We are all looking for it. That ‘magic bullet’. The one bait that guarantees us success. Well, we’ll tell you now it doesn’t exist. If it did it would be called “catching” instead of “fishing”. However, you can tip the odds in your favour, and we are going to let you in on a few secrets as to the best bait to catch carp. Read on to find out about some top-secret carp baits. These are ones you probably won’t find in your local tackle shop.
What is the best secret carp baits?
Well, we said we’d give you a few secrets, so here are ours. If you have been reading carefully there are a couple thrown in there already! Remember, the key is to use baits that the big carp haven’t seen for a while, some of these are a bit crazy, but you won’t be saying that when your arm is tired from hauling in specimens!
Who doesn’t love a nice lump of cheddar? The carp certainly do. Go for mature cheeses for maximum scent. Cut your bait into cubes or use a bait punch to get a bite-sized pellet. As a kid, this was one of my best carp baits that caught me some amazing fish.
We’re sounding all French here so far aren’t we? By sausage, we mean something hard and easy to hook. Pepperami is an excellent choice for carp anglers. The red one is particularly oily and just a little bit fragrant and that’s why it’s on our best carp baits list.
Go for the big puffy ones or even the little ones used to decorate cakes. This is more of a visual thing as they don’t release too much in the way of smell. They make the ideal floating carp bait due to the amount of air trapped within. What’s better is that if you, the carp angler, gets hungry you can eat them!
Peas and pulses
If the carp are turned off by strong smells go au naturel. A tin of kidney beans or peas will last you a long time. Think of these as a replacement for pellets. The smell isn’t that strong but that said many beans come soaked in brine. Salty goodness for a hungry carp. You will find these in your supermarket as they won’t be sold by any bait companies.
We weren’t kidding when we said that carp love fish. As you’ll know squid is a saltwater species, so they have been basted in salt all their life, a good bait for carp!
Go natural, go local. Any berries from the surrounding trees are sure to be a favourite at your venue, the carp don’t just rely on your pellet mix to keep fed you know? By offering something unusual and natural you may just break the mould when searching for the best carp bait.
Thai fish sauce
Ok full disclosure, no one will come near you if you use this, as it absolutely stinks. But as a cheeky marinade, that is packed with scent and salt that will work as an attraction to the carp as it works its way through the water. A few anglers on a local lake near me were using it and its what made me give it a try. Add this to your other baits such as pellets etc.
8 out of 10 carp recommend it. Especially when mixed with ground bait balls. Dog biscuits can also be used as a floating bait to catch carp off the surface.
Cat food is good because it’s smelly.
Not so much a secret bait amongst carp anglers, but there are many ways you can use bread. Not just bread flakes though. Give a loaf a blitz in a blender and you’ve got the perfect ‘naked’ bait that can be mixed with bloodworm, marmite, oxo or any other flavour. Go bananas…. In fact, that’s just given us an idea….
Although they may be a new form of carp bait to you. Potatoes are not actually a new form of bait, as they were used more frequently in the past before boilies were ever available. They are ideal for carp fishing for carp on a hair rig, hooks, pre-baiting and as a bait mix. Why? Their taste is sweet enough when they are raw, but they are much sweeter when they are boiled. When they finally hit the water, their taste is even stronger still.
Although not nearly as effective as boilies are, potatoes are more affordable and the fact you can buy preboiled packs.
Pepperoni is a spectacular bait that is perfect for just about any situation, particularly in rivers, lakes and very murky water. Carp have a penchant for all food that is spicy, oily and very smelly and that is how most would describe pepperoni. It can be bought in different styles, such as sausages, pastes and squares and can be used as a straight hook bait or on a hair rig.
To make it even spicier and therefore, more even more attractive to carp, you could sprinkle extra pepper over it. Compared to some meats, it is also a lot less expensive.
Beetles are a great option as top bait for carp when the conditions are right. You may even be fortunate enough to not have to pay for them if you have found a beetle or similar insect infestation in your garden. Just freeze them up and then use them as and when necessary as part of your particle mix.
If you are having trouble finding some beetles, you could try in the nooks and crannies and around reeds. Carp really love them because they are rich in protein.
A nice side effect of using beetles as carp bait is that they can actually attract other species as well, like roach and perch.
Slugs are slimy, robust and very hard, which makes them awesome carp bait when you are carp fishing with your hair rig. As well as being effective, they are also incredibly easy to use – your simple slide the needle through the slug’s back and its head, then put a tiny lead onto the end of the slug. Now, you’re ready to fish.
Carp can’t resist slugs simply because of the volume of slime they produce.
Stick to calm or shallow water, close to foliage and if possible, lily pads to enjoy the best results.
Just like slugs, snails produce an awful lot of slime, which, as we have already established, drives carp crazy. Therefore when you add their hard shell into the mix, they are a sublime carp bait. If there is bait that carp love, its food with a bit of crunch, and snails meet that brief.
Snails work best as slow sinking hook baits, but be sure to attach any you are working with firmly to the hook or they could easily get lost.
