Tony's Carp Fishing Guide --- Baits


  1. What are Boilies?
  2. How to make Boilies?
  3. What are Paisties?
  4. What else can be used as bait?
  5. What is the controversy over patateos?
  6. What are Triggers and Attractors?
  7. What are Propylene glycol, Iso-propanol , Diacetin ect ?
  8. What are Amino Acids?
  9. Can you catch Carp on "Live Baits" ?
  10. Particle Baits :

1. What are Boilies

Boilies are a bait made form eggs, protein powder, and flavors. This mixture is rolled into small balls and boiled. They have the advantage that small fish don't eat them off your hook.

Baits, especially Boilies, can be over fished, and that to an extent Boilies have become a victim of their own success with the great growth in carp fishing over the past 5 years. Many local lakes are full of Boilies, in a whole range of different flavors but the carp have, almost, stopped touching them. It would also appear that boilies are more popular and successful in Europe that in the US. With US fisherman getting more success with pasties and maze.

Boilies can either be home made or purchased. The latter can be relatively expensive, up to $8 per pound.

Boilie flavors include:

meat, sesame, cherry, strawberry, tropical fruit, fudge, octopus, squid, peanut butter, birdseed, smelly lobster, scopex, and many others.

Many boilies have triggers added. Triggers, are chemicals,, that help to trigger the fish into feeding and thus taking these bait. They are normally amino acid (protein) based. Although garlic is believed to be good vegetarian alternative.

2. How to make Boilies?

The one thing I have found in fishing all these years from waters both in the UK and abroad is that you don't have to spend a fortune on bait to catch big carp. I have experimented a lot in the past with various baits but for the past four years I have used the same bait for all my Boilie fishing.

The base mix consists of:

8 OZ of yellow semolina
6 OZ of fishmeal
2 OZ of Robin Red
plus mixed spices

The flavors consist of:

5 ml of Megaspice (Rod Hutchinson)
5 ml of Seedbait Sense Appeal(Rod Hutchinson)
12 drops RH1 Oil (Rod Hutchinson)

20 ml of Fish feed inducing oil (local trout farmer)

The semolina can be purchased from any pasta factory or large bakery. I pay about 9 UK pounds for a 25 KG (55 pounds) sack The fishmeal can be purchased from any animal feed suplier(about 10 UK pounds) per sack. Get the one intended for animal feed only ! I use Chilean fish meal which is a mixture of anchovy and sardine. Robin Red is a brand name for a UK birdfood from Haiths of cleethorpes,Lincs. It contains spices and red peppers amongst other things. It is used as a color food for show birds , when they eat it, it colours their plumage!. The fish feed inducing oil is put only in the hookbaits in winter. When the temperature drops the oil tends to thicken (increased viscosity). The atractors are added to 6 (size 2) eggs then the powder is added until you make a dough that no longer sticks to your fingers. Be careful as to not add too much powder , if it is too dry you wont be able to roll it . You can either roll the balls out by hand (which takes a long time!) or you can use a bait gun which extrudes the bait in one long sausage of a set diameter (I use 14 ml baits) The sausages are then rolled out using rolling tables (Gardner tackle) The baits are then boiled for 2 mins , normally about 100 at a time to keep the water at boiling point. The baits are left out to dry on towels or cloth (I leave them overnight before freezing them or using them) You can normally get 2 pounds (1 KG) of baits per 6 egg mix The hook baits (18 mls) are rolled around cork balls to make them pop-up. I don't use critically balanced baits , in fact I overweight them quite a bit as I feel it helps the rig I use work better!

