How to Make Cork-Ball Pop-Ups – The Easy Way
Usually when making cork-ball pop-ups, you will use an egg mix with your chosen boilie base mix, then add your chosen liquids and powdered ingredients to create your own customer flavour. However, for ease, I like to use the freezer paste, as a lot of the hard work is already done for you, but you still get to customise the baits how you want.
Grab some boilie paste out the freezer and allow it to thaw out in a bowl. A great tip when buying paste is to split it up into handful-size amounts before refreezing.
Once the paste has thawed out, it can be a little dry. Simply adding a little liquid and folding it in on itself means you can get the perfect consistency. You could make some cork-ball pop-ups from this alone, but I’ve got a few extras I like to add to create something rather special.
This simple mix contains GLM and Hydro Liver Powder from the Evo range, along with Krill Meal, chilli powder, Secret 7 Liquid Food, Secret 7 EVO Liquid and a few drops of Secret 7 Intense Booster.
Using your hands, fold and mix the ingredients together until its thoroughly mixed, adding additional Secret 7 Liquid Food little by little until you have the perfect consistency for your cork-ball paste. You’re looking for a paste that doesn’t stick to your hands and fingers.
Place the paste into a food bag, squeezing out all the air, and leave for 10 minutes.
Take enough paste out of the bag which you think will be enough to make the number of hookbaits you want. The rest can go in the freezer for another time. You can leave it as a lump of paste or roll out into a sausage. The idea is to create a 2-3mm paste to wrap around your cork balls, which should give you some indication of how much paste you will need.
Cut or break off a piece of paste and gently squeeze it flat. Place the cork ball (I generally use 10mm cork balls) on the paste and mould the paste around it. Once the paste covers the cork ball, roll between your hands gently. At this point its good practice to use your thumb and index finger to squeeze the paste gently into a square shape, which will show you if you have an even wrap around the cork ball. It’s important the cork ball is centre of the paste wrap. If you feel you have too much paste around your cork ball, simply pinch a piece off and roll again.
A great tip is to now add your chosen hook and push it into the paste and drop the hookbait into a glass of water to check the buoyancy of the bait. This shows you how the bait reacts with the weight of the hook, telling you if you have used too much paste or if you can add a little more. At this point you could make some wafters, adjusting how slow you want the hook to sink. Any paste left over you can be used to make some custom bottom baits, or frozen to use another time.
Once you’re happy with your hookbait water test, you can now evenly cut the sausage of paste and wrap all your cork balls, before putting them in a plastic bowl.
Half fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling, add the baits and start a timer. The size and number of hookbaits you’re doing depends on the boiling time, but for 24 baits, I’ve found 60 seconds is perfect. Whilst boiling, stir the hookbaits to stop dead spots on your baits. They are pop-ups, so a part of the bait will always be out of the water. After 60 seconds remove them from the boiling water and place on some kitchen roll, or a tea towel, and gently roll around to dry them off.
Take your cork balls and place them on a clean piece of kitchen roll, tea towel, an air-drying bag or even an egg box, and leave them for 24-72 hours, giving them a gentle shuffle two or three times a day.
The longer you leave them, the better they will dry out and the less likely they are to go mouldy. If you’re after a fast batch, adding some liquid preservative or salt at the start will help, and this is where egg albumin added to the mix helps to create a harder hookbait.
Once you hookbaits have dried, you’ll have noticed they will have shrunk and turned a darker colour, but will smell fantastic! It’s now time to stick the baits into a plastic tub and add some more liquid to hydrate them. The S7 Intense Booster is great for this; just adding a few drops every week will make them smell stronger.
Depending on the size of batch you have done, you can freeze some baits.
Remember, always attach cork-ball pop-ups using bait floss. Don’t puncture the hookbait, as this will allow water to penetrate the wrap and affect the buoyancy of the bait.
I hope this guide has shown how simple, quick and easy it can be to make cork-ball pop-ups, especially using boilie freezer paste.
Give it a go! You’re only limited by your own imagination. It’s a great feeling catching a carp on a hookbait you have rolled yourself.