The massive amount of baits available on today’s market can make choosing the best bait for carp a little confusing for all you beginner anglers.
Let’s be honest here, all the baits that tackle shops stock will catch carp if your fishing is right but with that being said there is definitely clear winners in the bunch.
You’re probably here looking for the best hook bait for your carp fishing but the majority of the time baits such as hemp, groundbaits and micro pellets are an excellent baiting method to pull carp into your swim increasing your chances ten fold of them finding your hook bait amongst the loose feed.
I have put together of the list best baits altogether and not only hook baits.
Choosing the best bait for carp seems an easy task in theory but really it depends on many factors. For example what venue you are fishing, what fishing style you opt for, the time of year, weather and water clarity all play a major role in which baits will work best on the day.
I know, confusing right? Not to worry though read on to find out the baits that dominate the market and are the go to for many of us carp anglers.
If you’ve been into carp fishing for a while I’m sure you will know that sweetcorn can be an absolute game changer when it comes to getting carp to pick up your hook bait.
Sweetcorn is one of the most basic carp baits and is very widely used.
You don’t even need to take a trip to the tackle store and it can be bought in even the smallest of corner shops which makes it an extremely accessible and cheap bait to add to your session on the banks.
But why is sweetcorn so good? Well I’m sure we’d all agree that the bright yellow colour of sweetcorn will stand out like a beacon in even the murkiest of waters.
It can be used effectively hair rigged as a hook bait and even mixed in with loose feed such as groundbait and micro pellets for baiting up swims or even moulded around a method feeder it really is a great all-rounder and that is why it features at the top of this list.
Sweetcorn is not only good at visually attracting carp the sugar and salt added to tinned sweetcorn are both excellent at attracting carp.
Sweetcorn is also naturally full of amino which are proven, through various studies, to be highly attractive to carp and actually stimulate feeding.
If you are opting for tinned sweetcorn make sure and opt for the variety with full sugar and salt content as nowadays there are few that take these additives out.
Although healthier for us it’s not going to help your carp fishing.
Natural sweetcorn is great but you can also buy plastic sweetcorn that will provide the visual appeal of standard corn but it will stay on your rig for a lot longer and is less likely to be snatched by nuisance fish such as roach picking away at it.
For me though I’d always opt for tinned corn to keep the added attractiveness of the amino acids, sugar and salt.
Different coloured sweetcorn can be beneficial on heavily fished lakes where the carp have seen normal sweetcorn far too often and become sceptical of its intentions.
If you are fishing a commercial lake bait-tech coloured sweetcorn can help you bag a few more quality fish.
If you are not willing to pay 5 times the price for a tin of bait tech sweetcorn you can add some food colouring yourself.
Sweetcorn works as a great bait any time of year but can be extremely effective when carp are active and feeding heavily throughout the warmer months.
I have written a full post on fishing with sweet corn, take a read if you’re interested.
If you don’t already know boilies are small balls of bait formed from boiling a paste mixture, hence the name boilie.
Boilies are extremely highly regarded for carp fishing and for good reason.
Boilies are one of the most used baits and you’ll find large selections of them in tackle shops and online with varying flavours colours and sizes.
There’s a lot of factors that will decide what boilie you should opt for some of which are size of fish you are targeting, clarity of water, time of year and angling pressure on the water you are fishing.
Boilies are great to use as a hook bait as they don’t break up in the water and can stay on a hair rig for hours at a time.
Boilies are packed with ingredients that attract carp such as fishmeal, which work great in the spring summer and autumn when carp are feeding heavily, and amino acids which are proven to stimulate carp feeding so no wonder they seem to love them.
Boilies work great on hair rigs as when carp feed they suck up the bait and quite often spit it back out to watch if it reacts naturally in the water.
Hair rigging boilies means they are not constrained by the hook and sink naturally so the carp is none the wiser and will most likely come back for another bite.
When looking for a boilie you’ll see two distinct types of frozen and shelf life. Well which is best? The short answer is frozen boilies prove better on many occasions as they are far more fresh.
Frozen boilies are a lot softer and easier for the carp to digest and they are usually of higher quality due to freshness. That being said shelf life boilies will definitely catch carp under the right conditions and they are not to be forgotten about.
Boilies usually range from 8mm all the way up to around 25mm and there’s a few things to consider when choosing what size of boilie to buy.
