Best alternatives to boilies

Boilies have been considered “the ultimate carp bait” for a long time. They are effective, accessible carp fishing baits which have been proven to work well again and again.

Many anglers do have great success with boilies and catch plenty of fish but there’s no reason you can’t do the same with a couple kernels of sweetcorn you picked up from your local supermarket.

In the UK, boilies are easily accessible and common, but there’s a number of reasons why you’d want to stay away from boilies.

  • They’re getting expensive (Over the last few years carp fishing baits have become extraordinarily pricy)
  • Not allowed (In some venues, boilies aren’t permitted)
  • Not getting bites (Boilies are an effective bait and we’d recommend thoroughly checking through your setup before concluding that the boilie is the problem, however this sometimes can be the case and it’s best to introduce something different to the fish
  • Not accessible (For those who live in the UK, this probably isn’t a problem. But finding boilies abroad can be tricky and they’re often unavailable)

That being said, here is a quick run-down of our favorite hook-bait alternatives to boilies:


Ahhh good old fashioned sweetcorn, there’s not a carp swimming that will resist a nibble from a kernel of corn. We’ve been catching carp with corn for as long as we can remember and so far it hasn’t let us down.

It does an issue with nuisance fish if you choose to fish with single kernel of corn, but this can be easily fixed by using a hair-rig and sliding on two or three kernels.

Corn is easily accessible from everywhere and it is also very cheap, so you don’t need to worry about any shortage of bait!

Another great advantage of sweetcorn is that it’s allowed almost everywhere. We haven’t been to a venue which doesn’t allow corn and it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll run into one either.

However our favorite part about sweetcorn is how diverse it is, it can be used as a hook-bait, ground-bait, loose feed and more. It’s can also be easily enhanced by dipping flavorings or rolling in spices which gives a pungent attractive odor.

You could also play around with fake corn, although it is not as easily accessible, it still is pretty cheap and it also means that you don’t have to keep re-baiting every-time you get run. Our favorite setup is to have 2 or 3 kernels tied on with a simple hair-rig.


Pellets are also a great alternative to boilies, they are especially effective in the summer as they are a very oily bait (which fish love) but can also be used during other seasons.

Like sweetcorn, pellets are also very versatile. Smaller pellets are very popular in ground-baits as they have a have a slow breakdown rate and keep the carp grubbing around for hours (depends on the size of the pellet)

Larger pellets on the other hand are most commonly used as hook-baits, we favor these pellets on match fisheries and they do a great job in this environment. However as with sweetcorn, they are vulnerable to nuisance fish but using a hair-rig or a larger pellet (10mm approx) usually solves these problems.

Using a hair rig on a pellet is not advisable unless they are firm, instead small rubber bands they do an excellent job of keeping softer pellets attached to this hook. This is a better method than simply sliding the pellet or pellets on to the hook.


Pop ups are a similar to boilies, they are both dough based baits but whereas boilies sink, pop-ups float. Pop-ups also tend to be much more fluorescently coloured, coming in rich shades of pinks, yellows and reds most commonly, this is because pop-ups are strictly a hook-bait whereas boilies can be used in multiple ways.

 We personally love using pop-ups in the warmer seasons. This is because as it gets warmer, the more the weeds grow at the bottom of the lake, this causes bottom baits, such as boilies to have a great deal of trouble because they always get snagged.

Pop-ups however float, so they are actually hover a few inches above the bottom of the lake right into front of eager and hungry carp.

This not only prevents snags in weedy conditions, but it also makes the bait far more presentable to the fish in weedy conditions. Our favorite setup for this kind of situation is the chod-rig, there are many other ways of fishing weedy waters but we find the chod to be the easiest and most effective rig in weed.

They come in different shapes and sizes similar to boilies which allows the angler to choose what will work best for their fishing, however popups can be expensive but can also be made at home for much less money. 


To conclude, boilies aren’t necessary when carp fishing and there are plenty of alternatives which will do the job. Although bait is important, there are many factors which play into your success when carp fishing.

You can have the fanciest, most expensive gear and the latest developed baits and still blank day after day. Knowledge and experience is the largest factor in carp fishing and is what will land you fish, not if you have the right pack of boilies!

Carp are omnivores and will literally eat anything in their sight, the baits listed above are our favorites and are have been proven to work but there are hundreds of baits that carp love, ranging from seafood to dog-biscuits the options are countless and there’s loads to experiment with.

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