Refuse To Be Ordinary | Mike Bridges

Dynamite Baits’ Mike Bridges reckons it takes nothing to join the crowd, but it takes everything to stand alone. By being different in your angling and bait choice, you will increase your catch rate without even trying.

I’m far from a ‘bait guru’ nor will I ever proclaim to be one, however one thing I do consider myself to be is different from most other carp anglers out there. When I say different, I don’t mean I can catch more or cast further, far from it. What I am saying is through 15-years of military service in the British Army, my brain and thought processes, through rigorous training, allows me to think about the bigger picture much more in depth. Call it obsessive compulsive if you like, however, I prefer to leave no stone unturned in my angling, therefore I like to call it attention to detail. My mind-set is that if you’re only putting 99 per cent in, that’s not good enough, as everything should be approached with 100 per cent effort and if you’re not, then somebody else is.
 In modern-day society, life itself is very much a case of living at a pace of 100 miles-per-hour. Most people will state that they have very little time to themselves due to family or work commitments taking precedence and rightly so, as that’s how we survive. In the grand scheme of things, we have very little time to ourselves these days, so with that thought process carp anglers are certainly categorised, bracketed and often on borrowed time. How many reading this article right now are building up to that weekend session, where ultimately, you’re praying for an early Friday finish in order to get down to the lake for the weekend with a chance of obtaining a decent swim, thus giving you half a chance? I’d guess it’s the majority of readers especially if you are visiting popular day-ticket venues, such as the Linear Fisheries Complex, where I am fishing today. On the Road Bank on Hardwick, for example, you are always going to be up against it from ‘getting a decent swim’ aspect. 
 The point I am making here is that everything can appear to be against us before we have even left the front door. So, this is where I come back to my thought process and how I think approaching a day, a session or even a whole season differently, can bring you a great deal of long-term success and also instil new found confidence.
If I was just entering the sport of carp fishing these days, I think my brain would be frazzled just regards which bollie to use, let alone everything else. There are so many bait companies these days, all proclaiming to offer the best bait at the best price. When you extend this to surfing the internet, it can literally make you keel over when faced with the sheer choice. It can be really daunting deciding where you spend your hard-earned money for the better. 
 For as long as I can remember, when it comes to choosing a bait to use, I have always gone with what feels right in my gut and it’s never let me down. I only look as far as what I want to do personally and what I’m looking to achieve. If you base your fishing purely on what somebody else is doing or telling you to do, I believe, you can expect the same results as them, at best. In my experience you generally fall well short, as the person or persons you are looking to copy will undoubtedly be doing a number of other things that you haven’t noticed, so in essence, you’re not copying them at all, you merely think you are.
 This is a trap that I have seen many people fall into. They can become like sheep almost. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had someone come into my swim prior to saying those time-honoured words: “You won’t catch on pop-ups in here mate, nobody uses them!” 
 Forward a few hours later, with a lump sitting quietly in my landing net, which incidentally I’ve caught on a pop-up, and I think you get the jist. 
There is nothing wrong in taking advice. That is what magazines, like Carpworld, are for. It provides an excellent forum for anglers, like myself, and others, to discuss various observations and theories that we have noticed in our own fishing and so explain and elucidate these concepts in articles and features for others to possibly learn from and bounce off. They are not meant to be blindly followed, as this will bring you back to being merely a copycat rather than an innovator.       
 I’m predominantly a boilie angler. I love their versatility, as for me, they are far more than just round balls or barrels of nutritious feed. If you think outside the box, I find that there is a whole new level to which you can elevate them. Crumb, chops, squashed, adding different oils in order to what I call ‘profile’ you’re chosen boilie are just a few things you can do to differentiate your approach from what others are doing. This, I believe, will ensure that you are doing so much more than just putting a boilie straight out of the bag out onto a lakebed. Of course, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this by the way, I’m just talking about being different, so you can put the odds firmly back in your favour.
 Take today for example. I’m fishing on Hardwick and as usual for Linear, there are quite a few other anglers fishing. Now, just imagine if all of us were using the same boilie, or ones every similar. Why would or should a carp pick up my hookbait in favour of someone else’s? By being different, you immediately set
yourself apart.
 With this in mind, I have written on numerous occasions about what I call my ‘Profiling Mix’. This, I believe has revolutionised how people think and approach their boilie angling. Profiling is a very unique way of giving an ordinary, straight-out-of-the-bag boilie a makeover, for want of a better word. The process is easy to do, but slightly time-consuming, however, the results are more than worth it in my eyes. 

 By daring to be different, highly-pressured fish, like this 30lb-plus common, can be merely a cast away

By daring to be different, highly-pressured fish, like this 30lb-plus common, can be merely a cast away


 The process of Profiling starts by fully air-drying your chosen boilies. I like to use freezer baits, but the process also works just as well with shelf-life baits. Then over a period of four to five days, I add numerous liquids such as Dynamite Baits’ new Hemp Oil and Citrus Oil, Monster Tiger Nut Re-Hydration Liquid and the very old school Corn Steep Liquor Liquid. Further to this and again at different intervals, I add Chilli Hemp and Crushed Hemp, which ultimately is far from just any ordinary spod mix (hemp, corn and boilie) due to how much liquid the boilies have taken on prior to anything else being introduced. 

 A Spomb ensures the loosefeed is fed in a tight and controlled area, with no chance of spod spill.

A Spomb ensures the loosefeed is fed in a tight and controlled area, with no chance of spod spill.


