Why do carp like salt? How and why does using salt, and substances rich in mineral salts improve your catches? I have fished in rivers where the saline conditions mean that bass, flounder as well as carp and eels all thrive to the surprise of many anglers. There is far more to carp and their needs, their reactions and feeding responses to salts in all forms of baits (including boilies and pastes!) Here are many expert answers plus exciting suggestions that will make you think and catch you more fish!
Salts are highly attractive to carp; they are highly ionic, so attract water. For example one example of this property is when you leave salt in air and it cakes. This entire point is extremely significant to optimised bait function!
Most people think of common table salt as salt, but there are many forms and combinations that we can exploit to catch more fish! (Note that chlorine for example is highly reactive; think hard about this point because making baits reactive is highly beneficial to your results!) Sodium and chloride ions are required by all known life in minimal qualities, so instinctively carp are drawn to salty substances.
Technically I’m not sure you term them feeding triggers, as much as they are incitants and bait enhancers in many ways, but they are a powerful signal when in solution in water; inducing much further investigation by fish that’s for sure! For example, a fishmeal and marine spod mix is certainly boosted by additional salts and salty substances (compared to adding none.) In my experience fish tend to feed in a more measured more leisurely prolonged mode with added salts, in contrast to certain other additives which can lead to a frenzy of short-lived extremely hard feeding. Of course both approaches can be utilized, and combined together.
Throw lumps of rock salt in the water and carp are sure to investigate. Remember that natural river and lake waters are composed of dissolved minerals, including salts. Some of these essential minerals are even absorbed directly into fish via their skin. Minerals range from pure elements to simple salts etc, and carp respond to endless forms of them for many wide ranging reasons, not merely connected with essential nutritional requirements
Notice the different taste of table salt compared to sea salt or rock salt. I am certainly not suggesting our taste, smell or perceptions of palatability and depth and richness of profile etc is identical to carp (different brain and nervous wiring and conjunctions etc but you’ll notice quite a significant difference! Rock and sea salt is far richer due to the range of minerals and traces etc it contains; and is far more palatable to carp and far more potent as an enhancer in baits! It’s another reason I avoid using refined table salt, although if I have nothing else I use it in ground baits for instance, but it means the bait will be under-optimised!
Most rock salt products are derived from dry deposits of ancient seas that dried up, but the funny thing is that the underlying bedrock of lakes, even clay lining lakes that hold the water, are mineral rich and influence the potential of life and growth rates of particular carp waters. I find Rainbow Lake in France fascinating not merely for the range of carp strains stocked and their phenomenal growth rates, but wonder if the carbon naturally in the underlying lake bed is a significant factor too, combined with the silicate (mineral), sandy nature of the lake bed; I’m sure it all connects.
In a funny kind of way it is ironic that the calcium and phosphate that fish absorb through their skin in solution in water, (and consume in their foods) has ended up in their water due to ancient animals biomineralising (producing minerals biologically,) to produce hard structures. For example chitin in shells of mollusks and crustaceans for instance; which when they die then form phosphate and carbonate salts of calcium, deposits laid down under ancient sea beds over eons, so forming carbonate base rock like chalk and limestone rocks beneath or surrounding lakes and rivers etc.
Eventually these minerals are transferred into lake water by natural processes over time, and then they become part of fish. For example the vital collagen connective tissues and bones etc! Everything is connected; fish and humans really are what we eat! (And of course ultimately, ancient teleost fish of which modern carp are part are our long-lost ancestors so we share many common processes and features that we can exploit, that we can relate to our own food to use within our fishing baits, to make catching carp easier!)
On a different note, dissolved minerals, salts in solution (in water) mean that carp are swimming within an electricity-conducting electrolyte. This is very significant indeed because for one thing, the power of many bait substances can be enhanced by exploiting natural carp sensitivities to minerals and mineral salts, either in supplemental forms or as intrinsic parts of natural foods.
We well know that carp are seriously stimulated by pre-digested or hydrolysed ingredients and additives in dry or liquid forms of many kinds containing many salts forms in the chemical reactions involved. It is my belief that because carp are so sensitive to subtle electrical fields, that this is all part of the impacts of baits that can further be manipulated and exploited, and use of salts can obviously a part of this approach to make baits far more easily detected. It might be suggested that you can make your baits more of a noticeable highly subtle electrical energy battery. Personally I am certain that carp detect fields around the area of baits which are far from limited to merely conventional electric or electromagnetic energies.
Carp certainly are just as sensitive and curious to differences in within the water that they detect as to instinctively responding to any arbitrary nutritional signals. For example, a localized change in salinity might well be good cause for investigation, besides the presence of any particular concentrated substance issuing forth from your baits. Of course, fish meal and other marine based baits, predigested additive-rich baits for example can be rich in salts and be significantly salty, intrinsically enhancing and improving bait performance. However, these things can be boosted in many ways using salts and salty substances and their special reactions with a range of bait substances.
I think the reaction between salts and for example alcohol flavours, organic acids, and other things like citric acid, or acetic acid in vinegar (the fermentation of ethanol is used to produce vinegar), and many various other examples, are all highly important reactions within baits and in solution in regards to salts. I’m sure such things are very significant in terms of us being able to on purpose create heightened impacts at carp receptor sites in sensory zones, such as the skin, throat, barbels, lips, palatial area inside the mouth etc that make carp even more enthusiastic for our fishing baits!
Certain saturated carboxylic acids are certainly some of the secret components in more than just a few highly successful commercial bait company products. Anyway you can get an idea here of the fact that experimenting with salts, salty substances and flavours for instance can really pay off big-time in enhancing your catch results!
