Dynamite Baits

12 July, 2021 | Match & Coarse | Tips


Catch More Tench and Crucians, with Paul Garner

Tench and crucians offer superb sport at this time of year although these finicky feeders can be incredibly tough to catch. This week, Angling Times’ Dr Paul Garner shares his approach and explains why softer hookbaits are the way to go for these classic summer species…

Paul says…

Tench, and particularly crucians can be really finicky feeders, and getting your bait choice right can make a huge difference to your results. On some of the more managed venues that I fish for these species, a pellet and paste approach has been a really effective way of catching them. Used in combination with the float at close range, pellets and paste are the ideal baits for these summer species.

Soft baits like pastes and expanders are great for fooling wary tench and crucians.


As long as I have around a metre of water, I am happy to fish for both tench and crucians as close to the bank as possible. In fact, fishing tight along the margins to any cover helps to put the fish at ease and makes them easier to tempt. Because we are simply lowering the bait in off the rod tip there is no problem using baits that are quite soft. All fish prefer soft baits to hard ones, they will hang onto them for longer and often take them further back into the mouth, making bites easier to hit. Hard baits are often picked up and spat out at lightening speed, leading to frustrating fishing.

When using pellets I like to use small expanders that I prepare at home. These stay on the hook well, but which have a soft texture. I will feed exactly the same baits in small quantities, because I want the fish to become accustomed to the soft texture and feed slowly and confidently. You can buy ready-prepared soft pellets, and these are a good choice if you haven’t used this bait before, but you can’t beat making your own to achieve the perfect soft consistency. Especially if you are feeding soft pellets, then preparing your own fresh bait becomes a necessity.

Expanders have a soft texture and absorb flavouring really well…



There are two ways to prepare soft pellets. The simplest is to soak them overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain off the remaining water in the morning and they will be ready to use. This produces a nice soft pellet, but some of the pellets are still likely to float.

I prefer to use a pellet pump to prepare small batches of soft pellets. This only takes a few minutes and ensures that all of the pellets will sink. You can prepare the bait when fishing, which means you can make up more bait on the bank, reducing waste.

Whichever method used to prepare soft pellets you can add a whole range of liquid additives to the water. These additives will be drawn right into the core of the bait, flavouring them right the way through. Shellfish Sense Appeal and Krill liquid are my choices for fishy flavours, whilst the sweet, creamy aroma of F1 flavour, has also proven to be effective, especially when the water is still quite cool.

Expanders are really easy to flavour!



Normally, a single 6mm soft pellet is the ideal hookbait and feed, but there is a useful trick that you can use to fish this bait in a different way. By kneading some of the soft pellets together with a small amount of krill groundbait, you can make a brilliant soft paste that can be moulded around the hook, or sparingly used as a feed.

Mushed expanders make for a great, soft paste that tench and crucians adore.

Why use paste instead of pellets on the hook? On tough days being able to hide the hook completely inside the bait can bring bites, especially from timid crucians. At the other end of the scale, when the fish are feeding well the larger paste bait can draw attention to the hookbait and bring quicker bites.

You can completely mask the hook when using paste.

So there you are, one bait, that can be used in two different ways for some of my favourite summer species. And don’t be surprised if the odd bream, carp, or even specimen roach finds your soft pellets too good to resist too, this is such a versatile bait for well-stocked venues.


Once you have prepared your soft pellets don’t spoil them by letting them dry out. Store them in air-tight bags and try to expel as much air from the bag as possible. You can freeze batches of pellets, but this can cause some of them to float if they suffer from freezer burn.

Store your pellets in a sandwich bag to prevent them from drying out.

If you also don’t have the time to make your own, Dynamite Baits have a superb range of Durable Hook Pellets which can be found, here.

Durable Hook Pellets are not as soft as expanders, but they’re packed full of flavour and can be nicked directly onto the hook.

TEN MINUTE MAKE – Prepare my Soft pellets and paste

Preparing soft expander pellets is easy to do with a pellet pump and these soft pellets have a multitude of uses, including for tench and crucians.

  1. Fill your bait pump about 1/3 full with 6mm expander pellets.
  2. Add a tablespoonful of Krill Pellet Soak liquid to a pint of water.
  3. Add the liquid to the pellets, making sure to use at least twice the volume of liquid to pellets.
  4. Before pumping all of the pellets will float, this is normal.
  5. Pump the pellets and leave them for about ten minutes. They will expand, filling the chamber and soaking up most of the liquid.
  6. Drain off the excess liquid and put the pellets in an air-tight bag or bait tub.
  7. To make pellet paste squish a handful of pellets in your hand.
  8. Slowly add some krill groundbait to the squashed pellets and mix well until a soft paste is produced.
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