What Are The Best Carp Baits?
“What is the best carp bait?” is a difficult question!
Tthere are many types of bait available; hence carp can be caught on a variety of them.
In this bait guide, we highlight some of the key features of each one, and the best time to use them.
From boilies, pellets and corn to tiger nuts and hemp, we’ve handpicked a handful of proven baits to catch carp on.
Maybe there is a bait you haven’t used?
Above all, I wanted to produce a guide that was helpful to you and hopefully, improves your carp angling.
Best Carp Boilies
Perhaps the most common carp bait of all, boilies, in their basic form, are hardened balls of dough.
Companies that produce boilies on a larger scale will use a basic mix of eggs and flour, together with additional ‘secret’ ingredients that vary from fishmeals and oils to preservative chemicals.
Very easy to pack, carp enjoy these boilies very much as they are easy to digest, whereas anglers like them for releasing pungent flavours and slow breakdown speeds.
Because of the size, and shape, smaller invasive species tend to shy away from them too.
Choosing a quality boilie that uses the very best ingredients can make all the difference.
There are some very good independent, smaller bait companies (who we don’t want to offend) – but the more popular brands are Mainline, Nash, and CC Moore.
From personal experience, we’ve handpicked a few boilie ranges to give you an idea of fishing with boilies.
Or, if you’re interested in making your own, we’ve some great boilie recipes in our ‘How to Make Boilies’ guide.
Mainline Cell Boilies
Available in freezer form, Mainline Cell use a selection of the finest ingredients and base mix.
Responsible for catching thousands of carp across the world, Mainline Cell is packed with top quality enhancers and attractors.
There is also an enhancement system, a dedicated dip to boost attraction even further.
Available in sizes 10mm, 15mm and 18mm in either 1kg or 10kg bags.
Nash Instant Action Boilies
Flavours such as Crab & Krill, Strawberry Crush, Coconut Crème and Candy Nut Crush really make these a good all-round boilie.
Each pack, or bag, also contains a few pop ups to match!
Size wise, Nash have made these available in as a 10mm, 15mm or 20mm to suit many hookbait setups.
Likewise, each flavour is packed with quality ingredients designed to use anywhere, including rivers and natural venues.
Choose your flavour over at Amazon here.
Using Carp Pellets
Pellets are an incredible bait! Many farmed carp would have been fed purely on pellets, so they are very used to it.
Available in a variety of sizes, and varying degrees of oil content which releases as the pellet breaks down, using pellets in your fishing can be devastating.
Popular types include trout, or halibut, which, due to their high oil content, are both extremely effective in the warmer months.
They can be used in many applications, such as in a spod mix, PVA bag or simply to increase attraction around your hookbait as a loose feed.
Furthermore, bait companies will often ‘match’ pellets to the colour and flavour of a particular boilie range for example.
Carp anglers also like to boost pellets by glugging, or dusting them.
Consequently, mixing up pellet sizes and colours can leave carp rummaging around in your patch of bait for hours!
I’ve handpicked some types of pellet commonly used in carp fishing below.
Mixed Pellet Tub
Because it contains a good variety, each type of pellet varies in oil content which is released at different times.
Due to either a slow or fast breakdown, you can be sure these maintain attraction signals for longer periods than simply using one type of pellet.
Ideal for PVA bags and spod mixes, this great mix is supplied in a 2kg tub which you can simply refill after use.
Head over to Amazon to bag yourself a tub!
Due to them standing out well against other bottom baits, these are pre-drilled making them easy to hair rig, or for tying on to your hook via a band.
Produced by Haiths, they have a high protein and oil content making them very attractive to carp especially in the warm summer months.
Finally, they are supplied in 900g, re-sealable bags.
I will sometimes crush these up and fill a PVA bag to further improve my baiting method around my chosen spot.
We’ve chosen a huge 12.5kg bag from Starmer Baits that are perfect for all freshwater species.
Because these are high in oil, and attractants, they are mixed into 2mm, 5mm and 8mm with for gradual leakage and varying breakdown speeds.
Ideal for all round use, you could simply store this pellet bag in your garage, or shed, and just refill a smaller bucket to take you with each time!
Finally, as we mentioned, this could save you a lot of money over the course of a year.
Grab a sack from Amazon whie you can!
Good Old Hemp!
Hempseed is fantastic! The perfect ‘natural bait’, imitating small snails that carp can become occupied with it for hours.
Due to the oily liquid produced when hempseed is soaked, it also contains rich amino acids and natural omega oils.
These are all great for carp!
When you’re looking to snag a bite when things get difficult, a handful of hemp in the right place can trigger a feeding frenzy.
Hemp is available in dry form which requires cooking and soaking (don’t throw away the liquid after!) which can be a grind.
Alternatively, it can be bought in tins or pre-cooked in bags and usually requires soaking for 24 hours at least (alays read the instructions when buying).
More commonly used in spod mixes, hemp is fairly cheap and many carp have fallen to it.
As with other particles, such as maize and seed, adding extra oil or liquid attractants can really boost hemp by slowly releasing flavours and colourings in the water.
Hemp is certainly a staple food choice in my carp fishing.
What Hemp Is Available?
When buying hemp, there maybe an additional ingredient such as a mix of hemp and tiger nuts, or hemp with added chilli extract for example.
These can be great value and are designed to save you time.
I found this 400g bag of hemp and chilli particle mix on Amazon that looks really good value!
