Carp fishing baits


Boilies are the most popular of Carp baits at the moment. They are made from a base mix, flavours, eggs and water, then boiled to give them a hard outer coating and dried to revome water from the baits so they last longer. Many different varieties of boilies have been produced, some floating (pop-ups) and some sinking, some high-flavour attractor baits and some food baits, some birdseed based and some fishmeal based, some large and some small, some hard and some soft.

Here's the difference between attractor baits and food baits. Imagine you've just eaten and you're fairly full-up, if somebody came and offered you a Big Mac you'd refuse it because you're already full. Now imagine if you were offered say, an after diner mint, you'd probably eat it just because it's sweet tasting but isn't too much to eat. It's the same thing with Carp, the Big Mac represents a food bait and the mint represents an attractor bait, get the idea?

Boilies can be extremely versatile. What boilie to make really depends on the sort of fishing you are doing, where you are, what time of year it is, etc. They can either be made at home, made by a bait rolling service to your specification, or bought as ready-mades which are not frozen but contain preservatives to stop them from going off.

Boilie sizes

So what should you look for when deciding what shelf life boilies to use? Firstly the size; pick a size that you think you will catch on. The mini boilies are great for smaller fish, and often tend to be a bit softer, so can be eaten by other species more easily, or fished 2 or 3 to a hair can be a great method when the fishing is a bit harder. They are also great for use as small particle baits and can be deadly when mixed with pellet in a PVA bag. If you want to avoid the smaller species, then look at something a bit bigger, although I have caught a good-sized roach on a 16mm boilie

Boilie flavours

Once that's sorted out, the next big question is flavour and colour. If you are fishing in clear water such as a gravel pit, then colour may be important, something that stands out amongst weed or against the gravel bottom may be useful, although sometimes this can spook the fish and they won't come near it. Flavour then is probably the main decision and there are many schools of thought on this. A lot of anglers will find out what is catching on a water and stick with it as the carp are used to it and have accepted it as a food source. This will usually work although there comes a time when that particular boilie is blown and the carp have become wary of it. I would usually take at least one back up flavour as well, just in case everyone else is blanking.

In fact, I often find out what others are using and deliberately use something completely different. Sometimes that can produce great results while everyone else blanks. If you are not sure what to go for, then a rule of thumb is fruit and fish flavours in the summer and sweet and dairy flavours such as chocolate malt in the winter. The reason for fish flavours being popular during the warmer months is that they tend to have a high oil content and when the water temperatures are up, this flavour leaks out into the water more easily and acts as an attractant. Fruit flavours tend to be brightly coloured and show up well in brighter conditions, and also have a fairly high flavour leakage property.

Of course you don't have to stick to the flavour in the bag, and there are as many different flavours of dips and sprays that can be added to your boilies, which can enhance their properties, as there are boilies. Careful not to overdo it though, too much flavour can repel the carp. If you want to add a bit of flavouring to your boilies, then put them in a large plastic bag and add a little flavouring mixed with water. Blow into the bag to inflate it and holding the top tightly; give it a good shake about. Leave for an hour or so while the boilies absorb the flavouring, then use as normal.

clik here if you want to see how to make boilies

Meat Baits

Meat has always been used as a bait for Carp and other large course fish like Barbel and Chub, but today it is being used less and less for Carp due to the popularity of Boilies. Meat can be used successfully on waters that don't allow boilies (there are a lot of them and I can't understand why!). Also they can give you the edge on pressured waters where the Carp see boilies every day of their lives. On these waters it can pay to stick some meat on one rod and fish conventional boilies on the other(s). Here are some meat bait ideas for you to try:

Particle Baits

Particles are an important bait for the carp angler. This short piece gives a very brief overview of particles and their use in modern carp fishing techniques. Particles have become immensely popular over the last few years, with dealers stocking a never ending variety of the, They have actually been used as a carp bait for decades in one form or another, with the classic all time favourite being sweetcorn. One of the countries most famous carp waters, Redmire Pool, has surrendered some of its biggest carp to sweetcorn over the years to sweetcorn, including Richard Walker's 44lb common, which stood as the British record for many years.

