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Choosing the right bait for your carp fishing session can mean the difference between success and failure. Carp will eat almost anything that they find while foraging about on the lake bed. I have heard tales of carp being caught on all manner of baits. By far the most convenient is the 'boilie', which is also most suited to today's hook links. There are many other types of bait that are good and on the right day they should not be overlooked.

  1. Boiled baits
  2. Particles
  3. Nuts
  4. Meats
  1. Fish
  2. Floating baits
  3. Other baits

Boiled Baits(Boilies)

These are balls of soft paste that are boiled in water until hard. There is an almost endless selection of ready made boilies available, but they do tend to be a bit expensive. The most economiacl way to use boilies is to make your. You can find loads of recipes here. here

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Fishmeal Boilies:

These have fishmeal added to the base mix. Fishmeal is basically bi-products from fish ie bones, skin and blood.

Birdseed Boilies:

These have ground birdseed (particles) added to the base mix, for example hemp, tares, etc.

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Any birdseed can be used, either on the hook or as a groundbait. The particles must be soaked at least overnight and then boiled for between half an hour to one hour before use. The seed can be left in the boiling juice and stored in an air-tight container. After a day or two, the particles will start to ferment and give off an aroma similar to alcohol.

A few varieties of particles (not pulses):-


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Pulses make excellent carp bait, especially the larger types including, kidney beans, chick peas and butter beans. Prepare pulses in the same manner as birdseed, only use once softened correctly.

A few varieties of pulse particles:-

Chick peas
Butter beans
Red kidney beans
Harricot beans
Borlotti beans
Black eyed beans
Sunflower seeds

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Tiger nuts:

Many anglers prefer to use tiger nuts instead of boilies. Personally I have not found them to be as good but they do work and are worth a go. Soak the tiger nuts at least overnight and then boil for one hour. They are best left to ferment in their own boiling juice for a couple of days before use.


Peanuts are another excellent carp bait. Only use human grade, unsalted shelled nuts, the large American peanuts are the best and can be purchaced at any supermarket. Soak overnight and boil for half an hour bfore use. Peanuts work best when fermented. Loose feed sparingly as they have very little nutrishional value once boilied.

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Luncheon Meat:

I always keep a tin of this in my kit. It can be cut into cubes and used on the hook or hair or offered as loose feed. Conveniently tinned and long-lasting, it is loved by carp in any water.

Sausage Meat:

Sausage meat is another good carp bait. It can be flavoured and coloured and can be mixed with cornflour if it is too sticky. Try your local butcher for some sausage seasoning that he uses to make sausages, as this makes an excellent attractor. Roll into balls or small sausages and bury the hook inside them.

Salami sausage:

Another favourite that I always keep in my kit. It comes in a convenient stick and different flavours. Cubes of salami sausage can be cut and used on the hair or hook and for loose feeding as well.


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Cat/Dog Food:

Petfood is a good bait but make sure to buy varieties where the meat comes in chunks. Use straight on the hook or as a loose feed.


A top bait that is high in amino-acids and protiens, it is also very cheap

Can cut into cubes and used on the hook. Liver is also a good ingredient for use in boilies. On the recipe page is a mixture that I have been using for some time and has had consistently produced good results. Click below to go to the recipe page.


Steak is becoming a popular bait for carp. It can be coloured and flavoured and will withstand the constant pecking of nuisance fish.

Use raw cut into cubes straight on the hook.

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Large cooked prawns are the best to use, if not a bit expensive. As with all seafood, avoid using pickled, preserved varieties as these will repel carp. Best used one at a time on the hook over a bed of loose feed.


Cockles work extremely well when fished over a bed of hemp. Again, avoid pickled varieties. Cockles are very soft and need to be hooked through the tough foot part. This is not a good bait for fishing at distance as it will not withstand the force of casting. A good bait to fish with a waggler set-up at close range.

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Another seafood that I have used and caught well on. It has the same problem as cockles, it is very soft and is best fished with the waggler method at close range.

