Best Winter Carp Baits

Winter carp fishing has often been perceived as impossible for a long time now; anglers give up trying to catch carp in the winter because of how difficult it can be. But it’s not impossible, anglers often find themselves with no fish because the strategy required in winter fishing, it is completely different to the rest of the year,  you have to take into account a number of factors, one of the most important is baits.

In this article, we’ll be going through our favourite baits for catching carp in the winter hopefully giving you some new ideas of what to incorporate into your winter carp fishing. We’ll be briefly talking about how and when to use each bait as well as showing you what techniques caught us the most fish during the colder months. You may be surprised at some things we are about to mention however we’d thoroughly recommend giving them all a go.

Best baits for the winter:

1) Maggots:

Arguably the best winter bait, maggots work wonders in catching carp during the colder weather, their colourful appearance entices the carp and their wriggling movement makes them irresistible to surrounding fish. 

Tie 4 or 5 on a hair rig with a PVA bag to keep the carp feeding in your swim for long durations. This legendary bait has brought crazy numbers of fish to the bank and is a staple for every fisherman.

The great thing with maggots is that they can be combined with other baits to create mixes which can further improve feeding in and around swims. If winter fishing is becoming quite throwing in a handful of maggots can sometimes spark the swim back into life, give it go next time you’re in that situation.

Recently we’ve also found that incorporating fake maggots into our fishing has also helped with bites year-round, the main factor that has lead us to make this slight change is the transporting of maggots, sometimes it’s difficult to get them the day before your sessions which is what we previously used to do.

The fake maggots can be reused on a hair rig and work just as well is not better due to the fact that they don’t deteriorate in the water, even though real-life maggots are highly attractive and a killer bait we’ve found that more suitable for spod mixes, PVA bags, and loose feed. The fact that live maggots float away is another issue which the colourful fake maggots solve.

During the colder months, as we all know the appetite of the carp significantly drops, this is because their cold-blooded creatures and typically don’t have as much energy in the winter to feed, this is why presenting them with small but attractive bait such as a few maggots on a hair rig works so effectively. The bright colours of the maggots stick out in the water, here’s a link to the fake maggots we use; fake maggots (check price on Amazon) 

2) Salt/spices

We’ve been adding spices to our baits for years, they work incredibly well all year round and are especially effective in the winter. One of our favourite spices is turmeric, it’s vibrant, colourful and pungent, all things that make it irresistible to carp.

Carp love chili for some reason so it can be a great tactic that you should consider adding into your fishing if you haven’t done so already. The chili is essentially so pungent in the water that it intrigues the carp in drastically increasing your chances of a bite once added to the swim.

Adding a bit of salt to your baits is another great idea and trust us when we say it works better than what your thinking, it is a very powerful attractant which makes the carp go crazy. This is similar to us humans when you think about it, all food tastes better with salt.

However, just like for humans excess salt can be bad for the fish and can lead to diseases among the carp. There is nothing wrong with using it, just use it in the right quantity and be sensible. Some lakes do ban the use of salt so make sure it’s acceptable to use in baits at the lake you are fishing.

3) Corn

Corn is amazing carp bait all year round, in winter it works brilliant but like the boilies, they’re also worth dipping it in some flavoring for enhancement. However, if your using a hair rig using fake corn is preferable because then you don’t have to keep re-baiting every time the flimsy piece of corn falls of your bait, not to mention fake corn can be reused.

A major positive of using corn is for the price, there is not a better carp bait that works nearly as well. We have caught hundreds of carp on sweet corn and rank it as the number 1 bait for short sessions of carp fishing in any weather. To be honest, sweet corn works wonders in both winter and summer however we thought we had to add it to the list of top winter baits as it really is a game changer in our opinion. 

