When you go to pick a carp bait, you learn how many possible choices you have to choose from. How do you choose one with so many options? Picking the right one will give you double the action on the water, and you have different strategies that you can use to bring them in.
Some of the different carp baits to choose from include:
- Hemp seed
- Tiger nuts
- Dog food
- Regular boilies
- Homemade dough baits
I like sweetcorn because it has to be close to one of the best baits when it comes to bringing in the carp. Not to mention, the ease of using it as a carp bait. You simply open a can, set the bait and get ready to crank in some carp. In particular, artificial sweetcorn will work best as carp bait.
A lot of carp anglers have chosen sweetcorn as their top choice because of how it works. The taste, color and texture all appeal to carp. I’ve caught many carp using this bait, and that includes one of my favorites where I caught a 37-pound carp–a new personal best!
You can use any type of corn to catch carp, but I like to use Jolly Green Giant Niblets. I’ve caught so many with this brand.
Canned corn will usually have salt and sugar added, which serves as an additional reason that they go after it. The yellow color attracts the carp as well because of how it grabs their attention. This has many similarities to fluoro boilies.
I like this bait because of how it won’t harm the environment. At the same time, it gets the job done, and the carp will go crazy for this bait. Sweet corn has been widely used among anglers, and you will find that canned corn works even better than the corn that you’d take straight off the cob.
- Accessible and can be bought for little
- The bright yellow color will attract the carp
- Natural bait and doesn’t harm the environment
- The carp love this bait
- Some fish can’t digest sweet corn
- Check your state and local laws and regulations to make sure it’s legal
- Attracts fish other than carp
Widespread accessibility has made hemp seed a popular choice for baiting carp. You can find it at many bait shops across the nation, and hemp seed has even become one of the best-selling baits. The carp will go nuts for this bait, but so will many other fish. If you want to strictly target carp, this may not be great.
The carp will spend hours digging in the lake bed trying to get a hold of this bait. Carp will get animated over the hemp seed.
No one knows exactly why the carp like to eat hemp seed. A few guesses, however, could be made as to the reasons. For example, the smell of hemp seed could be part of what drives them towards it. Hemp seed has a rich number of smells, and in addition to that, it produces oils that will catch the carp’s attention.
In general, it works well as a carp bait because of the texture of the hemp seeds. Carp will often feed off the small aquatic snails, which have the same texture as hemp seed. Hemp seed also releases amino acids and omega oils that pull in the carp.
You could also choose to mix this in with tiger nuts or something else.
Along with using it as a bait, you could use hemp seed as a way of stimulating carp activity in the area. For example, you could toss in two or three grains, and this will bring the carp to the area.
- You can chum carp to the area with it
- Best-selling bait in bait shops across the nation!
- Edible seeds
- Freshwater fish in general love this bait
- Mix it in with other baits, such as tiger nuts
- When you cook it for preparation, the odor is foul. Open a window!
- You have to prepare it if you want to have success
I have used tiger nuts on occasion, and it works well. It puts out an odor that has been known to call the carp in fast. Even when the carp can’t see the tiger nuts, they can still smell them, and they go crazy for it as a result. The smell will drive them nuts!
Some anglers may not believe me, but you can use tiger nuts on their own and have a crazy level of success with it. Carp are smart fish, and you can rarely trick them twice with the same tactics. You don’t have to pair this with anything else. I have used this carp bait to catch a number of carp with it and all I used was a single tiger nut.
Not to mention, I’ve used this for bowfishing as well with some considerable success.
You can also use this tactic to bring in the carp and use another bait as a way of catching them. To figure out what works best, you will have to try them both to see what works for you. You can make them yourself, but the biggest key to success with tiger nuts comes in the preparation. It’s finicky, and if you don’t prepare them correctly, you won’t bring in as many carp.
With your own preparation, you have to remember to soak the tiger nuts for a minimum of 24 hours because you want it to soften. You bring it to a boil, and you will allow for this to simmer for around 30-45 minutes. After you have done this, you let it stand in its juices for 36 hours, and they will be good to use.
Carp like the tiger nuts because they taste sweet and crunchy. To attract carp to the area, you might use it in the same way that you might with a boilie. For example, throw 20 to 30 tiger nuts into the water and watch the carp swarm it.
