The most asked question when it comes to carp fishing. What is the best bait to use? I’ve been fishing for carp for over 20 years and have tried pretty much every bait there is. Does one perform better than another? This is a tough question to answer as there are many different variables during each carp fishing session.
I can’t say for certain which of the baits listed below works the best. Each angler has their own experiences and preferences for the best carp fishing bait. Some do perform better on certain bodies of water than others. When carp fishing, trial and error is the best approach. I can say one thing for certain; I have successfully caught carp on all the baits listed below, so they do work, and carp will eat them.
Best Commercial Carp Fishing Baits
Although there are plenty of very effective and cheap homemade and grocery store baits out there, commercial baits are a great route for many anglers to take as they have a multitude of advantages.
The best thing I like about commercial baits is that they come prepared and don’t spoil as quickly on those long sessions or if you have long durations between sessions. Just seal up the bag and reopen it when you’re ready to hit the bank.
Boilies for Carp Fishing
One of the most used baits for carp fishing is the boilie. One of the greatest aspects of boilies as carp fishing bait is how versatile they are. They are available in almost every colour and flavour.
Boilies Attract and Hold Bigger Carp
Whether the fish recognize boilies as a better food source or just the fish seeking out larger particles, I have found that I tend to catch bigger fish when baiting with strictly boilies.
Boilies Have a Greater Nutritional Value
They are made to be both attractive and healthy for fish. No matter what I pre-bait with, be it corn, tiger nuts, birdseed, oats, breadcrumbs, etc. There will always be my boilie of choice mixed in. This provides a bit of bulk to the mix and flavours the rest of the bait mix the same as my chosen hook baits, which are also 99% of the time boilies.
Boilies are a Very Versatile Carp Bait
There are many different choices of boilies when choosing a hook bait. Be it a popup, wafter, and regular bottom bait boosted boilies, etc. There is a boilie to fit every rig and every presentation.
Boilies Rarely Spoil
The main aspect of boilies that makes them great carp fishing bait is their ability to keep for long periods of time. With grocery store baits or prepared particle mixes, they spoil and grow mould within a few days once prepared. However, boilies come in resealable packages that can be kept for weeks or months on end with no ill effect.
Complete Guide to Using Boilies for Carp Fishing
If you’re interested in using boilies for carp fishing, be sure to check out this article on How to Use Boilies for Carp Fishing, as it explores the topic in greater detail.
Pellets for Carp Fishing
Pellets made specifically for fishing are another very effective bait. In many commercial carp fisheries, the resident fish are fed pellets. This makes them much easier to catch when matching your bait to what they’re already accustomed to feeding on. Pellets usually come in three different types, as we will outline quickly below.
Perfect for those warm summer days when carp are cruising just under the surface. Some anglers prefer to catapult out small PVA bags of floating pellet to start a feeding frenzy before casting out their floating hook bait of choice.
Notably, the most common type of pellet used for carp fishing is the fast-sinking type. The majority of the time, carp prefer to feed on the bottom, so obviously, this is the most popular location to target them.
Slow Sinking Pellets
These pellets are used by many fish farmers to feed large groups of fish. Although they can be effective when targeting carp, they are more suited to other species that feed mid-way in the water column.
Pellets come in a multitude of sizes, colours and flavours. Each angler has their preferred choice. I use pellets from time to time here in North America and find they’re most effective when added to a PVA mesh offering and my hook bait of choice.
Hemp Seed for Carp Fishing
One of the most effective carp fishing baits aside from corn. Hempseed is a great carp fishing bait to use in high-pressure areas where carp see a lot of corn and start to grow accustomed to associating corn and being caught.
Hemp seeds provide lots of natural attractions and can hold carp in an area for a very long time; fortunately, the small particles take a long time for a pod of marauding carp to clean up once found.
There are many details when it comes to using Hemp Seed for carp fishing. For additional information, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Using Hemp Seed for Carp Fishing.
Tiger Nuts for Carp Fishing
Tiger Nuts are an often overlooked carp fishing bait. Thought to be only used in the UK, and no need for them in North America. I have found them to be quite effective when used as hook baits.