As you know sweet corn is widely popular and used by anglers to catch carp all over the world, this means the fish have become accustomed to the bait not hesitating to feed, this is essential especially during the winter time when the carp aren’t as active. We’ve found that when incorporating sweet corn into your baits your best bet is to use fake corn as a hook bait and use reel corn in your loose feed. Here’s a link to the fake corn we use fake corn (check price on Amazon)

A tactic we find works well in the winter is a PVA bag full of real corn attached to a hair rig with a fake piece of corn dipped in some sort of additive, the one we like to use is the Korda goo, it’s pungent smell seems to attract the fish even in cold weather.

Sweetcorn is a go-to bait for many anglers including ourselves, whether it’s your first time carp fishing, or you’re experienced angler sweetcorn is a deadly carp bait worth having in your bait box. 

4) Pop-ups

Pop up’s are great for winter carp fishing, their pungent smells combined with vibrant colours means they’re one of the most attractive baits, ideal for carp fishing in the winter. Fishing a slightly smaller sized pop up is a tip that works fantastically, we think this may be linked to the carps decreased feeding habits during the winter time.

Nevertheless, these brilliant buoyant baits have really helped us not neglect our winter fishing, after going for many blank sessions using almost every bait you could think of we were fairly close to packing away the rods and reels for the winter.

As a last resort, we tied a simple feeder rig and using a pop up as the hook bait discoverved that carp fishing in the winter is doable, we’re by no means saying that using pops will catch your fish every winter session however there defiantly is every possibility.

A simple and easy way to use pop-ups in the winter is on a method feeder rig, it’s our go to winter rig that works tremendously well and catches fish consistently. Not to mention the large variety of pop-ups on the market means you can be creative and develop rigs that work best in different lakes.

 Pop-ups are usually available in multiple colours, shapes, and sizes ranging from 5mm all the way up to 20mm if you’re interested in using the pop-ups we found to work then here’s a link to that; pop-ups (check price on Amazon). We found all the mainline high impact pop-ups work excellent when incorporated into our winter fishing.

All in all, pops are fantastic winter baits, if you haven’t tried them yet, its defiantly something worth considering especially when fishing during the winter​

5) Dips and flavourings

One of the big reasons anglers are so put off by winter fishing is due to the fact that the carp are feeding less actively, they hide away and aren’t really that interested in many baits. That’s why you need pungent, colourful baits in order to have success throughout the winter period.

Dips and flavourings are a prime example of how you can make your baits more attractive, with their added smells and colour liquids can really increase the attractiveness of your baits, ideal for winter fishing. 

With such wide range brands and flavourers on the market it can sometimes be difficult to find one that will work best for where your fishing, for this we’d recommend going with one of the Korda goo’s, they seem to work wherever you fish, here’s a link to that if your interested; Goo(check price on Amazon). 

When incorporating baits enhancements such as goos into your carp fishing there are a few methods which we found to work best. Using the goo in your ground bait/feeder mixes is perfect for the winter, it gives the fish a small pile of highly attractive bait to home in on hopefully resulting in a bite.

When fishing in the winter we find that a small pile of bait around the hook bait is your best bet for consistent bites, ensuring this stuff is packed with flavour is key for getting the best results.

All in all, we’ve added liquids to the top 10 winter baits for the simple reason that adding flavouring majority of the time makes every bait better. We use liquids throughout the year however have found a method feeder worked best for the majority of the lakes we were fishing. If you haven’t already we’d thoroughly recommend giving bait enhancers a shot.

6) Zig bugs 

Since carp are mostly bottom feeders majority of carp anglers all tend to use bottom baits. However, carp have also been known to feed on the surface which is where a zig-rig comes into. play. If none of your bottom baits are showing any action trying a zig might be worthwhile. It basically impersonates a fly and carp have been known to go for these in the winter.

Using a zig rig targets carp coming up to the surface, even though carp don’t like to disclose their presence during the winter the occasional bug on the surface may tempt them up. When fishing with zigs, it’s slightly different to your average way of fishing instead of baiting up a spot, you have one chance to flick a zig rig out in front of a carp, this makes it a skillful but time-consuming process however we find it to be a ton of fun.

