With an endless selection of baits to choose from in the carp fishing industry, it can be overwhelming and slightly confusing for new anglers. Although it does play a key part in your fishing performance, the newest, most expensive bait won’t always catch you most carp. It’s all about trialing, testing and figuring out what works. Different lakes have to be fished differently and often have regulations stopping you from using particular baits, it’s always a good idea to check that the baits you’ll be using are allowed at the venue you’ll be fishing.
However, here are some of our favourite baits which tend to be very effective wherever you fish and won’t break the bank. Having personally tested every one of these baits we can strongly vouch for them in terms of performance.
Nearly every fishing session we go on, keeping a trusty loaf in our baits arsenal is mandatory, this bait is an irresistible treat for carp and most of the time brings them up to the surface to feed.
We have had high levels of success when stalking with bread and have discovered its a killer way of catching carp.
The most effective way to use bread is when stalking, it is amazing how many fish you can pick off the margins using this simple technique. If you’d like to learn more about stalking, you may want to read our article on How to stalk carp where we go through the process in detail.
The art of stalking fish is an exciting and enjoyable way to catch carp and if you haven’t tried it yet, we highly recommend you do. Either way, bread is a must-have whenever we’re carp fishing.
It’s is a cheap and versatile bait that can be incorporated into different aspects of your fishing, eg, in pack baits, spod mixes, and ground baits. When adding in the bread, break off small chunks and mix into the bait. You will notice the bread causes a high level of discolouration in the water, this will entice those big carp to come and investigate hopefully increasing your chances of a bite.
- Highly attractive for carp
- Good for close-quarter stalking and surface fishing when used as a hook bait
- Doesn’t stay on the hook for long
- Can’t be used as a hook bait when fishing further out
- Can’t be tied onto a hair rig
- Incorporate into other baits
Sweetcorn is known by all anglers as an exceptional bait, its vibrant colour and sweet taste mean it won’t let you down.
Sweetcorn works brilliantly as a hook bait as well as when mixed with other baits, carp are defiantly used to the taste of sweetcorn giving it an edge over other baits. If in it’s fake or real state sweetcorn will help you put more fish on the bank. This cheap yet outstanding bait isn’t worth missing.
Fake corn works as a perfect hook bait when integrated into a hair rig, here’s a link the fake corn we use a regular basis, it’s nothing special however just allows you to have much more confidence in your rig. The bait will stay on the hair rig and can even be used for multiple sessions. Now that’s bang for your buck. Korda Slow Sinking Artificial Corn Pack Of 12 (check price on Amazon)
You can also increase its attraction by dipping it in flavouring, this will make it smell even more pungent increasing its attraction further. Another cost effective way of making your hook bait stand out from other anglers, we’d say this is defiantly a technique to implement if your fishing a lake that being fished by lots of other anglers.
Overall, sweetcorn is a great bait, it’s so easily accessible, there’s really no excuse for not having it in your bait box.
- Easily accessible
- Works extremely well
- Nuisance fish will easily take sweetcorn
- Loose feed
Over the last few years, adding salt to bait has become very fashionable, the carp absolutely love it, making it can be a great additive to incorporate into your baits.
The issue with salt, however, is the portions we are giving to the fish, some research suggests that such high levels of salt can actually be bad for the carp despite the fact they love it so much.
Some anglers are just pouring tubs of it into their baits, we feel it’s an important message to share especially as carp give us so much joy and happiness, the least we can do is keep them healthy and well.
Spices are a great alternative, but like everything, it should also be given in the right portions. A spice we love using in our baits is turmeric, it has a very strong, pungent smell and is guaranteed to keep them grubbing around for hours. We’re guessing you don’t use these baits often in your fishing however giving them a try is defiantly something worth considering. You won’t regret it.
- Cheap and easily accessible
- Works great when added to baits
- Turmeric colour and smell will ensure fish start investigating
- Can be used with hook baits as well as loose feed
- Can’t be used as a hook bait
- Don’t get into your eyes!
