Is Using a Bait Boat Cheating?

This is a debate that has been going on in carp fishing circles for years, and it’s one that looks like it will never be settled. Today, we are going to look at the debate from both sides and try and come up with a conclusion.

I see it a lot on Facebook groups where people have asked if they can use a bait boat at a certain venue, only for them to get abuse off those that like them and then get ones sticking up for the use of them. In the end, the admins usually have to close the comments to stop the bickering. Let’s take a look at deeper look at the “bait boats cheating” debate.


Young anglers vs old anglers?

I can’t imagine Chris Yates, one of the oldest most well-respected carp anglers ever using bait boats. I also think that many anglers who are 50+ who were brought up when bait boats were not a thing would like to use them.

However, younger anglers in their 20’s won’t even think twice about using them. To them, this is the normal thing to do and they were brought up with them. To them, there is nothing wrong and they would not class it as cheating. That’s my opinion, but let’s ask a young angler and an old angler what their views are.

Young Anglers View On Bait Boats

I asked 2 lads who fish on my local lake who were 22 years old what they thought of bait boats. They said “It’s not cheating, we come out here to catch fish and we want to use everything we can to give us an advantage. I don’t believe I would have caught my personal best fish of the year if it wasn’t for using my boat”

Old Anglers View On Bait Boats

I asked a couple of the older guys who were fishing at another venue. They said “Bait boats are a pain in the backside. It takes the skill away and sometimes they go too far with their bait boats and into the next swim and annoy other anglers.

My view is that older anglers may benefit from the use of a bait boat. As we all get a bit older and casting becomes harder it may be wise to use one.

I’ve also had people cast over my lines just as many if not more times than I’ve had people send a bait boat over into my swim.

How Accurate Can You Be With A Bait Boat?

Some of the top of the range bait boats have GPS technology built-in. This means you can be extremely accurate when wanting to put the bait in the same spot over and over. I am a believer that you don’t want to spread your bait too far and ideally want to present it on a dinner plate so that the carp has to come into that one spot to feed.

Is It The Evolution Of Carp Fishing?

I don’t think the use of a bait boat is going away and it should probably be embraced within carp fishing today.

The positives are that it should stop anglers from casting into trees or snags. This then stops them from losing their rig and lessens the chances of their hook and line becoming a pain to wildlife.

I can see why the purists and traditionalists are against it. If we were all against technology we wouldn’t have smartphones, self-driving cars and some of the other fantastic technology that’s available. However, most carp fishermen are happy to use bite alarms which were probably frowned upon years ago. People are also much bigger tackle tarts than they used to be.

What About The Cost?

It could be argued that owning a bait boat comes with a big of jealousy from those who cannot afford it. I totally get their point as it’s not a level playing field for the fisherman on the lake. Maybe they are just bitter? Or maybe they just really hate bait boats and it’s not actually about the money.

Does It Take The Skill Element Away From Fishing?

You can’t argue that it definitely does. The angler no longer has to rely on casting to get exactly where they wanted to go. Part of a fisherman’s watercraft is being able to put the bait where they can cast it. For me, there’s a certain buzz in being able to cast accurately to a certain spot.

You would have to argue that using a bait boat will help you catch carp more than those that don’t because you can be more accurate.

Does It Help On Highly Pressured Venues?

Carp are clever creatures and if they keep getting caught in certain areas of the lake then there’s a good chance they will back off to areas that are not accessible to fishermen. That’s when using a bait boat to get further out than you can cast, or to get under an overhanging tree can be a big help and improve your catch rate.

Echo sounder

This is one feature of a bait boat that I absolutely love. It helps you work out the topography of the lake bed and work out where the deep holes or features are underground that you wouldn’t get a chance to see without using one.

My Personal Thoughts On Is Bait Boats Cheating

Personally, I am not a big fan of them. I just think it takes the skill away from it and doesn’t give the fish anywhere to hide. I believe catching carp should be rewarding and I like to think that the fact I caught that carp is because I used my casting skill to get in the tight spot. Then the reward of catching the fish is just that bit more rewarding.

However, I can see it from the other side. If it helps people catch more fish and keeps people enjoying fishing, then what’s the problem with bait boats?

I’ve only used a bait boat, once. I went night fishing with a friend who had one. It was fun to use, but that’s maybe because I love gadgets and not due to the fact I could put my bait where ever I wanted. Did we catch more fish? That’s hard to say as we both used the boat and both caught fish.