Preparing and Cooking Particles

It often surprises me how many of today’s younger anglers don’t know about particles and certainly don’t know how to prepare them?  Perhaps this is down to the tremendous amount of bait there is on sale for angles to choose from in tackle shops but with prices being what they are, a piece on particles and their preparation might come in useful for many because Preparing and Cooking Particles is quite easy.

Particles are just different types of seed and the list of usable seeds for use as fishing bait is seemingly endless.  Adzuki beans, barley, black-eyed beans, Chick peas, Dari (white and red) seeds, groats,  haricot beans,  hemp seed,  maize, maple peas, milo, peanut kernels, pinto beans, red kidney beans, red rape seed, soya beans, tares, tiger nuts (whole nuts),wheat to name but a few.  Many have a bad boy reputation like peanuts and tiger nuts said to kill fish if they are over fed on them or hemp which was once banned in some match fishing circles deemed as being an unfair advantage over those who did not fish with it.  Many even said that hemp was “addictive” to fish because of the seeds connection with marihuana!!

There can be no doubting the effectiveness when employing certain particles as many fish species are drawn to feed on particle beds that are laid down by anglers on lakes, ponds and rivers.   Hemp for instance is an old favourite for roach fishing which when used in conjunction with tares can be absolutely deadly.  Barbel and Carp anglers also use hemp to draw fish into their swims such is the effectiveness of this little seed.  Sweet corn from a tin or the same in the form of soaked/cooked maize can send carp into a feeding frenzy especially if fish have not been caught by it at a particular venue before.

Basically all particles are soaked first although not all are cooked. (Particles that are already cooked like tinned sweet corn for example require no preparation as they can be used straight from the tin) Red Rapeseed for example is soaked for 24-36 hours before it is ready to use with no cooking required.  Make no mistake about it, this little seed is deadly, perhaps more so than hemp.  Roach in particular go wild for this particle and is one seed that is very under used and little known.  The Dari seeds also only require soaking but here there is a twist.  White dari is superior to red in my opinion and should be soaked until it begins to ferment strongly.  Once it begins to ferment the seed begins to smell like very strong cheese and fish, especially carp, love it.  Another cracking particle is “sprouted” maple peas.  The trick here is to use them as hook baits only but fish it over a bed of different particle such as hemp or tares.  Simply soak the maple peas for 12 hours then place in a seed tray in between two thick layers of soaked newspaper.  Place in a warm situation like a window sill and simply wait for the seeds to sprout a root.  Fish this sprouted seed on the hook or on a hair rig for some surprising results.  Barbel in particular are suckers for this method when fished over hemp.

Whatever ones choice of particle, you will need to soak and sometimes cook them.  I tend to choose the types of particle I’m going to use over a given time then prepare the same in bulk as I find the preparation of small amounts very time consuming and tiresome.  Whilst this method might not suit most as it does require a certain amount of space in a freezer being available.  The upside is that bulk preparation of particles does save a lot of time and that time can be spent with a line in the water fishing instead of cooking.

For bulk cooking you will need something larger than a saucepan.  I use a 20 litre tea urn and one can purchase very good reconditioned 25 litre tea urns for around forty quid.  Next you will need something to soak your particles in.  Buckets are ok but for bulk soaking I use those bright yellow builders’ rubble tubs.  You will also need to make a particle “strainer” as this will make the process of straining water off your cooked particles very easy.  Simply take a tall bucket then drill a series of 2-3mm holes in the bottom.  Then take another bucket (an empty large tile adhesive bucket is good) and sit the tall drilled bucket inside it. (See photograph) Because you are soaking and cooking in bulk you will need freezer space.  Better still if you have your own bait freezer which I have.  Another good addition for particle preparation is having a large cool box.  A cheap one from the supermarket will do as this type is fine for our purpose. (More on the cool box later)  A couple of large wooden spoons from the pound shop, a good sized plastic scoop often sold in garden centres and plenty of re sealable freezer bags again from the pound shop and you are good to go.

In this piece I will deal with my three favourite and mostly used particles.  Hemp, tares and red rape seed.  First soak your seeds but remember to cover your seeds with plenty of water because they will swell quite a lot.  Tares in particular will rise up clear out the vessel they are being soaked in if the water to seed ratio is not right.  Rule of thumb is to fill the rubble tub (or bucket) one third full with particle then top up with water to around three quarters full.  That is enough water for the seeds to expand into and trust me they will!!  Give soaking hemp a stir periodically as this seed has a tendency to float whilst soaking.

Tares require the addition of “Bicarbonate of Soda” in the soaking stage as this powder will help to send the seeds black once cooked.  (Fish find this attractive) Plus it helps give the seed a flavour that fish like.  Soak for 24 hours.  Hemp also requires the same seed to water ratio for soaking but I leave hemp to soak a little longer either 36 or 48 hours until the hemp starts to ferment slightly.  Red rape again requires the same water to seed soaking ratio but requires no cooking.  In fact high temperatures destroy a lot of this seeds nutritional content so is to be avoided.   Red rape is already well known in Aquaculture and plays a major part of on-going research into its use as an alternative to the use of certain fish meals which are now known to be unsustainable.

Once the red rape seed has soaked for long enough, simply strain from the water and portion out into freezer bags and seal.  Take out as much air as you can before popping the seal shut then store in the freezer flat (see photograph)

Pour the hemp and the water it has been soaking in into the boiler.  Turn on the boiler and bring to the boil but only boil for five minutes.  Turn off the boiler and ladle the hemp and water into your cool box.  Put the cool box lid on and leave for three hours.  The hemp will continue to cook slowly inside the cool box because the thermal qualities keep heat in as efficiently as keeping in the cold as well.  Once the three hours has elapsed you will find that the seeds have split and the hemp is cooked perfectly.  Pour the hemp and water from the cool box into the strainer and wait until all the water has strained through into the bucket below.  Using the plastic scoop transfer the hemp into a rubble tub and allow to cool until cold.  Portion into the freezer bags as per the red rape and store flat in the freezer.

Tares are poured into the boiler and brought to the boil.  Allow the tares to cook but keep an eye on them because they become pretty useless if they are allowed to “over cook”.  As a general guide you will require the tares to split in two halves when light pressure is applied in between finger and thumb.  If the tares become over cooked they will squash with only light pressure and are pretty useless for use on the hook.  When cooked properly a barbless hook will pass through the tare easily but without splitting it. (see photograph)  Once you are happy that your tares are cooked properly strain off the liquid and transfer to a rubble tub and allow to cool.  Place in freezer bags and store flat as with the red rape and hemp.

In addition to this article there will be more articles coming when I shall talk about other types of particles and how to prepare them for fishing.