- Bait enhancements
Maggots are irresistible for any fish. They can be used in bait mixes, feeders, bags as well as a hook bait. After having caught many amazing carp solely on maggots we can say they are defiantly one of the most effective baits out there. Maggots can be used dead or alive, they both work great however sometimes choosing one over the other can help when fishing.
When fishing with live maggots there are 2 main things to consider, the live maggots move around in the water making them extremely attractive for carp however this also means that if/when using them in your feeder fishing or as loose bait there’s a chance they’ll be all gone by the time the carp reach your swim.
On the other hand, dead maggots stay will stay in your swim but don’t attract as much attention to themselves due to their lack of movement and colour. This means they can sometimes be hard for the carp to spot in murky waters.
An interesting way to increase your maggot’s attraction is to add turmeric powder to them, this gives them a bright yellow colour and a very pungent smell which is sure to attract carp especially because they love spice. These days you can even get fake maggots that are much more versatile and useful in some cases, we recently discovered this tackle box packed with loads of useful fake baits including maggots. Here’s a link to that if you’re interested in picking some up for yourself, Artificial Plastic Fake Baits (check price on Amazon). We found they worked fabulously all throughout the year.
The turmeric clouds up the water sending the smell all around the lake, you can imagine what type of effect this would have on the carp.
- Highly attractive for carp
- Good as a hook bait and as throw in bait
- Can be integrated with other baits
- Works well dead or live
- May swim away if alive
- Dead maggots are less attractive due to lack of colour and movement
- Loose feed, feeder mix and PVA
Boilies come in different shapes, sizes and flavours. Due to the level of choice you have when purchasing boilies you will be able to find what works best for your style of fishing. They’re a formidable bait especially when hunting down those monster carp, we found that making your own boilies at home can work just as well as bought ones.
The recipe below is something we trialed and tested a few times, having got the mix completely wrong the first time we persisted and were eventually able to make some great boilies. If you’re a person that’s into making your own baits, it may be worth giving it a go.
However some anglers including ourselves do like to stick to the old method and just buy boilies, it saves a tone of time, so here’s some information about our favourite and most commonly used boilies. There’s so many on the market to choose from so all we can do it tell you what works for us, as long as you stick and big name brand you generally should be ok. However, we found the dynamite boilies have really proved their immense value in our eyes.
Dynamite Baits Boilies (check price on Amazon)
We can’t say enough good things about these original dynamite boilies, for our style of fishing the 15mm and generally perfect and catch us tones of carp here in the UK. If you want a reliable boilie that’s made from good quality ingredients and will entice the carp then we’d defiantly recommend them.
When using boilies it’s important to use the right size depending on your fishing, its probably a good idea to use bigger boilies when nuisance fish are present at the venue you’re fishing. Apart from that, there’s not much to it, simply thread them on to your hair rig with a baiting needle, and you’re ready to go.
- Highly attractive for carp
- Multiple flavours, colours and sizes
- Can’t be consumed by nuisance fish
- Can be difficult for the carp to spot
- Loose feed
Pop-ups are another artificial carp bait. Appearance wise, they can be almost identical to boilies, where they differ is the buoyancy. Pop-ups float on the lake bed, this can help especially when your rig is on a weedy bed. A factor which makes pop up’s so effective is, they are easy to spot, the buoyancy and bright colours stand out to the carp especially as they are not directly on the lake bed. This can in some circumstances give them an advantage over boilies.
Pop-ups, as the name, suggest ‘pop up’ to the surface/float which makes them strictly a hook-bait, unlike boilies which can be incorporating into many other things. Adding them into your bait mixes won’t benefit your fishing in any way as the pop ups would just float away.
The advantage of pop-ups is the presentation, this is why we think they are essential baits to use in your fishing. You never know what kind of lakebed you’ll be fishing, whether it will be silty, rocky or weedy. They work well in most if not all conditions giving you that extra bit of confidence when fishing.
Pop-ups are especially useful in the weedier conditions because they dramatically reduce the number of snags. One of our favourite methods of using a pop-up on weedy condition is with a chod-rig.
