How to Fish with Boilies – Carp Fishing Secrets REVEALED!

Ever since boilies were invented back in the 1970s, it has become one of the bait staples of anglers. It’s considered as the ‘undisputed’ king of all carp baits since boilies never fail to hook just about any gamefish. However, you need to know how to fish with boilies properly if you want to make it work for your angling.

What are boilies?

how to fish with boilies

Boilies are a protein-rich mixture of various food powders, pellets, grains, and even bird food. All of these are mixed and infused together to create a flavourful bait that will appeal to fishes.

Once mixed in a paste, the mixture will be formed into balls with a size of about 8 mm to 40 mm. After that, the paste orbs will be boiled until it hardens; thus, the name ‘boilies’. Commercially available boilies will be air-dried to extend its shelf-life.

Confused as to what type of boilie to use? Here’s carp enthusiast Leon Batropp to help us out:

Take note that boilies come in different flavours like bloodworm, krill, tutti frutti, tuna, and more. Aside from the taste, it also varies in colour, which plays a significant role when fishing during different seasons.

Boilie varieties

Typically, bright-coloured (pink, red, yellow, etc.) boilies are perfect during winter fishing since the water is dull. Meanwhile, dark-coloured boilies (brown, purple, black, etc.) are ideal for warmer seasons.

If you’re obsessed with carp, you probably tried using boilies before. Carp love boilies since it’s packed with attractants that gamefishes can’t resist.

Take note that boilies are made to be nutritious for the carp. Also, before using boilies, you must soak it in water overnight to soften it up. Through this, the carp won’t choke and you can easily place each piece on the hook.

Moreover, soaking is necessary to soften up the hard outer layer of the boilie. This will allow the attractants to release once the bait is placed on the water.

Boilie base mixes

Boilie base mixes vary based on the preference of the angler. Usually, boilies have three possible bases: fishmeal, milk protein, and bird food.


Fishmeals are powdered and mixed together with other ingredients. This is filled with fatty acids that will be strong attractants to carp. It’s also rich in protein used to feed fish, making it safe for carp.

*Bird food

This is a combination of various seeds and grains. The purpose of this base is to give carp a healthy diet.

*Milk protein

This is an excellent alternative if fishmeal isn’t available. The fatty acids and protein will attract carp, but it may not be as strong as fishmeal.

Although these ingredients can be standalone bases, some mix it to diversify the taste and attractants. It also makes the baits less predictable for game fishes.

Nevertheless, these bases will be mixed with egg as a holding agent. Once boiled, the egg will make the boilies stiff.

Boilie shapes and sizes

Take note that just because you’re catching a large carp doesn’t mean you’re going to hook the largest boilie.

Also, you need to achieve a balance between the hook size, boilie size, and rig size.

Balancing the hook and bait

For example, if you’re using 10 mm boilies, placing it on a size 2 hook will not serve its purpose. The same goes for 22 mm boilies placed on a size 10 hook.

To give you a better picture, we recommend using 10 mm boilies on a size 10 hook. You can also use a 12 mm boilie for the same hook size.

For larger boilies, say 15 mm, we use size 8 and size 6 for 18mm or 20 mm boilie.

Another consideration here is the distance from where you’re fishing. If you’re distance fishing or located in a farther range, we recommend a 22 mm boilie since it catapults well than smaller boilies.

However, if you’re fishing in the margins, 10 mm baits are unbeatable. Even crumbs will work well (see below).

how to fish with boilies
Photo Credits: Dynamite Baits

Pop-up boilies vs bottom boilies

Both pop-up and bottom boilies have their own benefits. However, if you want to single out the biggest carp, pop-ups are a big help.

Since it hovers in the water, you can see the largest carp that shows up. Once you have a target, you can now cast your hook and catch the fish by the mouth.

Also, you have to understand that pop-up baits aren’t cheap. Nevertheless, it lasts long.

Meanwhile, bottom boilies are classic choices. However, you should check what’s on the lakebed first before casting your line. Make sure that no debris will come in the way of your rig and ruin your hook.

Also, bottom baits are easier to use. However, you should ensure that the boilie colour matches the rig colour. This way, the carp won’t detect the hook and they will likely become your catch.

Freezer boilies vs shelf-life baits

Another decision an angler has to make is choosing between a freezer boilie and a shelf-life one. There are advantages to both, but the two doesn’t always suit all fishing situations.

*Freezer boilies

First of all, freezer boilies are ideal since it doesn’t contain any preservatives. Formula-wise, it’s also superior over shelf-life types.

However, freezer boilies tend to be softer and milder in flavour. Unless you’re fishing on harder syndicated waters, it would be a tad less attractive for carp than shelf-life boilies.

*Shelf-life boilies

On the other hand, shelf-life boilies are convenient since you can store it in the bag for weeks without getting spoiled. Also, it has stronger flavour and colour, which are advantageous for carp fishing in murky waters.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that freezer boilies are goners. Personally, we mix the two to enjoy the best of both worlds: the fast flavour kick of shelf-life boilies and the slow-releasing formula of freezer boilies.

Washing out boilies for baiting

Here’s another trick that we use to make boilies more effective in attracting carp: washing it out.

By soaking the boilies for hours, you can condition the pieces to appear as if it’s been on the lake for long even if you’ve just released it.