So, what is it that makes particles so effective? The key is their small size. They resemble the carp's natural diet, being small items of food which have to be picked up over a large area. Compared to boilies, they are very small and the carp have to work for their meal. They have to get their heads down and hunt around for each particle. This tends to hold them for longer in one area and often induces competitive feeding and if your hookbait is amongst the particles then you stand a good chance of it being taken.

There are also disadvantages to the small size. Using particles as hook bait is not easy. They are not easily attached to a rig. For this reason a lot of anglers will fish a single larger hook bait over a bed of particles. This method can be deadly as the carp, working competitively for the particles, come across one larger hook bait and it is often snapped up greedily. Another disadvantage of using particles is in the preparation. Many types, especially the smaller seeds and nuts, need to be soaked or boiled in advance. This operation can be messy and smelly, and may not make you popular in the kitchen. However, most particles can be bought ready prepared in smaller quantities these days and if you don't mind paying a little extra for them, this can save a lot of time and trouble.

Particles available

So let's look at some of the particles available. We have already mentioned the famous sweetcorn, but it is also available in many colours and flavours from most tackle dealers. You can also colour and flavour your own, making it an extremely versatile bait. Also most other tinned particle vegetables available in supermarkets can be used, such as peas, chickpeas, black-eyed beans, butter beans, red kidney beans, borlotti beans or haricot beans

Hemp seed being one of the carp's favourites is a most popular particle. The seeds resemble small water insects or snails and has an oily consistency when cooked, and carp go mad for it. It can be attached to a fine hair, but is probably best used as an attractor with a larger hookbait laid on a bed of hemp. Once carp are feeding well on hemp, they will take most hook baits, although I prefer to use a dark pellet or bait which blends in well with the hemp

Tiger Nuts - Carp love tiger nuts. Tiger nuts are hard nuts which have to be prepared properly before they can be fished with. It's definately worth finding out how to prepare these and giving them a go because Carp love 'em! Tiger nuts can be a good bait on waters where there are a lot of crayfish as their hardness makes them more difficult for the crayfish to break. They can be hair rigged and I usually put two onto the hair sideways.

Big Trout Pellets - Technically these are not particles but I'm going to mention them anyway. I use these a lot, normally on lakes where I can't fish boilies. You'll need a bait drill because they're very hard, they can be hair rigged though. A mate of mine started using these at a local lake which contains a lot of single-figure and a quite a few double-figure Carp, the Carp were loving them and he's caught most of his Carp over there on big trout pellets. The pellets fished just as well at this lake, if not better that boilies which goes to show that you don't need boilies to catch Carp.

Groats - You probably already know about the drawing power of Hempseed but did you know that other tiny seeds can create similar levels of preoccupation? Tiny particles such as groats, dari seed, buckwheat, malting barley, mung beans, rapeseed, linseed, adzuki beans and tares can really turn carp on! For the most part all these Mini Particles are rich in NATURAL ATTRACTORS and therefore do not need the addition of flavours or sweeteners

Hazelnut kernels - Hazel Nuts are quite expensive but they are a SUPREME NUT BAIT. Again their attractiveness can be increased can be increased by adding flavours or soaking them neat in Multimino-PPC after they have been soaked and boiled for 20 minutes. They will then absorb the red colouration of the liquid food well and the in-built attraction of any of the amino acid liquids adds still further to the pulling power of this SUPREME BAIT!


Maize - There are two types of Maize, whole grains and flaked maize.

Chick Peas - This small round yellow pea has been around in the Carp world for NEARLY THREE DECADES and is a firm favourite with particle lovers. After sweetcorn losses itís effectiveness chick peas are usually the next choice and along with Black Eyed Beans is probably the most well known and widely used of all the Pea/Pulse baits. It is one of the easiest to prepare so it is IDEAL FOR SHORT SESSION FISHING and it TAKES COLOURS AND FLAVOURS WELL!In its NATURAL state the Chick Pea is a bright yellow pea so it is obviously a very visual bait that can pull fish down instantly.Crushed Chick Peas make a fabulous base for a groundbait mix. Blend it with a mixture of semi-crushed peas with SBF Mix, Prosecto or PTX, along with a small quantity of scalded Trout Pellets, You will find that this binds together well and it works very effectively as a Method Mix.

