A Pop up Boilie is a floating hook bait that needs weight added to your hook link to keep it to the bottom. A wafter will also float but when the ingredients are mixed, they add some basemix to make it slightly heavier (less buoyant) and just the weight of the hook should hold it on the bottom but sometimes a small amount of weight is needed. To check this out, if you get a glass of water and you drop a pop up in it, it will go under the water a little way but pop up very fast. If you drop a wafter in a glass of water, it will sink down deeper, then be a lot slower coming back up to the surface. Also at least half of the pop up will stick out of the water but only about one third of the wafter will be showing.
I prefer to use a wafter over a pop up because I can match my free offering and make a critically balanced hookbait. The thought process behind this is, when the carp come into feed, if my hookbait looks the same as the free offerings but is a lot lighter, then they won’t suspect anything and it will be far easier to enter the the carps mouth giving me more chance of hooking it. Also I like to match the free offerings as best I can and a pop up won’t do this. Once when I was fishing a margin spot, the wind was blowing into a shallow bay of around 3 feet deep. I could see my pop up and free offerings and I could also see carp coming in and feeding on my baited area but I was scratching my head as to why I wasn’t getting a take. Then as I was crouched in the reeds looking at my pop up,the wind picked up and my pop up started waving about then stopped. Then as I waited longer, two carp came into the baited area and started feeding but when they got close to the pop up, the wind picked up and the motion of the water started moving the pop up from side to side. This spooked one of the carp just a little but the other carp must have reacted to the quick movement of its mate and shot off, taking the other fish with him. After seeing this, I bought the rig back in, put on a bottom bait, the same as my free offerings and had a run within an hour of repositioning it. Don’t get me wrong, carp can and will feed around a moving pop up but on some low stocked waters or where you are fishing for that certain fish that hardly ever comes out, it can be enough to lower your chances.
Pop up and Wafters come in lots of different colours and flavours and a few different sizes. Standard sizes are, 12mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm, 18mm and 20mm but most companies stick to 3 or 4 sizes like, 12, 15, 18 and 20mm. This is so you can match the size of your chosen boilie but with a pop up you will never match it exactly because it’s made with pop up mix with an added flavour of your bait. This means it may be a slightly different colour and smell if you use a fishmeal or Bird food base mix bait. If you made your baits with a 50/50 base mix you can get them very close.
Another favorite hookbait I like to use, is what they call a snowman. This is when you get your chosen boilie, say a 15mm Apex Baits Malibu boilie and you put a 12mm pop up on top of it. This helps makes your hook bait lighter but also stands out more on the bottom of the lake, giving the carp something to home in on. When using a snowman hook bait I always use either a white or washed out pink 12 mil pop up to sit on top.
Pop ups can be devastating on their own as well because of their bright colour and strong smell that can attract fish. On lots of occasions,I’ve turned up at a water and seen a fish show, so I’ve just put a pop up on and cast it and had a bite straight away. At other times though, the bright colour and strong smell can go against you because some fish see it as a danger, as its too strong showing that it hasn’t been in the water very long. This is why I tend to use white or a washed out colour, hoping that if the carp are edgy, they see the lighter coloured bait as less of a danger. But with all carp, there’s only one way the can truly check if it’s a food source or not and that’s to put it in their mouths.