Carp Baits and Strategies to give you an Edge

28 July, 2023

Carp Bait Selection

What are we talking about when it comes to bait selection?

Well, this could be anything from what type of bait and how much we take with us on a session to what we choose to use on one particular spot and anything in between. It’s all too easy to go on autopilot when bait selection is an area that ought to be given a bit of thought. Without due consideration given to carp bait selection, a mistake is likely and those can rarely be undone.

Considerations for carp bait selection

Things that we must consider when selecting both what baits to take and what to introduce are myriad. There are all sorts of influences that will govern our decision. Some might encourage us to take and feed more, whilst others make us exercise caution. One particular type of carp bait might be the obvious choice but maybe the influences could induce us to take a selection of options or use a combination of different feed items.

The sorts of things that need to enter our thinking from the beginning are:

  • type of venue
  • the stock
  • nuisance species
  • our knowledge of the water
  • going methods, previous experience
  • lake rules, time of year
  • weather conditions
  • swim choice
  • spot choice
  • your own particular style
  • length of session
  • whether your session is part of a campaign or a one-off trip.

No one is suggesting that you work through this list ticking off the considerations as you go. It’s just a guide to the aspects that influence the choice of bait and some of them will be considered on a less conscious level than others. By no means is this an exhaustive list either as there may be some less angling-related and more personal issues that come into play.

Bait limitations to consider?

Things like affordability affect everyone differently. Most of us have to take cost into account. For example, should you use say 2kg of high-quality boilie, spend the same on 10kg of frozen sweetcorn or use some boilie and bulk it out with cheaper pellets? Maybe you don’t have space for a bait freezer and your choice is restricted to long-life options such as shelf life boilies, pellet, jarred particles, tins etc.

carp bait selection

How does the type of venue impact bait and the approach?

The type of venue makes a huge difference to what we need to take. Let’s say we’re visiting an intimate little syndicate lake. Your bait needs are likely to be very different to going to a large day ticket complex. Day ticket venues can get very busy and, when going to a complex you might not even know which lake you’ll be on. You might want to be on their runs water Spombing out a big bed to hold fish for a period but, with few swims available, end up on their specimen lake, which calls for a very different approach altogether. In this case you’ll need to have bait options with you even if they are left in the car.

As they are fished by a restricted number of individuals, syndicate waters tend to have a narrower band of successful methods meaning bait choice is a relatively simple affair. Day ticket venues see a much more varied approach and consequently, the fish aren’t so accustomed to certain baits and baiting approaches, meaning bites can often be had on a wider variety of tactics and baits.

baiting approach for day ticket venues

What about the carp stock?

The venue’s stock simply must come into your thinking. Are you fishing for a big hit or hoping to get just one bite from a water holding a mere handful of carp. One could require buckets of particles, pellets and groundbait, whereas the other might necessitate taking just a kilo of boilies. Waters with lower stocking levels will have greater availability of natural food so the carps’ diet will consist largely of bloodworm, snails and other invertebrates. In heavily stocked venues there will be much greater reliance on bait with the residents willing to consume more of it.

Are the carp you are targeting big ones that are individually capable of consuming lots of bait or smaller specimens? Some carp are just different to others with different strains seemingly consuming greater quantities and growing faster. Perhaps the fish are young stock fish with plenty of growing to do and appetites to match or older, examples that are less hungry.

All that is before we start considering nuisance species. They’ll certainly help us decide on what types of bait to take and use. Do you really want to be fishing over a bed of pellet in a water that holds big shoals of bream? Would fishing tiger nuts minimise the interest from tench? You might like the idea fishing of a little edge trap baited with a handful of hemp and partiblend but, realistically, how long will that last if there’s a huge population of rudd to contend with?

Prior knowledge of the venue must surely help then?

Absolutely. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will really help you. That might be based on experience or just research. If you know the venue is particle orientated you’ll ensure you have a good supply of them. You might be on lake a where the fish respond to a spread of boilies but you’re aware that there’s a few overhanging trees and snags providing a good chance of coming across a stalking opportunity and have a tin of corn with you for such an eventuality. You might be aware that, your fish have a particular penchant for tiger nuts and you’d always make sure to include some in your mix. Maybe you’ve got spring dialed in, on your venue, to the extent that you know single hook baits are the only way to go and there is no need to take any free bait with you at all.

different waters need different baiting appraoches

Previous experience elsewhere might assist you too. Anyone that has saved a blank by fishing just a solid bag full of pellets will want a few of them to hand or, at the very least, in the car. Even the venue rulebook will govern your selection. Plenty of places don’t permit nut baits, in which case you should consider an alternative such as corn.

How much does the time of year affect the type and amount of bait we use?

Massively so. Different seasons call for different approaches. Spring, for instance, means single, high-attract hookbaits, solid bags and stick mixes, which call for nothing more than a selection of pop-ups, a few pellets and some powders. Summer may call for an all out particle approach, but it would be wise to have a bucket of mixers handy in case they ar