bags are no problem for the birds to peck through the mesh. The Fox FX Air Dry bags are nylon coated so they stand up better to the birds and you don't end up with boilies scattered over the floor in the morning when you get up.
I soon found out with the Cell that air drying them wasn't the best idea as they did go a lot lighter than I thought they would, making it difficult in getting them out in the throwing stick to my spot at 100 yards, (25 wraps). So my next lot I put in a bucket and left the lid on when I wasn't using them. This not only left them heavy enough to stick them out but it started the activation process, turning them sticky and you could start to see the sugars and yeasts coming out. A lot of people would throw the bait away when it looks like this but trust me, its in its prime.
It's quite strange that I hadn't had a fish whilst using the air dried Cell but I started using the Cell out of the bucket on the Sunday night and I was into a hard fighting Common in the early hours of Monday. For my Hook Bait I was just using a Cell bottom bait that I had soaked in Baileys Irish Cream, this not only makes one hell of a hook bait but it will preserve your hook baits if they are frozen ones like I was using. I am a big fan of matching my hook baits with my free offering on the bottom.
I will very rarely use a pop up if the bottom where I'm fishing is clear, preferring a straight bottom bait or a balanced hook bait like a wafter or one with a bit of cork in to take take some of the weight out of the bottom bait I'm using. The weeks fishing was very hard going and I ended up with 9 fish for the week, which wasn't that bad because most people blanked and the only person to have more fish than me was on the known top peg and he had 12.
I was back at the same lake, 4 months later taking the Cell again but on a different peg. I had checked the catch report the week before to see if much was coming out and most peoples catch rate was low, except for one. The chap in question was Derek The Don Ritchie and he was smashing it up and he was still going to be out there when I was, as he was doing 2 weeks.
This time I was set up on peg 15 with two great blokes, Matt and Andy set up to my left on 16 (Top Peg). With all my excitement of getting the van packed for France, I'd forgotten to put some of my Cell bait into a bucket to get them activated or fermenting (however you want to say it) and again fishing was slow except for Derek.
Luckily the sun was shining into my peg when I got there, so I put some Cell into a bucket, put the lid on and left it in the sun to warm up to get it sweating and try and get it to start releasing its sugars. Here's a good tip for you, if you've just got your bait out of the freezer and you are heading to the lake for the night, stick them in the foot well of you vehicle and get the blowers on it with some heat, this will help start the fermenting process.
Anyway, by Sunday afternoon the bait was looking good so I started putting it in. Monday morning came and there was a bleep on my right hand rod, then the bobbin slowly lifted up and I was into a heavy plodding carp that didn't do a lot and I soon slipped the net under it. When I parted the folds of the net, there lay a beautiful dark common that on the scales went 51.04. I was absolutely buzzing.
Once I'd sorted her out and waved her on her way, I re-baited,cast back out and sat back with a beer. Then, just as I sat there minding my own business I heard footsteps coming into my swim and it was Derek, coming to congratulate me on my fish. We sat talking over a beer and I found out he was using the new Mainline Bait, Hybrid. He was doing very well on it and told me, the Hybrid was a mix between the Cell and Activ8.
The end of the week came round and I'd had 7 fish this time and the conditions were a lot better than the last time I was there, so this got me thinking. Pretty much everyone going out there were using the Cell because they were told to as it was the main food source going in and it was sold on site but Derek had rung the changes slightly with great success.
The winter had passed and my next session on the lake was fast approaching but I'd done my homework on Mainline Bait's and one bait that was always mentioned was, Activ8 so this is what I armed myself with and what a difference it made!! Within an hour of casting out I'd got a fish in the net, by the time Monday had come, I was on 7 fish and at the end of the week, I'd had 20 fish, biggest was a Mirror Carp of 51.08. WOW what a bait and what a week!
I went back out there in the September on a different peg, peg 3 armed again with Activ8 and again an hour or so in and my left hand rod was screaming with a very angry common on the end that weighed in at 44lb, known as Psycho. At the end of the week I'd had 17 fish but the people on the Cell had blanked or only had a few fish. I'd got talking to one of the lads down at the bar on the Friday afternoon and he was still to catch anything. He said he was thinking of spending 110 Euro's on 10 kilo of Cell and banging it all in on one last ditch attempt because his mate was on the Cell and he'd had two fish. I told him that I'd got about 8 kilo of Activ8 in a bucket that he's more than welcome to have it. He jumped at the chance because he knew how many fish I'd had.
I'd gone back up to my peg after a couple of beers and a shower, whilst all the lads were having dinner. I never have the food package when I got to France because I've caught so many fish once the troops head off to fill their stomachs, I would only sit there thinking what I was missing out bite wise from the fish. After a few hours the lad turned up cash in hand for the bait. He was even more shocked when I told him, I don't want anything for it I just want you to catch a fish. I opened the bucket and he stared in at the dark bait with white speckles on it. That's no good he said, it's gone off, trust me I told him and he did.
I had to get off early on the Saturday as we had an early train booked but wondered if the lad had caught anything. Two days later I got a message over messenger for the lad, saying he'd came around to see me in the morning but I'd gone and spent the last day or so searching for me on Facebook. To my delight he had not only caught a fish but it had smashed his PB and he wanted to thank me for my kindness. I told him, it was my pleasure and all I wanted to do was help him and I did because to me, fishing is about helping and teaching other's and I also learn new things on the way.
From the start I said how good the Cell is and it's still catching a load of fish but if you find a bait slows up a bit, don't sit back - do your research and change. I don't mean changing to another bait company, I just mean, look at the range that company does and try one slightly different. The base mix may be slightly similar because its the same company but just a different flavour may be the answer.
Just like CC Moore's Live System, I know people that have used it for years because that's a great bait but they will all say, but you can't forget the Odyssey XXX! If they start to struggle they will drop back onto that. Great bait stands out for a reason, don't be frightened to go back to what you already know!