How to Bait for Carp Fishing – Beginners Guide

In my younger years, I mainly fished for Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. I had no idea how to bait for carp fishing. When I first began targeting Carp I figured the techniques used would be similar to other species I had fished for.

Needless to say, I wasn’t very successful in my early Carp fishing days. The majority of my angling was done by sight fishing and simply casting a single bait out in front of the fish, in hopes it would take an interest. 

How to Bait for Carp Fishing?

Baiting for carp fishing is comprised of three main parts. Equipment, tactics and type of bait. Every angler has their preferred method. Baiting for carp fishing is basically “chumming” an area where carp are active to entice them into feeding. 

The single most important technique I learned to catch more fish was how to properly pre-bait for carp fishing. Pre-baiting gets Carp used to feeding safely in a certain area. In this article, I will explain in greater detail the gear and techniques used to accurately and effectively pre-bait for Carp Fishing.

What exactly is pre-baiting? Pre-baiting is placing “freebie” bait such as corn, boilies, pellets or any other type of bait in a certain area for carp to feed on. The longer fish feed in an area safely the more likely they are to return to that location over and over.

Even though carp are classified as a minnow species they are one of the larger fish in our waters here in Canada. Being such a large fish they are required to eat a lot of food. Anglers can take advantage of this by placing high reward baits in certain locations. Carp are highly adapted to locating food and once they feel safe feeding in a certain area they are much easier to catch. The three most important techniques to learn how to bait for carp fishing are location, feeding and presentation. 

What Gear and Techniques Do I need to Bait for Carp Fishing?

This article will quickly touch on the gear and techniques to successfully bait an area for carp fishing. Attracting more fish into a certain area to increase feeding competition and comfort is a surefire way to increase your catch rate.

If you’re looking to purchase some of this specialty baiting equipment check out our Recommended Carp Baiting Gear Page.

Check Local Regulations

Chumming waters for fish is banned in certain locations. Before pre-baiting any body of water be sure to check your local rules and regulations to see if it is allowed.

There are still certain ways to place a small pile of “freebie” bait around your hook bait that is legal. One such method is fishing with a pack bait attached to your hook since it is considered part of your hook bait when cast. This will be described in further detail later in this article under method feeders. 

Spods and Spombs

Spodding and spombing are very effective methods of placing a lot of bait in precise locations.

  1. Spods – are tube-shaped cylinders with an enclosed float on one end. They are filled with bait and cast out to where you are fishing. Once they hit the water the enclosed end floats turning the spod over and dumping the bait mixture. Sometimes a bait mixture that is too sticky or dense tends to stick in one end of the spod. This creates wider bait piles that are less desirable, hence why I prefer the spomb described below.
  2. Spombs – are basically shaped like a bomb with a button on one end to open the spomb when it hits the water. You open the spomb, fill it with bait and cast it to your desired fishing location. Once the spomb hits the water the button on the end is activated and it opens the spomb dumping all of the bait in a tight area.

These two baiting methods work well for blanketing a certain area with particle baits. It is very important to mark the area you’re casting your hook bait to and measure the distance to set all your line clips to the same distance. 

Baiting Catapults and Spoons

  1. Baiting catapults – are basically slingshots with different pouches attached to them. The type of pouch on the catapult will coincide with what bait you are using. There are specialized pouches for pack baits, boilies and other particles. Catapults take some practice to get distances right but once you’re used to them they provide an effective and cheap way of baiting your fishing locations.
  2. Baiting spoons – are scooped shaped spoons that are used to throw bait around your hook baits. The range at which you can place bait with spoons is limited, there are extended handles you can purchase to increase the range at which you can throw your bait but if you are fishing at greater distances I would recommend using a catapult or spomb.

These two methods for baiting are great for close range. Once you start targeting distances that are further away these two methods become less accurate.

PVA Mesh and PVA Bags

PVA (Poly Vinyl Alcohol) Mesh is one of my favourite methods of baiting an area for carp. After a few casts with a spomb, I will mainly bait the rest of the area I’m fishing with PVA Mesh.