Just because you are using a small boilie does not mean you’re not going to catch the biggest fish in the lake but you should still be conscious of what size you are using to give yourself the best possible chance.
When fishing with a boilie as hook bait you’ll want to make sure your rig is balanced. What exactly does this mean?
Well if you rig a large boilie on a size 10 hook then your bait will not be presented well at all.
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.
If you are wondering what colour of boilie to use then the answer is a little more complicated. Choosing a colour is mostly down to personal preference as to be honest all the boilies on the market today will catch carp or there would be no point in the companies manufacturing them right?
Boilies are the most preferred carp bait not only for hook baits but also for baiting up swims and they’re always going to be features on any list of the best carp baits, or at least they should.
Pop ups are basically boilies that float up off the bottom hence the name. Pop ups are also great in certain situations and especially come into play when you are fishing weedy bottomed lakes.
The fluorescent colour of most pop ups acts as a beacon in the water to gain the carps interest and as it sits off the bottom the fish will find it hard to miss.
Pop ups are packed with flavours that along with their bright colour seems to make them irresistible to carp so they definitely deserve there place on this list of the best carp baits.
In my previous experience single pop ups fished without any loose feed around them can still catch you many fish.
This can save you quite a bit of money as you don’t need to buy pellets or groundbait to attract the carp in the swim. Don’t get me wrong though fishing a pop up with loose feed in theory should catch you more fish.
Pop ups are also fished on chod rigs which are an extremely productive way of catching fish in weedy and debris covered waters.
Pellets are another bait that deserve their place on the list of the best carp baits. They might not be as popular as boilies or sweetcorn but they’re still extremely effective and I’ll always have a bag of pellets on every carp fishing. Pellets have been around for a long time and can work great as a hook bait or once again for baiting up a swim.
Pellets are available in a wider range of sizes than boilies and you can pick them up all the way from 2mm all the way up to around 21 mm.
The smaller pellets of below 4mm are classed as micro pellets and we’ll discuss them further through this post.
Just like choosing a boilie size the size of pellet you use as a hook bait will vary greatly depending on the size of fish you are targeting.
Another massive difference between boilies and pellets is in the way that they break down in the water.
Boilies will stay intact for a much greater time than pellets. Pellets will become soft and mushy over time and will eventually break up altogether so they are basically just compressed groundbait.
Pellets work great in the summer months due to their high oil content which is great at attracting hungry fish.
They are also packed with protein so once the carp start feeding on the pellets in your swim they will find it hard to stop. Yep this means more fish to catch, that’s what we all want right?
Just like boilies they come in varying colours and flavours depending on your personal preference.
Most pellets for hook baits come in “meaty” flavours and many anglers believe these flavours work best in the summer months but to be honest you will find they work all year round just make sure and scale down during the winter months and don’t over feed your swim as the carp will be less active.
One of the great advantages of pellets is also one of their disadvantages and this is how they break down in the water.
As loose feed pellets are great as they break down and work like groundbait but if you are planning to use them as a hook bait this can become a nuisance as you will need to change your bait regularly when they become mushy.
Many other fish seem to take a fancy to pellets so if you are purely looking to catch carp then a boilie will be best suited but that’s not to say other fish wont go for a boilie either on odd occasions.
Tiger Nuts are arguably one of the best baits ever. There’s something about them that carp just can’t resist. Tiger nuts are sweet and crunchy, being some of the reasons the carp find them popular.
Tiger nuts also have a natural appearance, and this is something that is a huge plus when fishing pressured bodies of water.
Tiger nuts also work well when you mix them in with other bait offerings such as pellets and boilies, but when fishing only tiger nuts, it’s important to only use small amounts for free-baiting.
Tiger nuts are hard for carp to digest, and they leave the digestive systems in nearly the same condition they went in.
The digestion issue means it’s not healthy for carp to ingest large quantities of tiger nuts, and if they do, it can cause some serious harm and even death; this has led to some clubs outright banning the use of tiger nuts in the U.K.
This “surviving digestion” factor means that other carp will feed on the tiger nuts that a carp ate, and if tiger nuts are used in abundance on a body of water means that it can actually shut down the feeding activity, as there is already plenty of pre-digested tiger nuts laying around.
If you are fishing in an area that allows tiger nuts, simply bring about a pound of them on your fishing trip, this is more than enough for a safe outing on the water, without the dangers of over-feeding the fish.