The hemp is ready prepared for you, while the chilli flakes and flavouring really gives a boosted bait that carp will surely enjoy eating!
Furthermore, there is also a free sample PVA bag included wih each pack (hint hint!).
One of the most common is a chod rig, which is designed to fish over weed or when there is a lot of debris on the lakebed.
Standard boilies can often become buried, or even worse – hidden, which is why a pop up can be really effective.
Because there are many colours, sizes and shapes, choosing the right pop up to fish with can be a minefield!
In winter, when the water is really cold, high visibility pop ups stand out more, and as a result, using these can be lethal at attracting carp who may be further way, or are simply not roaming about as much.
Quality can also be important when choosing a pop up.
Cheaper, or poorly manufactured pop ups, may only last a few hours in the water before sinking.
A quality pop up can last days, which is a good reason to choose wisely from a reputable brand, especially if you intend on fishing pop ups over the course of many hours.
Overall, pop ups tick a lot of boxes.
Highly visible, good buoyancy for sitting off the bottom becoming more obvious to carp, and often loaded with attractors to give off food signals.
I often have many colours, with yellow, white and pink the more popular choices.
I almost certainly have a ‘glug tub’ of pop ups which I have soaked in a liquid to boost them even further!
As a result, I’ve handpicked a few of my favourite pop ups below.
CC Moore Northern Specials
Developed over a number of years, CC Moore Northern Specials are very attractive and highly visible.
I prefer the white ones myself, with great success.
Each pot includes a unique booster liquid which you need to add to the tub before fishing, so the pop up can fully absorb it.
I tend to add a small amount over a period of about a month or two to really supercharge them!
A fantastic pop up with no complaints from me at all…
You can get them from Amazon here.
Nash Citruz Pop Ups
I really like the Nash Citruz range, especially the pink and white pop ups!
I really like the Nash Citruz range, especially the pink and white pop ups!
Most noteworthy is the awesome fruity flavours these give off!
Using a blend of fruit ester, essential oils and Talin attractor blend, these, like many other pop ups, were designed to match the boilies in the Citruz range.
The pink tub contains a good mixture of washed out pinks, together with more visible ones.
Rolled using an ultra buoyant Airball mix, these work great on either a chod, or stiff rig.
Above all, Nash have released these in a huge range of sizes of 10mm, 12mm, 15mm, 18mm and 20ml with each pot containing a 3ml Citruz Booster Spray.
A deadly, high quality pop up that can be used in all seasons and as part of many bait presentations.
I found they worked particularly well when tipped in a snowman rig!
Go get em’ on Amazon here.
Maggots & Worms
Maggots and worms work really well, and are one of the best natural (and cheap) carp baits available.
For movement alone, maggots can be devastating in the winter months when bites are hard to come by.
When it is cold, I like to include a nugget of corn which gives my hook bait extra visibility that maggots, or worms, don’t provide.
Furthermore, maggots packed into a PVA bag can work wonders around an alternate hookbait, such as a pop up or boilie.
When fishing at long range in the winter, I pretty much always go down the maggot PVA bag route!
Carp enjoy maggots and worms. Because they are a natural bait, it is one they will be used to.
If you haven’t used maggots in your fishing – give it a go and see the results for yourself!
Are Tiger Nuts THE Best Carp Bait?
Easy to hook, I absolutely love Tigers!
They contain plenty of starch and fibre, are very oily, and contain sugar – a winning combination that carp enjoy this bait immensely.
Many anglers will revert to tigers as a last resort, but why should that be the case?
In my opinion, two or three tigers in the right area, such as the margins, or close to overhanging branches, can produce big carp at any time of day.
I cheat and buy them ready prepared, but you can save yourself money by buying them raw and boiling them.
You should then leave them to soak over the course of a few days.
If you’re familiar with using tiger nuts, have you tried crushing them up?
The benefit of this is that the oils release quicker and carp spend longer grubbing around patches you’ve set down.
I employ this method in clear water, usually marginal areas where I can climb a tree and spend a bit of time watching carp feed, and gaining confidence on them.
A superb bait, you should give tiger nuts a try if you haven’t already.
You may be surprised at the results these fantastic natural baits yield!
Available from Amazon in many forms here.
Next up is another classic carp bait – sweetcorn!
This golden yellow grains are irresistible to carp and can be used in a variety of ways.
Directly on the hook, on a hair rig, flavoured or coloured and even added to groundbaits and spod mixes.
Because of the versatility of corn, carp anglers use it regularly.
Similarly, it works all year round and offers a great visual presence underwater.
…and it’s cheap!
How do you get the best out of corn?
This depends on your intentions of using it really!
It can tear easily, and also fall off your hook if directly used as a hookbait.
A common method is to double, or even triple your corn to avoid smaller species taking it!
Consequently, due to the bright colours and sweet aroma sweetcorn produces, it works really well when carp have turned off.
I have quite often opted for a double sweetcorn rig in these tough conditions which has saved a blank many times!
In circumstances where a lot of corn has been thrown into a lake, you should use it sparingly to start with and analyse whether carp are eating it.
Finally, a personal tip of mine is to save the juices form a sweetcorn tin.
Keep it for a spod mix or soaking other hookbaits because it can add a decent amount to attraction to these baits!
What is your best carp bait?
Drop us a comment below and let me know what your favoured carp bait is!
Until next time – be lucky!