I know that some people reading this will not be in the UK so here is some places to look for bits and pieces. Health food shops are my number one choice as they have all sorts of good things from Soya flour(cooked)which is a good bulk ingredient (rolls slightly better than semolina but makes a softer bait!) , dried brewers yeast, use as an atractor with only 1-2 oz per pound of dry mix. Look for spices such as paprika and cinammon. If you can get hold of maize meal , this is a fantastic bulk ingredient as it makes the baits very dence (good for flowing rivers!) and also very hard (stops the little fish pecking at the baits!) A lot of the harder ready made boilies contain Maize meal and whey proteins to make them selective towards carp. Also look for atractors such as the essential oils used in aromatherapy. Some are good ,some are rubbish. One of the best is Black Pepper followed by Geranium .Use these oils in very small amounts, normally 12-24 drops per 6 eggs. Sometimes health food shops carry a bodybuilding section. Look for liquid amino acids. They normally say on the bottle extract of liver and spleen. If you cant get that , liquid liver is just as good. Use these at 5-20 mls per 6 egg mix depending on concentration. In fact powdered liver is an excellent atractor in its own right but very expensive. Its best used at 1 oz per pound of dry mix. Local pet shops have excellent bits and pieces from Birdfoods(softfoods made from eggs and spices are best) or various cat and dog snacks that can be ground and mixed in place of the fishmeal. In fact a lot of the (fishy) cat snacks contain fishmeal! Also have a look at some of the snacks that float as you can catch carp on the surface with these. Also don't forget to look out for all the various seeds and pulses that can be used while you are there. Supermarkets are very underrated but contain loads of great carp baits and ingredients. Toasted sesame oil is a great atractor put in at 15 mls per 6 egg mix. Look in the spice section there some great bits and pieces there. They normally sell bottles of flavor, use only small amounts 3-5 mls per 6 egg mix . (if you use too much it will act as a repellent!) When using flavors a certain amount of experimentation is needed to get the best result. Always start on the low side then increase the dosage a little bit every trip. But be careful as more flavor does not equal more carp! I hope this has given you a few ideas , I shall be going into more detail when I have the time.

If you want to make cheap boilies use yellow semolina as the bulk ingredient. The best place to get it from is any PASTA factory or anywhere they make pasta (not ITALY !) They will normally sell you a 25 KG (55 pounds) sack for very little money just to get rid of you. One tip is don't tell them what you want it for or you could spend the next three years of your life explaining about carp fishing !

If you cant get hold of semolina the next best thing is SOYA FLOUR, the cooked variety seems by far the best! Health food shops and supermarkets are a great places for bits and pieces. The spices such as paprika and cinnamon are excellent additive If you mix 10 oz of semo with 6 oz of Soya flour with eggs, flavor and

color, you will get boilies just like ready mades :-) By adjusting this mix with bits and pieces you can make any type of mix you require.

Black Pepper is an essential oil , you can get it from any health food shop.(Its used in aromatherapy!) Its quite expensive , about 7 dollars for a tiny bottle but you don't use much so it will make at least 10 mixes of Boilies.

3. What are Pasties ?

A past or dough, this is then rolled in to balls and attached to the hook. There are an infinite number of recipes for pasties.

4. What else can be used as bait ?

This is a very large category and includes such things as cheese, cat food, and many others. Including flies (fly fishing)

5. What is the controversy over patateos?

Parboiled Patatoes have been a favorite traditional carp bait, but I am not sure that they were a particularly effective bait incomparison to modern baits. Reading tales from anglers who used them in their heyday, it appear that they were used for the same reason that we use boilies ie they were large and hard enough to be a selective carp bait and at the time there was no better alternative - certainly no boilies.

They were not effective on all waters, you could catch carp with them on some waters and on others you would get no action at all.

A word of warning thoug , Last year (99) someone started to use small cooked potatoes on one lake and had an initial high degree of success. This *new* bait was quickly discovered by many of the mainly boilie fishing anglers. The result was a large number of potatoes entering the lake. This situation is very unhealthily for the fish and the water composition. As the months passed by, the fish realized that these potatoes were also to be considered a risky food. As a result the potatoes entering the lake would lie uneaten. This had the effect of poisoning the water to such a degree, that many of the other species of fish started to develop sickness and died, leaving mainly carp in the water. At a later stage, the carp also were heavily effected. Various water treatments and a BAN on the use potatoes were implemented. The carp population was significantly reduced and those that now remain dominate the lake.