Maggots are incredibly effective in the winter months when fishing can be incredibly difficult. This doesn’t mean that fish won’t eat an offering of maggots during the warm water months, but for some reason, in winter, they can be particularly deadly.
One thing to keep in mind during the winter months is that carp feed drastically less, and when they do feed, they consume smaller amounts. As a carp angler, this means that your free-baiting should be kept to a minimum.
When it comes to free-baiting, throw out no more than a gallon of maggots, and I would also recommend using Small PVA bags, as this keeps your smaller amounts of bait in a concentrated spot without spreading out. With your hooked offering in the PVA bag, this means that any carp that stops to feed with have a very high probability of eating your hooked bait.
One of the most basic and oldest baits out there, worms are often overlooked for other modern bait variations like boilies but are still incredibly effective. Worms are as naturals as it gets, they are a food source that carp see on a regular basis, and this can be key, especially on pressured bodies of water.
Worms can be a great choice when margin fishing and stalking. In these cases, you are making very short casts, and usually, you can see the carp. Using worms in this method of fishing keeps your bait’s appearance as natural as possible.
Micro pellets as you would guess are the pellets on the smaller side from about 2mm to 6mm. These pellets are made up the same way as the larger pellets and the only difference is their size. Well what are these good for? Micro pellets are great for moulding around method feeders all year round.
Having these pellets moulded around your feeder can create a large patch of freebies in your swim which gives off a lot of scent to attract hungry carp into your swim. I quite often fish a method feeder with micro pellets with a larger pellet as a hook bait with great success.
If you are not sure how to mix your pellets for a method feeder you can have a read at my guide and you’ll be fishing the method feeder with micro pellets in no time at all.
Micro pellets along with many other baits on this list including all other baits on this list can work great in a spod mixture. If you are unsure what a spod is have a read at my guide.
Now groundbait definitely is not a hook bait but nonetheless it is great bait to bring to your fishing season through the summer months.
If you don’t already know what groundbait is it is a selection of natural fish attracting ingredients that is mixed with water to form a sticky mixture that will break up and release particles into the water.
Groundbait is a great bait for baiting up swims and can be really effective moulded around a method feeder.
There are many kinds of groundbaits that can all provide certain benefits to your fishing session but there’s one thing for sure it will help you catch more fish.
The ingredients used to make groundbait mixes is usually kept a secret by manufacturers to help protect their mixes but we have a decent idea of what goes into them.
Fishmeal based groundbaits are one of the most common for carp which is basically just ground fish carcass mixed with other ingredients to create a mix that is great at attracting fish through its scent.
For some reason carp and other species seem to love it.
When looking for a groundbait you should be looking for mixes that say they are specifically for carp unless of course you plan to catch other species.
If you are looking for some more information on groundbait I have written a guide on exactly what ground bait is, go have a read.
This is another carp baits that definitely can’t be used as a hook bait but let me tell you it shouldn’t be ignored.
Hemp is an ingredient that is quite often added to groundbait mixes but that’s not to say you can’t add it yourself or purchase a bag to hand feed yourself. All through the year hemp can prove to be an excellent choice of bait.
If you have been into carp fishing for a while you are sure to have heard the hype of how good hemp can be for catching carp and this hype is for good reason. Carp absolutely love it and it seems they can’t resist it when it enters the water.
The truth is no one really seems to know why carp love hemp so much and most ideas are just truly speculation.
One common idea is that hemp oozes attractive oils and smells into the water which travel effectively through the water to pull in carp in the surrounding area. I believe this seems about right as when I have personally added hemp to my groundbait mixes it has made for some very exciting sessions.
Hemp is know to be very “active” in the water and by this I mean that once the hemp enters the water it will look like it is fizzing in the water.
The hemp will rise and fall in the water column which is excellent for pulling in many species of fish. Hemp is that good it can keep carp rooting around in your swim for hours rooting around for the next grain of hemp.
If you don’t believe me give it a go yourself!
This list has been put together with my personal experience in mind but I’m sure many carp anglers will agree with the baits I have chosen.
I have used all of these baits on many fishing sessions which have resulted in some decent fish.
All in all I reckon I could safely say that these baits are the most popular across the board and the results speak for themselves. Every carp anglers should at least consider having all of these baits on fishing session or at least try them at some point.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my list of the best carp baits out there today and if you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Also, let me know how you get on if you choose to use any of these baits in your next fishing trip.