Black-Eyed Beans - Some particles take a bit of time to get going while others seems almost instant. Some respond well to heavy baiting while others are best fed in smaller amounts. As a rule of thumb, most pulses and beans should be used sparingly. Obviously this will be governed by the number of fish you are fishing for- as a general rule of thumb, a QTR of a pound of bait for each fish seems to be the norm.

Egg Biscuit - Birdfoods are one of the most widely used CARP BAITS in current use. They are HIGHLY DIGESTABLE and very attractive to carp and are very easy to make. Birdfood baits are usually almost instant with no need for extensive pre-baiting campaigns. Egg Biscuit features in many recipes for simple yet effective carp baits. In fact itís quite likely that the seed and other birdfoods obtainable from Haithís are among the most widely used ingredients by those carp anglers who prefer to mix their own unique recipes, rather than be confined to the dictates of the bait companies

Peanut granules - All nuts should be used sparingly. Treat each separate nut as if it were a boilie and bait accordingly. You will not achieve any more action by heavy baiting but you might cause health problems by doing so. You can also make a few nuts go a long way by fishing them chopped, crumbed or crushed. Crumbing also helps to release still more attraction as the natural oils are allowed to seep into the surrounding lake water.

Popcorn Maize - Some of the most successful baits of recent times have been particles, including mass baits such as popcorn maize.

Red Dari

Super Hemp Seed - Hempseed is probably the best mass bait available. It attracts not only Carp but ALL Cyprinids. It comes in several forms, whole, crushed or as our Super Hemp! The seed contains a potent NATURAL OIL which Carp can easily detect. A carpet of Hemp will release a thin oil slick on the surface when it is introduced and you can sometimes tell when carp have moved onto a bait patch when the amount of oil on the surface appears to increase. This indicates that carp are feeding on the bait, crushing the seeds in their throat teeth and allowing any trapped oil to escape through their gill covers and mouths. It is certainly a very exciting sight when the first growth of the slick appears!

Maples - Maples where one of the first baits to be used after sweetcorn started loosing its effectiveness. By then everyone recognised the effectiveness of the particle approach but finding a replacement for the little yellow grains proved difficult. Since then Maples have become the first choice of many particle bait users who prefer them to nuts. They are particularly useful in Summer and there is no better bait for warmer waters, particularly those in Italy, France and Spain.Maples are not hard to prepare but make sure you remember to give them a good soak first. Their attraction can be added to by an array of tasty additives-but make sure itís a top class one as it need to be added at the beginning of the preparation process and will therefore be weakened whilst being boiled.NZ Maples are a dense particle and can be very effective on silty bottoms where the carp like to sift through the soft mud, feeding as they go.

Methods with particles

When particle fishing, the aim is to place a bed of bait on the bottom and fish your hook bait right on top of it. For this reason, accuracy is important. There are many methods of getting particles into your swim. For longer-range fishing, spodding is useful, whereby a container or spod of the particle is attached to a line on a separate rod and repeatedly cast to a particular spot, where the bait is released from the spod and falls to the bottom. When sufficient loose bait has been deposited, your bait is cast to the same spot and fished over the bed of particles

Another method is the PVA bag. PVA dissolves in water and bags of bait can be cast attached to the fishing rig, ensuring that your bait lands in exactly the same spot as the particles. As PVA dissolves when wet, this method only works with dry particles, hemp and crushed or broken boilies being the favourite

you can afford one, then bait boats make the whole process of baiting up very much simpler over long distances. The boat can be loaded up with large amounts of bait as well as your terminal tackle and the whole lot can be delivered to the exact spot in which you want to fish. This can even be underneath overhanging branches of trees or on the very edge of an island or feature.

For short range fishing, again PVA bags are good or loose feed particles if you can reach your fishing position accurately either by hand or using a catapult.

Remember, accuracy is the key. You want to position your bait right in the middle of the particles and so use whatever method of fishing best achieves this. Try different baits and don't be afraid to try something different. Take a look around your local supermarket. You'll be surprised at the variety of particles right there on the shelves, and it can make the weekly shop a lot more interesting

Preparing Particles

Particles can be dangerous if not prepared correctly. Undercooked particles can kill carp, and care should be taken in their preparation. Here we give a brief overview of how it's done. If you are still not sure, seek advice from an expert - see bottom of page, or buy them ready prepared.

