The best baits for carp

The common carp has been described as both the finest gamefish in freshwater and a trash fish. While the merits of anyone who calls a fish that commonly grows to more than twenty pounds and fights with strength and speed “trash” are highly debatable, it is a fact that a lot of people seem to have an irrational dislike of the species.

For those of us who know better, the carp is a commonly found fish that can present real challenge and a lot of thrill. Carp can often be found and caught when no other species are around.

The plain fact is, carp are opportunist feeders. They eat what they can find and they can be caught on a number of baits and lures. That doesn’t mean that they can always be caught on anything though. Carp are intelligent fish and at times they can be picky eaters.

Here’s a list of the best baits for carp. If you keep these baits around you have the best chances to hook into a big carp the next time you’re on the water.


yellow corn for carp

Corn (or “maize” as it is known in the UK) has long been one of the best baits for carp. Different kinds of corn and even products made of corn can work well for carp fishing. Most of it can be put on a hook pretty easily too.

A regular old can of corn has long been used by people trying to catch carp and for good reason. Canned corn is easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Plus, it works! All you have to do is open a can of corn and put two or three kernels on a hook and you’re ready to go.

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Feed corn is a lot less expensive than canned corn. You can buy a 50 Pound Bag of Whole Corn on the cheap. Of course you can’t just fish with it right out of the bag. You have to soak it in water then give it a quick boil before using the stuff. The advantages of feed corn are many. It’s tougher so it stays on the hook (or hair rig) longer and as mentioned it costs a lot less. It also soaks up flavors mixed in during the boiling process.

There are even artificial corns that can work well for carp. Berkley Gulp! Corn doesn’t seem to work as well as the real thing for carp. But stuff like this artificial corn actually works quite well, especially if you fish it over a bed of real corn you’ve thrown into the water.

Where chumming or “pre-baiting” is allowed, it really helps. Toss out some corn into the area you plan on fishing and you can expect carp to come in and start feeding. Using a Xeniae Baiting Spoon makes it easier to aim and throw out your corn. When the carp come across your hook laying among all the free floating real stuff, they’ll be a lot less suspicious.


yellow corn for carp

Bread is another easy to find bait that works well for carp. It’s not for nothing that people feed bread to carp in places like Pennsylvania’s Linesville Spillway.

White bread seems to work the best for carp but all kinds of bread will work. The trick is to squeeze a ball of bread tightly enough on the hook to keep it from falling off without smashing it down so tight that it becomes an undesirable mess. You can also use artificial bread if the fish are already feeding. It is easier to use than real bread, and carp will suck it down when they are in a frenzy.

Again, chumming works wonders where it is allowed. Tossing some bread out in the water can bring in carp and get them in a feeding mood. The only thing left then is to present your hook bait in a way that looks like the free floating bread already in the water.


lucky 7 dough ball

For the most part, doughball is exactly what it sounds like. A dough like substance made up of various ingredients is mixed up then formed into a ball around the hook. Some serious carp anglers have secret recipes that they won’t share with anyone.

Doughball is the most commonly used type of bait for carp fishing in the Southwestern Pennsylvania pay lakes. Doughball is also used around the United States and even the world, though it is sometimes referred to as “ground bait.”

Some ready made doughball like Bee Jay Carp Bait can catch fish, but the homemade varieties almost always work better. You can whip up some doughball by boiling a mix of corn meal and water on your stove and then adding a bit of flavor such as vanilla. Other common ingredients include wheat germ, flour, molasses and even dry cat food. Experiment to find what works best for you.



Outside of the United States, boilies are probably the most commonly used carp bait. They are basically small hard balls of boiled dough. Carp have teeth in the back of their mouths that allow them to break up things like snail shells, so hard baits are no problem.

Boilies are easy to pack and keep. They come in a lot of different sizes, colors and flavors. They last long too. You can fish a boily for quite a while without worrying about it falling off, unlike doughball which only lasts a short amount of time in the water. You can also dip or soak boilies in flavoring.

Boilies are fished on a hair rig. Boilies can easily be sucked into a carp’s mouth. Once the bait is inside the hook is inside too. When the carp tried to spit the boily back out the hook gets caught in the fish’s mouth. It’s a great setup which is why it is so commonly used.

In the United States baits like doughball and corn are much more common, but boilies do work. In fact they usually work very well since the carp in the US haven’t seen boilies before. They are worth trying.

Homemade boilies do catch fish, but there are many good commercially available varieties. Strawberry Boilies by the Wicked Carp Company are a good choice. So is Scopex Squid by Nash. You can’t really go wrong with either one of these choices. Experimenting with your own home brews makes your presentation more unique. But buying off the shelf saves you a lot of time that you can use to actually go fishing.

6 Responses to “The best baits for carp”
  1. Thanya December 14, 2019
    • Angler December 15, 2019
    • Lachie September 27, 2020
      • Angler October 5, 2020
  2. Matt Buell July 26, 2020
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