Carp is one of the favourite fish in the UK when it comes to fishing. Carp fishing anglers aim to catch the biggest or most sought after fish throughout the country, but for that to happen, they need the best bait to attract carp in lakes.
With this, anglers are testing various baiting methods and tricks to increase their chances of hooking the carp.
For this post, we discuss some of the most effective carp baits that are also safe and acceptable in most fisheries around the UK. From boilies to pastes, find out which bait works.
No. 1: Sweetcorn
Sweetcorn is probably the most widely used bait among English anglers. You can easily purchase a can of corn from supermarkets and use it as hook bait. We think using it on a hair rig is more effective but the choice is yours. Also, it’s totally safe for carp, making it one of the best baits to attract carp in lakes.
You can use different types of corn, but many anglers swear by sweetcorn, do not us corn pulled from a cob. Corn from the can already has salts and sugars that make it more appealing for carp.
Also, corn has a bright colour that catches the carps eye. In our experience, we’ve caught many large carp using sweetcorn.
Corn contains various amino acids that boost its appeal to freshwater fish. If corn alone doesn’t work its magic for you, feel free to use it with homemade boilies, tiger nuts, or hemp.
The only disadvantage we noticed here is that corn won’t stay on the hair for as long as some other baits. Also, nuisance fish get attracted to it, which can hinder your chance of catching carp on waters with uncontrolled stock.
In addition, you can use artificial corn baits together with real corn. Even if the real corn comes off the hair, the plastic piece will stay in place and lure carp onto the hook.
In this video, AnglingDirectUK shows us how to use sweetcorn to catch carp on a lake:
No. 2: Boilies
In the world of angling, boilies are the golden bait. It’s widely used on all angler levels. In fact, boilies hook most carp catches in the UK, one thing that proves its efficiency as a carp bait.
Boilies are pre-formed baits made of meat meals, grains, bird food, soya flour, and more.
The good thing about boilies is you have the option to make them at home or to purchase them from your local tackle shop. Commercial boilies come in different formulas and colours to suit every type of carp and other fish you may be targeting.
You can find many commercial options, but we recommend that you opt for a fish-based formula. Why? It’s because coarse fish are obsessed with the fish flavour. Also, fish-based baits are unfailing during summer, spring, and autumn fishing.
When using boilies, make sure that you refrigerate them if you’re not going to fish right away. This is to avoid spoilage. If your boiles aren’t shelf life make sure you store them in the freezer.
Boilies come in all different shapes and sizes, either floating on them on the surface or the preferred method of fishing them as a bottom bait. This is to suit different types of fishing techniques.
In this video, Luke from Catfish and Carp tells us more about boilies:
OUR TOP PICK: Dynamite Baits Carp-Tec Boilies
These carp boilies are available in different flavours and formula including Krill& Crayfish, Spicy Squad, Tutti Frutti, Scopex, and more. It’s the perfect choice for high feed situations and delivers instant attraction even for the largest carp.
Moreover, no matter what the season is, these boilies will work like a charm. Aside from that, every 2 kg bag comes with a free sachet of pop-ups. Aside from that, this is very affordable.
Every bag has a 3-month shelf life if refrigerated well based on our experience. After that, the pieces become hard. If this happens before the 3-month period, simply soak it in water to soften the pieces.
No. 3: Cherry tomatoes
If you’re more of a natural bait type of angler, cherry tomatoes are a good option. For some reasons, carp finds cherry tomatoes appealing. That’s what makes it the best bait for carp in lakes.
To make this work, make sure that you pierce the tomato skin to let some of the juices ooze out. Also, doing this will unleash the smell of tomato underwater, making it an attractive food for carp.
If you don’t want to use whole cherry tomatoes, you can slice in it half. Doing this will provide the same baiting effect, especially for grass carp.
In addition, the smaller the cherry tomato is, the more appealing it becomes for carp due to the concentrated flavour.
Make sure that you place the cherry tomatoes on the hook since it may not hold up well on the hair.
In this video, an angler uses cherry tomatoes to catch grass carp:
No. 4: Worms
Carp feeds on earthworms and similar creatures that they can found on the lake bed. It’s common in muddy lakes stocked with a large population of carp.
With this, worms become a safe bait, although you should check it with the fishery first. Each fishery and lake parks impose unique rules about the baits that anglers can use.