  1. PVA Mesh – comes in tubes and dissolves over time once immersed in water. It is very important to use particle baits that are made with PVA friendly liquids. To use it effectively you fill the mesh with your desired bait then tie off both ends. The ball of bait encased in PVA Mesh is then attached directly to your hook bait. This ensures that the freebie pile of bait is placed directly below your hook bait. The PVA mesh dissolves over a period of 1 to 2 minutes slowly dispensing a perfect pile of particles around your bait. Another added benefit of this method is that you can place your hook directly into the ball of bait, this prevents it from becoming entangled in your weight or mainline when casting.
  2. PVA Bags – are used in the same method PVA Mesh is. Bags come in a variety of sizes and are easy to fill and seal. The downside is once you pick a size of bag you are limited to the amount of bait you can cast out each time. Whereas if you use mesh you can make the ball of bait any size you wish.

I made the mistake of using canned corn the first time I used PVA Mesh. As stated above you need to be very careful with liquids around the mesh. The water from the can of corn dissolved the mesh before I could cast my bait out and made quite the mess. When choosing scent additives to add to your bait be sure that they are listed as PVA friendly if using this method.

Method Leads and Feeders

Method leads and feeders are inline devices used to hold pack baits to your line while casting. Once the method lead or feeder reaches the bottom it takes only a few minutes for a well-made pack bait to dissolve and disperse into a nice pile directly around your hook bait.

  1. Method Leads – are inline weights with grooves or pockets to help pack bait cling on to the lead while casting. There are many different varieties made by many different manufacturers.
  2. Method Feeders – are quite like method leads. Instead of being a single lead they are designed like baskets to hold more bait. The larger ball of bait packed around these feeders acts as the lead itself until dissolved and deposited around your hook bait. 

Boilie Throwing Sticks

These are basically long curved pieces of tube with a groove to place the boilie. As you swing the stick the boilie travels down the tube and is launched a fair distance. These are the perfect tool for placing higher reward baits such as whole boilies in and around the swim you are actively fishing. With a little bit of practice, one can become quite accurate at baiting a tight area. 

Types of Carp Bait to Use

When you’re baiting an area for carp it is best to go with a bait that will stay in a small area on the bottom. I’ve found the best baits to be pack baits and particle baits. These along with the tools used above can lure in a lot of carp to feed in a single spot. It is important to continue baiting once you start hooking fish. Large schools of carp can clean up a bait pile in no time.

It is best to use cheaper baits for your particle and pack baits. My favourite ingredient is sweet corn, it is cheap and readily available almost anywhere. Mixed with bread crumbs and some simple additives for flavouring it can be very effective. Other popular mixes include oats, bird seed and rice. Anything that is cheap and has many small particles. The smaller the particles means it will take the carp longer to clean them up and thus stay feeding in the area longer.

It is also wise to crush up a few of the same boilies or bait that you are using on your hook bait and add it to the particle mix. This will ensure carp feel safe eating these baits and will be more likely to pick up your hook bait without being overly cautious.

Three items that will aid you in premixing carp bait are baiting pails, boilie crushers and flavour additives.

  1. Baiting Pails – are made by the majority of carp angling manufacturers but any pail will do the job. Just be sure it is thoroughly rinsed if it has been used for chemicals in the past.
  2. Boilie Crushers – are as the name states specialized tools for crushing up full boilies quickly and efficiently into chunks and power to add to pack baits. They are large enough to crush up a hand full of boilies at a time.
  3. Flavour Additives – can be purchased from special carp tackle shops. There is a myriad of flavours to choose from and every angler has their favourite. It is a case of trial and error to find which work the best in your area. If you’re unable to find a carp tackle shop nearby, just head to the local grocery store. It is quite easy to find sweet additives that will also be sticky to help hold particles together. Two of my personal favourites are Strawberry Jello powder and Molasses. 