Do not forget that any boilie base mix can be adapted for use as the base for a specialised ground bait mix, a spod or stick mix, or even used to impart properties and additional stimulation when preparing hemp and sweetcorn and tiger nuts and luncheon meat etc. I am always looking for more information about salts, even in dog and cat food in soft and hard foods.
The presence of additional salt added in the manufacture of Marmite is intriguing as are the salts in yeasts in many formats and formats, including within the classic carp bait additive Phillips Yeast Mixture. Phillips Yeast Mixtures and also very many liquid tonics and so on and other powder or crystalline substances used to improve pet bird, dog and cat health can be exceptionally rich in stimulatory mineral salts etc and for years I have done loads of research on this whole area of bait substances for inclusion in my ebooks.
Salt-rich additives and ingredients are incredibly potent for catching carp and work synergistically (in combination) with other material you have within your baits, from the carbohydrate and protein ingredients in your baits, to liquid foods, flavours and even other enhancers and sweeteners. Thinking about it, for what purposes are salty things like Belachan, yeast extract and soy sauce used for when added to other foods? Enhancing and enriching the sensory impacts and duration of impacts of foods; salty substances are extremely well proven to improve palatability. Carp baits and human foods can be improved by the use of salty substances and salt-related reactions of many kinds.
Include squid extract containing bile salts for example, fermented shrimp powder, other fermented products including miso and soy sauce, other fermented protein-rich materials such as Belachan, yeast extract, seaweeds like kelp products in powder, granules and liquid complexes. This enhancer does not upset insulin release unlike MSG which is harmful in many ways including internal bleeding on a cellular level in the brain.
Many people feel ill after consuming MSG, and indeed it is the reason for the so called Chinese restaurant syndrome. Yet such is the degree of MSG-producing company cover ups about its true impacts, that few anglers know it is harmful. While chatting with Frank Warwick recently about enhancers etc even he did not appear to realise this at that point in time. Pure MSG is vastly different to naturally-occurring glutamate that carp and humans naturally consume with no harmful side effects!
There has over the years been a gigantic effort by MSG manufacturers including Anjinomoto to not only sell the idea of the fifth taste but to get people to accept MSG and even promote it as a good thing! The result is that now as people are becoming more aware that MSG is a harmful substance food manufacturers are not putting MSG on the ingredients list and use other words and misleading and vague terms including glutamate, or vegetable extract, yeast extract Many alternative taste enhancers are available that do not harm carp! I might add that sea weeds and tomato puree are rich in umami taste components.
The tastes you can exploit in your baits include sweet, sour, bitter and salty as well as savouryness (or umami.) Very many carp baits are bitter yet successful; lots of more acidic concentrated flavours make baits taste bitter. Personally speaking I have had great success with many new unique homemade bait recipes that to me have tasted really bitter, or surprisingly sour.
I used to have the group mentality that appears to promote sweeter or perhaps more salty or savoury tastes of baits I make, but no matter what the taste of a bait is to me (and whether I personally like it or not,) it does not stop fish repeatedly enthusiastically consuming baits I may or may not like!
Carp consume forms of algae as it such an incredibly rich digestible a basic food for survival. But if you have ever taken different forms of algae as a health supplement you will know it is not exactly pleasant to humans and I find it unpalatable and avoid trying to taste it at all!
The fact is that carp nerves are wired up differently to humans; their receptor proteins and receptor site adaptations, degrees of sensitivities and nerve connections with their brains from skin, gut wall, fin face, lateral line etc all differ in very many respects to humans! For an angler to state that carp do not like bitter baits is not especially helpful as this is a confusion of many things on many levels. Even the question of the actual degree of taste of a bait as a whole tasted in the mouth in human alkaline solution, compared to carp tasting bait in solution in neutral or acidic water makes things less clear!
Carp are very sensitive to salinity (salt or mineral salt) changes in solution in the water surrounding them. This is incredibly powerful advantage because like humans, fish need to maintain a certain equilibrium of liquid pressures within their body cells to stay alive and function healthily – note the famous feeding trigger betaine (there are various forms,) is vitally intrinsic in this role too! (You may have heard about isotonic baits…) Being sensitive to salts allows fish such as carp to discern many opportunities and threats in the water. For one thing, although carp can survive in brackish water their sensitivity alerts them to moving into water that is too salty for their bodies to handle. That’s one reason why carp are not roaming the seas!
Note that natural calcium chloride is the predominant component of familiar table salt, is essential to carp, but and this is really important, you will do better by supplying carp with fine or coarse sea or rock salt instead, as this supplies a potently stimulating wealth of vital minerals and traces which will turn carp on and raise the nutritional value and attraction of your baits.
I personally highly recommend using coarse crunchy kelp, and fine seaweed powder, plus coarse and fine sea salt for example, together. With salts you only need minimal amounts to make a difference, and use of salts is not strictly limited to adding salt to boilie, stick or other mixes and of course endless carp baits can be enhanced using many sources of salts. Crushed Himalayan rock salt has very highly significant unique properties but there are far more sources of potent salts than just this and sea and other rock salts.
Do not ignore the fact that salts are involved in digestion; this is a very important aspect of baits I know most anglers have yet to really understand and harness within baits. I do not consider that adding salts to baits is the optimum way to exploit salts and in fact having salts being deliberately actively created within baits dynamically through various processes is far more potent, but these are secrets I do not give away for free! Revealed in my unique readymade bait and homemade bait carp and catfish bait secrets ebooks is far more powerful information look up my unique website (Baitbigfish) and see my biography below for details of my ebooks deals right now!
By Tim Richardson.