'BFW' Micro Mesh (Boilie Sized) PVA
Getting feed to the target spot can take the form of a bait dropper, swim feeder, method ball, soluble bag, simply by hand or catapult - which one you use could depend on conditions at the time and personal preference. I've been using the so called boilie sized micro mesh tubing over the last couple of months to present a small amount of feed (it's winter at the time of review) in close proximity to my hookbait. This is a review of the material offered by the BFW shop which comes complete with a BFW sticker and logo! As well as using the micro mesh for making bags of pellets, boilies and other baits, I've also experimented with making and using what is widely known as 'sticks' or 'stiks'.
Because of the tight weave of this material, it is claimed that maggots can be also be used and it seems feasible to present maggots in this way, although I expect they would manage to find their way out of it in a fairly short time, but not quick enough in average loading and casting time. If that's what you intend then try it - I didn't.
The kit comprises of inner and outer tubes, 5 metres of micro mesh water soluble PVA tubing and two end caps. The clear yellow inner tube, which holds the mesh is approximately 24mm in diameter and 175mm long. This fits inside a slightly longer outer tube of around 35mm in diameter with two removable end caps to keep the contents dry and clean.
Micro Mesh and Tube - sporting the BFW logo
If you plan to use the PVA to make 'stick' mixes then you will also something to compress the mix. After a short time messing around with a piece of wooden dowel, I went out and bought a purpose made piece of plastic made specifically for this purpose. I bought the Korda one at around Â£2.75 - anything for an easier life and help maintain my reputation as a tackle tart!
Plastic Compressor Device - This is the Korda one
In The Bait Kitchen
As much as possible I like to be prepared, so when making 'sticks' I usually make some up before going fishing. I also do some pellet, broken boilie or combination bait 'baggettes' at home if I'm going to use them. No maggots though - well not in the kitchen! The prospect of making bait packages up on the river bank is fine in good weather - but in wet and cold conditions the reality of a cosy efficient river bank bait production line diminishes - wet dissolving PVA is OK when it's IN the river but not when trying to make up little bait packages. Mind you, in the confines of a shelter or brolly during rain things should be a little more friendly, but you don't often see Bob with a brolly so that option is closed to me.
Preparing bags of pellets is no real problem, twist and knot the end of the micro mesh, pour the desired quantity of freebies down the tube, pull off the mesh, twist and another knot (followed by another for the next bag) and you have a bag of tasty morsels for Mr and Mrs Barbel.
For 'sticks' then you have to choose and make your mix with a suitable quantity of liquid - water in most cases for me - but not too much as to get the PVA into a totally dissolved state. I have used a few mixes and amongst them has been the Eurotec S&M mix, but there is no reason why you can't prepare your own from suitable groundbait and bait ingredients. So, 'stick' mix suitably prepared and knot in the end of the micro mesh, place the knotted end on a firm surface or alternatively by holding with your thumb, introduce the required amount of mix down the plastic tube. Use your compressor device like a ram rod to compress the mix into the desired state of compactness, then push out of plastic tube and the mesh should follow (providing you aren't gripping it or your thumb is still there!). Twist the mesh followed by a knot (don't forget the next one you are going to prepare - so knot again) and you have a 'stick' Simple - a graphic on the outside tube shows the basics of preparing bags - so don't worry too much about following my description.
A Completed Stick
As I and others have discovered, you can freeze the 'sticks' without too much trouble for use in future sessions. Providing that the 'sticks' are removed from the freezer bag before any condensation can form, they retain their integrity. After experimenting a bit with defrosting I found that the best method was to take the 'sticks' from the freezer bag, separate them so there is a slight space between each, and let them defrost. This was carried out either on a wire gauze tray (such as a maggot or groundbait riddle) or on a piece of kitchen towel.
This sort of micro mesh has been claimed to be very robust and ladder resistant. I am pleased to say that based on my experience that these claims would appear to be justified - not a ladder in sight - even with my rough hands.