Nevertheless, you should use worms right to entice the attention of hungry carp. Always use fresh and alive worms that will wiggle underwater.
Moreover, you can hook the worm or attach it to your bait’s hair rig. Either way, it will attract carp.
Anyway, not all worms will work well when it comes to carp fishing. If you’re about to try worms, the best bait for carp in lakes would be the following:
These large worms are the most popular among anglers due to its size and brownish colour.
Since it’s large, nightcrawlers are effective in catching the attention of twenties and thirties. It’s also effective on other gamefish like walleyes, bass, and catfish.
In addition, you should use a large hook if you’re baiting with nightcrawlers. Their large size will eat up hook space and may fail to catch a huge carp properly.
Red wigglers have a pinkish-red colour. Also, they love writhing, which captures the attention of small to medium-sized fishes.
It’s typically used when catching trout and panfish. Also, it will work well when pleasure fishing medium-sized carp.
These are only two of the best worm baits for carp. In general, wiggly worms will work best for any gamefish. Just make sure that you keep them alive by storing it in a cooler.
Do you want to see carp fishing with worms in action? Here’s Joe Morgan of Carp TV to show you how it works:
No. 5: Pellets
Pellets are dubbed as the ‘all-time carp catcher’. It’s been in use for a long time and most seasoned anglers would have tried using it at least a few times.
True enough, we attest to the magic of pellets when enticing large carp. However, you have to use it properly so it will work as the best bait for carp in lakes.
Using a PVA bag, pack the pellets until you have a chunky bait. Depending on the size of the carp you want to catch, it can be twice the size of regular boilies.
Moreover, you can use salmon, trout, or halibut pellets. Any fish-based pellet will be ideal here as carp finds this smell and flavour irresistible.
In this video, Josh and Bryan tell us more about the use of pellets for carp fishing:
OUR TOP PICK: Bag Up Baits Double Bait Pack
If you’re looking for the best pellet baits, we recommend the Bag Up Baits Pellets. This is made with real bloodworm with pre-drilled holes that fit hair rigs. Also, it comes with fishmeal protein that makes it more potent and flavourful.
This boosted pellet pack comes in 100-gram bags and ideal for fishing barbel, bream, carp, and tench. Also, each 8 mm piece has powerful attractants that will make it irresistible for carp.
Take note that this is ideal for hair rigs only as it’s a bit hard to be hooked.
We recommend that you mix the pellets to make it more unpredictable for the carp. However, you should know that pellets aren’t made equal. The carp can pretty much taste the difference. A trial-and-error test will help you know which pellets work for the carp on your chosen fishery.
Lastly, you should only use PVA bags or mesh when packing the pellets. PVA or Polyvinyl alcohol is water-soluble. It was first designed for hospital use as laundry bags.
So is PVA safe for carp? Yes. Even the American Carp Society acknowledges the use of PVAC bags or mesh for fishing.
How to use PVA bags
To make pellet and PVA bag fishing more effective, we recommend that you slice a small hole at the corner of the bag without spilling the pellets. Such a hole will already be pre-punched if you’re using distance bags.
After that, run your hook through the hole, ensuring that it passes through the bag. After that, fill it with the pellets.
Once filled, use a PVA string to tie the opening of the bag so the contents won’t spill underwater.
No. 6: Molluscs
For those who want to fish on a budget, molluscs are another pocket-friendly choice if worms don’t work for you.
Also, molluscs are very effective when fishing along aquatic vegetation and reeds. Since these areas are common harbourage of molluscs, the unsuspecting carp will get hooked.
Moreover, molluscs are easily available. If you live near a swamp or marsh, you can pick some molluscs before heading to the fishery. Take note that the mollusc should be alive, the same way that you’ll use a worm as bait.
Some of the best mollusc baits are snails, slugs, and mussels. In addition, the larger your carp target is, the larger the mollusc should be. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t choke the carp in any way.
In this video, Graeme shows us how to use slugs as bait for fishing:
No. 7: Paste
Next to boilies, pastes are one of the traditional carp baits used by anglers. In fact, some anglers will repurpose their leftover boilies by soaking it in water, cooking, and turning it into paste or doughs.
Pastes are softer than boilies and it’s considered as the best bait for carp in lakes. When used as bait, it can be wrapped around the hook and formed accordingly.