- Highly attractive for carp
- Good for casting to far distances when using a feeder or lead
- Many options to choose from
- Great for catching carp all year round
- Cant be used as loose feed
Making these baits at home is also quite simple after having bought and tried many different brands and types of pop ups we found that making your own can work just as well, here is a recipe we use regularly:
Ingredients for 40 to 50 pop-ups
- ¾ cup of Flour
- 2 Eggs
- ½ cup corn flour
- ½ cup of milk powder
- Half cup Coconut flakes or coconut cream
- 1 lime
How to make your own pop-ups
Step 1: put three-quarters of a cup of flour in a bowl
Step 2: add half a cup of corn flour
Step 3: add half a cup of milk powder
Step 4: add half a cup of dry coconut flakes or coconut cream
Step 5: add some lime zest and mix the ingredients
Step 6: add 2 whisked eggs slowly to the bowl and mix
Step 7: knead the dough and add lime juice until soft and malleable
Step 8: wrap a layer of the dough around a small cork ball, this will make sure you’re pop up floats.
Step 9: bring some water to the boil in a pot and cook the pop-ups for 2 minutes.
Step 10: dry of your pop-ups with a towel. Now your pop-ups are ready for use.
If your not a fan of making your pop-ups at home, that’s completely fine, we sometimes aren’t either, here’s a link to our favourite store bought pop-ups that have worked for us continuously.
Korda Pop-Up Dumbell pink fruity squid (check price on Amazon)
Using meat in your carp fishing has become underrated in recent years, were here to set that straight and remind people what a fantastic bait it is. After using many different types of meat from spam to peperami we can assure you this stuff works wonders when used correctly.
The spicy and meaty smell gets the carp in that feeding frenzy which is perfect for frequent bites. The delicious bait can be incorporated into your feeding baits as well as used as a hook bait. Using a piece of spam on a hair rig may seem uncommon to some however we’d defiantly recommend you give it a try.
Incorporating meat into your fishing will have noticeable benefits, we found that pungent meats work best however feel free to try new things. Carp pretty much will chow down on anything that you could eat so if you want to try something new, there’s also that option.
A great way of adding extra attraction to meats such as spam, tuna, etc is by covering them with spice, as we all know carp love spice so this is a great technique to use if you’re having a quiet session. A spice such as chilli powder, paprika, or even just salt will enhance your bait considerably. This technique can also be used with other baits. Here is a list of the meats we found to work best, you can usually pick all of these up from your local supermarket.
- Beef jerky
- Highly attractive
- Strong smell and colour gets the carp feeding
- Cheap, easy to get
- Work wonders when mixed with other baits or as a hook bait
- The attractiveness will lessen when left in the water for longer periods
- Is not allowed on certain fisheries
- Hook bait
- Combined with other baits in a feeder mix
The pellet is used to catch a range of different fish, it’s highly attractive to the carp and is an excellent bait every angler should have. Having used pellets in our fishing for years we really can’t do without them. They’re fairly cheap to buy, can be purchased easily, not to mention their just a killer all year round bait.
Pellets come in many different flavours, shapes and sizes, this variety means you can specify what pellet to use in different aspects of your fishing.
They can be used as hook baits, in feeders, PVA bags and as loose feed.
We find that using pellets when feeder fishing has given us the most success, the oily texture, and strong smells mean the fish can easily locate the pellets and are enticed in. The hair or rubber band means the pellet is not damaged by piercing through the shank of the hook, this will also help hook the fish once it engulfs the bait.
We’ve recently been using the Sticky Baits Manilla Pellets, these have worked great and helped us absolutely tones of carp, if you’d like to pick up a bag of these fantastic baits for yourself then click the link to get the most up to date price, Sticky Baits Manilla Pellets (check price on Amazon)
Pellets are also great when mixed with other baits, a favourite combination of ours in ground bait, attractive goo, and pellets. We find this works great when feeder fishing or when using PVA bags and sticks. When using this rig we usually use bright pop up which stands out from the darker colours of the pellets however, we believe this is a great way of incorporating pellets into your fishing. Here is an image of what the rig looks like:
If you’re still not sure if pellets are for you here are some advantages and disadvantages which may change your mind.