Swan mussles:

Swam mussle are present all over the UK. Occasionally they can be found growing on discarded fishing line in the margins. The best way to find them is to rake the silt in the margins. Once found, split the mussle open and cut the hinges to remove the flesh. Hook through the orange foot. Although they are very soft they can withstand a good cast if hooked correctly.


Crayfish are present in an ever-increasing number of venues. The type we see today are the Turkish variety, which have been stocked by baliffs to be farmed and sold to trendy restaurants. Best hooked through the tail with the legs removed.

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Other baits

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Another big hit in the Seventies, par-boiled new potatoes were immensely popular. The tinned variety, because they involve no pre-cooking, are the most convenient and also are a handy size. This bait has seen heavy use on a lot of venues over the years and I do not think it is as effective as it once may have been.

Paste baits:

Paste baits are a mixture of dry ingredients like soya flour, semolina, maize meal, etc. These are mixed with egg and flavoured and coloured. However, unlike the boilie, the mixed is not rolled and cooked. It is a bait that is not used much today but still works well on any water and if made correctly, can be stiff enough to withstand the attentions of nuisance fish.

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The smellier the better! Cheese can be either kneaded into a paste on its own or mixed with bread and then kneaded. Cubes of cheese can be used on the hook and were once highly regarded as carp bait.




Maggots can be very effective for carp, both on the hook and as loose feed. Although it is best to bear in mind that when used on the hook, nuisance fish can be a problem. For loose feeding buy a pint or two of maggots and pour boiling water over them. The maggots will stretch and die, thus stopping them disappearing into the silt. This method means that a large bed of bait can be put down and it will not wriggle away.


This bait has been around since the beginning of time! No self-respecting carp will pass a decent worm by, the problem is, nor will any other fish. Best fished with a very light ledger weight.

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The original particle for carp. A big hit in the Seventies and early Eighties, but the carp on many waters have become wary of the bait. For this reason, many new coloured and flavoured varieties are available from tackle shops. They can be used on the hook or as loose feed.


Hemp is best used as a loose feed for carp although with patience a few of these particles can be threaded onto a hair or even glued to a polystyrene ball. I would highly recommend using this as a ground bait as it is one of the best carp attractors you can get hold of. Boil gently until the seeds split before use.

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Bread and floating baits

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You can do a lot worse than pop into the bakers and buy a fresh uncut loaf on the way to your session. I am never without a loaf of bread and always have a spare rod set up with a controller float and ready-baited with a cube of bread crust. Watch for tell-tale signs of surface feeding carp, especially in lily-pads. Keep an eye out for movement in the lily-pads, this usually means there is a large, carp-size fish in amongst them. A piece of crust cast near to such an area will normally result in a take. To hook pieces of crust, thread the hook through the bread and pass it round it, then back through again. Alternatively, you can buy bait bands for attaching it.

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Bread paste:

Bread paste is best made from a loaf that is a few days old. Tear out the inside of the loaf and knead, adding water if it is a little too dry. The paste can be rolled into balls and used straight on the hook.

Bread flake:

A very soft bait, but good nevertheless. Tear out small flakes from the inside of the loaf. Pinch one corner of these flakes and pass the hooks through that point, it should stay on the hook a little longer.

Chum Mixers:

A lot of carp have been taken with mixers and they are a favourite of mine. Put some mixers in a bag and splash with water before use. Can be drilled and threaded on a hair or attached with a shop-bought bait band.

Trout Pellets:

Trout pellets can be bought either floating or sinking and work in much the same way as Chum mixers. It is not necessary to wet them before use. Can be a deadly bait on fisheries with new stocks of carp, as they are not unlike the food that they are reared on. Trout pellets are very rich in fish oils and break down fairly quickly, so making an excellent attractor. Hook in the same manner as mixers.


Keep an eye out for the mini-sized marshmallows at your local supermarket. They make an excellent floater that the carp love. Although they are very soft, they will stay on the hook for a very long time. These can also be fished as a pop-up with ledger methods.


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