Frequently asked Betaine Questions.
by Henry de Beer
We receive various questions regarding Betaine on a regular basis, off which “does it work” is the most commonly asked.
To supply answers to some of these questions we have spoken to Ian Moore – CC Moore and Co.
What is Betaine?Ian Moore - “Betaine is derived from Sugar Beet and used in the human food, animal food and aquaculture industry. Betaine has become a very popular ingredient bringing many nutritional and palatability values to foods and baits.
When added to boilie mixes, stick mixes, particles, pellets or spod mixes, this proven additive can significantly increase the ‘pulling power’ of your bait over short or long-term periods.
To dramatically increase the instant attraction properties of your baits, simply sprinkle some Betaine on your hook baits whilst they are drying after being boiled.
If you are freezing baits you can also add some Betaine into the bag to coat them and be absorbed into them as they thaw.”
What is the difference between anhydrous Betaine and Betaine HCL?Ian Moore - “Betaine is derived from Sugar Beet, but the purity and solubility can vary.
Anhydrous Betaine is darkish brown to light yellow crystalline powder; HCL is a white crystalline powder. Anhydrous Betaine is sweetish on the tongue compared to HCL that’s sour/acidy.
The HCL version tends to drive the PH of baits lower so may send a stronger food signal to baits, but is often ‘less natural’ so may send a more synthetic, ‘warning’ signal to fish through the bait.
At present we use HCL as the anhydrous version has become unavailable.”
How does the purity of anhydrous Betaine differ from HCL?Ian Moore - “They are both around 96-98% pure. We recommend using Betaine at 2%+ as used
in the aquaculture industry whereas many companies suggest 0.2-0.5% inclusion which is really not worth using.”
Recently a bait manufacturer claimed in an article that Betaine isn’t nearly as good as it’s made out to be. We asked Ian Moore and Lewis Read for their views.Ian Moore
“That’s a very good question and one which I’m sure would puzzle aquaculture companies throughout the world who recognize it as a valuable appetite/palatability enhancer.
He has some very interesting and valid viewpoints on certain issues, but I can assure you his research has been incomplete if he has come to that conclusion.”
Lewis Read – Gardner Tackle
“In boilies it’s not just the Betaine that counts, but the type of mix, the cooking time and the other additives included. An open texture of base mix helps, as does minimum cooking time which reduces the denaturing of the attractor.
Betaine has a great reputation with some of the top UK anglers (and bait companies) as both a bait soak and general additive. It’s the basis of why it works that is more debated.
I don’t know the exact ins and outs – I’m just a simple angler. I’m not an expert on the mechanics of inducing olfactory responses, but do read a lot on it and his advice does go against the grain - I know that other company’s tank tests have shown the fish to stimulate a positive response.
Personally I prefer high levels of green lipped mussel - which has a good Betaine content, plus all the natural organic stimulant compounds and salt.”
Below are quotes from some top European and SA angler’s:
Rod Hutchinson“While Betaine is not the definitive elixir to carp it is certainly attractive to them being found naturally in many of the food they eat. Classic attractors like Robin Red are high in Betaine. I have faith in it and include it in many of our mixes.”
Tim Paisley – Carpworld magazine”I use PVA bags a great deal, and the contents of the bags are vital to me. I add Betaine or Green Lipped Mussel Extract to my overall bag mix, and when I’m looking for a very quick reaction to the introduction of a bag (in matches, for instance) then I’ll add a teaspoon of Betaine direct to the loaded bag”
Bill Cottam – Nutrabaits“The attraction of your bait will undoubtedly be improved by the inclusion of Betaine. I personally use Betaine and so do many of my friends.”
Mat Woods – Carpworld“Betaine is an indisputably successful additive”
Phil Chun - Cotswold Bait Creations“Personally I believe Betaine to be a great additive but only when used correctly.
Heat doesn’t affect Betaine, but if less than 2% is added to boilies that are boiled for too long, it is a waste of time as a lot of it just washes out.
However used in groundbait mixes/dips or just soaked into the outside of boilies it is without question worth using. At least 90% of all fish feeds from the major fish feed suppliers contain it as a feeding trigger and these companies spend millions on research and development of feeds for growing fish.”
Carp Co., UK“Betaine is a successful proven stimulant of primary and secondary receptors. We prefer to use Betaine combined with numerous free amino acids creating an extremely effective attractor. “
Ray Dale-Smith - Carp-R-Us “There are many attractors that are effective and Betaine is definitely one of them. I must say that I find it difficult to see how Betaine cannot be a powerful additive if used correctly. Once fish have found it they always continue to search for it.”
John Dearden – BFA
”Betaine is not an attractor as such or in the sense the way a flavour may be. I see it rather as feeding trigger and appetite stimulant. It may sound as if they are the same, but I think they are very different.
When I first used Betaine, I used both the Betaine Monohydrate and the Betaine HCL salt.
Pure Betaine was added to our testing tank which contained Bass, a few small Carp and a small Catfish.
The tank was approx 4 feet long and 1.5 wide, with water plants and a rock or two on the left hand side. All the fish were amongst the structure on the left. I introduced, about 10 grains of Betaine into
the water on the far right. All the Carp within seconds moved over to the right hand side and began looking for food, the Bass also moved across but did not search as the Carp did, just stayed in the vicinity. The catfish remained exactly as it was.
Once the Carp had all searched and rooted around in the stones, they remained stationary, with their gill plates moving rapidly, indicating they were filtering the water very quickly over their gills. So while they were attracted, their main instinct to feed was the main reason they were in the vicinity.
The response of the Bass seemed more of an attractor, because it was attracted to the area, but did
not continue to search for food. If I’d introduced a lure into the water, would it have tried to take it? Perhaps this is a project to look further into?
Subsequently through different Base mixes we made for the boilies, we found some too work better than others during these tests, and came to our own unscientific conclusion, that some mixes
containing different amino acid compositions worked better than other and a pattern emerged that
one particular group of amino acids complements and improved the Betaine’s, and subsequently the baits effectiveness.
Some years later, approx 3 years ago, a thesis was done by one of the aquaculture students, where it was proven under the University conditions that Betaine does work better with certain amino acids,
he narrowed it down to two, I had about 4, but I wasn’t skilled enough to narrow it down further.
I believe some bait companies in the UK also came to the same conclusions, and some sell Betaine in Amino/Betaine formulae, rather than just plain Betaine.
Finally, in most commercial feed formulae’s Betaine is included in their “attractor” add ins’.
With feed prices so high I cannot believe they would include something if it did not work, or was unnecessary,”
“There is no doubt in my mind that Betaine works, especially in long term baiting campaigns with boilies.
I use 10g Betaine per one egg mixture for hookbaits and about 10g per six egg mixture for baiting up. Extensive tests done by me and some of my angling friends proved that Betaine hookbaits outperform non-Betaine hookbaits every time we used it.”
Daleen de Beer - Henkor
“One of the best kept secrets in competitive angling is the usage of Betaine by more than a few well known anglers as attested by our retail sales.”
While aquaculture and animal feed companies world-wide uses Betaine in their feed, they don’t advertise the fact.
Betaine isn’t cheap - the question arises thus why would they use Betaine if it doesn’t work?