- Cheap to purchase
- Work effectively as a hook bait and when incorporated into other aspects of your fishing
- Are permitted in the majority of fisheries
- Designed for carp
- Many different sizes and flavours to choose from
- Customisable into your fishing
- The colour is not as noticeable as a pop however with such a strong smell this isn’t really a worry.
- Can be used in almost all aspects of your fishing
- Makes as great hook bait
If you’re like us and feeder fish frequently you’ll know the importance of the bait (in/around) the feeder. The feeder mix is what the fish are initially drawn to, so it needs to be an attractive mix of their favourite foods. Getting this bait right will ensure you have an enjoyable and successful trip.
If you don’t know what ground-baits/pack-baits are you’ve come to the right place. It’s the bait you pack around/in the feeder, this bait can be store-bought as well as made at home.
We typically tend to use 2 different mixes depending on where we are fishing, these mixes all work great, are simple to make and are cost-effective. After a long process of trial and error, these were the feeder mixes that really shined and proved their immense value.
For the majority of our feeder fishing we find using (Bait-tech big carp method mix) works great. After having tried a range of the baits we can assure you its not worth missing. The bait can also be changed to your liking, we find adding small pellets to the mix is a good way of keeping the fish grubbing around. Another bait enhancement we use to get the most out of our feeder mix is liquids. We have a whole section on how and when to use them below.
This stuff is reasonably priced and you’re getting a lot of bait for the money. To get the most up to date price on this method mix click our link.
Sonubaits carp groundbait (check price on Amazon)
We’ve been using sonubaits for some time now and honestly, just haven’t had the need to try something new, it’s caught us so many carp and been so reliable we really don’t see the point it changing, would defiantly recommend this groundbait.
The second pack bait we have used a fair bit in recent years is a strange but effective recipe we discovered. You may be surprised at the result I can assure you we defiantly were. The bait consists of panko breadcrumbs, crystallized jelly powder, sweetcorn, and white hominy maize pozelero. Definitely worth a try!
- A simple easy to use bait, but still extremely effective
- Cheap to buy
- Lots of different buying options, we’ve given you what we found works best
- The bait can also be used in PVA bags and sticks, something is an alternative to a feeder.
- Getting the consistency wrong could result in your bait disintegrating too early in the water. If you’re not sure about this then check out our article method feeder fishing for carp. In this article, we will go through how to make the perfect feeder mix.
- Used as a small source of bait around the hook to entice fish
- Can be thrown in a loose feed
Liquids are more of a bait enhancer however, since recently incorporating liquids into our bait, we found they can work really well when used correctly.
The liquids can be used in feeder mixes, something which we have only recently discovered to work, and which we will defiantly continue doing. The extremely strong smell and taste of liquids just seem to get the carps appetites rolling!
Dipping your hook baits in a bottle of this stuff is another way to significantly increase their attraction. This will ensure the carp can easily spot your hook bait, increasing your chances of a bite.
Here are the liquids we use, there are by far the best on the market and have worked for us. To get the most up to date price on the Korda Goo click our link:
Korda Goo (Check current price on Amazon)
We’ve used this stuff in PVA bags/sticks, feeder mixes, and hook baits. It’s so attractive we recommend only putting it on baits directly around your hook bait, hence why we never incorporate it into loose feed or spod mixes.
This stuff does work wonders and we highly recommend giving it a try.
- Extremely attractive to carp
- Lots of different flavourers
- A small amount goes a long way, really strong
- Can be incorporated into some bait
- Its difficult to know how much of this stuff to add, all we can say is don’t be over generous its really strong!
- Add into baits/hook baits to improve their attraction
So there you have it, our take on the best carp baits, if you found this article useful then make sure to check out some of our others @carpreviews.co.uk