Some of the most widely used particles are;

  • tiger nuts ------------- Preperation - Soak for 24 hrs & boil for 30 mins.
  • peanuts --------------- Preperation - Soak for 12 hrs & boil for 30 mins.
  • sweetcorn ------------ Preperation - Straight from tin or bag, keep in own juice.
  • maize ------------------Preperation - Soak for 24 hours & boil for 30 min.
  • chic peas ------------- Preperation - Soak for 12 hours & boil for 30 mins.
  • black-eyed beans --- Preperation - Soak for 12 hours & boil for 30 mins.
  • hemp ------------------ Preperation - Soak for 12 hours & boil until split.
  • tares ------------------ Preperation - Soak for 12 hours & boil for 30 mins.
  • dari ------------------- Preperation - Soak for 12 hours & boil for 30 mins.
  • broad beans --------- Preperation - Soak for 12 hours & boil for 30 mins.
  • almonds --------------  Not sure about this one - Anyone?
  • hazel nuts -----------  Preperation - Soak for 24 hours & boil for 30 minutes


Hempseed is a small black seed. It needs preparing, as it is hard in its natural state. There are many different preferred methods of preparing it, the way I prefer is as follows: -
Tip the dry hemp into a container with a lid, cover with cold water and seal the lid. Leave over night. They will swell up slightly at this stage so make sure your container has sufficient room. Now move the hemp and water into a pan and bring to the boil. When boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. If you would prefer, use a pressure cooker, this has the advantage of retaining more of the natural smells. Keep an eye on the bait, ensure it is softening but not breaking up.

Ensure the hemp is covered with water at all times. When boiled, return the hemp and water to the bucket and leave to stand for a few hours, preferably overnight. It is now ready to use or freeze.
Chickpeas, Black Eyed Beans and similar
Some particles may be coloured and flavoured. This works well on Chickpeas and Black eyed Beans. To prepare these soak overnight as with Hempseed but in the water add flavour and colouring. Quantity of each will vary depending on the amount of bait in the container and the quantity of water added. Careful not to overdo it! After soaking, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 -15 minutes in the same water they where soaking in. Then treat as per Hempseed.

Tiger Nuts

Tiger nuts are hard brown nuts with a very rough texture. There effectiveness on some waters can be brilliant, especially if the carp are accustomed to Tiger nuts. Prepare them as follows:
As Tiger nuts are so hard, they must be soaked for at least 24 hours and then boiled for 30 mins. If you leave the prepared Tiger nuts for 2-3 days after boiling they will start to ferment and this seems to help. The water will turn milky due to all the sugars in the nuts. Some anglers like to flavour them, follow the guidelines above if you do.


This particle has been banned on many waters. This was due to bad publicity following many carp deaths some years back when a batch of bacteria infected nuts were introduced to waters in vast quantities. They are also lacking in some proteins and vitamins, and if carp begin to feed to exclusively on them, they will suffer health problems. However, if used sensibly, they can make a very good carp bait. Make sure that you only purchase the human grade type as the ones intended for bird tables may be of a poorer quality and contain a toxic fungus. The safest way to decide is to think "would I eat these" If the answer is no, then why should the carp. This is actually a rule I apply to a lot of my baits, including boilies. Chocolate malt are my favourite, but watch out for the scopex dipped ones!

Peanuts must be prepared by soaking for 24 hours and then boiling for 15 - 20 minutes. You can add flavours as above if you wish.


Additional Flavors

With beans, you generally find the paler the colour, the less the flavour. For this reason, black eyed, soya, haricot and lima beans are generally more successful when flavoured. Soaking them overnight in flavour rather than just cooking them produces better baits. For the most part the darker baits i.e. maples, tares, tiger nuts and hemp have enough natural flavour, so adding flavours is not necessary.  I've used flavours with particles but I can't say I've found it dramatically increases their effectiveness. However, if they've been used un-flavoured extensively on a water it might just add the difference that brings results


Pellets are a relativly new addition to the carp anglers armoury.
The originals are made out of fishmeals, water insetcs, cereals, milled particles, base mix, added oils, added flavours. There are floating pellets, sinking pellets, rapid breakdown pellets, slow breakdown pellets, etc..
Mostly the shape is a small cilinder with the diameter going from 3 mm up to 15 mm.

Pellets provide the angler with a means of putting out a lot of attraction with the minimum amount of food value. This means that you can attract the carp into the swim and the only food items they find is your hookbait and a few freebies. So you are more likely to have a take sooner.