Also, soaking makes the boilies soft, which the carp perceive as something safe to eat. How about the flavour and smell? Is it going to be washed out as well? Let us explain this in a few steps.

how to fish with boilies
Photo Credits: Dynamite Baits

In our method, you can wash out the boilies and then put it back. Confusing? Here’s how it goes:

What you need:

-A bucket
-1 to 2 kilos of boilies (depending on how much the fishery management allows)
-Fishing liquid attractor

How to do it:
Step 1.

Place the boilies into the bucket and fill it with lake water. If possible, use the water from the lake where you’re going to fish. Nevertheless, tap water will do, but it’s not as effective as lake water. Whatever your choice is, make sure that the boilies are fully submerged.

Step 2.

Next, pour half a bottle of your chosen liquid attractor. We recommend the Korda Carp Goo Soak Flavours. It comes in various flavours like Almond Power Smoke, Corn Twist Bait Smoke, Spicy Squad, Tiger Nut Smoke, and more. Mix this well.

Step 3.

Let this soak for 24 hours. You should mix the boilie soak every three hours. This will prevent the soak attractant from settling at the bottom.

Step 4.

The next day, pour the soak in a separate bucket. Now you have washed boilies without losing its flavour. In fact, the Korda Goo soak will give it more carp-attracting smell and flavour.

Don’t forget to bottle the used soak. You can use this for the next batch of boilies you will wash.

Give your washed boilie a try and see how it adds an attracting effect on carp!

Placing boilies on the hair rig

The best way on how to fish with boilies is to tie it on your rig. If you’re a total newb, here’s our quick guide for you. For this, you’ll need a pair of scissors, baiting needle, an eyed hook, hook length, swivel, hair stop, and your washed boilie.

Step 1.

Using your preferred hook length, tie a loop on one end. Set this aside.

Step 2.

Pass the baiting needle through the boilie until it’s fully pierced in the middle. Once the end of the needle passes through the boilie, clip the hook length loop you created earlier.

Step 3.

Pull the loop until you’ve drawn it across the boilie hole. After that, open the loop and pass a short strip of hair stop through it. You only need a centimetre of hair stop, so make sure that you cut the excess. As long as the boilie is held in place, the length would be ideal. Gently pull the hook length until the hair stop is stuck on the other side.

Step 4.

Now, thread the other end of the hook length to the eye of the hook until the boilie touches the bottom of the hook.

Step 5.

After that, wind the hook length around the hook shank, ensuring that you wind it toward the hook point. Continue winding the hook length until it covers a portion of the hook shank and it lines up across the hook point.

Step 6.

Once you reach this point, thread the end of the hook length into the eye once again while keeping your forefinger and thumb on the wound length to prevent it from unwinding. Pull the hook length tight until it locks well. After that, your hair rigged boilie is ready to be attached to the mainline. 

Protecting boilies from other fishes

If you’re fishing on highly stocked waters, you may want to protect your hook baits from being the target of nuisance fish. Also, diving birds are your enemies when it comes to using boilies.

One trick that we use is wrapping the boilies with PVA mesh. It prevents the soak boilies from whittling down and free feeding other fishes on the lake.

Pre-baiting boilies

Another great thing about boilies is that it’s very easy to use as a pre-bait. You need a trusty catapult slingshot to launch a handful of boilies to a specific spot of the lake.

Aside from giving the carps the nutrition they need, you’re also attracting them in the fastest way possible. If you know how to fish with boilies properly, it will never fail you.

Moreover, boilies don’t splatter to pieces upon hitting the water. However, you have to watch out for diving birds that will steal the baits and drive the carp away.

In this video, The School of Fish shows us how to use boilies for pre-baiting fishes a day before you go angling:

Should you use boilie crumbs?

For those who are margin fishing carp, boilie crumbs are irresistible. You only need a pole cup that’s long enough to reach a decent distance.

Load the crumbs into the cup and dump in on the margin area. Since these are little bits and pieces, the carp will slurp on it rather than charge into a large bait. Once you cast, it will lead to better peg management and fewer chances of foul hooking.

However, boilie crumbs only work its magic on the margin during later hours of the day. This is the period when carp and other fishes will go near the margins to look for food they can gobble slowly. Also, carp are used to eating unwanted bait and leftover baits in the margin thrown by anglers who are already calling it a day.

How many boilies should you use?

It actually depends on how the waters react to your baiting method. Some carp on lakes prefer a carpet of crumbs while others home in toward whole boilies.

We recommend using a maximum of 60 boilies per rod. Going beyond that could be a waste of bait even if boilies are inexpensive.

Anyway, it all boils down to your fishing technique. If you’re a mass baiter, you may need more boilies to hook a big catch.

Also, if you’re headed to day-ticket waters, inquire about the amount of bait you can bring and if they allow boilies. For example, when we headed to Thorpe Lea in Egham Surrey, we were only allowed to bring 2 kg. of boilies or pellets for fishing. These rules will directly affect the type and amount of bait you can use.

Final words

Knowing how to fish with boilies will increase your chances of hooking the largest carp. Also, this will help you maximise every piece. Moreover, boilies are inexpensive and it has been tried and tested over the years of carp fishing not just in the UK, but also in other countries.

What do you think of our boilie secrets? Let’s talk about your own methods in the comment section!