Of course uneaten boilies and other baits may produce similar degrees of water poisoning, but although I have no understanding of decomposition processes, I have the impression that potatoes act as a very active medium.

6. What are Triggers and Attractors ?

Triggers are any substance added to a bait designed to attract the fish. In essence they add a "smell" to that bait that the fish are supposed to find hard to resist

Oils can be used as attracters. a good guide line is a of rate of 10 mls to 20 mls per pound of boiled baits at the mixing stage (like most oils they rises from the bait) pulling fish down

Fish feed inducing oil (used in the trout industry) is the best of the attracting oils (good in fishmeal boiled baits)

Also sesame in combination with sweet flavors and birdseed type baits

Amino acids are very popular and a lot of people believe in them. However, the overall feeling , seems to be that their effectiveness as atractors when compared too flavorist inconclusive.

7. What are Propylene glycol, Iso-propanol , diacetin ect ?

These are some of the chemical bases, to which the most popular and successful favors are based on (in the food industry).P.G (propylene glycol) flavors are very popular , having a good water solubility E.A (ethyl alcohol) has one of the best water solubility's of all the bases , so in theory ! should diperse from your baits quicker Also when the water temp. is low , certain bases like Glycerol tend to thicken (increase viscosity) so tend to stay in the baits longer This may be an advantage or disadvantage , depending how long you intend leaving your baits in the water. In the UK I have heard of certain anglers who leave their baits out for up to three days before reeling in ??

The important thing to remember is that one strawberry flavor may not be the same as another strawberry flavor!!!!!! Also the MOST important concept to understand when dealing with attractors is that smell does not indicate strength .What you smell is the reaction between the chemical (favor) and air. The reaction in water may be totally different as you are dealing with a totally different medium . It is believed that most favors work by ionizing the area of water around the baits !

Most favors also have natural and synthetic extracts added which must help on the attraction side of things . But then again as nobody has ever been a CARP we will never know !!!!!!!!

8. What are Amino Acids ?

These liquids are normally found in bodybuilding shops, health food shops and fishing specialist shops. They are normally based on liver and spleen animal extracts. They are also sold by just about every British carp bait company under one name or another. Individual aminos in crystal form can be used in carp baits BUT unless you really know what you are doing and have the equipment to measure extremely small amount. LEAVE WELL ALONE - Too much and you will scare the fish.

If anyone is interested , in Kevin Maddocks book "CARPFEVER" there is a chapter on tank tests on aminos , also in both Rod Hutchinsons excellent books "THE CARP STRIKES BACK" and "CARP NOW AND THEN" there are some interesting chapters mentioning the virtues and pitfalls

No wonderbait has been found that can make carp feed when they don't want too , it doesn't seem to be worth messing around with raw aimless .

Anybody who wants to use aminos , should start with the liquid food supplements mentioned or the ones supplied by fishing shops. The later, not only are they very attractive to carp , come with usage recommendations and thus are less likely to produce results that scare the fish.

9. Can you catch carp on "Live Baits" ?

Some people have been experimenting with small (<2 inch) carp as live and dead baits. The results have been encouraging with returns similar to Boilies. It seems that some of our larger carp have learned to look upon their offspring as a food source! I guess it has a lot to do with the overpopulation problems on many of our waters. By late summer, carp fry are the most abundant source of nutrition in most areas, so I guess a dead or injured fish represents an attractive mouthful to a hungry carp. We've been using float rigs for dead-baits and a simple running rig for live-baits. Often the bites on a live-baits are quite savage for a non-predatory (?) fish and it's rare to hook anything much under 5 lbs.

For some reason bites seem to dry up if the baits are over 2" long. This restricts us to about a ten week period each year when baits of the right size are readily available, however I think the idea is worth developing. One possible idea may be to try a small, dead marine fish such as an anchovy or a small sardine to see if the higher oil content will draw more bites. Seems to work OK for UK pike anglers!