Deter Nuisance Species
In some of the areas I target, crayfish and turtles can cause issues when using boilies or corn as hook baits. I find this to be the perfect time to switch to one or two tiger nuts on a hair rig. As the tiger nuts are quite harder than boilies, the turtles and crayfish seem to leave them alone.
High in Natural Attractants
When prepared properly, tiger nuts ooze tons of natural sugars and starches. Some of the key factors that make them so irresistible and excel in triggering a feeding response from carp.
Tigernuts are also PVA friendly when purchased prepared from a carp fishing store. A tactic I find very effective is to fish two tiger nuts on a hair rig with a small offering of tiger nuts in a PVA bag or on a PVA stringer.
Complete Guide to Using Tiger Nuts for Carp Fishing
If you want to know more about this very effective carp fishing bait, check out this detailed Guide to Using Tiger Nuts as Carp Fishing Bait.
Best Grocery Store Carp Fishing Baits
One great thing about carp angling is that it can be a very cheap sport to get into, as many great carp fishing baits are readily available at your local grocery store.
Are they better than commercial carp baits? In some ways, yes, they are cheaper, but one major downside is they spoil very quickly. I think every carp angler has a story of that bait bucket they forgot to empty and, after a few days, was found to be growing 5 different types of mould.
Corn for Carp Fishing
Let’s start with the most common and one of the most effective carp baits out there, corn. It can come in many different forms, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Canned Sweet Corn
Easiest to use and most irresistible to carp. Open the tin, and you’re good to go. As a hook bait or chum, this is the easiest corn to use, and most carp anglers catch their first carp with it.
Cattle or Feed Corn
If you’re serious about baiting up areas for long periods of time, cattle corn is definitely the way to go—the cheapest of the corn varieties. Though, there are two downsides: the time it takes to prepare and it is not as attractive flavour-wise.
Can be purchased in bulk or from commercial carp fishing bait companies. The giant corn kernels are perfect for use as a hook bait over the top of a bed of sweetcorn. The larger kernels will be noticed and picked up easier once fish are confidently feeding in an area.
Second to Canned Sweetcorn, frozen corn is also a solid bait for carp fishing. I like to use frozen corn to mix up bigger batches of bait for pre-baiting a swim. It saves a lot of work having to open multiple cans and is just as cost-effective. The only downside is that it doesn’t have quite as much flavour as the canned variety.
An excellent choice for a hook bait as imitation corn will stay on your hook or carp fishing rig much longer than a single kernel of sweet corn. Certain varieties can be infused with flavours, and that comes in different colours.
One of my favourite baits to use, and I carry a bag with me almost everywhere I go. My two favourite aspects of corn pellets are that they soak up flavouring of other baits and additives very effectively, and secondly, they never spoil.
Complete Guide to Using Corn for Carp Fishing
So as you can see, there are many types of corn that can be used for carp fishing. Each has its own pros and cons. For more information check out our Guide to Using Corn for Carp Fishing.
Bread for Carp Fishing
Bread is another very versatile carp fishing bait that can be used in many ways. Readily available and easy on the pocketbook, I still use bread in some shape or form on all my carp fishing sessions. It excels at attracting carp and other species of fish as well.
Bread as a Surface Bait
The most effective way to catch carp that are cruising or feeding on the surface. Squish and attach a small piece of bread to your hook with an elastic band. Then, gently cast the morsel in front of any cruising carp, and you’re surely in for one of the most exciting takes in fishing.
Bread as Pack Bait
Bread is one of the best ingredients in any pack bait recipe. It makes a great base that absorbs any carp fishing additive or flavouring very efficiently. Even if you’re using it in conjunction with commercial carp fishing baits such as boilies, chop or crush up some of your chosen boilies into the pack bait mix, and the breadcrumbs will mimic the same flavour as your hook baits.
Bread as a Hookbait
It can be tricky to get bread to stay on your hook or carp fishing rig. The easiest way I have found is to cut the tip off a syringe and pack the bread tightly with the plunger against a hard surface. This creates the perfect size bait out of the bread, which can easily be attached to a hair rig. I also like to pack a boilie or piece of buoyant imitation corn within the bread in case the bread dissolves and comes loose; there will still be bait left for the fish to pick up.