However, it gets off quickly underwater, which is why some anglers place it inside PVA mesh.
Moreover, pastes are effective in attracting carp instantly since it releases the flavours once soaked in water. Also, pastes are typically homemade, but you can purchase pre-formulated products on tackle shops.
Unlike boilies, pastes tend to last long. However, it can be challenging to use, especially for beginner anglers. The following are more of paste’s benefits and why it’s the best bait for carp in lakes:
*It hides the hook which makes the bait less suspicious
*Carp loves soft food and the texture of pastes
*No hard outer shell that traps the attractants
Nevertheless, paste baits aren’t one without some downsides. First of all, since pastes have to be soft, it’s impossible to use on rod and line. When casting, the paste will be shook off the hook. So when you intend to use pastes as carp baits, you have better chances if you use a pole.
Anyway, you can always use a harder paste to suit rod and line fishing. Also, PVA bags and mesh are always handy.
Again, Graeme Pullen shows us how to use paste baits effectively:
Carp Baiting Tips for Lakes
Once you’ve picked your choice of bait, you should keep the following points in mind:
-Soak your boilies well
Commercially available boilies are air-dried to increase its shelf-life. The result is a harder outer shell that prevents the attractants from mixing with the lake water. Also, it means that it takes more time to attract carp.
To make boilies work, you should soak it in the water a night before your angling day. However, never use chlorinated water as this will contaminate the baits.
-Check the fishery rules
This is very important since each fishery will impose strict rules when it comes to hook types, bait types, and the number of rods you can use.
Moreover, checking the fishery rules will save you from the hassle as some will not let you in until you’ve met the tackle requirements.
-Use the right size
You should always consider the size of the bait you’ll use when fishing. If you’re angling in a lake with other gamefishes aside from carp, a large boilie would be ideal. To give you an idea, here are some of the bait sizes we recommend:
For small carp (single-figure), you should use a bait size between 8 mm to 10 mm.
For double-digit carp, a bait between 12 mm and 15 mm is ideal. However, if you’re catching twenties or thirties, a bait of at least 18 mm is the best choice.
Some anglers will use up to 20 mm or 24 mm boilies. As much as mid-sized carp will bite this, it’s a bit of a waste, especially if the fishery has limitations when it comes to the amount of baits you can use per visit.
-Choose the right colour
Carp is a cold-blooded organism and their senses get dull during the winter season. With this, you need to use a bait that will stand out in a murky lake.
Pink and yellow baits are ideal during winter. Its bright colour makes it more visible underwater during the winter season.
However, if you’re fishing during summer, you need darker baits since the water tends to be clearer. Also, less bright baits will not spook the carp when they see it under a clear lake. You should use brown, red, or purple baits. On any season, never use blue or green baits since fishes don’t see this well.
-Add fish or meat on the bait
If you’re making homemade baits, blend it with cooked freshwater fish since carp is attracted to it. You can use canned tuna since it’s oily and delicious. Nevertheless, cheaper options like sardines and pilchards in oil will also work well.
Aside from fish, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of meat as a bait. It’s easy to flavour and you can simply use luncheon meat available in grocery stores. The only struggle here is that this meat product is a bit soft and may not hold up too long on your hook or hair rig.
-Mix up the baits
Mixing up your baits will make it more unpredictable for the carp. At first, you can use small pellets. Once the carp is starting to give a fight, you can switch to larger bait to suit your hook.
You can also purchase assorted baits for easier mix-up.
-Let it move freely
When fishing on a lake, it’s best to let your bait move freely underwater. If you’re worried about your line being caught on the water flow, you can use a heavier rig to keep it weighted.
Drifting lines aren’t ideal. If you don’t have a sinker, you might as well use a float rig for a higher chance of catching carp.
The best bait for carp in lakes depends on your fishing technique. Nevertheless, carp isn’t a very picky gamefish. It will bite on anything tasty as long as you place the bait correctly.
Take note that as much as you have many bait options, it will become limited based on the rules of the fishery you’re headed to. Some fisheries only use boilies or other baits available on the tackle shops inside the location.
For those who don’t have the budget, sweetcorn tops our list. Anyway, you can always purchase commercial options like boilies and pellets.
What do you think of our options here? Let us know below!