There are a number of ways you can present the bags or 'sticks' whilst fishing. Nicking the mesh of the bag or 'stick' with the hook is probably the most simple. Alternatively, you can attach onto the lead using a suitable clip or method of attachment.
As I mostly use quick change rig clips (the excellent Gemini Snood Clips or similar but more expensive Gizmos by Carp-R-Us), I can thread 'sticks' onto my hooklink by the use of a stringer needle loop or swivel first. A typical arrangement is shown in the picture below.
Micro Mesh 'Stick' Threaded Through the Hook Link
14mm Boilie Bait with Size 8 Kevin Nash Fang
Another slightly different presentation was to have the 'stick' mounted a couple or few inches above the hook and this was accomplished by mounting a rubber bead with a float stop - this would hold the 'stick' in position above the hookbait but would not constitute a high risk tether rig should the hooklink break. There is a reasoning for this up the line variation, but as this review is primarily about micro mesh, I'll not go into any more specific detail in this text.
After some breakdown tests on the bags and 'sticks' in the kitchen things looked promising, conjuring up visions of the stick gradually breaking down on the river bed leaving a trial of small attractive particles for fish to home in on my bait, but nothing really substantial to enjoy a feast without encountering the hookbait.
Breakdown Stages of The Micro Mesh Stick
So, off fishing next to test things in a real fishing situation. On the first session the river was running low and fairly clear. Water temperature was around 46 F. I found that on a couple of occasions the 'stick' was still pretty much intact when it was retrieved 20 minutes later. I was fishing with a threaded 'stick' immediately above the hook so that I could more accurately monitor the breakdown - if I were to simply nick the hook into some of the mesh then the chances were that the stick would come off after a short time - which is not what I wanted during the review period. While pondering this with the bait out in the river, the rod wrenched over and after a spirited fight an angry barbel of around 8 pounds was netted. Oh dear, I thought as I saw the stick dangling down from the mouth of the barbel. To be fair the bait had only been out around 5 minutes, but was more food for thought. Using the 'review' set-up there was a chance that during the initial stages of immersion the hook would be effectively masked by the stick and therefore for future testing opted for a 'slightly up the line' form of presentation.
Back home another batch of sticks were made and this time I decided to use less compression during the making. Making a fairly loosely packed stick may result in it being fairly buoyant due to trapped air, so a thing to watch. Make it very loose and you really have a bag but the air will be quickly displaced by water on immersion.
Back at the river with the water temperature a few degrees higher at 49 F, with slightly more flow. Tests showed the 'sticks' were acting more as I intended and only one was retrieved partially intact - however, this was also the victim of being mugged by a large chub and hadn't been out for long. A number of barbel were also caught.
On another session and less flow, slightly lower water temperatures at 47 F. During this session I did some more experimentation and found that I could accelerate the breakdown by either cutting the stick in half or putting a few cuts down the side of the 'stick' with a penknife.
Using the micro mesh for bags of freebies presented no real problems, although the water temperature and flow will effect the time that the micro mesh takes to dissolve - this obviously applies to both bags and 'sticks'. The higher the temperature and flow the quicker the PVA will dissolve. Packing density and to an extent the nature of the contents will also have an effect. Oily based ingredients are likely to have a slowing effect, so too will immersing the bags or 'stick' in oil based liquids.
Repeating the breakdown at a few different higher temperatures suggested that for 'normal' Summer and Autumn use, this micro mesh PVA tubing would be ideal.
Good, ladder resistant, soluble PVA product. The fine weave of the mesh gives increased versatility for the types of bait fillings that can be used. You can make bags and 'sticks' with very little or no waste of the PVA material. Breakdown of 'sticks' potentially slow in lower water temperatures, but there are ways that this can be accelerated or indeed slowed.
Boilie Dispenser with 5 metres micro mesh PVA stocking for Â£8.50 from the BFW shop.
Go to the BFW On-Line Shop