Carp eat just about anything. In the wild carp eat vegetation, aquatic insects, eggs, decaying matter, and will even prey on minnows. However, when fishing for carp the best carp baits are often foods that the other fish aren’t as interested in. By finding uniquely “carpy” baits you can avoid catfish, bluegill and other nuisance fish from constantly stealing your bait.
Effective, easy to find and no preparation necessary but small fish steal it off your hook. Sweet corn is my favorite bait in the winter time. Often I fish it with bread crumb as part of a PVA stick mix. Check out this great video demonstrating how to make a fabulous sweet corn and bread winter PVA stick mix.
Bigger tougher kernels mean that small fish usually can’t steal it and make the kernels easier for big carp to see and focus on. However, Feed corn must be soaked for several hours and then boil for several hours before using otherwise it will expand in fish’s stomachs and kill them.
Instant oatmeal is an excellent simple method mix or chum. Add water and small bait bits and squish it into a ball. You can sling shot the oatmeal balls, throw them by hand or mash them around your weight and use it like a method mix. You can also mash a ball oatmeal around a small treble hook and use it as your hook bait.
Bran cereal can be used just like instant oatmeal. Its cheap and easy and can be used for breakfast in the morning.
Wheat, Whole Oats, Barely and Other Grains
All grains need to be soaked in water for several hours and then boiled until they are fully expanded and somewhat soft. Fermented boiled wheat (“sour wheat”) and other grains are a fabulous carp and catfish bait. You can’t put it on your hook but mix it with free samples of your hook bait and use as chum.
The benefit of using smaller grains like wheat as opposed boilies or feed corn is that these small particles fill up the carp slower and are harder to find. So the carp stay in the area rooting around for grains long. So if you are chumming an area small grains will keep the fish in the area longer than larger baits which they can quickly gobble up.
You can by 20lb bags of pidgeon feed from feed stores for less than $14. One bag can be soaked and boiled to make a fabulous mixture or seeds and grains that make an excellent carp bait. The small particles keep the carp in the area for a long time.
Hemp seeds, the legal kind, make a great carp bait. They have a unique flavor and are rich in oils. Hemp seed is a great additive to your particle bait to give it an extra kick.
Range cubes are hard cylindrical chunks of cattle feed that can draw carp in. The cubes are too big for the carp to eat whole. After sitting on the bottom for a while the range cubes break up slowly and the fact that the carp can’t eat them all at once means that it can keep the carp in area for longer time.
Boilies are little balls of dough with various carp foods and flavors added. Boilies get their name from t
he fact that they are boilied. Boilies come in more flavors, colors and sizes than you can imagine and they can be either perishable boilies that are kept in the freezer or they can be non-perishable.
There are also buoyant boilies called “pop ups” that are fished on zig rigs or slightly off the bottom. Boilies also come in two major shape variations (round and dumbbell shaped).
If you want to make a chum out of boilies many fisherman like to crush or cut
boilies up to give the fish smaller chum particles in order to keep them grazing in the area longer.
Boilies with any sort of fish flavors tend to attract catfish pretty aggressively so if
you are fishing for carp in places that have catfish then avoid fish flavored boilies unless you want to catch a bunch of catfish.
You can buy flavor enhancing dips that you soak your hook bait in. Usually the companies that make dips also make boilies so you can buy dip flavors that match the flavor of your boilie. You can give your boilies an extra dip each time you cast.
Dip baits can also be added to a solid PVA bag to make the carp fishing equivalent of a bait filled water-balloon.
Pellets are basically carp bait squeezed into small pellets rather than dough that is boilied, but the difference that matters to fisherman is that pellets are usually harder and tend to crack or crumble if you force a baiting needle through them. Consequently pellets that are designed to be hook baits usually have holes pre-drilled. Pellets without holes can be drilled or attached to the hooks hair with a rubber band or tied.
Pellets make great chum and having a slightly pellets that is exactly the same flavor as your chum is nice strategy and is something that sets particles apart from boilies.
Method Mixes & Ground Baits
Method mixes are a class of chum baits that are mushed by hand into a ball around the fishing weigh in order to draw fish towards your hook bait. Method mixes can packed into a ball and sling shot out into the water or tossed by hand. I like to always include chunks of my hook bait in with the method mix.
Method mixes can take many forms but they have to at least squish together when wet. Oatmeal, breadcrumb, fishmeal are some of the bases used in method mixes. You can buy some awesome method mixes that are good for carp and/or catfish.
Method mixes are great when the fishing is close to medium range with lots of action. This is because method mixes tend to fall off if you try to cast them super far. Additionally, method mixes are much more convenient than PVA bags. PVA bags can take more time to prepare and can’t be used for wet mixes. So if the action is hot method mixes will get you back fishing quicker than a PVA bag.
Mt very first carp bait was a mushed up ball of potatoes bread and it worked just fine. I use to sit in from of the TV and mush up bean sized balls of bread to take fishing. Cap love bread but the problem is that bread falls off the hook so easily and the little fish tend to pick it apart. So you can be fishing for hours only to discover that your bait has been gone for quite some time. Additionally, it is time consuming to make enough dough balls to chum properly.
Bread can also be a fabulous surface bait. If carp are feed on the surface floating pieces of bread can be great. A piece of bread attached to the hook with an egg loop knot, bread band or simply mushed onto point can be pretty effective. Just be careful not to catch a duck or goose.
Maggots are a classic carp bait but every fish loves maggots. You can catch a lot of blue gill, perch and sunfish with maggots as well. Chumming with maggots can give the little fish something to focus on other than your hook bait. A maggot ring is a great way to hook multiple maggots onto your hair. If you want to use maggots but the little fish are tearing up your hook bait try switching to a fake plastic maggot that the fish can’t steal and then chum with real maggots.
Spam cubes are great catfish and carp bait. You can dip your Spam cube in the flavoring of your choice as well. The advantage of spam is that you can keep a tin of it in your bag just in case. It is a softer bait so it is easier for small fish to tear it off the hair.
Fake corn, fake maggots and even colored bits of foam can be effective carp baits. Fake plastics can be soaked in your favorite flavor to give them an extra kick and many come in glow in the dark versions. They take up very little room in your tackle box so it’s a good idea to have them handy in case you ever want to mix things up.
The big advantage of fake baits is that the small nuisance fish can’t strip them off your hook. Having a fake and a real piece of corn on your hair is a very popular way to guarantee you won’t end up inadvertently fishing with a naked hook.
Fake bait are also helpful in balancing the buoyancy of your hook bait. You want your hook and bait to just barely be heavier than water. The idea is that when a carp sucks up you bait you want it to fly effortlessly into the carps mouth without the hook holding the bait back. Most baits, like corn or boilie, are not buoyancy enough for most pro’s tastes. Adding a floating fake bait to the hair can help balance the buoyancy of your bait so it will get in the fishes mouth when they come calling.
Test your rig in the shallow water at the shore and see whether or not your bait just barely sinks or not. If it sinks too quick, think about adding a buoyant fake bait to the hair.
A zig rig is when you use a floating bait, fished several feet above you lead. Zig rigs and float fishing is about the only way to catch fish that are feeding in between the surface and the bottom. Often carp are eating bugs in the middle of the water column. So when using a zig rig, a floating foam bug is often a good choice. Some people like to spike these bugs with a few drops of flavoring.
The first carp I ever caught was on a fly. I used a white woolly bugger which I think
the carp thought look like a piece of bread. Anyone who thinks carp don’t eat minnows need to talk to a carp fly fisherman. Minnow patterns, nymphs and glow bugs are really popular.