I first started using tiger nuts around 1995. At the time I had no idea they were such an outstanding carp bait, in fact, it took me quite a while to pluck up the courage to actually use them. It was a chance happening on a local north west carp water that convinced me to give them a go. I just happened to be sitting talking to a carp angler when his rod screamed off and after a good fight he netted a half decent carp, it was then I noticed the tiger nut hanging from the carps mouth. After chatting to him and enquiring about the tiger nuts, he convinced me they were worth a go. I look back now and laugh, even when I cast out my first ever tiger nut rig I still wasn’t convinced they were any good for catching carp!. I reckon I waited about an hour for my first ever run on a tiger nut, I couldn’t quite believe it when the rod actually screamed off, for me, that first session success began a long association with this superb carp bait, a bait I'm still catching carp on today!.
If I could choose just one carp bait to fish with for the rest of my life it would be tiger nuts. I'm not sure why they are such a good bait, maybe it's their sweetness, or that carp like to 'crunch' on them, probably a bit of both, one things for sure, I'd put tiger nuts up against any boilie you can think of, and they will perform very favorably.
If you’re planning to use tiger nuts, you should make sure that you prepare them correctly, as they are very hard. When you buy them, you will notice that they are dehydrated, they need to be soaked for at least 24hrs. During this time, they will take on water and swell to their normal size. Once soaked, they should be boiled for at least 30 minutes, this is to soften them a bit. I don't think they will soften any more than this so there's not much point in boiling them any longer. Once boiling is completed, they can be left in the same water to cool. It's just a case of take them to the lake and use them once they are prepared!. Some people prefer to leave their tigers at this stage, as, after a while, they will begin to ferment. They do smell a bit when they reach this stage, some people swear by their effectiveness when left to ferment, personally, I like mine fresh and will use them within 3 days of preparation.
For presentation, I like to fish tiger nuts on a hair rig using a knotless knot set up. I cut a piece of cork to the shape of a tiger nut and use that as the top half of a snowman hook bait, that is, the cork sits on top of the tiger nut to pop it up. It's then just a case of balancing the rig with a bit of putty, so that it sinks very slowly. This has been a superb presentation for me over the years and I've taken many carp using it. You should not worry about the cork being on top of the tiger nut, the fish can't tell one way or the other. I usually put a few pieces of cork in with my prepared tiger nuts, that way, they soak in some of the juices from the nuts.
The last word on tigers goes to bait application, this bait should be used sparingly. Usually just a pouch full or two along with your hook bait is more than enough whilst fishing. I tend to put more tiger nuts in when I’m actually leaving the lake, not many though, on most waters I won’t introduce more than a pound or two of tiger nuts in any one go. On rivers like the dee and the weaver I use a lot more as river carp can be very nomadic and I know there is no chance of over using tiger nuts in an open river system. Over-use of tiger nuts can be a bad thing and can cause what's known as 'tiger nut syndrome'. These baits contain very little in the way of nutrition for carp yet the carp can become totally pre-occupied with them to the point were they will just eat tiger nuts and nothing else, neglecting both natural food and anglers boilies. This can result in weight loss and in extreme cases death for the carp so please use them sparingly. I believe this is why they are banned on some carp waters, because some people don't have the common sense to use them properly!. Thankfully bans are not necessary on most waters and if you use them correctly, they will work for years with no ill effects for the carp.
Should you wish, you can always buy tiger nuts that are already prepared, bait companies like dynamite sell tinned tiger nuts and these are ideal if you are a first time user of this excellent carp bait.