Getting your tiger nuts prepared requires that you first have a bucket and pour them into the bucket. After you have it in the bucket, you fill it with water and let it soak for 36 hours. This will soften the hard peel of the tiger nut. You can add sugar to the bait as a way of attracting the carp even more.
Take it out of the water and let it cool off. You add it into a bucket with liquid betaine and just a little bit of powdered betaine. This will make the sweetness of the tiger nuts irresistible to the carp.
At long last, you scan the pile of tiger nuts, look for the best and put some talin liquid on it.
- This bait doesn’t need boilies to work well
- Don’t have to use many to attract the carp
- You can use this all year
- More natural in comparison to processed dog food
- They look kind of drab
- Doesn’t have much scent
Probably one of the well known carp baits, dog food has become a popular choice. For example, Vitalin has bone meal, maize meal and meat in it, which attracts carp. I’ve caught a lot of fish over the years using this when I didn’t have the money to go out and buy any other kind of carp bait.
I often used this to pre-bait the fish and bring them to the area. In fact, the only way that you can use dog food is as a pre-bait because it doesn’t work as a hook bait, unfortunately. You might mix this in with some of the other baits. However, don’t use this with fluoro pop-ups because it doesn’t work as well.
What are some of the things that you might add in with dog food? You can add a couple of different things to make this more attractive to carp. The only thing that limits you will be your imagination. For example, you can use tuna, hemp, gravy powder or bread crumbs.
This is a real simple bait that the carp will love, and it doesn’t cost much. You just have to visit the dog food dish to get started.
You don’t even necessarily have to use dog food. Let’s say that you don’t have a dog, but you have a cat. The carp will eat hard cat food all the same, and the best part is that it is so easily accessible.
What works in your area could vary too. For example, I know a fisherman who said that he used dog food as a carp bait, and the only thing he noticed was an increase of turtles in the area. It depends on where you’re at.
Another thing that you might do with this is to grind up dog food in the blender to make it into powdered form. The possibilities of this will be endless.
- You can use any brand
- Add other baits to increase the effect
- As cheap of a bait as it gets
- Brings in catfish too
- Only works for carp and catfish
- Pollutes the water
- Only works for carp and catfish (depending on how you look at it)
When you go to look for boilies, I recommend that you look for the fish-meal-bait based boilies. This bait works well for the spring, summer and autumn season, but you don’t see much success with it over the winter season. Nodd oil will probably work better in the winter months to attract carp to the area.
In some places, boilies help to catch most of the carp. A lot of carp anglers swear by using this fishing bait. You have plenty of great choices that you could buy at the bait shops.
Most of the major fishing bait companies will produce this, but as I said before, you want to look for the fish meal-based boilies because they have a higher quality.
I believe that you may occasionally want to experiment and switch it up. You never know what you might discover from it.
- Many different choices for the flavors
- You can make them yourself or buy them
- Choose floating boilies or sinking boilies
- Mix it with other baits for success
- You need to freeze boilies without preservatives to keep from spoiling
Homemade Dough Baits
Simple bread dough has developed a reputation over the years as one of the best baits for carp. Important to note, some recipes will work best for certain species than with others. For example, one bait might work best for grass carp while another will do better with the Asian carp.
Baiting your hook with a sweet dough ball has become a popular choice over the years. Every serious carp angler will usually have their own formula, but someone just getting started might want to look at some of the recipes to learn what brings them in.
Here’s the recipe that I’ve used:
- 1 cup of cold water
- 1 1/2 cups of yellow cornmeal
- 1 level tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons of quick-cooking oatmeal
First, you will need to stir the water together with the oatmeal, sugar and cornmeal. Next, you will place it in a pan with medium heating.
Important to note: You will have to stir this for between five to seven minutes before it will be ready. It will look like a stiff ball when finished.
Next, you put the dough on some paper, and you will knead this thoroughly. You will let this cool, and you want the dough to feel sticky, but if you have finished and it feels rubbery, you’ve done something wrong.
- Cheap to use as a bait
- Works especially well with bringing in the carp
- You can target a specific carp species with different recipes
- Easy to access
- Requires some preparation
- You can get the recipe wrong and have to start all over
We have seen pellets used since the 1950s, which shows that they have a proven track record of working. Pellets remain one of the best carp baits because of a variety of reasons. You can get a variety of different pellets like salmon pellets, trout pellets and halibut pellets.