It is not surprised that you can live bait carp. In NA most of the early records were caught on worms or jigs indicating the big fish ate meat. They have to eat efficient sources of food and this usually means live or dead meat.

The current Michigan Trophy Book lists 31 trophy size carp caught in 1994.

Live baits used:

nightcrawlers 8
worms 6
corn 4
minnow 4
alewife 1
cheese 1

Lures used:

crankbait 3
Mepps 2
Beetlespin 1
jig 1

From this you can see that live bait caught most of the big ones. This is probably because most of them were caught by accident while fishing for something else and most US shore fishermen use live bait.

Note: In some countries Carp stocks have are actually quite depleted, and thus it would be very irresponsible to use young Carp as bait. Use something else.


10.1 What are Particle baits !

Usually some form of grain (Maze, Chick Peas, peanuts etc.), These are either soaked or and boiled to make them softer. Sweeteners, Color and Flavorings can be added.

One example is "Kool-Aid". It is a fruit flavored powder to make a cheap soft-drink for children. It has a strong fruit flavor because it is a concentrate and also has a powerful red color so it makes the chick peas red or pink..

Particles baits cover such a wide area from beans to peas to seeds to chopped vegetables to children's sweets !. In fact all kinds of pulses can be used . The list of particles that have caught carp at one time or another is so huge I wont even attempt to list them all . I will only list the ones I have experience of and rate their effectiveness accordingly .


Tiger nuts are brown nuts and have a very rough texture. There effectiveness on some waters is brilliant but on others they can be poor. I think with tiger nuts there is a relationship between how many have gone in to a given water and how well they work. On some waters they need a while to be excepted as a natural food item . I know they are not as successful as regards instant action (when fishing in Europe) as other well known particles . They are one of the hardest particles around and must be soaked for at least 24 hours and then boiled for 30 mins. I have found that if you leave the prepared nuts for 2-3 days after boiling them they seem to work best. The water is turned a sort of milky white due to all the sugars in the nuts. I find the best way to present them is just to put two nuts on a hair rig for a straight bottom bait .If you want to make a pop-up (buoyant bait) I find it best to sandwich a piece of cork shaped like a nut between two nuts on a hair. This latter setup has accounted for many big fish in the UK Even though I have my doubts as to the Tiger nuts instant attraction when compared to other particles , It must be noted that there record of catching large carp from the UK is very impressive !


This particle has attracted a lot of bad publicity in the UK and is banned on a number of waters. There are a number of problems if they are baited in large amounts. If the carp look upon them as natural food items they will become preoccupied on the peanuts. The problem is that even though they are high in certain available proteins , they have a vitamin C deficiency which can lead to a drop in the carps health .This can only happen in the most extreme cases where stupid amounts of the nuts are going into overstocked waters. The main worry with the nuts is you must purchase the human grade type as the ones intended for feeding birds have a nasty habit of containing a toxic fungus (which you cant see).You have to ask yourself why do you think the nuts were graded for the birds !!!! I think Human grade peanuts are perfectly safe baited in reasonable amounts. The nuts themselves are a fantastic bait of which I have used two different varieties. There are the regular type and the American jumbo peanuts. The jumbo peanuts aren't that much bigger than the regular types but I find them superior in attraction to the regular type (only just!). The nuts are prepared by soaking for 24 hours then boiling for 20 mins. You can add an optional flavor but I have found that this is not needed as the nuts are very attractive to carp ! I have a local water which is a known "NUT" water in the summer , In fact they blow boilies away by about 5 to 1 . It is a very easy water where 10 fish a day can be caught . It is my experience that only putting a few handfuls of particles around each hookbait is the most effective . I like to think as each particle as one bait (as you would with boilies) therefore I only Rabat when I have had some action in the assumption that the hookbait is the last to be eaten.

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