Method feeders are a great tool in a carp anglers arsenal. This bit of kit has shown time and time again that it can be used in many angling scenarios to catch bags of fish from commercial waters or for targeting that lone specimen fish in unfished locations.
Mastering the method feeder comes with many stages that go from as simple as learning how to tie the rig, how to mix the perfect pellet moulding mix, learning how to cast accurately and the process behind fishing it effectively.
But what about the hook bait? Choosing a solid hook bait can be the difference in catching plenty of fish or frankly none at all.
We’ve got you covered. In this post you’ll find everything you need to know about the best hook baits for method feeder fishing.
No carp baits list would be complete without the boilie. Widely considered the best bait for carp fishing, the boilie has become a staple of carp fishing since its invention in 1970.
Well what exactly are they? boilies are formed from the boiling of a paste mixture of carp attracting ingredients. These boilies are often made from fish meal, ingredients high in amino acids which are know to stimulate the feeding of carp.
Boilies also come in various flavours, colours and sizes that make them a versatile bait that can be tailored to angling scenarios. Such as water clarity, what time of year you are fishing, the size of fish you’re targeting and even depending on what other anglers are fishing on the water.
When fishing the method feeder the boilie will also stay on the rig for prolonged periods of time without getting mushy and breaking away and without getting pecked off by small silver fish.
This helps add confidence in your rig through periods of down activity when you start to question if your rig even still has a hook bait attached.
When fishing boilies as a hook bait for method feeder fishing make sure your rig is balanced. What does this mean? This basically means matching your boilie size to the hook size you are fishing so the bait reacts as naturally as possible underwater.
Its good practice to match a 10 or 12mm boilie to a size 10 hook and if you are bringing out the large 18 or 22mm boilies then a size 6 will do just fine.
Knowing what flavours and colours of boilies to use is a little more challenging. It is thought that some flavours boilies work better in different seasons but you really can’t be 100% sure.
It is said that “meaty” flavours seem to work best in the warmer months of spring, summer and autumn and fruity flavours work better through the winter.
The colour of the boilie you’re fishing could depend on the water clarity. In muddy and murky waters the outline of dark coloured baits like red and olive stand out better.
In clearer waters the bright colours stand out clear as day and give the fish something to investigate. The reality is though if the carp are in the area they are going to find your bait with their olfactory system.
Another great bait for carp fishing and arguably the most versatile is sweetcorn. Extremely simple I know.
In a lot of cases a hair rig with even a single piece of corn can outperform any expensive and specific carp fishing baits like boilies and pellets. But, it does come with its downsides, which we’ll get into shortly.
So let’s find out why sweetcorn deserves its place on the list of the best hook baits for method feeder fishing.
One of the massive plus sides of using sweetcorn as bait it its accessibility and extremely cheap price tag.
I’m sure all you experienced anglers know that a bait trip to the tackle store can turn into an expensive operation when you walk out with kilos of boilies, micro pellets, ground-baits and an all new bait that you didn’t need but you bought anyway.
This is massive in comparison to a simple tin of sweetcorn from your local shop.
The bright yellow colour of sweetcorn also works as a natural attractor which will stand out at the bottom of the water to give the fish something to investigate, and hopefully consume.
The added sugar and salt content to tinned sweetcorn are also great fish attractors and can help get your swim teaming with fish, unfortunately often not always carp.
A few downsides of this bait as a hook bait is its appeal to other fish including small silver fish which will have no problem fitting a single grain in its mouth.
If you don’t mind what fish you catch and are only in it for the sport then sweetcorn can be a great hook bait for catching bags of fish with carp mixed in among them.
However, if you’re only after that specimen carp then maybe its not the best choice for you.
As sweetcorn is generally soft it can fall off hair rigs easily and can fall victim to the pecking of small silver fish. As you will be casting regularly with method feeder rigs this may not be too much of an issue but its something to keep in mind.
There is also plastic variations that will avoid this but then you lose the attracting goodness of the salt and sugar contents.
Another conventional and widely used hook bait is the pellet. Commonly pellets are more often used for fishing as moulding bait around the method feeder but larger sizes can be great as a hook bait as well.
Some believe pellets as hook baits are basically just different shaped boilies but this isn’t quite the case.
Just like boilies they come in various sizes, shapes colours and flavours that can be tailored to the size of fish you’re catching, the conditions, water clarity and angling pressure.
The main difference in the pellet and the boilie is the way that they breakdown in the water. Where boilies have a hard shell, developed through boiling, pellets do not.
This means that over time they will absorb water and become soft and mushy. However, this also has its benefits. This allows the flavours and high oil contents to leak out into the surrounding waters to attract nearby fish.
Pellets are also high in protein content with hungry carp finding it hard to stop feeding as soon as they start.
Just like sweetcorn though other fish seem to take a fancy to pellets. This is all fine if you’re out to catch any species but if you’re purely targeting carp then you might want to opt for a decent sized boilie.
You can also up the size of the hook bait pellet slightly to try to deter smaller mouthed fish but the chances are you’ll still catch some larger silver fish, bream, tench and other coarse fish.
Pellets can be a great choice of hook bait for a method feeder when the conditions are right and should not be discounted.
Maggots can be a great hook bait for a method feeder as long as you don’t mind catching other species of fish. Just as they are a great natural food source for carp they are also a much loved meal for the remainder of the coarse fish family.
Maggots are primarily used in winter months when carp fishing can become extremely tough and the only thing to stimulate the interest of a low activity carp is a natural food source.
Maggots can also be added to your method feeder mix. They will move around at the bottom of the water to create a slightly larger area of bait to attract fish.
If using maggots as a winter method feeder hook bait remember to keep your baiting to a minimum to not over feed the picky and lethargic fish.
Po-ups are basically buoyant boillies that will float up off the bottom. These may not be the most common approach for a method feeder hook bait but they have proven to work.
They come in florescent colours which acts a beacon underwater and their presentation slightly off the bottom often does a good job in supplementing this attraction.
They are more common used when fishing weedy or “choddy” bottomed lakes where you probably wouldn’t be using a method feeder but that’s not to say they don’t work.
Pop-ups wouldn’t be my first choice for feeder fishing but if all else is failing to variation in presentation may just be enough to get you into some fish.
So definitely don’t discount them.
When fishing the method you really can’t go wrong with these 5 baits as hook baits. They have been proven time and time again to catch plenty of fish not just as hook baits for the method feeders but across many carp fishing rigs.
Remember though, every venue is different. Make sure and try many hook baits and don’t become too fixed on one bait if it just isn’t working. Carp fishing can be all about trail and error to find out what’s working on the day in your specific circumstances.
If every angler is fishing boilies at your local venue then a switch to pellets might be enough to bring in the carp and vice versa.
If you’ve got anything to add feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.