You can use pellets to lure the carp into your area and follow up with bait to reel them in. Over the winter season, the standard carp pellets might work well because of how it has low oil content.
Usually, you can prepare the smaller pellets more quickly, but it depends on the circumstances. You soak them for two minutes and take them out dry them for five minutes. After you have gone through this process, you should be able to attract the carp to the area.
You might mix and match different sizes of pellets to create an area that will cause greater confusion to the carp. Carp are smart fish, and you don’t want them to figure out what is going on. The less they know, the better. Furthermore, not all carp pellets taste the same. Some will perform much better for catching carp than what others will do.
For example, if you were to mix pellets, the carp will often choose the pellet brand that they prefer, and they will leave the others for only if they’re hungry. Keeping this in mind, you can learn which pellets will work the best and keep using them.
You might use pellets in combination with ground bait as a way of entrancing the fish and bringing them into this false sense of security. Next, you will hit them with the hooked bait to bring them into the boat for a tasty meal at home.
Pellets probably classify as the most popular choice after boilies, but this will also depend on the fisherman. Pellets are softer than boilies, however, and they will turn to mush once you put them into the water. Another important thing to remember: The bigger the pellet that you have chosen, the bigger the fish that you are targeting.
When you choose pellets, they have high oil content, and this will attract carp the most over the summer season, but you have to be careful of this choice in the winter months. Luckily, pellets don’t cost much in comparison to a lot of other baits for carp. The high protein means that carp will continue feeding off them for hours after they have begun feeding on them.
You can get pellets in a variety of flavors, but the most common that I’ve seen will have a fishy or meaty flavor, rather than sweetness. We want more sweetness because this will attract the carp even more.
- Come in a variety of flavors
- Attracts the carp like crazy
- Proven track record that has more than half a century behind it
- Doesn’t cost too much
- Not good for those who want to specifically target carp
- The high oil content may not work as well in the winter season
Believe it or not, hungry carp love to eat worms. Like sunfish and bass, they will also go for this type of bait. Carp will often even search for worms through digging in the bottom of the lake or riverbed to see if they can find any.
When you use worms for bait, however, you want your worms to be alive and lively to attract the carp the most. Otherwise, you might not get them to bite. Carp have a notorious reputation for being finicky, and what may have worked on them in the past may not work the next time. You rarely catch a carp twice in the same way.
Worms will usually stay on the hook, and you can find them across the nation at any bait shop that you walk into. In fact, what bait shop doesn’t have nightcrawlers? It’s a commonly used bait for a variety of fish species, which can either be to your advantage or disadvantage.
The other advantage of worms is that you can cast them for a long distance without a fear that the worm will fall off the hook. In addition, you can and should chop up your worm bait because of how it will save you on bait. Your bait will last longer, and it will fit on the hook correctly so that it looks more natural. If you use a bigger worm, however, it has the advantage of not being as likely to be taken by the smaller fish like sunfish, crappies and perch.
Now I’d previously said that you could cut up the worm. With carp, I tend to favor not cutting up the worm, but you may want to keep that tip in mind if you were going after something like sunfish or bass. I like to use the whole worm and hook it through the head because of how it gives me a better hook hold.
Let’s say that you want to catch the bigger carp. In those cases, you really will have more success with a bigger bait to attract a bigger fish. You might use a large-sized hook and put three worms on the same hook to attract the carp. While some of the smaller fish will struggle with taking the bait, a much bigger carp will swallow the bait without even a second thought–that’s what you want.
- You can dig up worms at no cost
- Available at any bait shop in the country
- One of the natural foods that the carp love to eat
- You can cast distances without a problem
- Worms stay on the hook longer
- Worms can be gross to handle and make your hands smell bad
- Attracts a lot of other fish like bass, sunfish, crappies and perch
How to Make Your Bait More Attractive
Carp have an incredible sense of smell because they need to have a good sense of smell if they will survive. You can use their sense of smell against them. For example, you might spray your worm bait with cocoa, which has proven to be an effective scent for them.
