Isn’t it thrilling to pull a 10-pound carp out of the water on your day off? I live for this! Finding the best bait for those choosy carps can be a trick. There are lots of options. Corn, bread, tomatoes, worms, mollusks, tiger nuts, boilies, pastes, doughball, and pop-ups are all viable carp baits. We’re going to look at them all.
Three Sources of Carp Baits
Carp baits come in three varieties:
- Natural – These are plant and animal-based sources such as corn and nightcrawlers.
- Commercially Produced – These are factory-made items that you get in a store or online.
- Homemade – These are your own unique recipes and recipes you get off the internet you make at home.
Natural baits work best and have the most flavor and scent. Homemade boilies and doughs make fantastic baits. They are fresher than commercially produced baits, and you can make your own special recipe. However, the commercial ones are great for convenience.
First, we’ve got to think about what our carp are eating. This depends on the type of carp and season. Grass carp eat plants while others eat more animal-based food. They may eat more carbs in the spring and more fat in the winter, but that can change.
What do carp eat?
Most carp are scavengers. They eat things like:
- Plants in the water – Reeds or aquatic plants in the water can be on the menu.
- Seeds and fruits that fall in the water – Any overhanging trees with fruits can drop these in, and voila! Dinner!
- Dead fish – Carp consume fish that have floated to the bottom.
- Invertebrates, like worms – Mollusks, snails, mussels are examples of these.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with bait! The carp could have a taste for anything that day.
Corn, the Classic Carp Bait
Corn, especially sweet corn, the kind that comes in a can, is the all-time carp favorite. It’s thought that they like the sugar, salt, and other things that the manufacturers add. Bait your hook with this for a great fight.
Feed corn is similar, and it stays on the hook a little better, as it’s tougher. It will need to be soaked first and have a little bit of a boil. You can soak it in additives for scent and flavor.
Manufacturers don’t cut sweet corn pips; they pluck them from the cob. The pips hang onto hook and hair rigs very well and come in Tiger Nut and Hemp flavor. Bait thieves will have some trouble sneaking off with these.
It’s an inexpensive option for an angler on a budget. Not only can you buy it in a can or a bag from the freezer for your day on the lake at the river, but it’s also easy to store. I can’t tell you enough how well this bait works. This is a tried and true bait for me since I was a kid.
The best method of baiting is threading it on a small circle hook. It works well on all kinds of rigs, significantly slip sinker, 3-way, and hair rigs. If it’s allowed, use some corn to chum the water. These spooky fish might not notice your hook in amongst all the other food floating on the surface of the water.
Is Tomato a Good Carp Bait?
Carp, especially Grass Carp, adore tomatoes. You can reel in a nice one if this is what they want. If you can, float some corn in the area first. Then pierce your tomato to spread the scent and some flavor.
If you’re using grape tomatoes, all you need to do is pierce them. But if you’re using cherry tomatoes, you’ll need to cut them in half. It’ll help to stimulate the carp a little, too.
Do Carp Love Bread for Bait?
This was another bait my dad used to give me when I was a kid when I headed to the lake. He’d hand me a handful of slices of Sunbeam, and I’d be on my way. It’s still my go-to if corn doesn’t work.
Carp usually prefer white bread, but feel free to experiment with other types of bread; after all, you never know. If you can, chum the water with pieces of bread. As with corn, the carp may not notice your hook floating amongst the rest of the food.
The trick here is to squeeze a small ball of bread down until it’s tight enough it won’t fall off your hook, but not so compact it’s a useless, hard bread ball. You generally only get one cast out of bread.
Worms and Mollusks Make Wonderful Carp Bait
Sometimes carp are hard to catch on live bait, but as always with these finicky fish, you just don’t know. I’ve gotten them to bite nightcrawlers. Sometimes they’ve got to be in chunks for picky carp.
Invertebrates, like worms, as long as they’re fresh, work well. When they’re fresh, they smell better and move more for the more meat-inclined carp. Snails and slugs work well. Use these guys with a slip sinker or split-shot rig.
Mussels are magnificent carp bait. These work best near reeds and other mollusks already living near the water. Carp have teeth in their mouths that crush shells, so these are naturally part of their food supply.
Tiger Nuts: A Different Carp Bait
Like potatoes, these are a tuber. You usually find these in the Eastern hemisphere. I can’t get these in my grocery store; I have to go to my health food store to get them. They have to be hydrated and prepared with additives.
Tiger nuts are tougher than corn, and they stay on a hook well. They are perfectly suited to a hair rig. In a nutshell, they work great.
The great thing is that mostly fat makes up tiger nuts. They may appeal to carp when carbs like bread and corn don’t, in other words, during the winter. Try tiger nuts out; see what kind of results you get!
The Carp Bait You Can Make or Buy: Doughball
Doughs and pastes are small balls you form around the hook. Doughball is also called “ground bait.” You can buy it for convenience, and there are some great varieties available like Bee-jay Carp Bait and Magic Bait’s Carp Bait.
Homemade is fantastic too. Many anglers won’t part with their secret recipes, but there are plenty on the internet. Some doughball ingredients are water, cornmeal, molasses, flour, wheat germ, vanilla for flavor, even cat food. The dough spreads its scent and flavor quickly in water.
Boilies Are Excellent Carp Bait
Boilies are popular in Europe. They are little balls of meal, flavor, and a binder, usually egg. Typically between 10 – 12mm, boilies are easy to use and work well in various water temperatures. They last longer on the hook than dough.
Boilies are small and round. When on a hair rig, the carp comes along and sucks the boilie up into its mouth, bringing the hook along with it. Remember, carp typically eat small mollusks, so this is not an atypical shape or texture for them to eat.
Some boilies float and some sink, so you’ll need to experiment. They need to be refrigerated or frozen. If you’re looking for boilies, I suggest CC Moore’s Glugged Odyssey XXX Boilie Hookbaits.
What About Pop-Up Carp Bait?
You don’t always need to chum the water for these to work. They float and are bright and fluorescent to appeal to the fish as a food source. It’s a floating compound combined with a dried boilie mix. You can present these to a fish over a weed line, just over the bottom.
Carp bait is varied, and it depends on the fish. We’ve got some good options here for all seasons and types of carp. Hopefully, you’ve got some good ideas on what to try next. Happy angling!