Most pellets are rapid breakdown pellets which means that after about an hours submersion they are totally dissolved into very small food particles. This entices the carp to work over the area in search for larger food items like hookbaits and freebies.

When fishing prolific venues pellets are often found to be the turbo charger of the swim. Putting several pouchfulls around the freebies seems to start up the swim a lot sooner than fishing conventional boilie tactis. What you are actually doing is providing a lot of attraction from the moment your bait enters the water and you have the added advantage that your boilies continu to give of their attraction for the duration of the session.

No preparation required here, they are used dry or made into a paste. To do this, take some pellets and add a small amount of water into which has been mixed an egg. This will make the paste tacky and assist in keeping it on the hook, otherwise the paste will dissolve very quickly. Flavouring can also be added to the liquid if required. Now mould the paste into a ball. Keep moist by storing in an airtight container. To flavour pellets in their particle form, place them in a large polythene bag and add a little water and flavouring. Not too much or they will start to dissolve. Inflate the bag by blowing into it and tie the top. Now shake the whole thing to spread the flavouring amongst the pellets. Allow to stand for half an hour or more and they are ready to use. Remember if water has been added to the pellets, you can't use them in PVA bags! The same method can be used for flavouring dog biscuits.

Crumball Pellets
These are balls of dissolving boilie crumb, giving the convenience of easy baiting and resulting in a superb carpet of find attractive particles on the lake bed around the hookbait. They dissolve gradually over about 30 minutes, continually leaking attractors into the water. At times this is like a mild, effervescent effect. Available in the three variations, Essential Opal, Activ-8 and Grange to suit fruity, fishy and savoury baits, There is a Crumball to suit everyone. They are excellent in winter, increasing attraction around the hook bait without there being any exploitable food present for the carp. In summer their natural buoyancy helps carpet silkweed or weed fronds in boilie crumb. You can imagine how devastating that can be! They can be drilled out and fished on stringers, or presented in Mainline Internet PVA bags, as well as being over coated with any liquid additive of your choice

Response Pellets
In fish farming the amount of oil on a pellet has to be traded off against the final taste of the product. In other words, more oil means less appetising. The Response Pellets have been through a process which lessens the flat and oil content and at this stage the attractors and feed inducers are added which makes them superbly digestible, attractive and effective even in falling water temperatures. They start dissolving after about 15 minutes depending upon the water temperature and disperse attractors in the baited area for about eight hours. There are two pellets available, sweet/fruit and savoury/fish to match perfectly your choice of boilie.

Hempseed Pellets
Hempseeds crushed then pelletized. The nearest thing to fresh cooked hemp, all the oils and attraction are still contained in the pellets, but are more practical to use, and covers a multitude of situations, i.e spodding, PVA bags or catapults. Awesome flavour release, and one of the best natural carp attractors there is. Simplicity itself, Hempseed Pellets, instant and ready to use.

Floater Baits

For floater fishing a floating bait is obviously required. There are many baits which you can use on the top, here's a list of a few of them:


Swan Mussels - a great but underused bait ....

Swan Mussels are great bait for many species including carp, tench, catfish, chub and many others, on waters where the carp fishing is slow  it is always worth trying something different and more often than not you will be hard pushed to find anyone using this great bait, not because the bait doesn't catch carp but more because many just won't spend the time searching for and collecting them or because they just don't know where to find them  or how to use them.

where to find swan mussels

You will find mussels mostly in lakes which have alkaline as apposed to acid water in them, they will be mainly found in the shallow silty margins often near weeds and reeds. To catch them just use a net or a rake to pull them closer to the edge then pick them out with your hands. If possible try to get them from as many different waters as you can because they are very slow growing and a lakes stock can easily be wiped out buy just one or two anglers, so only take what you need and return the rest.


To begin with you need to open the mussels and to do this you insert a sharp knife into the joint of the shell then slowly (see the photos below)  minding your fingers of course cut  your way around the hinge until you can just pull the shell open, most of the mussel is useless as hook bait the part you want is the yellow mussely foot which is tough enough to be used as hook bait, the rest can be cut up and used to bait up with. Place the yellow foot on a suitably sized hook as  in the  photo blow and your away, give it a try!