 What you are left with is a boilie that has a magnitude of oils, liquids, and attractors which have had plenty of time to soak right into the bait itself. Add to this the particles I add and my ‘Profiled’ spod mix kicks out an amazing amount of attraction into the water. A thousand times more than you’d get from a straight-out-of-the bag bait. It produces an irresistible homing beacon for hours, meaning your baited area is going to be so much more attractive than what other anglers are doing. 

 At Linear everyone spods, but it s usually the same type of mix - hemp, corn and boilies.

At Linear everyone spods, but it s usually the same type of mix - hemp, corn and boilies.


 When it comes to the fishing side of things, as well as loose feeding the ‘Profiled’ mix in a tight area, I then like to present a very-low, bright pop-up over the top of it. At present, I have had great success using a White Monster Tiger Nut pop-up in conjunction with a Ronnie Rig. I’m using this rig not because it’s the in-vogue rig at present, but because when fishing in areas of deep silt for example, I think it offers excellent camouflage/concealment properties and ultimately becomes like a slightly over-exaggerated bottom bait. I am looking to target big carp and these fish generally have large bellies, therefore to them this setup is easy pickings without being too blatant.

 Mike is a big advocate of using a low-lying pop-up mounted on a Ronnie rig when targetting big fish.

Mike is a big advocate of using a low-lying pop-up mounted on a Ronnie rig when targetting big fish.

 Mike's adds hemp, tiger nuts and a host of oils and liquids to his air-dried boilies to make the Profiling mix 1.

Mike's adds hemp, tiger nuts and a host of oils and liquids to his air-dried boilies to make the Profiling mix 1.


 When it comes to my venue choices, I don’t normally fluctuate between different lakes, as I consider myself a campaign angler who predominantly tackles low-stocked gravel pits. I take my angling very seriously and approach it much like I would when conducting a military operation. The planning and preparation prior to starting is the difference between success and failure in my eyes.


A huge part of the bigger picture is which boilie I use, because a huge proportion of my fishing relies on regular pre-baiting and not just 24-hours before a session. It tends to become a huge part of my life and weekly routine for 12-months of the year, therefore I must have 100 per cent confidence in what I am using. The right boilie is like having a relationship with somebody. It has to be trusted, you have to feel confident it won’t let you down.
 It’s getting to that time of year now where I start to read and hear many carp anglers stating they are switching to their winter bait or asking what is the best cold-water boilie. Some of these anglers I know have been fishing the same venue all year, which is where I get frustrated. They have worked so hard all year feeding their quarry with a consistent, and reliable food source, but because it’s likely not to be as effective in colder-water temperatures they feel the need to change. I just see this as a complete waste of time, energy and ultimately money, which is where I go back to what I wrote at the beginning. We’re all trying to survive, living for that weekend opportunity in most cases, but by not looking at the bigger picture. Your approach and mind-set are having a detrimental effect on your angling, especially if you’re campaigning i.e. fishing on the same venue for 12 months of
the year. 

 Slack line fishing helps prevent spooking the carp on presured lakes, like Linear.

Slack line fishing helps prevent spooking the carp on presured lakes, like Linear.


In the military, we plan for the before, occurring and afterwards before we even start on the objective and that’s exactly how my angling is personally approached. It brings me to the conclusion and mind-set I have stuck with for years and that’s if I’m using a boilie from a campaign perspective then it’s going in the water 12-months of the year. So that it ends up doing the business and ultimately becoming a well-established and reliable food source, which will come into its own throughout the colder months. I mean, why make things harder for yourself?
 Regards my choice, for the last three-years, I have used one specific boilie to great affect within my angling and that is Dynamite’s Monster Tiger Red Amo. I can recall getting my hands on this bait for the very first time and just having that natural gut instinct I have already spoken about. I had certainly found the one and it was like an instant weight had been suddenly lifted off my shoulders. At the time, I was fishing a notoriously difficult lake where five fish a year would be considered a decent return for most members. Not only did I catch from the off with this bait, I caught over 32 different fish (I did have a fair few repeats) from this specific venue over a two-month period, which is staggering. 
I’d have said it must be nut-based, contain a fruity element to it and preferably be in a subtle washed-out pink format along with being easily digestible for 12-months of the year. Well, I got that all right and then some. For years as a kid I remember using the original Dynamite Monster Tiger Nut boilies and it was a firm favourite of mine. Well, the Red Amo is married up with the original recipe. However, in addition it has unique fruit palatants, is an inconspicuous washed-out pink, it creates a lovely, sweet, creamy nut boilie with a fruity overtone.
 To better illustrate this, over the last few years I have fished waters including Frimley Pit 4, Wraysbury and Walthamstow to name just a few. Using the ‘Profiled’ Red Amo has enabled me to catch some truly breath-taking carp throughout that time, but the main point to highlight here is it has been on a consistent basis, 12-months of the year, therefore it has enabled me to become a much more consistent angler with a consistent catch rate. Something those who chose to merely follow often fail to do. 

 This stunning mirror demonstrates just how effective Mike's approach can be

This stunning mirror demonstrates just how effective Mike's approach can be


This angling ethos of being different, and being confident in what you’re doing, is what I consider to be the fundamental basics that too few anglers take into consideration. 
 To summarise, always think about the bigger picture, be different, do something distinctive and ultimately provide the carp with something very unique – as with my ‘Profiling’ approach. It’s a formula that equates to success and new-found confidence and, let’s be honest, if you’re not confident, you’re not fishing at that required 100 per cent level. 
 Time is ammunition, so use it wisely. Carry a boilie with you that ticks every single box you need it to, and you won’t regret it. For me, this means Dynamite Baits’ Monster Tiger Red Amo that I have ‘Profiled’ so that it ticks all the boxes. For you it might be a different bait.  

Mick Clifford