Once any carp catch sight of your snail bait crawling around, they will find it hard to not want to take a bite. Like slugs, snails work best when angling in calm or shallow water close to foliage or lily pads if possible.
Carp are naturally attracted to a hook bait that moves a lot, which is why many people swear by bloodworm as their secret to catching the fish. Some people may have already used them, but if you have no experience with marine angling, it may be a new adventure for you.
Bloodworms are very flavoursome, which is why they are even more effective bait than standard worms. They are also extremely versatile as they can be used in a boilie mix, as a slow sinking hoot bait or on a hair rig.
You may have experienced the annoyance of losing tackle when angling over mussel beds. While mussels may be responsible in those situations for you not landing anything, saltwater fishing enthusiasts have a lot of success with mussels on the end of their line.
Whether you are working on rivers or lakes, mussels are best on bodies of water that produce a lot of angling pressure. To make use of these tasty crustaceans, crack them open and then make use of the boilie needle to push the mussel over your hair rig and then you have an irresistible hook bait for carp.
The taste and the crunch, as well as the slime, is what the fish will love.
Okay, this is an odd one, given that not everyone can stand the stuff, but stick with us. Carp love sweet baits and marmite has a sticky texture like honey but also has an extremely high sugar content. When it hits the water, a lot of that sugar is released.
The best ways to use marmite is by soaking your hook baits in it or as a paste to boost another bait’s effectiveness. Just avoid using them as popups as the buoyancy will be adversely affected and transform your slow sinking hook bait into a top bait, which will not produce great results.
We already mentioned snails in this list and the effect snails have on carp is part of what makes hempseed so tempting for them. Hempseed resembles small snails. Not only that, they produce an oily liquid that created when they are soaked, is also very alluring to carp.
Sometimes, it is a good idea to just use them if you are using boilies to bait with. Hemp is great for pulling carp in and encourages them to start searching for food, leading them eventually to your boilies. You can just buy hemp oil on its own to add into other baits as well.
There are no coarse species of fish out there that does not love the taste of other fish. Carp is no exception. Tuna is the best because it is incredibly oily and far more sustainable and cheaper than other fish. Mash a tin of tuna using a fork and add it to PVA bag mixes or spod mixes to give them a noticeable boost
What flavours do carp like?
The simple answer is almost everything! It has often proven to be the case in recent years that the more exotic your bait smells, the greater the chance of success. We’ve seen curry powder, marmite and even garlic cloves used on our local venue.
The aim of the game would appear to be to mix it up. If you can think of it, then give it a go. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always pay to use a really well known and popular flavour. Think about hard fished waters. What is your every day, run-of-the-mill angler using to try and catch? Chances are if he’s using it, you may not want to. Take for example ‘sweetcorn’. It might get you going early in the season when the carp will eat anything, but towards the end, they’ve seen and smelled it, all before.
What are carp attracted to?
Whilst carp do use their sense of sight to locate food, they rely heavily on smell. If you’ve ever seen a video of a carp grazing, they often have their heads pointed straight down with their noses firmly in the trough. Choose the best bait flavours, and it is like turning on a switch where the carp will go into a feeding frenzy.
What smells do carp like?
Pick food that is strong smelling. A hint of this or that isn’t enough. You want the bait to be positively humming with smell and flavour. Remember that leaving it in the water will eventually lead to the smell ‘washing out’. Meaning you have to bait up again. The less you have to do this, the better.
Carp love salt. So, if you are wanting to get them going, use your imagination. If you are making your own boilies tip a tablespoonful into the mix. Smother your baits in marmite, or add an oxo cube to anything that will soak up the liquid.
Carp also love the smell of fish. If you have ever owned a goldfish you will know that the flakes absolutely reek of the stuff. Well carp are basically big goldfish, so use this knowledge to your advantage. Prawns tend to be a bit whiffy, and they are packed with juices that will leech into the water in an attractive cloud. As an interesting side point, they are also an unusual shape which will wrong foot a ‘boilied out’ carp.
One product which is seeing more and more use is Betaine. It is found in the hard skeletons of crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp and comes as a rich dark liquid. By soaking boilies, maggots, nuts or sweetcorn in it, you’ll find that it should give you a marginal increase in bites and interest in your baits.
What shape of bait should I use for carp fishing?
Another key area to focus on is shape. Often big carp learn to associate certain shapes with danger. On a busy water with round boilies? Forget it. Go for something square or unusually shaped.
Check our list below for some suggestions.
It pays to think outside the box when it comes to bait. Top secret carp baits aren’t really a secret. They normally come as a result of an angler having a huge amount of success by trying something new, so why don’t you do the same. Just give it 20 minutes alongside your old favourites. You might surprise yourself… and the carp too!
Mike has over 30 years of fishing experience in carp fishing and general coarse fishing. He is always looking for the latest fishing kit to try out and talk about and needs a bigger shed due to all the fishing tackle he owns. You can read more about him here.