During the winter we’ve found using dog biscuits worked brilliantly for bringing the carp up the surface, this is probably the best way to bait up a spot ready for your zig rig. However, even though this technique does work in colder temperatures we’d recommend trying it out on a sunny day.

This is because during the winter, the weather here in England tends to be dull and gloomy for the most part however capitalising on those sunny winters morning could be the key to continuous bites.

The carp will automatically come up to the surface when the feel the sun is warming up the surface of the water, as they’re cold-blooded creatures. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed zig fishing for carp and found it a tedious but exciting task if your interesting in giving it a go or just want to pick up some good zig bugs here’s a link to ones we use; zig bugs (check price on Amazon). The rig is dead easy to tie and can work wonders.

7) Ground baits/pack baits

Slow-release baits get carp into your swim and feeding, one of the most popular ways of doing this is using a method lead. The idea behind this is to get the carp grubbing around your swim, using a hook-bait that stands amongst this bait is also a very effective technique. The trick with this is to have a variety of baits in your mix, different sized pellets, hemp, maggots, etc.

This is because different baits have different breakdown rates and you want to keep those carp grubbing around in your swim for as long as possible.

However, if you want to keep it simple then an all ground excellent ground bait we found to work well is the super carp method mix from sonubaits. It’s been our go to bait for fishing throughout the year and has thankfully bought us plenty of success especially when fishing smaller venues. We’ve got a whole other article explaining how to method feeder fish for carp, if you’re interested in that then we’d recommend you check it out; method feeder fishing for carp.

The main reason why we’ve included ground baits and pack baits in our favourite winter baits is because of the recent success using them has bought us in the last couple of years. No matter the season using a simple method feeder fig has always resulted in multiple bites, we believe its the best way to catch carp quickly and easily. 

Pack baits are also great for winter fishing, the idea of having a small pile of attractive baits entices the carp especially when their feeding isn’t as frequent. As you do with summer fishing, chucking in large amounts of bait to get your swim full of fish in ineffective, this is probably one of the reasons why a small heap of bait works well.

All in all ground baits are a fantastic option not worth overlooking, if you haven’t used this technique during any time of the year we’d defiantly advise trying it out.

8) Boilies

It’s fair to say Boilies are one of the most well-known carp baits they allow many carp anglers to target those larger fish, we just had to include them in our top winter baits. During the winter we’d recommend using smaller boilies (10-15mm), they seem to be more appealing to the fish with their decreased level of hunger during the winter time.

Boilies are an excellent carp bait, with the endless possibilities and techniques of incorporating them into your carp baits, they’re really not worth missing out on. 

In the winter time we find using single hook baits is defiantly the most effective technique when going for those bigger fish, the humble boilie has allowed us to continue fishing for those 15-30lb carp even during the winter time.

We would at this stage usually tell you our preferred boilies, however, so many boilies work so well narrowing it down to the number one boilie wasn’t possible instead here’s a list of brands we find to work most effectively, they can usually all be purchased from your local angling centre or online.​

  • Mainline cell boilies 
  • Nash citrous 
  • Sticky (krill flavour)
  • Dynamite tiger nut boilies

These are our preferred bought boilies however if you fancy being creative, making your own boilies is also something defiantly worth considering, here’s a recipe we found online that caught us a few fish.

It’s fair to say boilies are a fantastic all year round carp bait, however don’t overlook them during the winter, if your presenting neat rigs with good baits, you’ve got the best chances possible for a bite.


Catching carp in the winter is hard, it requires patience, focus, and the correct baits as we’ve established in this article. But it’s not impossible and it can be very enjoyable if you really give it a go. So next winter, have a crack at fishing again, it’s so much rewarding than fishing in the summer and you appreciate every bite regardless of size.

These baits are amazing for the winter but there are others that are more effective all year round if you’d like to learn more, check out our article Best carp fishing baits 

So there you have it, a list of our faveroute winter carp baits, if you found this article usefull then feel free to check out some of our others

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