Some of the other scents that you might use on your bait to attract more carp to your hook include:
A lot of the time, the scent in an area could be one of the reasons that the carp came into the area. They were searching for food to see what they could find.
Beware of Cheap Baits with Carp
In particular, I’m talking about the cheap manufactured baits that you can buy in the bait shops. I’m not talking about the stuff that you could make yourself or get through digging up worms. This is talking specifically about the cheaper and unnatural looking manufactured baits because of how it tends to be difficult to catch carp on these baits.
If you use a cheap manufactured bait, you will most likely see a big drop in the number of carp that you catch. You want to have quality bait on the hook when you start fishing for carp. One of the questions that you can ask yourself before you begin is, “Does this bait look natural and will it work?”
You especially have to exercise caution with the cheap boilies because I have found this area to have a lot of dud baits.
Why so Many Different Bait Flavors?
As I have said previously in this article, carp are smarter fish than some of the others. How you caught them once won’t necessarily catch them the second time.
One of the reasons that you have so many different flavors with certain baits comes down to the fact that carp will learn to associate a certain flavor with danger. That means they won’t bite. The same goes for certain scents. As an angler, you have no idea what other fishermen might have used for flavors or scents to reel in the carp and what they have learned to associate with danger.
For that reason, you need to allow for plenty of room when it comes to carp. Try some different scents and flavors and don’t get too attached to any of them. If one flavor doesn’t seem to be working, you may want to try another flavor.
The same could be said for pre-baiting. In some cases, if you do pre-baiting carp where you tossed in some hemp seeds, it may work the first time, but if you caught some carp with it, they might come to associate hemp seeds with danger and be less likely to take the bait.
Always Be Aware of Local Regulations
I always stress this with the readers of my blog because what might be legal in Central Minnesota won’t be legal in Oregon. You have to check your own individual region to understand some of the laws. For example, in some places, it might be illegal to do chumming. Chumming is where you give away free bait to draw in the fish. In some places, it is legal, and in others, it isn’t. Know your local laws and regulations. In addition, be aware of when you get on Indian reservations because of how the laws and regulations might be specific in those places. For example, you might not be able to catch a fish over a certain number of inches.
How to Choose the Bait
In general, you will most likely want to choose a bait that will work for a small area at the bottom of the lake or riverbed. That’s because of how it will concentrate them all in a single area for feeding, and you might be able to get a line in the same area to catch one at the end of your hook.
As soon as you have set the chumming area, you will want to cast out your line as soon as possible because a school of carp clean up a baited area in no time at all. After you have started to hook the fish, remember that you need to continue chumming the area, or they might catch onto what is happening.
For your particle and pack baits, you will usually want to use a cheaper bait to bring them in. You want something that will be cheap with many particles. With the many particles, it means that the carp won’t be able to clean it up too quickly.
When You Should Do Chumming
Understanding the proper time to bait your carp and when not to can help you to catch more of them. You may, for example, want to bait them in advance for a few days in advance to get them prepared for taking the bait. You will do this at a specific location for a while. In general, you will want to do this anywhere from 12 hours up to 24 hours before you start fishing for them.
Next, you will do this 30 minutes to an hour before you begin to actually fish. This ensures that you have got the carp to feeding before you put your hooked bait down in the water for them to take. You want carp to associate feed on that food as much as possible with positive things. This increases the chances that you will catch the carp in higher numbers.
Where Can You Bait the Carp?
In general, you want to keep an ever-scanning eye for carp in the area for new spots. Always be looking for new carp hangout places. To find the carp, try to look for an area with snags or weeds. That’s because the carp will sometimes feed on these weeds. In addition, you might use an underwater camera to scout the area to determine what is around.
When I pre-bait an area, I will usually mark this on my GPS so that I can find it more easily. In some cases, you try to move to that area only to find someone else fishing in your spot….Nevertheless, you should mark out the prime locations to learn of the best fishing areas and remain patient because fishing is a sport that requires a lot of patience.
These are some of the carp bait options that you might use as a way of catching more carp. A lot of carp anglers like to specifically target this species because of how they’re known for putting up a crazy fight once you got them on the line. Not to mention, you have to have skill to catch these fish because they’re not the easiest target. That’s part of the draw that makes people want to go after them. They’re looking for a good challenge.