Just about anything can be used as bait to catch carp. Natural baits such as maggots, worms, mealworms, water snails and mussels all have their day, but generally speaking we tend to divide carp baits into four (4) sections; particles, groundbait, pellets and boilies.
The term particle encompasses a great many baits; including nuts, beans and pulses, frozen seeds, boilie crumb, pellets of various kinds, and groundbaits. They are especially effective in rivers and lakes where you need to attract large numbers of feeding fish into your swim. At first these may not always be carp as all cyprinids find particle baits attractive. However, the presence of many smaller fish feeding on a wide spread carpet of particle baits will usually persuade larger fish such as carp to investigate the feeding activity.
The aim behind a particle style of carp fishing is to create a feeding situation whereby the bait first blends in with and then becomes part of the carp’s everyday feeding environment. Correctly applied most particles create a situation whereby partial or even total pre-occupation with the bait arises. This instils confidence in the bait carpet as a whole as the carp eat with far less caution than they would on a bed of boilies on their own.
There are many ways in which you can apply particle baits but fishing boilies over the top of a carpet of particle baits has long been acknowledged as one of the best ways of catching carp yet discovered. The particle baits encourage avid feeding, they throw caution to the wind, and bait fished over the top has every chance of being picked up by carp which have been turned on by the oils and sugars emanating from the bed of particles.
Correct preparation of all particle baits is vital if you are going to get the best out of them. In addition some are actually dangerous is not correctly prepared. For the most, part preparation involves no more than an overnight soak followed by a boil of between 15 and 30 minutes. Of course, there are other little tweaks that can pep up your bait and usually these are introduced during preparation.
The use of mass baits such as hemp, dari, tares and other seeds and cereals is probably among the most effective ways of fishing for carp. They are usually almost instantaneous in attracting fish into a swim and while these might not always be carp to start with, it doesn’t take long for the kind of frenzied feeding activity generated by a carpet of mass baits to be detected by carp. When this happens they almost always muscle in on the bait carpet and drive the other fish away.
For many the use of groundbait designed specifically for carp was unheard off in the UK. Then gradually, as carp fishing became more popular, anglers began researching other types of fishing to discover if there were any method or tactics that could cross over from one branch of angling to another. A lot of groundwork was done by the pioneering UK anglers who first started to fish for carp on the continent, primarily in France, where anglers used groundbait as a matter of course for all species.
It then became a race to find the feeding triggers that could be incorporated into a carp-specific groundbait and one of the first companies to address this was Haith’s Baits of Cleethorpes. Thus was born the now famous all-purpose groundbait SuperRed. The success of this product took many by surprise, but the fact that the groundbait is based upon Robin Red was not lost on the carp angling world and three new ‘Reds’ were soon launched.
MarineRed is a groundbait that contains primarily fishmeal and Robin Red with other birdfoods, such as Red Factor, added to help bind the groundbait and improve its overall nutritional value.
The other ‘Reds’ are NaturalRed, which is based on Prosecto and contains a host of natural foods, and HoneyRed, which is based on Nectarblend and molasses. The four groundbaits in the Red stable are also unique in that they can be used to create boiled baits and can also be used as a Method Feed.
Pellets come in many sizes, from the large 25mm halibut pellets to the tiny 2mm Salmon Fry Crumb Pellets. Pellets all work on the same dissolving food source principle. Some dissolve more quickly than others but it is rare to find a pellet that has not broken down to a mush within four or five hours.
Trout pellets are probably the most commonly used pellet in carp fishing and despite actually being designed to be fed to farmed trout, they are actually quite effective as a the basis for a carp bait or groundbaits. That said they are high in saturated fats so are not intended to be used as a bulk feed. This is because carp do not have such a high requirement for fats as carp, and in fact and excess of fat in a carp’s diet can have a negative effect on the fish’s health.
A boilie is any bait that comprises food materials such as milk protein, fishmeals or birdfoods. The dry powders are mixed together and an effective binder such as whey protein is also added to the base mix. Then the powders are added to beaten eggs to which flavours and other known attractors have been added. This forms a single large ball of paste, which is then further divided into much smaller segments, which as rolled into marble sized shapes. Finally the baits are boiled for a couple of minutes until a hard outer skin forms. This renders the baits impervious to the attentions of small fish, which would otherwise pick away at the paste and eat all the bait before the fish could get at it.
There are some specific ingredients that are known to be particularly attractive to carp and many of these are sold by Haith’s. Perhaps the most famous of them all is Robin Red, a subtle blend of oils, sugars and spices that carp find irresistible. Other famous ingredients include Nectarblend, PTX, and Prosecto.
The list of ingredients that can be used in a recipe for a boiled bait would fill a book, and indeed, many a book has been written specifically about boilies and the ingredients used in them.
The one thing that all good boiled baits have in common is a balanced nutritional profile. Carp have pretty similar nutritional requirements to humans so protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals are all important to them. By including birdfoods such as Robin Red or Prosecto in a recipe, you are adding virtually all the carp’s nutritional requirement in one.
As mentioned earlier, the SuperRed range of groundbaits can be used straight from the bag to make boilies. All you need do is grind the raw product to a fine 30-50-mesh powder using a coffee grinder. Then simply add this powder to beaten eggs to which you can add your favourite attractors. This will form a big ball of paste which can then be formed in boiled baits, the size and shape of which is of your own choosing.
Remember, though, that boilies don’t always HAVE to be round!