When to Bait for Carp Fishing?

When is the best time to bait for carp fishing?

  • As regularly as you can for as many days in a row as you can prior to fishing a certain location. Occasions when I have pre-baited for 5 days in a row always result in sessions with the most fish on the bank.
  • A general rule I abide by is pre-baiting at least 12 hours to 24 hours before I fish a certain location. I will also get some bait out on the location before I set up all my gear. 30 minutes to an hour before actually fishing will ensure the fish come in and start feeding comfortably before introducing your rig.
  • The more accustom carp are to safely eating the baits you fish with, the greater the chances will be that you will catch carp quicker and in greater numbers.

Where to Bait for Carp Fishing?

How do you know where to Bait for Carp Fishing? 

I am always on the lookout for new carp fishing locations. Even in small bodies of water, I am amazed at how much carp move around and are in different areas from day to day.

Things to look for when choosing an area to pre-bait for carp fishing:

  • Visually scan areas at dusk and dawn to see where carp are active and surfacing.
  • Try to find an area that is void of weeds and snags. I use an underwater camera to do most of my scouting. I have had great success in many of the locations I fish, finding areas that are very weedy with 6 – 10-foot diameter bare patches interspersed throughout them. These locations have produced a lot of fish for me.
  • Mark pre-baited areas on GPS or with a marker float. I use both methods. Many times I have returned to a location only to find the weather or someone has moved my float.
  • Use a journal to record findings every time you are out on the water. I find that using a journal has aided me greatly in finding prime carp fishing areas on a body of water. Throughout the year conditions change and what was once a nice clear location in spring can quickly become overgrown with weed in the summer months. Mark down the prime locations in summer at the height of weed growth so that next years baiting campaign can be optimized for these spots.

For more information on Scouting Carp Fishing Locations check out this article I wrote previously on the subject.

How Much Bait Should You Use when Baiting for Carp Fishing?

A question I’ve been asked many times is How Much Bait Do I Use when Baiting for Carp Fishing. It depends very much on the conditions I am faced with as to how much bait I will use. I will elaborate as best I can below.

  • If I am baiting 12 to 24 hours prior to fishing a certain spot I will dump in 2 kg to 3 kg of premixed bait. This will allow enough bait to be present for many fish to move in and get used to feeding prior to my arrival.
  • Upon arrival, before setting up my gear I will dump in an additional 1 – 2 cans of sweetcorn mixed with breadcrumbs and choice flavours.
  • While actively fishing I will continue to add bait via PVA mesh, method lead and spomb based on how many fish are biting or being caught.
  • This all depends on when I am fishing as well. Carp tend to feed more or less based on weather conditions, temperatures and seasons of the year. The more you fish certain locations the better you will be able to judge for yourself the amount of bait you should be putting in.

If you’re new to carp angling you can use this as a rough estimate on how much bait to use when carp fishing. After time you will see how much you need to use given the conditions you’re faced with. It is something that will come naturally with the more experience you get. I’m sure every carp angler you talk to will have their own go to methods for what type of bait and how much they use.

Tips for Baiting Accurately when Fishing for Carp in Fast Flowing Water.

In most of the waters I fish there is little to no current. I recently competed in a carp angling event on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, Canada. I was amazed at how challenging it was to bait certain areas and be able to land your hook baits near them as well.

  • When the event first started my partner and I were using spombs to bait a tight area with particle baits. Upon closer inspection with our underwater camera we found that due to the current and depth of the water our bait was landing far downstream from its intended location.
  • We quickly changed tactics and mixed up a thicker and stickier pack bait. Packing the bait into tight balls and throwing it out with a baiting spoon aided in hitting the location we desired. The denser balls traveled down through the water column quicker and dissolved a few minutes after.
  • We also added pack bait directly to our gripper leads to help add more bait to the swim after every catch.

This post was written to educate new anglers on the gear and techniques on how to bait for carp fishing. There will be articles to follow that will include greater details on the exact baits and recipes that work well.