Kevin Wilmot from Total Coarse Fishing Magazine did some investigation on silkworm chrysalis….
It was in 1996 that I first heard about silkworm chrysalis as a fishing bait. I was in Italy, covering the World Angling Championship on the Mincio River. Although I saw Alan Scotthorne win one of his five gold medals with an exemplary display of pole and waggler fishing, Drennan Team England had to settle for silver in the team event, beaten by the home nation.
Italy’s secret weapon? Silkworm chrysalis! These strange-looking ‘casters’ were added in large numbers to their groundbait, the Italians being convinced that their high-protein content was perfect to attract the difficult chub and carassio the river contained.
Certainly their victory suggested there was something in this unusual bait, but it never caught on with anglers this side of the English Channel, with only a few specialist bait companies importing them for the UK market. Until now. All that finally looks set to change thanks to Marukyu, which has released powdered silkworm chrysalis – called sanagi – as part of its range.
Having witnessed first-hand the power of the silkworm chrysalis, I was pleased when Team Marukyu’s John Hall agreed to meet me on the bank for a demonstration. John had been doing well using it on luncheon meat and it seemed to be doing the trick, with his elastic being pulled by an angry carp as I walked towards him at Shearsby Valley Fishery, three attractive lakes in Leicestershire.
“This sanagi’s strange stuff,” he admitted, after gently slipping the four pounder into his keepnet. “It’s slightly damp straight from the packet, and smells like no other bait I’ve ever used, even though it looks like brown groundbait. Not unpleasant, just different. “When I first got hold of some, I tried lots of experiments with it. First I attempted to mix it like groundbait. That was impossible, as it didn’t absorb water. I then used it as part of a groundbait mix and that’s when I started to notice something interesting. My fish were decidedly bigger than those caught by other anglers on the lake.
“I wondered whether this could have been just a coincidence, but the fact it happened on several occasions suggested it wasn’t.”
This was last winter, and John couldn’t wait to try it once the water warmed up. He felt it might work well on baits it could easily cling to. Meat and pellets sprang to mind. He knew it worked in groundbait and he also wanted to try it in among chopped worms and casters.
It didn’t take long to find out, with a 197lb match catch on small cubes of sanagi covered meat here at Shearsby Valley. Other good results followed, again with a noticeable increase in the average size of fish caught compared to other anglers. Now, John uses baits treated with sanagi whenever he knows there’s a mix of different sizes of carp, confident it will help select the biggest fish in the swim.
There are two types of powdered sanagi in the Marukyu range – SFA 440 and SFA 441. It’s the finer 440 that John’s using. Shearsby Valley The three lakes that make up the intimate Shearsby Valley complex are lovely to look at. Some 30 metres wide, they have several narrow central islands with plenty of vegetation and water that’s the colour of coffee. Clearly there are a lot of fish here, and the 4lb carp that John netted as we arrived is typical of the size of fish.
SFA440 is a fine powder additive from Marukyu, available at fishingbaits.biz
Chop your meat into consistent cubes
Put the meat in a bag and dampen it with water
Sprinkle a good handful fo SFA440 sanagi into the bag
Blow into the bag to fill it with air
Give the bag a good shake to distribute the SFA440 sanagi across all of your meat
Seal the bag and keep it in the fridge over night
It is now perfect to use in a feeder cup
The Sanagi clings to the hookbait before dispersing in the water and drawing the fish into your swim
Skimmers also make up catches, but it’s the carp that most anglers target, with pole fishing across to the island favoured. On windy days, when using a long pole is out the question, a small leger cast close to the island can work well, with a banded pellet or a cube on luncheon meat as hook bait. Warm evenings often see the fish coming into the margins. John had chosen Peg 10 on Alders, which just happens to be the swim where he caught his big weight a few weeks earlier!
However, today was a very different proposition. The carp were there alright – line bites and cruising fish were testament to that – but getting them to feed was tricky. “They’re thinking about spawning,” said John, as a pair of ghost carp approaching 10lb each swam slowly past, “which means catching them might be difficult.”
His setup was simple – a strong 4×10 pole float on 0.16mm (5.5lb) line, shotted with three No10 shot spaced at half-inch intervals with the bottom one four inches above the size 16 hook. John had reinforced the wire eye on the float by whipping some strong line around the place where the wire is attached to the body, and another interesting addition to the rig was a No10 shot fixed on the line half-an-inch from the place where the line leaves the wire eye. He explained: “This is to sink the bit of line immediately above the float. If you don’t do this, there’s always a little ‘loop’ of line that sticks out of the water, which can get blown about by the wind. I find this very annoying but by adding a small shot halfway up the bristle, the problem is eliminated.”
There are many ways of fishing canal like lakes like Shearsby and the challenge is always to keep the fish coming all day. Ideally, John likes to start a session by presenting his rig at the bottom of the slope leading down from the far bank. Here the depth is more than three feet. However, on difficult days, carp seem intent on ‘hugging’ the far bank and John soon realised he would need to target them in water less than two feet deep. The problem here is that in such shallow water, fish are unlikely to stay in the same place for long. As one or two get hooked, the rest are likely to spook and move off.
John’s solution is to ‘exhaust’ one catching area, feeding it carefully through a pole pot containing meat dusted with sanagi plus hemp, until he can’t get a bite there. When this happens, he starts a new swim with the same feeding technique and the fish usually come to this one. “The key is to feed just enough to draw only one or two fish into the swim,” he said. “This way you avoid line bites and foul-hooked fish. I always like to feed a bit of hemp with my meat as hemp will sink to the bottom quickly and help keep fish in the area.”
John’s approach paid off with a catch of carp over 40lb in just a few hours before he had to go to work in his tackle shop. Most bites came within seconds of the float landing on the water, before the hook bait had settled.