One of the easiest ways to use bread is in crumb form. I always carry a can or box of breadcrumbs with me. They are the perfect base for any pack bait mix.
Complete Guide to Using Bread for Carp Fishing
Bread is another of the very versatile carp baits, almost as popular as corn and just as simple to use. If you’re planning on using bread as a carp fishing bait, be sure to check out this article.
Oats for Carp Fishing
Quick Oats and Rolled Oats can be very effective carp bait. I know many anglers that swear by them and use oats on every carp fishing session.
Oats Keep For Long Periods of Time
The fact that you can store oats for long periods of time without them spoiling (when in dry form) is a great aspect to have as carp fishing bait.
Oats as Pack Bait
Much like the bread mentioned above, oats provide an excellent base for many pack bait recipes. Just add prepared oats and water to easily get the desired consistency of pack bait on the bank.
Oats Absorb and Hold Flavour Very Well
When preparing your oats for carp fishing, it is often beneficial to add your flavours of choice. This is because the oats will absorb any liquids quite easily once prepared.
Oats are an often overlooked bait for many carp anglers, but their attraction value when prepared properly can be second to none. Affordability and readily available almost anywhere, oats tend to be some of the first baits many new carp anglers in North America choose.
Birdseed for Carp Fishing
Another readily available bait for carp fishing in North America is birdseed. Available in bulk at all feed and hardware stores. It requires a bit of preparation, but it is cost-effective for baiting areas to get carp feeding confidently.
Small in size but large on attraction. I’ve chatted with many anglers over the years that love to use birdseed as a base for their carp fishing bait mixes. Maple peas are by far one of the most popular particles and should be one of the main ingredients in any birdseed mix used while baiting for carp.
Corn and Cracked Corn
The second most popular ingredient to look for if using birdseed for carp fishing. As covered previously in this article as the most popular carp fishing bait. If there is no corn in the mix you use, be sure to add some in during preparation, either full kernels or cracked corn will do.
One of the quickest birdseed mixes to prepare. Boil enough water to cover the pigeon conditioner in a bucket and seal the lid overnight. Perfect for the busy carp angler that doesn’t have much time to prep loads of bait. This type is also very cost-effective and readily available at local feed stores.
Tip: Be sure to add larger particles to make your birdseed mixes more attractive. Preferably add baits that you will be using as hook baits, so the carp grow accustomed to safely feeding on them.
I find it best to find a mix of birdseed in bulk that has different particles from the list above. This will keep carp in the area longer as they sort through the different morsels for the most attractive ones.
Best Live Bait for Carp Fishing
Worms for Carp Fishing
The most popular fishing bait in history is the worm. It is how many anglers here in North America started. Picking up some entry-level fishing gear and heading out on the bank with a simple setup using worms, just hoping to catch anything that swims by.
This is how many anglers discover carp fishing. Just hoping to catch whatever species that are in the area, not realizing how attractive worms are to carp. Many anglers aren’t prepared with the proper gear when they catch their first carp on worms and oftentimes lose the battle.
Maggots for Carp Fishing
Although they’re difficult to come by in North America maggots are a great bait for carp fishing, especially in the colder months as fish are less active and constantly seeking out those high protein morsels.
Maggots rigged up in tandem with other baits such as boilies or corn can be a deadly combination.
Snails for Carp Fishing
One of the natural food sources of carp across the globe is the snail. Snails can be very hard to come by and are rarely used as carp bait because of this. However, those anglers that I’ve chatted with that have used snails for carp fishing state that they are extremely effective.
They can be a saviour on those sessions versus extremely wary carp. As they’re a natural food source and not often used by anglers, the bigger weary fish often feel safer feeding on them.
The easiest way to use them is directly on a hair rig in tandem with a buoyant bait such as a popup or imitation buoyant corn. However, the best way to purchase them is in prepared form from a reputable bait company. Then, open the can, and you’re set to fish. A popular combination is hemp and snails.
As you can see, there are many different baits that can successfully catch carp. From readily available foods found at your local grocery store to high-end specialty baits made specifically for carp. They are all quite effective here in North America, and we hope this short article has given you some more information on the subject of carp fishing baits to help you try a few different things and increase catch rates in your chosen waters.