Maple Peas are a classic 70's carp bait, it was the writings of the great Rod Hutchinson that first got me interested in using maple peas as a carp bait and even now I can well remember his classic book 'The Carp Strikes Back' and the follow up he did in the late 80's called 'Carp Now and Then'. Hutchy made some outstanding carp catches back in 70’s and I first found myself drawn to using maple peas myself back in the early 1990's, some 25 years ago. At the time I'd just been made redundant and I was skint, there was no way I could participate in the premier baits fishmeal revolution that was going on in carp fishing at the time, I just didn't have the funds so I opted to start using maple peas for my carp fishing, if they were good enough for Hutchy all those years ago, they were good enough for me.
Back then I used Maple Peas on a Lymm Angling Club water called Grimsditch Mill Pool, both my mate Paul and I bought a sack each so we had 40 kilos between us, we prebaited with those two sacks then bought another sack each to fish with. To cut a long story short I quickly discovered maple peas were a superb particle bait for carp fishing and fully deserving of the reputation they had for catching carp.
Times change and in the 25 plus years since I first used Maple Peas I've done a few campaigns with them and they've always been very successful, I do use boilies and other particle baits though so maples have been forgotten about in recent years. I've been thinking about my bait for this spring and summer and I thought a trip down memory lane was in order so this year I'll once again be using maple peas as my first choice carp bait.
I popped over to my local livery and collected a sack of Bamford's Top Flight Maple Peas, I like bamfords for my particles, the sacks they provide always have nice clean bait in and this sack of maples was no exception, the peas were nice and clean with no dust at all. I opened it up as part of the video accompanying this article and although I didn't say it in the film (below), I was very pleased with the quality of the bait.
Like any particle bait for carp fishing, Maple Peas need to be soaked and boiled, I soak mine for 24hrs then boil them for 20 minutes. At this point some of the peas will have started to split but most will still be whole and that's exactly what I'm looking for when I've finished preparing them. A further test I do to check that they are ok is to take a maple pea between my thumb and forefinger and squash it, an unprepared pea will be as hard as a bullet but if you've done them right, a well prepared pea will squash between your fingers under not much pressure, check out the video accompanying this article to see how that’s done first hand (above).
For presentation I have two rigs I use, the first is a simple knotless knot hair rig with a single maple pea on the hair (you can use them as snowman bottom baits too), I use a size 12 Korda Kurv Hook for this rig, I realise a size 12 might seem a little small but the korda kurv hooks are particularly big for their size and probably the equivalent of a normal size 10 hook. It's really just a case of balancing the size of the bait with the size of the hook and at roughly 8-10mm in diameter, a single maple pea goes really well with a 12/kurv or a standard Size 10 Hook.
My second rig uses the same hook and braid but it's a 'snowman rig', it's a single maple pea with a 10mm Cork Ball on the hair. Now a 10mm cork ball is exceptionally buoyant so I trim mine down so the bait sinks with the weight of the hook, you have to trim the cork ball quite a lot, so much so that it looks like an apple core when you've finished but that doesn't matter, it's an outstanding presentation and the carp will take it no problem. The braid I use on both rigs is usually ESP Sink Link Braid, I like this braid as it blends in with the bottom well and sinks of it's own accord without needing 'Sinkers' or 'Drop Em' to pin it down, not having to buy extras to pin a braid keeps the cost of your fishing down. The length of both rigs is around 6 inches, I always shorten my rigs when particle fishing, you are naturally fishing tight beds of small baits so the carp don't have to move far between baits and the shorter rig naturally helps prevent bite offs.
It’s been a few years since I last used Maple Peas and to finish off the video to this article I took my newly prepared peas to a local lake. The lake is well stocked but the fish are no pushovers by any means, they are well fished for and they know how to avoid getting caught so a result was by no means guaranteed. Most anglers on the lake use boilies and they do catch fish but the carp do seem easier to catch if you do something different. I gave myself 4 or 5 hours on this session and after a slow start with nothing showing, half an hour in I clocked a few fish in an area nobody was fishing so I moved swim and walked a bait down to where the fish were. I put the rig in amongst them along with a few handfuls of peas to get them interested and it didn’t take long before the rod pulled round and I was away with a small mirror, I’d guess at around the 6lb mark. That fish must have spooked the rest because they went to ground after that which was a shame as the one I caught was perhaps the smallest I saw show.
I find on hard fished waters the carp are easier to catch if you do something different, when everyone else is using boilies, particle baits like Maple Peas can score really well, not only can they out fish boilies on pressured waters, they are a fraction of the price and the sack I have cost £10.99 for 20 kilos. When I first started using maples it was because I’d just been made unemployed and I was skint, today I use them to be different and because they catch me carp when boilies don’t and they do it without costing a fortune. If you’re looking for a bait for the year ahead and don’t want to pay £10-£15 for a kilo of frozen boilies in the shop and you don’t mind preparing your bait a day or so before you go fishing, give the maple peas a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Until next time, tight lines.